How To Make the Best Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

updated Jun 1, 2023
How To Make Chocolate Ice Cream

I'm not saying this is the best chocolate ice cream ever (I haven't tasted them all yet), but it's a close contender.

Makes1 quart

Prep15 minutes

Cook5 minutes to 10 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Chocolate ice cream is scraped onto an ice cream scoop
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Chocolate ice cream can make a great dessert. It has a contrasting allure; it’s also rich, cool, and creamy with dark roasted flavors only cocoa can impart. This chocolate ice cream is for the real die-hard chocolate-lovers in the group. It’s sweet and malty, with the tiniest bitter tones to balance that sweetness. Almost right in the middle between dark chocolate and milk, it’s the kind of chocolate ice cream that doesn’t leave you wishing there was more chocolate in the mix or less.

After tasting and testing several chocolate ice cream recipes, I can firmly say this is the best one I’ve tried yet. For starters, this ice cream’s base doesn’t require tempering eggs with hot cream, so it’s easier to make. It has not one but three types of chocolate, and it doesn’t freeze up impossibly hard to scoop, thanks to a secret ingredient.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Anything-but-Basic Chocolate Ice Cream

Here’s what you need to know to knock this chocolate ice cream project out of the park.

  • Why a Philly-style ice cream base is best.
  • Which chocolates and cocoa to use and how to use them.
  • Tips for churning and freezing.
  • Bonus: The secret ingredient for smoother, softer ice cream.

What Is a Philly-Style Ice Cream?

Philly- or, more aptly, Philadelphia-style ice cream is made from cream, sugar, and flavoring. Often referred to as American-style ice cream, it isn’t thickened with eggs like classic, custard-based ice creams so it has a lighter, cleaner flavor that shows off added ingredients without much interference. It lets the chocolate flavor come through without any eggy undertones. You get pure, dense chocolatey flavor through and through.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Choosing Chocolate for Chocolate Ice Cream

Plain and simple: For the best chocolate ice cream use the best chocolate you can find. Skip the chocolate chips or mass-market bars and choose a dark and a milk bar with the fewest ingredients you can find.

Chocolate bars like Hershey’s have higher volumes of additives like sugar and cocoa butter, which will change the composition of the ice cream. Too much sugar and the ice cream won’t freeze well, and too much cocoa butter will make for a grainy ice cream.

Which Cocoa Powder Should I Use?

The third chocolate boom-pow comes from the earthy richness of cocoa powder. Dutch-process is the best cocoa choice for making ice cream, as it has a darker, richer color and less acid.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How to Churn Chocolate Ice Cream

Your ice cream maker’s bowl is in the freezer 24 hours before you started this recipe, right? Make sure it’s fully frozen before proceeding. Many recipes call for chilling the ice cream base overnight before churning, but with a chocolate ice cream base you run the very likely risk of the chocolate becoming grainy in the base as it cools in the fridge. Instead, chill the chocolate base over an ice bath before churning and churn the base the same day you make it.

Oh, and don’t be surprised if this chocolate base takes a little longer to start thickening in the ice cream maker — that’s the nature of Philly-style ice creams.

The Secret Ingredient for Smoother, Softer Ice Cream

There are many “secret ingredients” for smooth and soft ice cream. Some folks love cornstarch, while others use cream cheese and even jelly or pectin for smooth ice cream. I think each of those ingredients has its own time and place, but for this chocolate ice cream, sweetened condensed milk is my secret ingredient of choice. It gives the ice cream an incredible malty flavor, but it also helps thicken and stabilize the ice cream base, keeping it smooth, soft, and scoopable.

How To Make Chocolate Ice Cream

I'm not saying this is the best chocolate ice cream ever (I haven't tasted them all yet), but it's a close contender.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 5 minutes to 10 minutes

Makes 1 quart

Nutritional Info


  • 4 ounces

    good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

  • 2 ounces

    good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

  • 2 cups

    whole milk

  • 1 cup

    heavy cream

  • 3/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    sweetened condensed milk

  • 3 tablespoons

    Dutch-process cocoa powder


  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Ice cream maker

  • Mixing bowls

  • Spatula

  • Small saucepan


  1. Chill the ice cream bowl, if needed. If your ice cream machine has a bowl that needs to be frozen before churning, put it in the freezer the night before you plan to make ice cream. (If you forget, you can make the base and refrigerate it overnight while the bowl is freezing, and churn the ice cream the next day.) Fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water; set aside. Fit a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl; set aside. Straining is optional but makes for a super-smooth finished ice cream.

  2. Melt the chocolates. Place the milk and dark chocolates in a medium heatproof metal or glass bowl. Bring a large skillet of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and set the bowl in the water. Leave the chocolate to melt gently, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the dairy.

  3. Heat the dairy, cocoa, sugar, and sweetened condensed milk. Place the milk, cream, sugar, condensed milk, and cocoa powder in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until smooth. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Check to make sure the chocolate is fully melted

  4. Combine the chocolate and dairy mixture. Pour a ladleful of the hot dairy mixture into the melted chocolate and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add another ladleful and repeat whisking until you've added about half of the dairy mixture. Add the remaining dairy mixture and whisk to combine.

  5. Strain the base, if desired. Strain the ice cream base through the strainer if desired. Set the bowl of ice cream base into the ice water bath, but make sure no water gets into the base.

  6. Chill the ice cream base completely. Leave the ice cream base on the ice water bath, stirring occasionally, until completely chilled, about 20 minutes. (Alternatively, skip the ice water bath. After the base cools slightly, cover and refrigerate until chilled for up to 1 day.)

  7. Churn the ice cream base. Transfer the ice cream base to the bowl of the ice cream machine. Churn until the base has thickened to a consistency somewhere between a very thick milkshake and soft-serve ice cream. In most ice cream makers, 20 to 35 minutes — check the instructions for your particular machine.

  8. Freeze until hardened, about 4 hours. Transfer the thickened ice cream to a freezer container. Press a piece of wax paper, parchment paper, or plastic wrap against the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming. Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.