Add a Little of This to Make Softer, More Scoopable Ice Cream

updated May 1, 2019
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When I started making ice cream from scratch, I dove in deep, churning out a mix of flavors weekly. I read through The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz cover to cover, and practically kept it by my nightstand during that first summer. While he taught me all about the best mix-ins and flavoring agents, the biggest tip I took away was how to ensure that my ice cream was as soft and scoopable as those from the best mom-and-pop shops. If you’ve made ice cream yourself, you may have noticed that this is often an issue with the homemade stuff. While the flavor can be spot on, it can be hard to get those perfect scoops for your cone or cup. Luckily, this is an easy fix if you have a little something on hand to add to the ice cream base — and that something is alcohol.

Why You Should Add a Splash of Alcohol to Your Homemade Ice Cream Base

In Lebovitz’s book, he states that adding just a bit of alcohol to your ice cream base results in a better texture when it’s churned because alcohol doesn’t freeze. The alcohol prevents some of the ice crystals from forming, which makes the ice cream softer and therefore more scoopable. It’s important to only add a splash, though — add too much and the ice cream base might not freeze at all, leaving you with something more like a milkshake when it’s finished in the ice cream maker.

Lebovitz recommends adding up to three tablespoons of liquor to one quart of ice cream base before churning it. If you don’t want the liquor to impart any flavor to your ice cream, go for a neutral-flavored spirit like vodka. Whiskey is nice in vanilla and chocolate-based ice creams, as it adds a touch of nutty, caramelized flavor. For fruit-based ice creams, like strawberry, try gin to bring an herbal note to it, or boost its fruitiness by using a fruit-flavored liquor like Kirsch.

Do you add a splash of alcohol to your homemade ice cream?