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Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

This is the long-awaited salted caramel ice cream post. Asked for by Cheryl of 5 Second Rule, with a recipe provided by Cheryl the Backseat Gourmet and tweaked by yours truly.

I know I ranted about caramel in the past. I was critical of undiscerning food industry monkeys who dumped it willy-nilly into any and everything hoping to discover the next “it” junk food item. I have come to believe caramel is best enjoyed when it’s not vying for attention against peanut butter, chocolate, dried fruit, coffee and a laundry list of unpronounceable stabilizers. While it flirts outrageously with popcorn, I believe caramel has found its soul mate in cream.


My first attempt at salted caramel ice cream followed (to the letter) the recipe Backseat Gourmet Cheryl sent me. This seductive version was French-style and called for eggs. I hate making ice cream with eggs but did it anyway. Straining custard is a royal pain. Straining custard during a heat wave in a small kitchen with no cross breeze or air conditioning is sadistic. The resulting ice cream was indeed silky. The taste was intense yet delicately balanced. It bordered on perfection, except it melted VERY quickly.

See. By the time I had the lemon balm in place the scoop was sitting in a puddle of caramel cream.


So I decided to try a Philadelphia style ice cream instead. With no eggs, this variation is less fussy and a bit firmer. The second version was soft as well, but it tasted just as good and took far less time. Phillies 1, French 0.

The high levels of sugar in caramel prevent the ice cream from freezing as solidly as a less sweet flavour, such as chocolate or cinnamon. This is the price one must pay for all this caramelly decadence. But I honestly don’t think your serving will last long enough to melt into a puddle of caramel cream.

See, I couldn’t get through a shoot without falling victim to its siren call.


The only trick to this ice cream is understanding that sugar can turn from delightfully amber to oh-my-god-what-have-I-done umber in seconds. To defend against the needless destruction of innocent sugar use a stainless steel pot with a light interior. It won’t prevent burning, but a light interior allows you to gauge the color of the caramel so you can stop the cooking before the contents slip irrevocably from perfection and inedible. Pots with dark interiors, such as non-stick, leave you flying blind and can lead to under or overcook caramel. Beyond that, this ice cream is a guaranteed hit.

So, here’s my “lazy” version for Cheryl from Cheryl. Ladies, it was a pleasure recipe testing for you.

I previously posted some ice cream making tips. Does anyone have more tricks or shortcuts they care to share before they start melting sugar and digging out the ice cream maker?

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Recipe type: Ice Cream & Frozen Treats
Serves: Avout 1½ litres
  • 1¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2½ cups heavy cream (35%), divided
  • ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cups whole milk
  1. In a heavy skillet with a light-coloured interior (enamel or stainless steel are good), heat 1 cup sugar over medium heat. Stir gently until the sugar starts to melt. When it does, stop stirring but continue to cook the sugar, swirling the skillet occasionally to ensure the sugar melts evenly. As needed, brush the sides of the pan with a natural-bristle pasty brush dipped in cold water, to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. Keep a careful watch on the colour of the caramel. It can go from perfect to burned in a few seconds. The caramel is done when it turns dark amber.
  2. Immediately remove the pan from heat and carefully stir in 1¼ cups cream. Be careful, the mixture will spatter and steam! Continue cooking until all the caramel has dissolved. Pour the caramel into a bowl. Add sea salt and vanilla. Allow the caramel to cool to room temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, bring the milk, the remaining 1¼ cups cream, and remaining ¼ cup sugar just to a boil. Allow to simmer 15 minutes then set aside to cool.
  4. When both the milk mixture and caramel have cooled to room temperature, remove the skin from the milk mixture and stir it into the caramel. Refrigerate the mix, covered, for several hours (or overnight) and then pop it in the freezer for an hour just before churning. You want to churn this when it's really, really cold.
  5. Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream will still be soft but should be firm enough to keep its shape when you remove the paddle. Transfer to an airtight container and freezer until firm. Note: Due to the high sugar content, this ice cream is unusually soft.



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43 Responses to Salted Caramel Ice Cream

  1. Cheryl @ 5secondrule August 19, 2009 at 11:24 am #

    Turning cartwheels here. Big roly poly cartwheels. Thanks to you and my Canadian doppelganger.

    I'm printing the recipe now and will report back…

  2. danamccauley August 19, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    Should I get in my car and start driving toward Guelph or have you eaten all of this heavenly treat already?

    I can bring brownies.

  3. Bridget August 19, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    Salty & sweet? a marriage made in heaven! ♥

  4. Q. August 19, 2009 at 11:58 am #

    Just found your blog via Tastespotting. You're a scream! Too hilarious. I have made one attempt at Caramel and it was a sad, sad affair. Clotilde Dusoulier's Chocolate Caramel Tart. I'm scared to try Caramel again, but I'm SO desperate to try this Salted Caramel Ice Cream that everyone raves about…I may have to just suck it up and conquer my fear.

  5. Christie's Corner August 19, 2009 at 12:04 pm #

    Cheryl, it's a tough job, but someone has to do it!

    Dana, I can always make another batch. Bring brownies.

    Bridget, it's now officially my favourite ice cream. And I love ice cream.

    Q, thanks so much for commenting. If you fear caramel, use a heavy bottomed pan and go SLOWLY. Or just change the name to Burnt Caramel Ice Cream. It's a real dish.

  6. Ramya Kiran August 19, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    Looks delicious! Love anything that tastes caramel. Yummy!!

  7. ABowlOfMush August 19, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    This is my favorite flavor in ice cream! This looks so amazing, I want it now!

  8. Maggie August 19, 2009 at 12:15 pm #

    This looks delicious, thanks for posting! Glad you tried both styles, Philly it is!

  9. Cheryl Arkison August 19, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    Now I have to try it without eggs and compare. I've made it a few times now and I'm in love. I love the texture on it.

    Oh, and I can guarantee that burnt caramel ice cream would not taste good at all. I burnt my caramel making this last week. Not good at all.

    Next time I'm making ice cream sandwiches, but I can't make a decision on the cookie to use. Chocolate? Peanut butter? Oatmeal with salt?

  10. Cheryl Arkison August 19, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    Now I have to try it without eggs and compare. I've made it a few times now and I'm in love. I love the texture on it.

    Oh, and I can guarantee that burnt caramel ice cream would not taste good at all. I burnt my caramel making this last week. Not good at all.

    Next time I'm making ice cream sandwiches, but I can't make a decision on the cookie to use. Chocolate? Peanut butter? Oatmeal with salt?

  11. Christie's Corner August 19, 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    Ramya, A Bowl of Mush, Maggie, thanks for your enthusiasm.

    Q. I withdraw my comment about burnt caramel in light of Cheryl A's experience. I guess it all depends on how burnt your caramel gets.

    Cheryl A, cookies? What about a praline shortbread? A buttery oatmeal might be good too. Oh heck, how can you go wrong? Let me know what you decide on. I will have to live vicariously through you on this one.

  12. The Diva on a Diet August 19, 2009 at 2:19 pm #

    Why oh why do I not live next door to you, Charmian?! I adore salted caramel like almost nothing on earth … my stars this looks GOOD!

    To Cheryl A. – didn't you make some salted chocolate cookies last fall? I vote for making the ice cream sandwiches with them. Heaven!

  13. The Diva on a Diet August 19, 2009 at 2:19 pm #

    Why oh why do I not live next door to you, Charmian?! I adore salted caramel like almost nothing on earth … my stars this looks GOOD!

    To Cheryl A. – didn't you make some salted chocolate cookies last fall? I vote for making the ice cream sandwiches with them. Heaven!

  14. Anh August 19, 2009 at 8:54 pm #

    I will try this ice-cream. Thanks for sharing!

  15. zested August 21, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    I've seen this photo several times – glad I finally ended up on your blog. Striking composition, not to mention delicious-sounding recipe.

  16. Christie's Corner August 22, 2009 at 9:16 am #

    Diva, if we lived next door to each other we wouldn't get any work done but we would get very fat.

    Anh, let me know how it turns out.

    Zested, glad you found you way here! Thanks for the kind words.

  17. Peabody August 24, 2009 at 12:35 am #

    Yum…I love salted caramel anything…and in ice cream…swoon.

  18. Lisa! August 24, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    I just made this and it was incredible.

    I added roasted pecans because it was screaming pralines and cream.

    Thank you!

  19. Manitowoc Ice Machine August 29, 2009 at 8:10 am #

    all delicious salted caramel ice creams………

  20. Cheryl @ 5secondrule September 14, 2009 at 1:24 am #

    I finally got my act together and made this today. Well, started it last night, and finished it today. I am now officially your #1 fan? Anyone want to fight me for the title? Andrew? I will crush even you in my devotion to your wife.

    This Philly version is phenomenal. Creamy, smooth, and very, very caramelly. It was indeed quite soft, but the longer I left it in the freezer, the firmer it became. (Duh.) Of course, with 3 of us eating it all day long there's hardly any left.


  21. Andrew September 15, 2009 at 1:47 pm #

    So, Cheryl, I could not let that challenge go unanswered! I am, after all, the one who offers to taste test each and every recipe before it goes on the blog and I am the one who tames the cats for her. (Well OK, lets call that a work in progress.)

    She's amazing, and darn pretty too!

  22. Susan February 25, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    I made this on Wednesday night and it was the most silly, delicious food I’ve ever eaten. It was silky smooth, with a texture unrivaled by any ice cream I’ve ever had. And the complexity of the flavor was insane. I’ll be making this again and again!

    • Charmian Christie May 30, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

      @Susan, thanks for taking the time to write about your results. (Sorry I missed your comment. I only found it now.) This is one of my favourite recipes. I think “silly delicious” will become one of my new phrases. It is the perfect description.

  23. Alyssa May 22, 2010 at 5:12 am #

    This was delicious, I would especially recommend it with homemade waffle cones. Recipe has been printed and stuffed inside my ice cream recipes book for later cravings. peace, Alyssa

    • Charmian Christie May 30, 2010 at 11:28 pm #

      @Alyssa, homemade waffle cones? Oh, that sounds perfect. I’ve never made my own cones, but homemade ice cream deserves homemade cones (currently, I use bowls only). One of the local ice cream stores makes their own waffle cones on sight. I wonder if they’d just sell me a cone?

  24. Farrah October 18, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    I thought this looked too good to resist, so I made it for today’s belated thanksgiving dinner. My question is – how long should I expect to freeze it before it’s scoopable? I chilled the mixture overnight, froze it for an hour and left it in my ice cream maker 15 minutes extra, but it was still very liquidy when I put it into the container to freeze… Like a very thick sauce. I’m a little worried. Tastes INCREDIBLE though… Will make an amazing caramel sauce if all else fails. Any advice?

    • Charmian Christie October 20, 2010 at 12:20 am #

      Hmmm. I’m stumped, Farrah. The ice cream should NOT be liquid after churning. It will be a bit slushy, like a Dairy Queen soft-serve, but not liquid. It will firm up in the freezer in a couple of hours, but it will never be rock hard like some ice creams because of the high sugar content. I’m not sure what to tell you, which isn’t helpful.

      I’ve looked over the recipe, but am still coming up empty. Assuming you didn’t improvise, I’ve no idea why it didn’t firm up. Fingers crossed it developed some form in the freezer. And I love your attitude to make it into caramel sauce if all else fails. Keep me posted. I’m hoping it just needed a bit of freezer time.

  25. Farrah October 20, 2010 at 12:26 am #

    update on my would-be caramel sauce: it DID freeze – took about 5 or 6 hours in my freezer to get to a scoopable consistency, but it was as creamy as you described! I didn’t need to resort to making it into a sauce; I just needed to be patient. Not sure why it seemed so liquidy when I first made it, but it did work out… maybe my ice cream maker lacks oomph. Thank you again for the recipe and for your reply – it was the most impressive part of my thanksgiving dinner.

    • Charmian Christie October 20, 2010 at 12:34 am #

      Oh, I’m so relieved. I was worried I’d ruined your Thanksgiving.

      What style of ice cream maker do you have? Mine has a drum you have to freeze before churning. I find it doesn’t work if I freeze it in the freezer that’s part of my refrigerator. I find it only works if I freeze it in my upright freezer, which is really cold (-22C) and rarely opened. Also, ignore the manufacturer’s directions to freeze the drum for a mere 6 hours. If mine doesn’t get at good 24 hours between batches, it’s useless.

      Thanks so much for getting back to me. I’m glad this had a happy ending and everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving dessert.

  26. Reeta September 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    I made this ice cream, delicious !!! yes, you have to watch your caramel, but it’s not that hard ladies…just try and re try…I hate using eggs in the icecreams too, so this recipe worked really well…i did not boil the cream and milk, and added 1/4 tea sp. more salt than the recipe…my family loved it….! I am an icecream queen now !!!!

    • Charmian Christie September 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

      Woo hoo! Lovely to hear this. The amount of salt varies with the kind used and your palate. Glad to hear your family loved it. Ice Cream Queen indeed!!

  27. Anja August 27, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    I tried making salted caramel ice cream from Epicurious this past weekend for the first time and was amazed with the results, but I did have a few hiccups with the caramel portion of the recipe. I have a hard time NOT stirring and ended up with sugar rocks in my caramel! Once I strained the caramel it was fine, but still annoying! I’m going to give your egg free recipe a try next time to compare.

    • Charmian Christie August 27, 2012 at 11:08 am #

      The trick to caramel sauce is not stirring. If you must fiddle, brush down the sides with a natural bristle pastry brush dipped in water. That will keep the sides of the pot clear and your hands occupied. I learned this one the hard way!

      My version is very soft but it’s easier than the egg version. Good luck with your next batch!

  28. Lynne November 25, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    Finally a recipe for a salted caramel without the eggs, yay made my day you have. Being a foodie and working in the industry I bought myself an icecream maker and then discovered one of my colleagues was milking cows and desperate for some good clean whole milk I said I would make him an icecream for some milk. I trialled the eggy version, help the splatter of the cream in the toffee turned to lumps of caramel in the icecream, tasted ok, was a bit gritty as I didnt strain it and i thought why isnt there an eggfree version and up you come in my search. Im about to try it out soon and will let you know the result.. thx

    • Charmian Christie November 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

      I hope you like the results. My friends and I did, but be warned, without the eggs, this ice cream is very soft. It is lovely, though. It does require you freeze the ice cream once churned — and pop back into the freezer asap. This ice cream has no stabilizers so it melts quickly.

      Love to hear how it works out. Happy churning!

  29. SY July 26, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

    Tried this the other day – it actually took way longer to make the caramel than I expected. I also didn’t realize how easily milk can boil over (like literally, in a blink of an eye) and that was a little fiasco in and of itself.

    I ended up being really impatient and threw both the mlik/caramel that was mixed together in the fridge before they go to room temperature and froze it a half hour after that cause I just wanted ice cream! And i finally was able to have it today and it was amazing! i loved how simple ingredients could make this so good.

    So all in all, it was a lot of effort and clean up, but the results were pretty amazing.

    • Charmian Christie July 27, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

      Yes, caramel can take time. I fully understand how you feel and love that you used the freezer to speed up the process. I while away the chill time by cleaning up the kitchen — which is usually a mess after I’ve been at anything culinary.

      You’re right. Simple ingredients often yield the best results. So glad you were happy with the ice cream.

  30. Mimi August 24, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    This is THE best ice cream I have made so far. Thank you, Charmian!

    • Charmian Christie August 25, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

      Thanks so much, Mimi. I’m so glad you liked it. It’s one of my all time favourites, too. But I’m biased ;-)

  31. Carrie September 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this AMAZING ice cream recipe! It is truly the best I’ve ever had! You deserve a major prize, honor, title (Queen of Ice Cream) for your efforts.

    • Charmian Christie September 12, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

      Queen of Ice Cream?! Oh, I’ll take that title any day. And an extra scoop :-)

      Thanks for your enthusiastic comment. I’m so glad you like the recipe.

  32. Jess January 17, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    Delicious ice cream. I’ve just churned mine and added candied bacon as a mix in. I’m not sure I ended up with 1.5 liters, though. I think I’ll probably go ahead and double it next time. Thanks for sharing.

    • Charmian Christie January 17, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

      Candied bacon? That’s genius! Thank you for sharing your variation. Next time I’m going to give that a try.

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