No-Churn Mint Julep Ice Cream Recipe

If you're anything like us, Kentucky Derby season means that a new bottle of bourbon takes residence in the bar cabinet, ready to use for obligatory mint juleps. The official drink of the Derby, the bourbon-and-mint cocktails are famously slung during the races, topping out at over 150,000 made each Derby weekend at Churchill Downs. For those of us at home, 1 or 2 juleps can usually suffice, leaving us with over half of a bottle of bourbon to use on weekends beyond. Sure, you can sip it stiff or use it in other bourbon-forward cocktails, but you can also use it to elevate some of your favorite kitchen classics.

Bourbon works especially well in desserts, where the hints of vanilla and caramel come forward to balance out sweet treats. In this recipe written with developer Michelle McGlinn, the flavors of Churchill Downs' juleps are transformed into a soft and creamy ice cream that is equal parts sweet, minty, and rich. For anyone who loves the classic minty cocktail, this boozy ice cream is the perfect way to reimagine it as an extra-sweet after-dinner treat.

All of the ingredients needed for no-churn mint julep ice cream

First, you'll want to make sure you have plenty of mint. Look for spearmint to imitate the closest flavor to a julep, and use peppermint as a backup or for a sweeter taste. If you have a green thumb, your best option may even be the mint growing in your own garden. From there, you'll need heavy whipping cream, salt, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and bourbon. We opted for Woodford Reserve to stay Derby-themed, but any decent bourbon will do the trick. Our tip? Pick one you like sipping over ice.

Step 1: Add the cream and mint to a saucepan

Add the mint, heavy cream, and salt to a saucepan.

Step 2: Infuse the cream with mint

Heat over medium heat until just warmed; do not allow the mixture to simmer or boil. Remove the saucepan from heat and steep for 10–20 minutes to infuse the mint into the cream.

Step 3: Strain away the mint

Strain the leaves and transfer the cream to a large bowl.

Step 4: Cover and chill

Cover the surface of the cream with plastic wrap and chill until completely cooled, about 2 hours.

Step 5: Whip the cream

Once cooled, whip the cream into stiff peaks.

Step 6: Whisk the remaining ingredients together

In another bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, vanilla, and bourbon.

Step 7: Add the sweeteners to the whipped cream

Whisk the condensed milk mixture into the whipped cream until combined.

Step 8: Freeze until solid

Transfer to a loaf pan or baking pan and cover. Freeze until solid, about 6–8 hours.

Step 9: Scoop and serve

Let thaw slightly, then scoop to serve.

What is the best way to whip cream?

Whipping cream mimics the traditional method of churning, which incorporates air into the cream so that it freezes into smooth, creamy ice cream. Unlike churning, which requires specific equipment, whipped cream can pretty easily be made at home.

First, make sure the cream is completely cooled. When cream is warm or even room temp, the fat globules are too soft to whip and solidify. If any film formed under the plastic wrap, remove it before whipping. Choose a deep bowl — stainless steel, if possible, which retains temperature — and chill the bowl.

Then, choose a whisking tool. An immersion blender with a whisk attachment, a hand mixer, a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or a simple whisk all work — the higher the speed, the faster the cream will whip, so we recommend against the whisk to save your arms the work. Start on a low speed, then quickly increase to high and whisk in a circular motion. The mixture will quickly form bubbles, foaming to about twice the size. Whisk this foamy mixture until you feel it begin thickening, then watch closely: Whipped cream can easily be over-whisked into butter. As the mixture turns from foam into whipped cream, begin whisking slower, pausing intermittently to check for soft peaks. Once the peaks stand straight up on their own without collapsing — otherwise known as stiff peaks — stop whisking.

What can I use instead of fresh mint in this ice cream recipe?

This recipe requires a large bunch of mint to infuse the cream with flavor. If you don't have access to fresh bunches of mint or simply don't have time to infuse the cream, there are a few ways to make the ice cream anyways. The easiest option is peppermint extract, which you can add to the cream before whipping, forgoing any steeping at all. Peppermint extract is potent, so add just 2 drops to start, increasing the amount by 1 drop at a time, as needed. Remember that the whipped cream isn't going to be sweet until the condensed milk is added; the peppermint flavor will taste more like mint ice cream once all of the ingredients are added. 

If you don't have peppermint extract, the next best thing is actually in your liquor cabinet: crème de menthe. Though this will make the ice cream a little extra-boozy, crème de menthe will add a distinct mint flavor without any need for fresh mint or steeping. Whip the cream first, then fold in 1 ounce of crème de menthe and continue with the recipe.

No-Churn Mint Julep Ice Cream Recipe
5 from 28 ratings
Give your Derby Day offerings a sweet spin with a no-churn, perfectly soft ice cream that incorporates the time-honored combo of fresh mint and bourbon.
Prep Time
8.33
hours
Cook Time
5
minutes
Servings
8
servings
scoop of ice cream
Total time: 8 hours, 25 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 cups mint leaves, packed
  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
Directions
  1. Add the mint, heavy cream, and salt to a saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium heat until just warmed; do not allow the mixture to simmer or boil. Remove the saucepan from heat and steep for 10–20 minutes to infuse the mint into the cream.
  3. Strain the leaves and transfer the cream to a large bowl.
  4. Cover the surface of the cream with plastic wrap and chill until completely cooled, about 2 hours.
  5. Once cooled, whip the cream into stiff peaks.
  6. In another bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, vanilla, and bourbon.
  7. Whisk the condensed milk mixture into the whipped cream until combined.
  8. Transfer to a loaf pan or baking pan and cover. Freeze until solid, about 6–8 hours.
  9. Let thaw slightly, then scoop to serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 589
Total Fat 47.5 g
Saturated Fat 30.2 g
Trans Fat 1.5 g
Cholesterol 151.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 32.4 g
Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
Total Sugars 30.5 g
Sodium 174.8 mg
Protein 8.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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