Homemade cherry ice cream just shouts summertime to me. Creamy and tart, light and refreshing. And it is the perfect cold treat to scoop onto a slice of pound cake during a summer barbecue!
This cherry ice cream recipe below is easy to make with just a few simple ingredients. I recommend freezing it using an ice cream maker and then storing it in a bread loaf pan for easy serving. If you’re ready to make it, just hit the “jump to recipe” button above. Or scroll through our tips and information below to learn more about homemade cherry ice cream.
Homemade Cherry Ice Cream – Ingredients
Most homemade ice cream or gelato recipes will use eggs to make an ice cream base. This cherry ice cream recipe is much more simple, using sweetened condensed milk and half and half to achieve that rich creamy consistency with a little less work. Here’s what you’ll need to pick up at the store:
- Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Half & Half
- Tart Cherry Concentrate
- Chopped Pecans
- Dried Cherries
Additional Ice Cream Add-Ons
Want to get creative and make this recipe your own? Here are some additional add-ins you can mix into your cherry ice cream base.
- Vanilla Extract (for cherry vanilla ice cream)
- Cocktail Cherries (for bright red sweet speckles of color)
- Frozen Dark Sweet Cherries (for a more gourmet texture of fresh cherries)
- Chocolate Chips (for cherry chocolate chip ice cream)
Now, some people love texture in their ice cream, and some like it smooth and creamy. Personally, I like a little crunch and enjoy digging my spoon into a bowl of ice cream to find those little extra bits of cherries and nuts. For me, it’s like a treasure hunt. But you can omit the pecans and cherries and serve those on the side if there are some ice cream lovers in your family that prefer a more smooth texture. The tart cherry concentrate will add plenty of flavor.
Cherry Ice Cream Recipe – Step-by-Step Photos
While the cherry ice cream is easy to make, you will need an ice cream maker to help turn air into the cream while it freezes (otherwise it gets pretty rock solid).
Gather together your ingredients to blend together your ice cream base.
Again, I love the addition of pecans as I think they really compliment the cherry flavor and add a nice crunch. But you can save these and use them as a topping if not everyone in your family is a pecan fan.
Next, pour the sweetened condensed milk and half & half into a large bowl and whisk together until well blended.
Then pour the cherry ice cream mixture into an ice cream machine and follow manufacturers directions. I use a frozen ice cream bowl attachment with my stand mixer and churn the ice cream for about 15 minutes until it’s the consistency of a soft serve.
Once the cherry ice cream is semi-frozen, it is ready to add to the loaf pan.
Add a 1/2 inch layer of ice cream to the bottom of a bread pan. Then drop 3-4 spoonfuls of the Tart Cherry concentrate over the ice cream and sprinkle with chopped pecans. I like to use a toothpick to swirl it around in the ice cream base.
Repeat this process 3 or 4 times until all the ice cream has been transferred from your ice cream machine to the bread pan.Insert a chop stick or butter knife into the layered ice cream and zig zag it across the container to swirl the tart cherry concentrate and pecans in with the ice cream.
Cover the bread pan with wax paper on top of the ice cream (it’s okay if it sticks, it will peel off once frozen). Freeze overnight, then scoop and enjoy the next day!
Michigan Tart Cherries
Did you know that tart cherries, also known as Montmorency cherries, are grown in Michigan? They have an intense tart cherry flavor that is perfect for pairing with something sweet and creamy like ice cream. In addition to the tart cherry concentrate, you can also find them as dried cherries too.
Tart cherries naturally have melatonin in them, which is a great benefit during summer with twilight hours sometimes making it more difficult get good sleep.
We worked together with the Cherry Marketing Institute to find a creative way to incorporate tart cherry juice into a recipe. And Pete and I have been absolutely loving is this Tart Cherry Pecan Ice Cream. We tried at first to make a granita, and it didn’t freeze well (cue delicious smoothies. Maybe I’ll post those later).
I also tried the recipe below with heavy cream, and that was a bit too rich. The final ice cream we have below is the Goldilocks — it’s just right! Since it’s made with the syrup-like concentrate, a half a cup is all you need since roughly 2 tablespoons is equivalent to a serving. We also tried it with several different kinds of nuts, but the buttery flavor of the pecans seemed to pair perfectly with the tart cherry. I swirl the tart cherry juice concentrate into the ice cream with chopped pecans for a perfectly blended sweet, tart, creamy and crunchy textured dessert.
- 1 14 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 2 Cups Organic Half & Half
- 1/2 Cup Tart Cherry Concentrate
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and half & half until well blended.
- Pour cream mixture into ice cream machine and follow manufacturers directions. (I use a frozen Kitchen Aid ice cream bowl attachment and churn the ice cream for about 15 minutes until it’s the consistency of a soft serve.)
- Add a 1/2 inch layer of ice cream to the bottom of a bread pan. Then drop 3-4 spoonfuls of the Tart Cherry concentrate over the ice cream and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Repeat this process 3 or 4 times until all the ice cream has been transferred from your machine to the bread pan.
- Insert a chop stick or butter knife into the layered ice cream and zig zag it across the container to swirl the tart cherry concentrate and pecans in with the ice cream.
- Freeze overnight. Enjoy the next day.
Make it your own with these optional add-ins!
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (for cherry vanilla ice cream)
1/2 cup Cocktail Cherries (for bright red sweet speckles of color)
1/2 cup Frozen Dark Sweet Cherries (for a more gourmet texture of fresh cherries)
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips (for cherry chocolate chip ice cream)
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 340Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 122mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 1gSugar: 40gProtein: 8g
Nutritional information provided is only an estimate.
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Originally published in 2016. Updated in 2021.