Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream


Somebody save me. I almost always gain a couple of pounds in October, and I swear, this ice cream is a major reason why.

‘Tis the season here in beautiful Salem, Massachusetts, though. The season of pumpkin EVERYTHING. (Mwahahahaha…)

This pumpkin ice cream is one of our fall favorites. If you like pumpkin stuff, I’m willing to bet it will be a hit at your house, too.

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream serving ideas

This ice cream is rich, creamy, and packed with old-fashioned pumpkin flavor.

Me? I’m totally guilty of eating it straight out of the container in the kitchen around midnight.

If you want to get more formal than that, it makes a killer garnish for homemade pumpkin pie or gingerbread. Here are some other serving ideas:

  • Caramel Pumpkin Sundae—Load a bowl with a few fat scoops and drizzle with homemade dulce de leche (get my recipe here) and candied pumpkin seeds.
  • Frozen Pumpkin Pie—Pack it into a pre-made pie shell (try Oreo!). Top with cinnamon-spiked whipped cream, dark chocolate shavings, and a few of those gummy candy pumpkins for an amazing (and easy) frozen dessert.
  • Pumpkin Milk Shake—Drop a couple of scoops in the blender with some milk, ground cinnamon, ground clove and blend ’til thick and frosty. A few shots of spiced rum turns it into a ridiculously luxurious adult beverage.

Canned pumpkin vs. pumpkin pie filling

Make sure you get 100% pumpkin for this recipe—not canned pumpkin pie filling, which comes pre-loaded with spices and sugar. It’s easy to grab the wrong thing if you’re shopping at lightning speed.

Now, there’s always at least one curmudgeon out there who calls me a savage for using canned goods and lambastes me for not making my own puree from a whole pumpkin.

To those peeps, I’ll say this: I’ve done it, it’s a royal pain, and it honestly tastes about the same.

If you’re so inclined, definitely go whole hog and make your own pumpkin puree. It will be delicious. If you’re not up for the time commitment or the mess, there’s nothing wrong in my book with using canned. 😉

Oh, and I should mention: This is my last ice cream post for a while, I promise! (Can’t get enough ice cream? Check out my boozy ice cream cookbook, Slushed!)

Speaking of Halloween…

If you know us, you know that Halloween is a big deal at our house. Like, a BIG deal.

As residents of Salem, Massachusetts, a.k.a. Witch City, I’m sure you can understand why.

Our fair city throws the biggest Halloween party on the planet. Stay tuned for coverage on that later this month (or check out past years here).

OK, on to the ice cream!

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 15-oz. can of 100% pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

1. Prep the pumpkin

Grab your pumpkin puree.

Scoop it out into a 9 x 12 heat-safe baking dish, or other large, shallow dish/container. I use a baking dish like this to help the  custard cool faster. (More surface area = less waiting for ice cream…) Set that aside while you make the custard base.

2. Make the custard base

Separate the eggs, refrigerating the whites for another use. (Try a Fresh Herb Egg White Omelet with Black Olives & Sun-Dried Tomatoes or make Tuxedo Meringues.)

Put the egg yolks into a large bowl.

Toss in the sugar and whisk until pale yellow and uniform.

(Keep whisking, the whole business will smooth out and turn pale yellow after a minute or two.)


Set the egg yolks/sugar mix aside for a minute. Grab your heavy cream and whole milk.

Measure them out into a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot. (Thin pots make the mixture much more likely to scorch and stick…)

Set the pot on the stove over medium heat, whisking frequently.

Bring it *just* to a simmer.

Remove the pot from the heat.

Set the hot cream next to your egg yolk/sugar mixture.

Slowly drizzle the hot cream into the egg yolk/sugar mixture, whisking the whole time. This is called “tempering.” This process will raise the temperature of the eggs slowly, which will keep them smooth and liquid, and keep them from congealing into a pot of yucky scrambled eggs.

When you’ve added most of the hot cream to the eggs, pour the mixture back into your pot.

Set the pot back on the stove over medium heat. Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of your pot. Cook, whisking constantly (this is important), until the mixture reaches 170 degrees.

170 degrees is that magic number where your custard is cooked, but not overcooked. I know most folks will tell you that your custard is done when it coats the back of a spoon. That’s 100% true, but not very specific. I almost always use a candy thermometer. It takes the guesswork out of custard.

3. Strain & finish the mixture

Strain the custard into the dish with the pumpkin. Don’t skip the straining. Straining catches any stray bits of egg that may have happened to cook solid.

Whisk the whole business together until uniform.

Toss in the spices and vanilla. Whisk to combine.

Give the final mixture a taste. This is your finished ice cream flavor. Add more spice now if you think it needs it.

4. Chill the ice cream mixture

Cool the ice cream mixture to room temperature (this is why we put it in a large, flat dish), then pop it into the fridge to chill completely. You can chill it faster in the freezer, just keep a good eye on it to make sure it doesn’t freeze solid. I almost always chill my ice cream mixes in the freezer.

5. Churn the ice cream

When the ice cream mixture is thoroughly chilled, process it in your ice cream maker. Every ice cream maker is a little different. Be sure to follow the directions for yours.

If you want to mix any solids (chocolate chips, bits of caramel, chopped candy, chopped cookies, etc.) into your ice cream, add them in the last five minutes of churning. You need to wait until the ice cream is really thick, or your solids will sink to the bottom and won’t be evenly distributed.

When your ice cream is done, transfer it to a freezer-safe container. Freeze overnight until totally solid.

I get my quart containers at Target. They’re inexpensive and great for ice cream.


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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. I’m a huge fan of pumpkin, but as it’s still in the mid 80’s here in Hawaii, it’s great to have a pumpkin treat that can also help cool me off. I love it.