Black Walnut Ice Cream

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This homemade black walnut ice cream is rich, creamy, and filled with bold and crunchy black walnuts. Perfect for the summertime or any black walnut lover, this homemade ice cream is delicious and very flavorful! 

If you want to try a few more sweet frozen treats this summer check out my French Vanilla Ice Cream, Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream, or Butter Pecan Ice Cream recipes next!

Overhead image of black walnut ice cream in a tea cup.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read the full disclosure here.

My older sister and I took a poll. Older black men love black walnut ice cream. My father, both of my grandfathers and many others, all love this flavor. I don’t know if it’s a Southern or Midwestern thing or what, but it’s always a popular favorite for them!

My homemade black walnut ice cream features a sweet vanilla custard base filled with flavorful chopped black walnuts studded throughout! It’s a from-scratch recipe that is made with 7 organic ingredients and everyone will love this tasty treat no matter when you serve it!

One of my favorite things about this ice cream recipe is that it’s not only delicious but super easy to make! The process involves a few steps and the hardest part is waiting for the ice cream to freeze so before you can dive in!

What are black walnuts?

The black walnut tree is native to North America and these wild nuts are harvested and hand-picked in the Midwest.

If you’ve never had them before they are a variety of walnuts that are known for their unique, earthy, and bold flavor. I also find them to have an almost floral flavor sort of like perfume. Their taste is much more robust than regular walnuts or English walnuts and they’re popular to use in ice cream, cookies, pies, or pound cake!

Where to buy?

Black walnuts are not as readily available as regular walnuts so it can be a bit hard to find in them in grocery stores. I’ve had success in finding them in health food stores and of course on Amazon!

Black Walnut Ice Cream Ingredients

Chopped black walnuts – the star of this show! They have a rich, earthy, and unique flavor that just makes this homemade ice cream the best!

Whole Milk – the perfect combination of creaminess when combined with heavy cream. 

Heavy whipping cream – to give a rich and smooth creamy consistency to the ice cream. 

Pure vanilla extract – gives a nice rich flavor. Sometimes I like to use vanilla bean paste to increase the vanilla flavor even more.

Cane sugar you could also use white sugar or brown sugar (or a combination of the two!) to give a nice golden color and light caramel flavor.

Egg yolks – Used to create a rich custard ice cream base. Don’t worry we will cook the eggs so there won’t be any raw eggs in your ice cream!

Salt – just a bit to balance out the other flavors. 

How to Make Black Walnut Ice Cream:

All ingredients, measurements, and instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Make sure your ice cream bowl has been frozen for at least 24 hours before starting. 

Step one. In a medium sauce pot add milk, heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract or paste, and salt. Stir to combine. Cook on medium-high heat until steamy, but not boiling (5-10 minutes).

Sugar in a large bowl next to a bowl of eggs.
Large bowl with sugar and egg yolks.

Step two. In a large bowl add cane sugar and egg yolks. It’s easier to first crack the whole egg into a separate bowl and then scoop out the yolk with your hands, allowing the whites to fall back into the bowl. 

Egg yolks whisked with sugar.
Egg yolks whisked with sugar until light in color.

Step three. Whisk the eggs yolks and sugar together until it looks lighter in color with a light and fluffy texture, 5 minutes. 

Egg yolks and sugar whisked a bit of hot milk.
Egg yolks tempered with hot milk in a large bowl.

Step four. Reduce the heat to low, then pour 2 cups of the hot milk into a measuring cup. Slowly pour a few tablespoons of the hot milk/cream mixture at a time into the egg mixture while whisking. We don’t want to scramble the eggs but slowly temper them. Once you’ve added about ½ cup of the milk you can pour the rest into the bowl. 

Step five. Pour the egg/milk mixture into the sauce pot with the rest of the milk. Stir to combine. Cook the custard base for 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened slightly and the temperature has reached at least 170 – 175 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Cooked egg custard ice cream base in a large bowl.

Step six. Strain your ice cream base into a large mixing bowl. This is to remove any egg chunks. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow the ice cream base to cool for at least 2 hours on the counter then transfer to refrigerator to chill completely. This usually takes 2 – 4 hours. 

Step seven. Churn the ice cream base according to your machine’s instructions. After 20 minutes it should look soft and fluffy and creamy like soft-serve ice cream. Next, add in your chopped black walnuts then allow everything to mix for another 1 – 2 minutes.

Step eight. Transfer your homemade ice cream into freezer-safe containers to freeze completely for 6 –  8 hours or overnight. 

Step nine. Serve with more chopped black walnuts or homemade whipped cream. Enjoy!

Overhead image of clack walnut ice cream in tea cups with a spoon.

Variations

If you want a richer black walnut flavor heat the milk/ cream mixture with 1 – 2 tablespoons of black walnuts. Strain and discard these nuts before whisking the milk mixture into the egg/sugar mixture. 

Recommended Tools

Ice cream machine

Ice cream machine freezer bowl

Kitchen thermometer

Fine mesh sieve or strainer, to strain the egg mixture

2 Large mixing bowls

Freezer-safe ice cream storage containers

Reusable Freezer Ice Cream Containers

Medium sauce pot

Close up on black walnut ice cream in a freezer storage container.

HOMEMADE ICE CREAM TIPS:

  • Dairy Cream and Milk: I have only used dairy heavy cream and whole milk for this recipe. I wouldn’t recommend substituting anything else, because your ice cream might not be as rich and creamy. 
  • Completely Chill Ice Cream Base: Make sure you completely chill the ice cream base before churning. Otherwise, the ice cream may not churn properly causing your ice to be less creamy.
  • Cook the Ice Cream Base Low and Slow Until it Reaches the Right Temperature: Don’t strain and chill your ice cream base until it reaches 170 – 175F degrees and has thickened. Otherwise, your ice cream may not churn properly or be as creamy. 
  • Completely Chill the Ice Cream Bowl: Make sure the ice cream bowl is completely chilled (for at least 24 hours) before churning – a warm bowl can impact the churning process. 
  • Hot Environment Can Impact Churning: If you are churning in a hot room it can cause the ice cream to not churn properly.
  • Whisk Eggs and Sugar until Smooth: When whisking the egg yolks with the sugar, it will be chunky at first, but keep whisking until it turns very smooth and pale yellow.
  • Ice Cream Base will Thicken as it Chills in the Refrigerator: The ice cream base might be thick when you pour it into the ice cream machine, this is normal.
Close up image of ice cream in a tea cup with a spoon.

How To Store/ Make Ahead

You can make the ice cream base up to 2 days in advance. Store covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator until you are ready to churn it. 

Homemade black walnut ice cream will keep in the freezer for several weeks if not  1 – 2 months if stored properly in air-tight freezer-safe containers. 

We love to store our ice cream in these cup-sized reusable ice cream containers.

Frequently Asked Questions  —

What does black walnut ice cream taste like?

Black walnut ice cream is creamy, and nutty with a bold and earthy flavor. 

What is the difference between black walnuts and regular walnuts?

The difference between these two nuts is their flavor. Black walnuts have a distinctively strong flavor that is earthy and sometimes a little bitter. Regular walnuts or English walnuts, on the other hand, are nutty and mild. 

Can I use regular walnuts instead of black walnuts?

Nope! Black walnuts have a very distinct and bold flavor that is so very different from regular walnuts. Technically you can substitute with regular walnuts but your ice cream will miss that intense flavor that black walnut ice cream is known for!

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Black walnut ice cream in a tea cup with chopped nuts on top.

Black Walnut Ice Cream

This homemade black walnut ice cream is rich, creamy, and filled with bold and crunchy black walnuts. Perfect for the summertime or any black walnut lover, this homemade ice cream is delicious and very flavorful! 
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Freezing time: 12 hours
Total Time: 13 hours
Servings: 8 servings or 4 cups
Calories: 420kcal
Cost: $15

Equipment

  • Ice cream machine with ice cream storage containers or loaf pan
  • whisk
  • Medium-sized pot

Ingredients

Instructions 

How to Make the Ice Cream Base:

  • Chill your ice cream bowl for at least 24 hours before starting.
  • In a medium-sized pot add the heavy cream, whole milk, salt, and vanilla extract. Mix together. Heat the milk/cream mixture until it starts to steam, but not boiling or simmering. This will take about 10 minutes. 2 cups heavy cream 1 cup whole milk 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • While you are waiting for the milk/ cream mixture to warm up, start separating your eggs. The easiest way to separate the egg yolks from the whites is to crack the whole egg into one bowl. Using your hands, gently scoop out the yolk. Allow the egg whites to fall down into the bowl through your fingers. Then add the egg yolk into a large mixing bowl. Repeat with the other 4 eggs. 5 egg yolks
  • Next, add the sugar. Whisk until the egg mixture becomes pale yellow in color and light and fluffy in texture with a silky ribbon consistency (3 -5 minutes). This mixture will be chunky at first but keep whisking until smooth. ¾ cup granulated sugar

Temper the Eggs:

  • Pour 2 cups of your warm milk mixture into a measuring cup. Add a few tablespoons of the milk to the egg mixture, then whisk to combine. Slowly add milk while whisking until you've added 1/2 cup then pour the rest into the bowl.
  • Next, pour your egg/ milk/ cream mixture back into the pot, whisking in the remaining milk in the pot. Cook this mixture on low heat until the ice cream base has thickened a little and has reached a temperature between 170F and 175F degrees, mixing occasionally. You don’t want this mixture to boil. The ice cream base will look creamy and will start to steam. This will take about 20 minutes.
  • Once your mixture is up to temperature, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve or strainer into a large mixing bowl, to remove any egg chunks.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the ice cream mixture to cool on the counter for 2 hours, then transfer it to the refrigerator to cool completely for another 2 - 4 hours.

Churning the Black Walnut Ice Cream:

  • Churn your ice cream base according to your ice cream machine’s instructions. Your ice cream should look soft, fluffy, and incredibly creamy, like soft-serve ice cream. This usually takes about 20 minutes. Add in the chopped black walnuts. Allow the machine to mix everything together for 1 - 2 minutes. 4 oz or ¾ cup black walnuts
  • Transfer your homemade black walnut ice cream into freezer-safe containers to freeze completely (6 - 8 hours).
  • Serve with homemade whipped cream or topped with chopped black walnuts. Enjoy!

Notes

You can make the ice cream base up to 2 days in advance. Store covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator until you are ready to churn it.
Homemade black walnut ice cream can last for several weeks in the freezer.

Nutrition

Calories: 420kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 192mg | Sodium: 106mg | Potassium: 189mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 1092IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutrition information is automatically generated and should be only used as a rough estimate. This recipe card may contain affiliate links.

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