This Butterscotch Ice Cream is rich in butterscotch flavor and smooth in texture. Made with tempered egg yolks, cream, dark brown sugar and vanilla extract, the butterscotch flavor is made from scratch — no extracts or melted butterscotch chips here! By making the delicious butterscotch flavor into the ice cream, we get a rich, smooth and dreamy dessert! 

I’m so excited you are making this recipe! It’s one of my all-time favorites. And although it is crazy yummy on its own, I highly recommend making my Salted Butterscotch Sauce to drizzle on top! It really brings the entire butterscotch ice cream experience over the top! More of a shake person? Try my Butterscotch Shake! Cake fan? We have a Butterscotch Cake recipe too!

Butterscotch sauce being drizzled overtop Butterscotch Ice Cream that's in a waffle cone.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Bold butterscotch flavor. This butterscotch ice cream has a bold butterscotch flavor! And the best part is there is no artificial flavoring, no extract, no melted butterscotch chips. It’s all homemade! This is thanks to the dark brown sugar, which is a key ingredient in making butterscotch sauce. Paired with the vanilla and the cream, you have the building blocks of delicious butterscotch! 
  • Smooth and creamy texture. This homemade butterscotch ice cream recipe is made with heavy cream, whole milk and tempered egg yolks. These ingredients and the tempering of the eggs produce a smooth, custard ice cream base. 
  • Uses an ice cream maker. The key to getting an ultra smooth consistency in the ice cream is the ice cream maker! The gentle churning of the cream mixture helps to keep the ice crystals smaller, therefore ensuring the texture is smooth and not crystalized. 

Ingredient Notes

Butterscotch Ice Cream ingredients on a tan textured background.
  • Egg Yolks: The egg yolks and cream create a custard base for the butterscotch ice cream. The eggs are cooked through the tempering process. There are no raw eggs in this butterscotch ice cream recipe.
  • Dark Brown Sugar: The dark brown sugar is the important difference in making this ice cream the butterscotch flavor. You’ll want dark brown sugar over light brown sugar because it is deeper in color and richer in flavor.
  • Salt: The touch of salt gives this a perfect salted butterscotch ice cream flavor. It also helps enhance the flavor and is a key part of the butterscotch flavoring.
  • Heavy Cream: You will definitely need heavy cream. Heavy whipping cream is the same thing. Do not use half and half. The heavy cream has a higher fat content which is important for us to get the appropriate texture for the butterscotch ice cream. 
  • Whole Milk: Use whole milk! It has a higher fat content than 1% or 2% milk. When it comes to making homemade butterscotch ice cream, it’s all about the high cream content. 
  • Vanilla Extract: The vanilla extract is another of the key ingredients in making butterscotch flavoring.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Mix the egg yolks. Add the egg yolks to a medium bowl and mix until smooth. 
  2. Make the cream mixture. Add the brown sugar, salt, heavy cream and whole milk to a saucepan over medium low heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until bubbles form on the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. 
  3. Temper the egg yolks. Take 1/2 cup of the warm cream mixture and slowly pour it into the bowl with the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Once combined, slowly pour egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the cream mixture, always stirring. 
Four process photos of making custard based Butterscotch Ice Cream.
  1. Thicken the mixture. Heat the saucepan on low heat until thickened (about 5-7 minutes). The butterscotch mixture should coat the back of a spoon. The mixture should reach 170°F. Do not boil. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract.
  2. Strain the mixture. Using a fine strainer over a large bowl, pour the butterscotch ice cream mixture through to remove any clumps. Cover and chill for 4-24 hours or until COLD. 
Four photos illustrating how to make Butterscotch Ice Cream: tan custard mixture being poured into egg yolks, and through a strainer.
  1. Let freeze in an ice cream machine. Once the hot cream mixture is very cold, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and church according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately with Butterscotch Sauce!
Two photos: left is Butterscotch Ice Cream in an ice cream maker, right has Butterscotch Ice Cream in a rectangle pan.

Recipe Tips

If you want the ice cream to be a harder and more firm consistency, place it in an airtight container, cover, and freeze until ready to serve.

The longer you let the cream and brown sugar mixture chill in the fridge, the thicker the ice cream consistency will be and the quicker it will freeze in the ice cream maker. I would recommend chilling it for 4 hours at the bare minimum but ideally 12-24 hours. 

Tempering the egg yolks slowly cooks the eggs without scrambling them. You want to slowly bring the eggs temperature up. The more abrupt the temperature changes, the greater risk of scrambling the eggs. 

If you don’t have dark brown sugar at home, I recommend buying it! It will make a difference in the flavor. However, if that isn’t convenient for you, this recipe will turn out perfectly with light brown sugar. Just note that the flavor will be slightly affected and the color may be a bit lighter, too. 

Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

You definitely want to make this butterscotch ice cream recipe ahead of time! A traditional ice cream maker bowl needs to be frozen. (Some manufacturers instruct you to freeze the bowl for up to 3 days.) Plus the butterscotch cream mixture needs to chill in the fridge until super cold (up to 24 hours). 

Store the homemade ice cream in the freezer for a few hours prior to serving if you want a harder ice cream texture. If you serve right out of the maker you’ll have more of a soft serve consistency. 

Store the homemade butterscotch ice cream in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. The airtight container can help prevent freezer burn. 

An ice cream scooper scooping out Butterscotch Ice Cream from a rectangle bread pan.

Recipe FAQs

What is butterscotch sauce made of?

Butterscotch sauce is made of cream, brown sugar, vanilla, and butter. 

What is butterscotch ice cream made of?

A butterscotch ice cream recipe is made of similar ingredients as butterscotch sauce. Since the basis of butterscotch flavor is cream, brown sugar, vanilla and butter, those similar ingredients are used to create butterscotch ice cream. Instead of using granulated sugar in the ice cream, we’ll use the brown sugar to create the butterscotch flavor. The cream and vanilla is also the same as the butterscotch sauce. However, the ice cream doesn’t use the butter. Instead we use a mixture of cream, milk and egg yolks to create a custard. 

What’s the difference between butterscotch and caramel?

The key difference between caramel and butterscotch is that caramel uses white granulated white sugar while butterscotch uses brown sugar. Butterscotch always calls for butter while caramel doesn’t always use butter. Often, traditional caramel sauce recipes use corn syrup. 

Does butterscotch ice cream contain eggs?

I’m not sure if all butterscotch ice cream brands include eggs in the recipe, but this recipe does use egg yolks. The egg yolks provide a custard-like flavor to the ice cream. Don’t worry though! The eggs are cooked through a process called tempering. 

What goes with butterscotch ice cream?

You can serve this butterscotch ice cream with Homemade Fudgy Brownies, Brownie Mix Cookies or Hot Fudge Cake and some Homemade Butterscotch Sauce

What does tempering eggs means?

To temper eggs means to slowly cook them. This butterscotch ice cream is made with eggs, but the eggs are cooked through the tempering process. When you slowly increase the temperature of the egg mixture, the eggs will cook without scrambling. 

Butterscotch Ice Cream in a white bowl with a spoon drizzling homemade Butterscotch sauce overtop.

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Two waffle cones filled with Butterscotch Ice Cream and topped with butterscotch sauce, against a light brown background.
Print Review
5 from 1 vote

Butterscotch Ice Cream

Rich and creamy butterscotch ice cream is so easy to make! Drizzle homemade butterscotch sauce overtop and you have yourself a decadent dessert that everyone will go crazy for.
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Chill Time: 6 hrs
Total Time: 6 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
 

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar - packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Add the egg yolks to a medium sized bowl, use a fork to mix them until smooth. Set aside. 
  • In a saucepan over medium-low heat add the brown sugar, salt, heavy cream, and whole milk. Stir until the mixture is smooth. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, just until bubbles form on the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. 
  • Temper the egg yolks: Scoop out ½ cup of the hot cream mixture and gradually pour it over the egg yolks, while stirring constantly. Now, slowly drizzle the egg yolks back into the saucepan, stirring constantly. 
  • Place the saucepan over low heat. Heat until thickened, should coat the back of a spoon, about 5-7 minutes, if you have an instant read thermometer it should read 170°F. Do not bring the mixture to a boil. 
  • Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. 
  • Set a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl. Pour the butterscotch ice cream mixture through the sieve. Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours or up to 1 day. 
  • Once chilled, remove from the fridge and pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturers directions. Once finished churning serve immediately with butterscotch sauce drizzled overtop! Or if you want the ice cream to be a harder and more firm consistency, place it in an airtight container, cover, and freeze until ready to serve. 

Notes

The longer you let the cream and brown sugar mixture chill in the fridge, the thicker the ice cream consistency will be and the quicker it will freeze in the ice cream maker. I would recommend chilling it for 4 hours at the bare minimum but ideally 12-24 hours. 
Tempering the egg yolks slowly cooks the eggs without scrambling them. You want to slowly bring the eggs temperature up. The more abrupt the temperature changes, the greater risk of scrambling the eggs. 

Nutrition

Calories: 949kcal (47%)Carbohydrates: 81g (27%)Protein: 10g (20%)Fat: 67g (103%)Saturated Fat: 41g (205%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 422mg (141%)Sodium: 389mg (16%)Potassium: 373mg (11%)Sugar: 79g (88%)Vitamin A: 2811IU (56%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 272mg (27%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: English
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