For all your boozy dessert lovers, this ice cream is for you. Full of warm pumpkin spice flavors and just the right amount of bourbon, this rich bourbon-pumpkin ice cream is the perfect fall dessert.
During the fall and winter months, I can’t get enough pumpkin in my life. I wait all year for pumpkin season to return, so when it’s here, I take full advantage. Whether it’s a savory pumpkin dish, like this Gruyere-pumpkin ale risotto, or a pumpkin dessert, I love it all. But you know what makes pumpkin even better? Bourbon — especially when it comes to pumpkin desserts, which is why I love this bourbon-pumpkin ice cream with my whole heart.
Bourbon and pumpkin were made for each other. The oak, vanilla and caramel notes of bourbon nicely complement pumpkin spice. Now we throw in that perfect flavor combination into a luscious custard base, and we’re bound to end up with one of the best fall desserts.
Besides being delicious, I love this ice cream for how many different ways you can serve it. Of course, you could serve this bourbon-pumpkin ice cream in a cone or a bowl without any toppings. This ice cream is plenty flavorful to stand up on its own. Or remember the praline sauce that’s perfect on so many fall desserts? Warm up the sauce in the microwave and drizzle it all over the ice cream for an extra special treat. And good luck finding an ounce of self-control.
I also love to sandwich this bourbon-pumpkin ice cream between two homemade oatmeal scotchies, or after churning the custard base, you could pour it into a prepared graham cracker or gingersnap crust. Pop it in the freezer and you have an easy no-bake pumpkin ice cream pie that won’t take up valuable oven space on Thanksgiving. Top with whipped cream and a little praline sauce if you’re inclined.
How to Make Bourbon-Pumpkin Ice Cream
If you’ve never made homemade ice cream, I promise it’s easier than you think. As long as you can simmer cream and stir, you have all the skills you need to make ice cream. For this recipe, you’ll need an ice cream maker, and I included a link for my favorite Cuisinart model, which you can find at the end of this post.
We start by bringing a mixture of heavy cream, milk and dark brown sugar to a simmer. Stir every so often to help dissolve the dark brown sugar but turn off the heat once it simmers. We don’t want the boil the mixture. Rather, we just need it hot enough to cook the eggs and incorporate the dark brown sugar.
After turning off the heat, we let the cream mixture sit for a few minutes. While it sits, we whisk together egg yolks, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract. I like to whisk for about three minutes, which gives the cream mixture the time it needs to sit.
Once you whisk the egg yolks, ladle in a small scoop — about one-fourth cup or so — of the cream mixture and whisk together. Add another small scoop and repeat until you incorporate about half of the cream mixture. This step is known as tempering, and while it may seem silly, it precooks the eggs, so we don’t get stuck with scrambled eggs in our ice cream. Please don’t skip this step. I’m normally a you-do-you kind of person but not when it comes to making scrambled egg ice cream. That just shouldn’t be a thing.
Now, we return the eggs and cream back to the stove, add the pumpkin puree and stir until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Again, we don’t want the mixture to boil. From there, we chill the custard mixture overnight, churn in an ice cream machine and add the bourbon in the last couple minutes of churning. Place the ice cream in the freezer, and you’ll have a delicious fall ice cream in a few hours.
A big, bold imperial stout is just what you need with this bourbon-pumpkin ice cream. With the high alcohol content, imperial stouts make for great dessert beers because of their residual sweetness. Craft brewers often age imperial stouts in bourbon barrels, and the barrel char play off the roasted malt while adding vanilla and coconut undertones, which enhance the sweetness of the beer. The pumpkin pie spice then comes in to add a nice kick to those sweet, roasted notes.
If you’d like to pour yourself a glass of wine with this ice cream, reach for a sweet dessert sherry. Sweetened sherry typically shows off rich flavors, such as caramel, toffee and fig, which go so well with warm spices. I wouldn’t be disappointed if you enjoyed a tawny port with this fall ice cream, either.
I’ve made this bourbon-pumpkin ice cream every year for a long time now, and it’s one of my favorite fall traditions. If you get a chance to try it, I hope you love it as much as I do. Please be sure to let me know your thoughts and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter.
Love Your Boozy Desserts?
- Bourbon-peach clafoutis
- Raspberry-mojito no-bake mini pies
- Mixed berry-custard pie
- Bourbon caramel sauce
Full of warm pumpkin spice flavors and just the right amount of bourbon, this boozy bourbon-pumpkin ice cream is the perfect fall dessert.
For Bourbon-Pumpkin Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup dark brown sugar
7 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, homemade or store-bought
1 cup pure pumpkin puree, not the pie filling
2 tablespoons bourbon
For Pumpkin Spice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
- If making your own pumpkin spice, mix together the spices in a small bowl and measure out 1 teaspoon. Store the rest in an airtight container.
- Whisk together the heavy cream, milk and dark brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to whisk periodically to help dissolve the dark brown sugar. Once it simmers, turn off heat. Do not bring to a boil as this can cause the milk to separate.
- Whisk egg yolks, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice until pale, about three minutes. Temper about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Repeat this step a few times until you incorporate about half of the cream mixture. Stir in the pumpkin puree.
- Add tempered egg-cream-pumpkin 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. Turn off heat.
- Pour into a large mixing bowl. Directly cover the top of the custard’s surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, preferably overnight to ensure proper churning.
- Pour custard in an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s directions. During the last two minutes of churning, pour bourbon into the ice cream and allow the ice cream maker to incorporate the bourbon. Do not do this earlier in the process, or the alcohol could interfere with freezing.
- Pour the churned ice cream into an airtight container and freeze for several hours before serving. Enjoy!
- Prep time does not including chilling or churning as this time varies by manufacturer.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
- Category: Desserts
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: pumpkin ice cream, bourbon ice cream, pumpkin dessert, ice cream