Popcorn Ice Cream is one of the most unique homemade ice cream flavors you’ll probably ever try. It’s incredibly creamy, but with a lightly salty and sweet flavor and that buttered popcorn taste you love to snack on.
We make a popcorn soup that is to die for. Every time we make it, whoever is eating it goes crazy over it because it’s so creamy, yet so full of popcorn flavor. It blows any corn soup you’ve ever had out of the water. So we were thinking, what if we modified that recipe to make popcorn ice cream. Surely that would be good!
Well, we were right. It’s not just good. It’s really addictively good. If you like salty sweet desserts, like kettle corn, you have to give this ice cream a try!
Ingredients You’ll Need
This ice cream uses a custard base, so it has egg yolks in it. If you don’t want to add any eggs, you can follow this vanilla ice cream base.
- Popcorn – I use regular butter microwave popcorn. Don’t use extra butter or extra salt versions.
- Sweet corn – You can cut the corn off an ear of fresh sweet corn or use a can of corn with the juice removed.
- Butter – Sauteeing the corn in butter give it an extra boost of buttery flavor. I use salted butter.
- Vegetable stock – Cooking the corn in vegetable stock gives all the delicious savory flavors.
- Heavy cream – Be sure to use heavy whipping cream for the creamiest ice cream.
- Whole milk – I always use whole milk – we’re not pretending this is a low-fat dessert.
- Egg yolks – Set the eggs and milk out about 15 minutes before you start to get them to room temp.
- Sugar – Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
What Ice Cream Maker to Use?
If you’re really wanting to make great ice cream at home, you have to invest in an ice cream maker. I’ve had the same one for many years and it’s never made a bad ice cream.
The one I recommend is the Cuisinart 1.5 quart ice cream maker. It comes in a few different colors and it looks neat and tidy. You just have to keep to recipes that are small enough to fit, which shouldn’t be a problem.
The Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker is a slightly more professional model that’s 2 quarts and has an LCD screen and 3 settings plus an improved paddle with faster processing time.
How to Make Popcorn Ice Cream
Step One: Cook the corn mixture
In one saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and corn. Saute until softened, about 10 minutes. Add vegetable stock and reduce down by half for about 10-15 minutes, until there’s only 1 cup remaining. Remove from heat. Pour into a sealable container. Cover and chill completely.
Step Two: Add the popcorn, blend, and strain
Pop the popcorn according to the microwave instructions.
Add the chilled corn mixture to the blender. Add 1/2 of the bag of popcorn to the corn mixture and stir it together.
Blend the corn mixture until smooth. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve to remove the solids. Reserve until ready to churn the ice cream.
Step Three: Make the ice cream base
In another saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, salt, and half the sugar. Stir the mixture constantly as you bring it just to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining sugar just until combined.
To temper the eggs, slowly add 1/2 cup of the cream mixture in a drizzle into the egg mixture. Do this slowly so as not to cook the eggs.
Pour the entire egg mixture back into the saucepan with the cream mixture. Simmer over medium heat, about 3 minutes. Do not boil.
Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool.
Pour the cooled ice cream mixture into the bowl with the corn mixture and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.
Step Four: Churn the Ice Cream
Remember that for most ice cream makers, you have to put the bowl in the freezer at least a day in advance to make sure it is cold enough.
When you’re ready to churn the ice cream, take the bowl out of the freezer and assemble the ice cream maker. Pour the corn mixture into your ice cream maker. Churn until the ice cream is thick, about 10-15 minutes.
Once thickened, turn off the machine and scoop the ice cream into a freezer safe container. Let the ice cream firm up in the freezer for at least 2 hours before serving.
We always serve the ice cream with a little bit of the remaining popped corn on top. You could also serve it with caramel corn or kettle corn for extra sweetness. Maybe even a drizzle of caramel syrup.
Tips & Notes
- Be sure to use heavy whipping cream for the creamiest ice cream.
- Remember that for most ice cream makers, you have to put the bowl in the freezer at least a day in advance to make sure it is cold enough.
- You can cut the corn off an ear of fresh sweet corn or use a can of corn with the juice removed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does this ice cream have to be made in an ice cream maker?
This ice cream recipe is made in the ice cream maker. It’s an easy way to churn the ice cream mixture to make it freeze faster and make it super creamy, so we prefer it.
However you can still make it without an ice cream maker. At the end, mix in only half of the heavy cream and reserve the rest. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. When ready to eat, add the ice cream cubes to the blender with the remaining heavy cream and blend until smooth.
Do I have to add eggs to the ice cream?
Eggs add flavor, prevent ice crystallization, and create a smooth and creamy texture, so they are an important ingredient for delicious ice cream. You can make ice cream without eggs. Here is a chocolate ice cream recipe that doesn’t include eggs.
Can I use a different type of popcorn?
You can use any type of popcorn you want in this recipe. I would suggest you stick with at least lightly buttered and salted. Extra butter or salt is not a good idea because the recipe already has some in it. If you want it to be extra sweet, you can even use kettle corn.
If you want to pop the corn yourself that’s fine too. You might need to add a little bit more salt to get the right savory notes, since your popcorn won’t have butter or salt.
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Creamy Popcorn Ice Cream
For the corn base:
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 ear fresh corn shaved from the cob or 1/2 cup canned corn
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups popped popcorn divided
For the ice cream custard
- 1/2 cup sugar divided
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 cup single cream or half & half
- In one saucepan, over medium heat, add the butter and corn. Saute until softened, about 10 minutes. Add vegetable stock and reduce down by half, over medium heat, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Pop the popcorn. Add 1/2 of the bag to the corn mixture and stir it together. Cover and chill completely.
- Once chilled, blend the corn mixture in a blender until smooth. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve to remove the solids. Reserve until ready to churn the ice cream.
- In another saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, salt, and half the sugar. Stir the mixture constantly as you bring it just to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining sugar just until combined.
- To temper the eggs, slowly add 1/2 cup of the milk mixture in a drizzle into the egg mixture. Do this slowly so as not to cook the eggs.
- Pour the entire egg mixture back into the saucepan with the milk mixture. Simmer over medium heat, about 3 minutes. Do not boil the mixture.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let cool.
- Pour the cooled custard mixture into the bowl with the corn mixture and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.
- When you’re ready to churn the ice cream add the cream to the custard mixture. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker. Churn until the ice cream is thick, about 10-15 minutes.
- Be sure to use heavy whipping cream for the creamiest ice cream.
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.