My Honey Ice Cream recipe is a naturally sweetened ice cream made with 6 simple ingredients and no refined sugar. It’s a homemade version of the original Häagen-Daz honey vanilla ice cream, which has sadly been retired!
This simple homemade honey ice cream recipe celebrates the natural sweetness of honey
If you’ve never really stopped to appreciate the delicate flavor of honey, or if you’ve got a special honey you want to show off, this recipe is the best way to do it
Honey vanilla was one of the early Häagen-Daz ice cream flavors, and a favorite of mine. I was devastated when they discontinued it, because it was one of the first refined-sugar-free ice creams out there. This recipe brings that pioneering flavor back to life!
Let’s talk honey ~
Honey is one of the world’s most amazing foods, and there are over 300 different types worldwide, each one with a unique flavor profile and color. Compare that to plain old granulated sugar!
I recipe tested this ice cream with 2/3 cup honey and again with 1/2 cup. While I loved the rich honey flavor of the first batch, the honey kept the ice cream a little too soft even after chilling overnight. Lowering the honey to 1/2 cup produced the perfect scoop-able texture, so my recommendation is to use 1/2 cup of the strongest tasting honey you can find for a nice balance of taste and texture.
Bottom line: 2/3 cup honey makes the most of the honey flavor, but results in a somewhat softer set. 1/2 cup honey has a lighter honey flavor and a firmer set. Both versions are delish!
The secret to soft, scoop-able ice cream ~
Homemade ice cream is best eaten within a day or so of churning. This is because it has a tendency to get quite hard in the freezer after several hours. In fact home freezers are typically set at a temperature that is too low for optimal ice cream storage. But I’ve made a lot of homemade ice cream over the years, and have a few tricks up my sleeve for making ice cream that stays soft and scoop-able.
- the honey effect ~ I discovered while making this recipe that honey really does an amazing job of keeping homemade ice cream soft in the freezer. This is because honey doesn’t actually freeze, it remains liquid at very low temperatures. I think I’ll try adding a few tablespoons to future recipes, even where honey isn’t the main flavor star, to take advantage of this effect.
- egg custard ~ a rich custard ice cream base helps keep things creamy and smooth in the freezer.
- add extra fat ~ because fat doesn’t freeze solid, using a higher proportion of heavy cream, or even adding some cream cheese to your mixture, can help it stay scoopable.
- spike it ~ a couple of tablespoons of alcohol (2 for less alcohol flavor, and up to 4-5 for a pronounced flavor) has a softening effect by lowering the freezing point of the ice cream mixture. Choose an alcohol that complements your ice cream flavor, or use vodka for a neutral favor. Mix it into your ice cream base before churning. Since the alcohol won’t get cooked off, remember this is for adults only!
Variations for honey vanilla ice cream
- Use a whole vanilla bean for a more intense vanilla flavor. You can add the seeds and also add the pod to the milk and cream while it comes up to a simmer, then discard the pod.
- Use agave syrup or maple syrup instead of honey (I like to boil maple syrup down briefly to reduce the water content before adding, see my Maple Walnut Ice Cream Recipe for method)
- Use lavender honey, manuka honey, or a local variety, for a really unique treat.
- Add honeycomb bits to your ice cream. Either fold them in before freezing, or add them right to your ice cream machine at the end of the churning process.
- Check out your spice cabinet for inspiration, you could add cinnamon, cardamom, or even a touch of cayenne for a unique flavor.
- Use almond extract instead of vanilla.
- Make a no egg honey ice cream (Philadelphia style) ~ just omit them and skip to step 7, adding all the ingredients to your machine. It won’t be quite as creamy, but you can do it.
- Make a dairy free honey ice cream using coconut cream and coconut milk.
- Make a soft serve honey ice cream ~ just scoop it straight from the ice cream machine and serve.
- Make raw honey ice cream without heating… add it after the custard mixture has chilled. You can even drizzle it in while the ice cream is churning.
- Make a no churn honey ice cream ~ the New York Times freezes the ice cream mixture in ice cube trays and then processes them in a blender or food processor into a soft serve consistency.
Which ice cream machine do I recommend?
I get asked all the time about what machine I use. I use and recommend Cuisinart. I’ve had my machine for years without any issues, I think because there are no fussy electronic parts to break down ~ it’s a simple motor that turns the freezer bowl for churning the ice cream and it works quickly and perfectly every time.
If you’ve got a KitchenAid stand mixer you can buy an ice cream maker attachment, which works great, too.
- The machine I use, and it’s the base model. It works great for ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbets, and makes all of them in about 20 minutes. Click HERE or click on the image for more info.
Put that ice cream maker to good use this summer!
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
- Wild Blueberry Ice Cream
- Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream
- Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream
- Fresh Lemon Ice Cream
Honey Ice Cream
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup honey of your choice
- 1/2 tsp salt (reduce to 1/4 tsp if desired)
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Whisk the egg yolks together in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
- Heat the cream, milk, honey, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium to medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until it is just barely starting to simmer.
- Remove from the stovetop and temper the egg yolks by slowly pouring a little bit of the hot cream mixture over them, whisking it in as you pour it. Then add the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan and return to the stovetop, again whisking the mixture together as you pour.
- Cook over medium or medium-low heat for 10-12 more minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened. If you are used to making custard-based ice creams, this recipe does not thicken quite as much as others I have made, as the honey keeps it relatively thin, but it should thicken somewhat.
- Pour the custard over a fine mesh strainer, to catch any bits of egg, into a container for chilling. Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.
- Cover and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Churn ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Smooth the ice cream into a freezer safe container and freeze for at least a few hours before enjoying. Best within a couple days.