Fresh Mint Ice Cream

fresh mint ice cream close-up
I recently splurged on the ice cream maker of my dreams, which immediately became my new favorite toy. I’ve been selling my unwanted clothes on eBay and buying kitchen supplies with the extra cash, which is a pretty good representation of how my interests have changed since I started this blog. (My clothes still fit, if that’s what you’re wondering!)

Remember my spearmint from a couple of months back? The spearmint makes its recipe début today along with my first ice cream recipe, of which there will be many more. Mint lends such a refreshing quality to cool drinks and frozen treats that it seemed the perfect choice for ice cream. When I found a recipe for mint ice cream in my mom’s May 2010 issue of Cooking Light, I knew I had to try it.

I made several adjustments to the magazine’s instructions and ended up with delicately flavored, light mint ice cream. My recipe calls for 2% milk, turbinado sugar, and only two egg yolks, compared to more typical recipes that use tons of cream, cups and cups of sugar, and six eggs.

The end result is light and slightly icy like sorbet, but as sweet and satisfying as gelato. The mint flavor tastes like the real deal, because it is. For once, I recommend against topping this dessert with chocolate. It overwhelms the flavor.

fresh spearmint and cream

mint ice cream in the making
light mint ice cream recipe

Fresh Mint Ice Cream
5.0 from 2 reviews
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 20 fresh mint leaves
  • ¾ cups turbinado (raw) sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  1. Combine milk, half-and-half and mint leaves in a medium sized, heavy sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Heat until tiny bubbles form around the edge (which should be about 180 degrees). Do not let it boil!
  2. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for ten minutes. That gives the mint flavor time to steep.
  3. Uncover it and pour the mixture through a colander into a medium bowl. Press the mint leaves slightly with a big spoon to get all the flavor. Discard the leaves, and pour the liquid back into your pan.
  4. In a new bowl, combine sugar, salt and egg yolks. Stir with a whisk until the mixture is pale.
  5. Gradually add half of the milk mixture to the egg mixture, while stirring constantly with a whisk.
  6. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the pan with the rest of the milk.
  7. Cook over medium-low heat for about two minutes (or to 160 degrees), stirring constantly.
  8. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  9. Place the bowl in the fridge until the mixture cools completely, stirring occasionally.
  10. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  11. If you’d like the ice cream to harden up a little more, freeze it for a couple of hours.
  • Adapted from Cooking Light.
  • I originally advised adding a couple of tablespoons of vodka to the cream mixture per David Lebovitz's suggestion, but it turns out you don't need any in this recipe. It's scoopable straight from the freezer, without any extra help from alcohol.
  • Yields roughly 1 quart of frozen ice cream.

The magazine says that this basic, light custard recipe tastes great with other flavors, like ginger, cinnamon or coconut. I can’t wait to try the rest!


  1. says

    Umm your version should be in Cooking Light. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous!! You continue to amaze me. Not to mention, mint ice cream is my favorite. I’m also a big fan of eBay!

  2. Jes says

    I have spearmint, peppermint, and something called “chocolate mint” which actually tastes like chocolate mint, I need you to drive to Tulsa right now with that little ice cream machine of yours and make me some please! – jes

    • says

      I can’t come right now, but I’m bringing my ice cream maker when I do! Can’t wait to see your new house and to steal some fresh herbs from your garden!

  3. says

    Stunning photos! And lovely recipe! I like that it’s a little on the lighter side. Plus, I have plenty of fresh mint on my hands!

  4. says

    Love the photos. I want to make this for friends and wanted to know when you add the vanilla? I didn’t see it listed in the instructions. Also, if I wanted to add vodka, should I do this while it’s chilling in the fridge or add it right before I place it in the ice cream maker? Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Janie! Mix in the vodka before you pour it into the ice cream maker. I don’t think the vodka is necessary for this recipe, but it’s up to you!

  5. Kerri says

    Tripled and used fresh chocolate mint, growing in gobs, and subed 3 cups of whole lactaid for my lactos intolerant hub, and it turned out incredible!

    • says

      So happy to hear you both enjoyed the ice cream, Kerri! I’m glad to know that lactaid can be substituted for the milk. Thank you for commenting!

  6. Chris in Australia says

    The recipe looks great, I love that it’s light and I would really like to try it. I have lots of mint in my garden, but I don’t have an ice cream maker. Could it be done by hand? I have a Kenwood mixmaster??

  7. tabi says

    do you know if cutting up the leaves would help make it taste stronger. (this is my first visit to your site and I must say I’m impressed).

  8. Paula says

    I would love to add some chocolate chunks/chips too!! I’ve tried a few brands and they always feel so hard compared to the ones that come in ice creams that I buy at the store… Do you have a recommendation for chocolate chips?

    • says

      Good question, Paula! I think that chocolate chips are just too large and will freeze into hard chunks. I’d suggest buying a chocolate bar and chopping it into fine pieces with a chef’s knife. Hope that works!

  9. Barča says

    I’m sorry but could you tell me, please, what the half-and-half is? I live in the Czech Republic and I don’t know what does it mean. Thank you :-)

    • says

      Hi, that is a good question. Half-and-half is a milk product with about 12.5 percent butterfat content. Maybe you can find something similar in the Czech Republic? One resource I found online says you can make half-and-half by combining four parts whole milk with one part heavy cream.

      • Barča says

        Thank you so much! I used a coffee cream (about 12 percent) and the ice cream is delicious. The whole family asks for recipe! I really enjoy browsing your pages and I also hope that you’ll continue being such a god cook :-)

  10. says

    Oh my giddy aunt; this recipe is so divine I fear I will spend the rest of my evening on the living room floor eating it straight from the ice cream maker. Ahhhhhhhhh, thank you!

    • says

      Hi Mau, I believe the recipe yields about 1.5 quarts of ice cream, which is equivalent to a small tub of ice cream at the store. Not sure how many people are coming to your party so it’s hard for me to say!

  11. Lissa says

    If I used 35% cream, what would be the difference (besides obviously a higher fat content)? Most ice cream recipes I find require more egg yolks but I like your recipe and was just curious if using cream would affect the consistency of the finished product. Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Lissa, I think that would work fine, but I have found that ice cream recipes with too much fat can have a strange, borderline chewy texture. That’s the risk here.

  12. Joanne says

    Hi Kate,
    I thought you might like to know that this mint ice cream has become our family’s all time favorite. My husband called me from the grocery store today to ask what ingredients we would need to make it for our July 4th celebration tomorrow. To my surprise I could quote him the recipe without looking it up, even though this will be the first time we’ll be making it this summer. It’s so light and fresh, deliciously creamy, and extremely satisfying. Thank you for your wonderful contribution to our family’s food traditions – I can’t wait to have some tomorrow!

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