sour cherry ice cream

Sour cherry ice cream recipe via
Sour cherry ice cream recipe via brooklynsupper.netLook, I owe you something savory, and I have a tagine, a fennel dish, and a tasty purslane salad all ready to go. In case you’re worried about our health, I promise we are happily eating our way through our CSA vegetable share.

But, fruit! I cannot get enough. I spent $30 on blueberries alone last weekend, and never even made anything. We’ve been enjoying the blueberries by the handful, just as they are. This year’s fruit season is going by fast, and fruits that usually hang out for at least a few weeks are disappearing quickly. The flip side of early fruit is that the season ends early too. So I just had to share this divine sour cherry ice cream with you before sour cherries disappear.

I made it for a casual gathering with a couple of friends on the Fourth, and it couldn’t have turned out better. This is a simple ice cream, without a custard base. Minimal sugar and lemon zest upped the tang quotient, and the summery taste of fresh sour cherries permeated each delicious bite.

Sour cherry ice cream recipe via

If you can’t get your fill of sour cherries either, check out this sour cherry pie with lime.

A few notes on the recipe: after some feedback from readers and re-testing, I’ve upped the amount of sugar I recommend to a half cup. This recipe is meant to highlight fresh sour cherries, and as such, is lightly sweetened. Because the tartness of cherries can vary wildly, it’s also important to taste the mixture to make sure tart and sweet notes are in balance. A properly chilled mixture is essential to the texture of your ice cream. I’ve given instructions for an ice bath which gets the temperature down much faster, but if you’re not in a hurry, skip the ice bath and chill overnight for best results. Also, I tried the recipe with booze and without. Without, the flavor is still fantastic, but a bit more crumbly – if you do omit it, just allow ice cream to soften up a bit before scooping.

Sour Cherry Ice Cream
A lightly sweet, wonderfully tart sour cherry ice cream recipe that highlights the flavors of fresh sour cherries beautifully.
Recipe type: Dessert
Makes: about 1 1/2 quarts
  • 2 1/2 cups sour cherries, pitted (sour cherries canned in water can be substituted, though the flavor of fresh is greatly preferred. Use roughly half the cherry water from the can, along with the drained pitted cherries.)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar (go up to 3/4 cup for a sweeter ice cream or if using very tart cherries)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup vodka or kirsch if you have it
  • 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  1. In medium sauce pan, combine 1 cup of cream, all of the milk, sugar, and salt. Stirring frequently, heat over medium heat just until a bit of steam starts to curl up from the mixture. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, puree 1 1/2 cups of the cherries. Set aside the remaining cup of cherries for later.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cream mixture, pureed cherries, the remaining cream, vodka or kirsch, vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest. Mixture may separate or curdle a bit, but things will be fine. (Before chilling, taste the mixture to make sure the tart and sweet flavors are in balance.) Set bowl over a larger bowl of ice water and set in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours (longer without the ice bath).
  4. Process the ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s directions. Meanwhile, slice the remaining cherries into paper thin slices, reserving any juice. Just as the ice cream starts to set up (think milkshake texture), quickly scrape the sides, and stir in the sliced cherries and any reserved juice. Continue processing until ice cream has thickened up.
  5. Spoon mixture into a container and freeze for 2 hours, or longer for a complete cure.



  1. says

    I am not only completely in the mood for sour cherry ice cream (I have JUST discovered and fallen in love with sour cherries by the way) but I am also totally smitten with your photography. Perfection.

  2. says

    I laughed when I read about the blueberries. I do the same thing. right out of the box — then I feel guilty that I didn’t make pancakes or muffins or ice cream sauce or a cake or a gazillion other things. Then I make ice cream from cherries I preserved last season. Oh the guilt.

    That said, this ice cream looks damn good. :)

  3. Rebecca says

    I tried making this but my milk must have been too hot and now I have cherry ricotta cheese. Any suggestions about what to so with it?

    • Keren says

      I would be inclined to make cherry ricotta cheese ice cream! But that aside, I’d probably serve it for breakfast along side some toasted corn bread or homemade oatmeal bread, also toasted. How yummy! Lucky you! (And I mean that!)

  4. Joanna F says

    Great recipe! I added dark chocolate chunks when I stirred in the sliced cherries, perfection.

    • Elizabeth says

      Hi Joanna, Genius! Sometimes I get really purist about my ice cream flavors, but chocolate and cherry are such a match made in heaven. I appreciate you dropping by and sharing the feedback!

  5. Joanna says

    I prepped my cherries for this yesterday afternoon. After puréeing them and being flummoxed by how liquidy it got, I realized I probably shouldn’t have used the defrosted cherries I’d picked and frozen. So now I’ve got a really thin mixture, which I haven’t yet added to my base. Any suggestions for saving my batch? Would cooking it down help? Or is it a goner?

    • Elizabeth says

      Hi Joanna,

      I’m sorry to hear you ran into trouble. I’ve never made this with frozen cherries, but I know they can get liquid-y once defrosted. I think cooking them down a bit could be a good option, but I also wonder if maybe you should just add a bit less of the fresh puree (like two-thirds of the amount). This recipe has a really nice fresh flavor with all the tart tanginess of the sour cherries, while I think cooking them would yield a deeper cherry flavor much more like a store-bought cherry ice cream.

      Either way, I’d go ahead and two tablespoons more sugar, just to counteract the water content. And I’d definitely use the vodka or kirsch. Both those additions will ensure a scoopable, smooth ice cream once it’s frozen.

      Please keep me posted!

  6. mmi says

    whoa…..just made this and it is way too tart. most ice cream recipes call for at least 1 cup of sugar. When combined with the tart cherries, this recipe with only 1/3 cup is crazy tart. I am attempting to save it by taking 1 cup of the ice cream, mixing with 2/3 cup sugar in a pan, heating just until the sugar dissolves, placing pan in the freezer for an hour or two and hope to integrate it with the rest of the batch to sweeten it up a bit. I’ll let you know if it works!

    • Elizabeth says

      Hi Mimi,
      I’m really sorry to hear this recipe isn’t working for you. I do like my sweets a little less sweet than most. I think your salvaging technique may work, and I really hope it results in an ice cream to your liking.

      I tested the recipe multiple times, so I’m not sure what the issue is – my guess is variations in the sweetness or tartness of the fruit. (I’m going to try and track down sour cherries, though they’re out of season here. If I do re-test, I’ll let you know!)

      I am really sorry the recipe didn’t work out for you, and I appreciate you taking the time to let me know.


  1. […] Happy Wednesday, everyone! It’s time for our third recipe in our Month of Dinners Blog Relay. This time, we’re joined by Elizabeth Stark of Brooklyn Supper. Elizabeth shares great local and seasonal recipes on her blog, I especially can’t wait to try her recipes for Blackberry Lime Cocktail, Kale Salad with Golden Beets, Green Garlic, and Lime Vinaigrette, and (of course) Sour Cherry Ice Cream. […]

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