Salted Caramel Ice Cream, No Ice Cream Maker Required

The truth about how J and I met is kind of boring, so we usually make something up when people ask us.  For a long time we used to say that we’d met in an internet chat room, back when that sounded scandalous, but now everyone meets online and we have to be more creative.  We met underwater off the Great Barrier Reef?  We were seated side by side for jury duty in small claims court?  We both worked at Baskin Robbins in high school?

That last one is true, actually, although the establishments in question were thousands of miles apart.  But it proves an important point: we have a long history with ice cream around here.

So I am well-qualified to tell you that this one is outstanding.  I already sang its praises here, but I feel wrong depriving you of this recipe for Seattle’s iconic ice cream flavor from Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.  Especially since, get this, you don’t need an ice cream maker to make it. Some magic having to do with the salt and the cream keeps the texture sublime, even if you make it with a pan and fork instead (directions below).  If you do have an ice cream maker, you can save yourself a few minutes of stirring. Either way, this recipe will make your summer better.  And probably the entire rest of your life.Salted Caramel Ice Cream: First, be brave, make your caramel.  Line up your ingredients next to the stove: 1 1/2 c. sugar, 1 Tb. butter, 3 c. heavy cream, and 1 c. whole milk.  (You’ll also need kosher salt to add later.)  Put 1/8 tsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice in a light-colored, heavy-bottomed pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the sugar ¼ c. at a time, stirring each addition with a wooden spoon until it dissolves completely into liquid. (Some of the sugar may crystalize on the side of your pot, just ignore it.) When all the sugar is added and dissolved, continue to cook, watching like a hawk and stirring occasionally for about 4-6 minutes. During this time, the sugar will caramelize and the color will change from a light golden to a dark amber hue (it may also begin to smoke a bit). Use your eyes, nose, and good sense to decide when you have achieved a dark-but-not-burnt caramel, and immediately lower the heat to medium-low as you trade your wooden spoon for a whisk and whisk in the butter.

When the butter has melted, begin to add the cream and milk verrrry sloooowly. Seriously, slowly. The caramel will steam and bubble and some hard little caramel lumps may form. No worries, keep whisking, be patient, let them dissolve. When the mixture is smooth, remove it from the heat. Pour it into a shallow pan and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least an hour.

Remove the cold creamy pan of deliciousness from the refrigerator and whisk in 1 Tb. (yes, 1 Tb.) kosher salt. Process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions (I churned mine longer than a usual batch, about 35 minutes, because the salt makes this ice cream so soft). Or if you don’t have an ice cream maker (or if it’s busy churning another flavor already), leave the mixture in the pan and transfer the pan to the freezer. If you’re going the no-ice-cream maker route, stir the mixture thoroughly with a fork every half hour or so until the entire pan of ice cream is a uniform texture (at first it will freeze around the edges, then you will stir it up, then it will freeze around the edges again, etc.).

When your ice cream is ready (it will still be quite soft), transfer it to a sealed freezer container and freeze at least four hours before serving. This ice cream never freezes very hard because of the salt content, so plan to serve and eat it quickly!

Note 1: I thought that the saltiness of this ice cream was perfect. If you find the finished product too salty-tasting, however, serve it over a rich brownie or under a blanket of hot fudge. Now it’s perfect, right?

Note 2: This magic no-ice-cream-maker method works better with this recipe than with others I’ve tried it with. Just a heads up in case you plan to use this method with other recipes: it always works, but usually the texture of ice cream made with the fork-and-pan system is icier/grainer than ice cream made with an ice cream maker. With this recipe, however, the results were indistinguishable.


32 thoughts on “Salted Caramel Ice Cream, No Ice Cream Maker Required

    1. emmycooks Post author

      Funny you should say that, because this ice cream shop actually used to serve breakfast: a scoop of ice cream on top of oatmeal! Just saying…. :)

    1. emmycooks Post author

      It is pretty good. :) Not sure how I would make a vegan version….have you ever tried making homemade ice cream with coconut milk? Or maybe it’s better to just not go there. :)

      1. Somer

        I have made a vegan bear claw ice cream with avocado, cocoa powder, coconut milk, vegan chocolate chips and cashews….. It could work ;)

  1. Amy

    Oh dear I love Molly Moon’s ice creams… all except for the salted caramel ice cream. Haha! You either love it or hate it I guess. My boyfriend is however crazy about it. And seeing as I don’t have my ice cream maker for the summer, I’m going to have to give this a try!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I think that this recipe makes a version that is considerably mellower (and less salty) than the version they sell in the shop. It’s still pretty intense and delicious, but honestly, I can only eat a few spoonfuls of the in-shop version and I could eat a tub of this. So you might be pleasantly surprised! :)

  2. Time To Be Inspired

    Salted caramel ice cream – who’d have thought? It sounds like a little bit of heaven to me. Since I enjoy your blog so much, I have nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger’s Award. Details can be found at Terri

  3. thingsmybellylikes

    I love it when I see an ice-cream recipe with the words ‘no ice-cream maker required’. It’s music to my ears cos I won’t let myself buy one :) This looks delicious and is on the list to make v soon. Drooling already

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I have tried making other ice creams without an ice cream maker and they usually end up icy–I think it’s something about the salt and the high fat content of this one that makes the fork-and-pan method so successful!

  4. hännah

    Yum! Thanks for sharing your method for making ice cream without an ice cream maker. I’ve been getting so jealous of all the other blogger’s kitchen tools!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I do have an ice cream maker but it’s definitely not in my list of top 10 appliances in terms of how often I use it. Or maybe even top 15. :) Plus, once you make this recipe you probably won’t want to make any other ice cream flavors, so you’ll be glad you didn’t waste your time getting a dedicated appliance. :)

  5. baconbiscuit212

    Salted caramel ice cream is one of my absolute favorite flavors. That and grapenuts. I know. It sounds strange, but it’s delicious!

    And I love that you don’t need an ice cream maker. Have to make some room in the freezer for this one! Thanks for the great recipe, Emmy!

      1. baconbiscuit212

        There is this ice cream place on MIT’s campus across the river that I was completely addicted to in college called Toscanini’s. They had a Grape Nuts flavored ice cream. With raisins. Like you let grape nuts get soggy in milk and then added lots of vanilla sugar and dried fruit. And right before it the ice cream hardened up, you blended a little bit of fresh cereal in for crunch.

        It. Was. Awesome.

  6. Michelle

    Really, Emmy, these adorable kids holding ice cream photos are too much! :) I’m with Daisy: salted caramel is the best possible flavor ever AND Grape-Nuts are wonderful in ice cream. My mom used to make the most delicious maple ice cream with Grape-Nuts in it. (I’d never dream of eating it as cereal. But in ice cream, it’s divine.)

    1. emmycooks Post author

      My kids do have cute little paws, don’t they? Ok, maple ice cream with grape nuts?! Please post this secret family recipe ASAP. :)

  7. Pingback: Honeydew-Lime-Mint Ice Cream | whole food hungry

  8. ButterSugarFlowers

    Wow, Emmy! Ice cream is the best food in the whole world, and this looks incredible. I love your photos. How funny — I also worked at Baskin Robbins in high school, but I didn’t meet my J there (and I have no thrilling or scandalous story to tell about how we met, either, despite how much I love our life together). I just love your blog: the recipes, photos, stories, and especially your sweet, funny and kindred personality that comes through.

  9. Caroline

    Hi, am English so not sure what the c stands for in measurements, ie: 1c. of whole milk. I presume TB is table spoon. Many thanks and sorry for asking probably a silly question

    1. emmycooks Post author

      Hi Caroline! Not a silly question at all. The “c” stands for “cup.” And you are correct that “Tb” is “tablespoon.” I find Google very useful for converting recipes. It’s a bit of an inconvenience, but if you make the recipe I think you’ll find it worth it! :)

  10. Lish T

    Just made a batch — added a litlle chocolate syrup and maple-glazed bacon bits for the crunch! Much thanks!


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