Whether you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day or simply love a boozy dessert, this homemade Baileys ice cream is your perfect treat. With its ultra creamy, velvety texture and loads of sweet Baileys flavor with just the right touch of vanilla, every bite of this luscious Irish cream ice cream is pure decadence.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Boozy dessert goodness for Baileys lovers: Does any one phrase make your ears perk up like boozy dessert? Call us a dessert-loving lush, but when I hear those two magical words together, I'm the first to line up for a helping. Since you're here, I have a feeling you're the same way — get ready for ice cream bliss.
The most luscious, rich ice cream: Any kind of spirit lowers the freezing point of ice cream, which makes for a smoother texture because the ice cream doesn't freeze quite as hard. Don't be surprised if you start adding spirits to more ice creams. And make sure you also check out my bourbon-pumpkin ice cream or amaretto ice cream once you fall in love with that extra creamy texture.
Perfect for so many occasions: With that big dose of Irish cream, this ice cream is perfect for St. Patrick's Day, but it's also a reader favorite during Christmas. And, of course, it's always popular during those sweltering summer months. This is one recipe you'll turn to over and over again.
Ingredients and Equipment
Let's make sure we're organized. Here's everything we need to make this homemade ice cream.
Whole milk: For the richest flavor, we want to use whole milk, not a lesser-fat variety. That fat content is important to creating the perfect base.
Heavy cream: Like the whole milk, we want full-fat heavy cream instead of half and half. You might also see this called heavy whipping cream.
Sugar: To really allow the Baileys flavor to shiner, we use white granulated sugar rather than brown sugar, which has added molasses.
Egg yolks: Since this is a traditional churn ice cream recipe, we use egg yolks. No need for the egg whites here, so you can save those for another use.
Vanilla extract: Baileys has a prominent vanilla flavor, and this helps enhance that sweet touch.
Ice cream maker: This is not a no-churn ice cream. I'm partial to my Cuisinart ice cream machine, but you're welcome to use another brand.
If you’re venturing into the homemade ice cream territory for the first time, it may seem intimidating, but I promise it’s super simple. Let's walk through the process, shall we?
Step 1: We start out by cooking heavy cream, whole milk and sugar over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, and the milk mixture comes to just a simmer (photo 1).
Step 2: From here, we whisk lots of rich yolks with vanilla extract until the eggs begin to lighten (photo 2). About three minutes of whisking by hand is my rule of thumb when I make ice cream.
Step 3: With the yolks ready, we scoop in about half a cup or so of our warm cream mixture and give it a whisk (photo 3). We repeat this a few more times. This gently cooks the eggs, so we don’t get scrambled egg ice cream.
Step 4: We put everything back on the stove and cook until the hot cream mixture thickens enough to cover the back of a spoon (photo 4). I find this takes anywhere from about six to 10 minutes.
Step 5: And just like that, our ice cream base is now ready, so we pour it into a mixing bowl and place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface like so to prevent a film from forming on our custard (photo 5). We pop the custard into the refrigerator to chill and then churn.
Chilling the custard is crucial to ensuring it properly churns, so never skip this step. I recommend chilling overnight.
We pop the custard into the refrigerator to chill and then churn. Chilling the custard is crucial to ensuring it properly churns, so never skip this step. I recommend chilling overnight.
Step 6: When the custard is nice and chilled, we pour it into our ice cream maker and churn. Toward the end of churning — and only then — we add the Baileys (photo 6).
Step 7: At this point, we spoon the ice cream mixture into an airtight container and freeze the mixture (photo 7). The ice cream will be a soft-serve consistency immediately after churning, but it will firm up after freezing.
In just a few hours, we get to dig in to the creamiest, dreamiest homemade ice cream. You will fall in love with every spoonful.
How to Serve and Topping Ideas
Of course, this ice cream is plenty delicious on its own in a serving bowl. Scoop it up, add a spoon, and everyone will be perfectly happy.
- Chocolate sauce or hot fudge
- Grated dark chocolate
- Chopped Baileys truffles
- Whipped cream
- Toasted nuts
That said, I plead with you to please serve this ice cream with my fudgy stout brownies and bourbon caramel sauce if you're looking for the best dessert of your life. Every St. Patrick's Day, that's exactly how I serve this ice cream, and everyone goes nuts. The sweet Baileys, explosion of chocolate and rich caramel sauce were made for each other.
Brownie sundaes are dessert perfection, but a boozy brownie sundae? It's almost too much goodness in one dessert. Almost.
How to Store and Prevent Freezer Burn
You should always store your ice cream in an airtight container. Air is the enemy of ice cream. If air gets to the ice cream, it will form ice crystals, which throws off that ultra smooth texture.
I simply use a heavy-duty, freezer-safe plastic container with a sealable lid. That keeps the ice cream nice and protected. With proper storage, the ice cream should stay fresh for two weeks, assuming it even lasts that long.
Yes, this is an important step. We're using a lot of egg yolks, and it allows us to gently cook the eggs as well as properly thicken the custard.
The ice cream won't set up if it isn't cold enough, so it needs to be a maximum of 40 degrees F. If you make the ice cream base the night before churning, it will have plenty of time to get to that temperature. In fact, you can make the base up to three days before churning.
However, if you need to make the ice cream base and churn it the same day, you may want to rapidly chill it with an ice bath and then check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer to ensure it's cold enough.
Yes, Baileys is an alcoholic liqueur, and we're not cooking the Baileys, so it goes in at the full ABV. That said, we're only using 5 tablespoons of Baileys ice cream for the entire batch. You don't have to worry about "feeling" the Baileys.
Variations and Substitutions
I find this ice cream perfect as is, but if you'd like to put your own touch on it, here are some alternative ideas.
- Use another spirit or liqueur, such as dark rum, Irish whiskey or hazelnut liqueur — feel free to experiment.
- Add chocolate chips with the Baileys during the churning process.
- Give it a caffeinated boost with some espresso powder or instant coffee granules when heating the milk and cream.
- Whisk in ½ cup cocoa powder during the first step to make it a chocolate ice cream.
- Swap brown sugar for the white sugar.
Don't let the milk mixture boil: As soon as it simmers, we want to turn off the heat. Boiling can cause the milk to separate, so we want to make sure it doesn't get hotter than simmering.
Wait until the very end of churning to add the Baileys: The alcohol can interfere with the churning process if it’s added too soon, so we save this step to the last minute.
Plan ahead: Making ice cream calls doesn't necessarily take up a lot of hands-on time, but we need to freeze our ice cream maker bowl, chill the custard and freeze after churning. This isn't a dessert you can make at the last minute.
Big fan of Baileys, eh? You’ll love this ice cream with my Baileys Irish coffee martini. Or if you’d rather skip the double dose of Baileys, give it a try with this simple but delicious Irish whiskey smash. Obviously, Irish whiskey and Baileys go together beautifully in cocktails, and the same concept applies here.
Whether you're gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day or simply love a boozy ice cream, I hope you try this homemade Baileys ice cream. This perfectly creamy ice cream is always a crowd favorite, no matter the occasion.
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Baileys Ice Cream
- Ice cream maker
- Medium saucepan
- Large mixing bowl
- Plastic wrap
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 7 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 5 tablespoons Baileys Irish cream
- Whisk together the heavy cream, whole milk and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to whisk periodically to help dissolve the sugar. Once it simmers, turn off heat. Do not bring to a boil as this can cause the milk to separate.
- In a bowl, whisk egg yolks and vanilla until pale, about three minutes.
- Add about ¼ to ½ cup of the warm cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This tempers the eggs to gently cook. Repeat this a few times.
- Add tempered egg-cream mixture back to the pot. Whisk constantly over medium heat and bring back to a simmer. Again, do not boil. Cook until mixture thickens and covers the back of a wooden spoon, about six to 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
- Pour into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then place plastic wrap directly on top of the custard's surface. Refrigerate until cold, at least four hours to ensure proper churning, though I like to chill overnight to really make sure it's cold.
- Pour custard into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s directors. In the last couple minutes of churning, pour in the Baileys. Do not do this sooner. Otherwise, the alcohol can mess with the freezing process.
- Pour into an airtight container and freeze for a few hours. Enjoy!
- Check your ice cream manufacturer's directions before starting. Many require that the ice cream bowl freezes for at least 24 hours before churning. Homemade ice cream calls for a little planning.
- The ice cream custard should be no higher than 40 degrees F before churning. Otherwise, it won't set up properly. This is why I recommend making it the day before churning. You can make the ice cream base up to three days before churning.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.