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Butter Pecan Ice Cream

This stellar butter pecan ice cream combines a creamy brown butter ice cream with homemade pecan brittle made from pecans, butter, and sugar. A perfect Southern dessert.

This isn’t your typical butter pecan ice cream. It’s richer than most, creamier than most, and, thanks to its copious and generously sized shards of pecan brittle, crunchier than most. It’s also infused with what can only be described as rich molasses notes from the dark brown sugar. Pass some spoons, please. And let us just say, as we talk with our mouths full, a word of thanks to the Southern sensibility that created this summer standby, because only in the South do they pull off graceful and indulgent at the same time.–Renee Schettler


If you’d like to skip the step of making the pecan brittle, you can add 8 ounces (227 g) of toffee bits, such as Heath brand “Bits o’ Brickle” (often found in the baking aisle of the supermarket), to the mixture instead. You can also make this recipe with a different nut brittle if that’s what you desire.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Butter pecan ice cream in a black bowl, with a spoon.

This stellar butter pecan ice cream combines a creamy brown butter ice cream with homemade pecan brittle made from pecans, butter, and sugar. A perfect Southern dessert.

Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna

Prep 30 mins

Chill 8 hrs

Total 9 hrs



8 servings

888 kcal

No ratings yet

For the brown sugar ice cream

For the pecan brittle

Make the brown sugar ice cream

  • Fill a large heatproof bowl or your kitchen sink about halfway with ice water.

  • In a medium saucepan off the heat, combine the brown sugar, skim milk powder, and milk. Blend with an immersion or stick blender, mix with a handheld mixer, or whisk until smooth. Make sure the skim milk powder is wholly dissolved and that no lumps remain (any remaining sugar granules, on the other hand, will dissolve when heated). Stir in the cream.
  • Clip the candy or deep-fry thermometer to the saucepan and set the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often with a rubber spatula and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking and burning, until the mixture reaches 110°F (45°C), 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

  • Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. While whisking constantly, slowly pour 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) hot milk mixture into the egg yolks to temper them. Continue to whisk slowly until the mixture is an even color and consistency, then whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the remaining milk mixture.

  • Return the saucepan to medium heat and continue cooking the mixture, stirring often, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon and reaches 165°F (75°C), 5 to 10 minutes more.

  • Transfer the saucepan to the ice water in the sink and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and making certain absolutely no ice water spills into the pan. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Pour the ice cream base through a strainer into a resealable container and refrigerate for about 8 hours.

Make the pecan brittle

  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C). Butter a 12-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.

  • Spread the pecans in a single layer on the parchment and toast until they just begin to change color, about 10 minutes. Immediately transfer to a plate and let cool. Reserve the prepared baking sheet for the brittle.

  • Grab a medium deep-sided saucepan (3 1/2- to 4-quart would be perfect) and add the syrup, sugar, salt, butter, and water. Clip the candy thermometer to the side of the pan and set the pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the ingredients are combined and the sugar has dissolved, then continue to cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 305°F (150°C), at least 15 minutes and up to 25 minutes. You want to constantly monitor the temperature so that it doesn’t rise above 310°F (154°C).

  • Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the pecans and baking soda and whisk to combine. (The baking soda will cause the mixture to bubble slightly but not too furiously. This is where that deep-sided saucepan comes in handy, as it keeps spatters to a minimum.) Working quickly, as the mixture will begin to set as the temperature drops, spread the mixture evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Let the mixture cool at room temperature until it’s brittle, about 2 hours.

  • Break the brittle into bite-size pieces and store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to use.

Assemble the butter pecan brittle ice cream

  • Pour the cooled base into an ice cream maker and churn it until it’s ready, 30 to 40 minutes.

  • Move the ice cream to a resealable freezer-safe storage container, folding in the pecan brittle pieces as you do. Use as much of the brittle as you want; you won’t necessarily need the whole batch. (We found that about 1/2 batch of brittle was just right.) Serve the butter pecan brittle ice cream immediately if you prefer a super soft consistency or stash it in your freezer for 8 to 12 hours to harden if you prefer to be able to scoop it.

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 888kcal (44%)Carbohydrates: 76g (25%)Protein: 11g (22%)Fat: 64g (98%)Saturated Fat: 23g (144%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 11gMonounsaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 176mg (59%)Sodium: 394mg (17%)Potassium: 462mg (13%)Fiber: 4g (17%)Sugar: 70g (78%)Vitamin A: 1471IU (29%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 252mg (25%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

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Originally published April 27, 2016


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