Black Walnut Ice Cream

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black walnut ice cream recipe, in a white bowl
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

There is absolutely nothing like this black walnut ice cream.

Black walnuts are so much more flavorful than regular walnuts that you will be blown away by this recipe. I harvest my own black walnuts, but you can buy black walnuts online as well.

The reason this ice cream is so good is because black walnuts lend their flavor to fatty things, like cream, much better than regular walnuts. I am not sure why, but it seems to be the case in my experience. Can you use regular walnuts to make this ice cream? Yes, but it will not be the same. Nothing beats wild walnuts.

For my recipe, I do a black walnut double-dip: First I infuse the cream with the nuts, which gives it flavor and a little color, and then I add those walnuts back in the final ice cream, which is itself enriched by several egg yolks. It’s roll-your-eyes-back-in-your-head good.

You can use this recipe as a template for any similar nut, so regular walnuts, pecans, hickory nuts and butternuts.

Another thing that makes my black walnut ice cream better than most others is that I use real vanilla, as in a pod, not extract. This makes a difference, but the ice cream will still be fine if you use an extract — just use a decent extract, not the imitation crap.

If you want something over your ice cream, the obvious choice is a chocolate drizzle. I prefer to add chocolate chips in the ice cream itself as a variation; add them in halfway through the churn.

black walnut ice cream in a bowl
5 from 8 votes

Black Walnut Ice Cream

This recipe and method works with any similar nut. 
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup black walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 4 or 5 egg yolks

Instructions 

  • Heat the cream, milk, sugar and walnut pieces in a heavy-bottomed pot to 170 degrees, or to the point at which it steams but does not simmer. Turn off the heat, add the vanilla bean and the scraped insides of the bean, stir well and cover. Let this cool for 1 hour.
  • Move the mixture to a container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight.
  • Strain the mixture to remove the vanilla bean and the walnut pieces. Reserve the walnut pieces and set them in the fridge.
  • Heat the strained mixture to 160°F. As it is heating, beat the egg yolks to combine. When the cream has hit its temperature, you will need to temper your eggs so they don’t scramble. One hand holds a ladle, the other whisks the egg yolks: Pour in a little hot cream with one hand, whisking vigorously with the other. Pour in 2 ladles full, then pour the egg-cream mixture into the pot and stir well. Cook this gently, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Do not let it simmer.
  • Strain this one more time and chill the mixture down at least to room temperature before putting into the ice cream maker. Churn it until it has the consistency of soft-serve ice cream, then remove to a large bowl and gently fold in the reserved black walnut pieces. Freeze and eat!

Notes

Note that the prep time does not include chill time or the time it takes to churn your ice cream. 

Nutrition

Calories: 321kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 43mg | Potassium: 152mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 883IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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36 Comments

  1. When I was a kid, seven decades ago, a neighbor’s grandfather had a burlap sack full of black walnuts. We would crack them open on the driveway with hammers and eat them ’till they came out our ears.
    Now I have several trees along my own driveway, and beat the squirrels to the spoils. Well, …most of them anyway.
    I’ve got them all husked and drying.
    Plan on using them in ice cream, cake and fudge.
    I’ve sourced recipes on the internet and this one sounds like the winner.

  2. Black walnut is the most elegant old-fashion ice cream. I believe they invented ice cream to go with black walnuts, not the other way around! I collect and crack my own black walnuts, chop some up fine, and leave the rest as they cracked out, up to full 1/4 nut meat sizes. I simply add the nuts to rich vanilla custard ice cream (19.5% butterfat) near the end of the churning cycle before putting the final mix in the freezer. Simple, but I never had any complaints, unless I ran out when serving it.
    Another old-fashion flavor is sassafras, made with an extract of hand-harvested dried sassafras root bark stuffed into an airplane size 50 mL liquor bottle with vodka added. A small amount of this 40% alcohol extract will flavor 2 quarts of ice cream in my Cuisinart ice cream maker. (For those concerned about alcohol content, most flavoring extracts are 35% alcohol anyway).

    P.S.: I am an amateur mycologist and avid mycophagist- one of my favorite recipes is cream of chanterelle soup. I once was served a frozen cake-roll dessert with whipped cream filling containing finely diced chanterelles lending a mild apricot flavor, created by a chefs’ chef for 300 attendees at the 1993 NAMA foray at Fort Worden in Townsend, Washington. YUM!

  3. oh boy!!!! This black walnut ice cream sound amazing cant wait to try it.
    Thank you for all your recipes.

  4. Hi. I’ve used this recipe many times over the years and I’ve never been disappointed. I usually give the mixture an extra day and it’s very thick before churning. I’ve made a batch just yesterday and I got up this morning, tempered the eggs and its been chilling since 10am but the mixture is still thin. How does your mixture look before churning it?

  5. My husband loves this recipe for black walnut icecream. When we could not buy Blue Bell Ice Cream and other brands were “not the real thing” I searched for a recipe. I also add one teaspoon of black walnut extract to the mixture

    1. Shirley: Scale up the recipe as you need it. If it comes to less than a full egg, err on more egg, not less.

  6. Hey honest-food.net, I’ve got a question. My girlfriend and I are making this ice cream, and I’ve found a something I don’t get. Hopefully the article isn’t so old that you couldn’t respond.

    Now I’ve never made ice cream before, right? But most other recipes I’ve found don’t make you chill the cream, milk, sugar, walnut mixture for 4-8 hours before adding eggs. Usually it’s just combine everything, chill, put it in the machine. The only reason I could see is to let the flavors meld possibly, but the extra time is kind of annoying at least for our situation.

    So bottom line, why are you having us chill the cream, milk, sugar, walnut before adding the eggs?

    Thanks a lot

  7. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. Black Walnut ice cream was a favorite of mine back in the 1960’s from the local dairy in my home town in Louisiana, MO.

    I purchase my black walnuts from the local Amish or the Mennonite stores in Adair Co. MO when I travel back to visit relatives. Both sects have communities in the area. Also found these in the Jamesport MO store while travelling through.

    I always support these stores. They are known for great quality and prices on bulk food items.

  8. When I was a kid my grandparents had a black walnut tree. When the nuts fell to the ground we collected them. The husks were dry and brittle and woul snap off. A little hammer and a stoop step of concrete opened them just fine. We hit them on the seam so the shell broke in pieces most of the time. We removed the nut meat and placed in jars what we didn’t eat. Lol. Loved them fresh