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Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Oh, the goodness that is salted caramel… anything. Sauce, frosting, cupcakes, brownies, caramel apples, ice cream. It seems that whatever salted caramel touches in the kitchen turns to gold. There’s something about that smooth, buttery, sweet, salty and almost nutty flavor that transforms just about anything into the best version of itself. I have had salted caramel ice cream on my to-make list for quite some time, and after spending my vacation eating ice cream almost every single day, I definitely the ice cream-making bug once I got back. I took a quick poll on Facebook to see what types of flavors readers might be interested in seeing, and I was pleased to see so many were thinking along the salted caramel line as well. To the kitchen I went!

I even splurged on fancy European butter for this occasion! I concluded that since it’s David Lebovitz’ recipe and he fashioned it after ice cream he’s had in Paris, that it was appropriate :)

I was tempted to stop the ice cream process after the caramel sauce was made and just eat it by the spoonful. Holy wow. And I won’t lie – I did steal more than a few tastes. But the sacrifice for the good of the ice cream was definitely worth it. If you’re any type of caramel fan, you’ll want to stash this away and not share it with anyone. Such a deep, creamy and perfectly balanced sweet and salty flavor with tiny bits of praline that turn gooey and perfect.

I do believe this ice cream deserves a partner in crime. I’m thinking brownies would be a perfect pairing!

One year ago: Triple-Chocolate Cookies
Three years ago: Fresh Orange Cream Tart

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Yield: 1 quart

Prep Time: 30 minutes (active), 8 hours (inactive)

Cook Time: 20 minutes (churn time)

Total Time: 50 minutes


For the caramel praline (mix-in):
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon sea salt, such as fleur de sel

For the ice cream custard:
2 cups whole milk, divided
1½ cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons salted butter
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
5 egg yolks
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract


1. To make the caramel praline, spread the ½ cup of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, heavy duty saucepan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or brush it sparingly with unflavored oil.

2. Heat the sugar over medium heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. (Or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.) Continue to cook, stirring infrequently, until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn. It won’t take long.

3. Without hesitation, sprinkle in the ¾ teaspoon salt without stirring, then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling it almost vertically to encourage the caramel to form as thin a layer as possible. Set aside to harden and cool.

4. To make the ice cream, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they’re floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts) over the ice, pour 1 cup of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.

5. Spread 1½ cups sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Cook over medium heat until caramelized, using the same method described in Step #2.

6. Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go. The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of the milk.

7. Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 160-170 F.

8. Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.

9. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

10. While the ice cream is churning, crumble the hardened caramel praline into very little bits, about the size of very large confetti (about ½-inch).

11. Once your caramel ice cream is churned, quickly stir in the crushed caramel, then chill in the freezer until firm.

Note: As the ice cream sits, the little bits of caramel may liquefy and get runny and gooey, which is what they’re intended to do.

(Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz)

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84 Responses to “Salted Caramel Ice Cream”

  1. Lori @ RecipeGirl on April 8, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Oh yes, pair w/ brownies! Perfect idea!


  2. Lauren at KeepItSweet on April 8, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I can’t get enough salted caramel, this ice cream looks amazing!


  3. Christina on April 8, 2011 at 10:42 am

    So good! I love caramel!


  4. laura on April 8, 2011 at 10:51 am

    this looks incredible – can’t wait to try it!


  5. Jenny Flake on April 8, 2011 at 10:52 am

    This would make me so happy today!! Looks delish!


  6. what katie's baking on April 8, 2011 at 10:52 am

    oh wow… this looks delicious!
    how about brownies topped with caramel?!?


  7. jen @ the baked life on April 8, 2011 at 11:08 am

    looks amazing. I agree with brownies it would be amazing. or maybe a shortbread cookie?


  8. Monica on April 8, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Oh yes!! That looks delicious!!


  9. Emily on April 8, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Mmm I want to try that! It looks delish.


  10. Island Vittles on April 8, 2011 at 11:33 am

    oh dear — I think I’m going to have to make that this weekend. Out of control yum. Theresa


  11. Susan on April 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I had a taste of this in a restaurant last week and haven’t stopped thinking about it – now I can make my own! Thanks so much. Looks delicious.


  12. Maria on April 8, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    One of my favorite flavors!


  13. Brooke (Baking with Basil) on April 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    OH MY!!! I must try this!


  14. RavieNomNoms on April 8, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    That is divine, sweet and salt….DELISH!


  15. Evan Thomas on April 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Yum! Definitely bookmarking this for the Summer.


  16. Heather on April 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I tried salted caramel ice cream for the first time this week and it is absolutely divine!


  17. Lauren on April 8, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Fabulous, just fabulous!


  18. Janet @ From Cupcakes To Caviar on April 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Oh, that looks awesome! I got an ice cream maker recently and was getting bored with the usual chocolate and vanilla variations. I’m definitely going to have to make this one!


  19. Johanna on April 8, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    oh sweet mother! I was seriously JUST imagining a browned butter ice cream last night as I scooped some boring vanilla bean next to a pan of melted browned butter. I refrained from putting the browned butter ON my ice cream, and now that this recipe exists – I shall indulge in delicious salty, caramelly goodness! :) Lovely. Thanks!


  20. Tessa on April 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Yum! I recently made a caramel ice cream that was pretty good. My only complaint was that it didn’t have egg yolks and wasn’t quite as creamy as I wanted. I will have to give this a try!


  21. Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie on April 8, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I’ve made this recipe before and loved it! I never thought to it with brownies but that’s a wonderful idea!


  22. Kellyn on April 8, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Michelle, this looks DELICIOUS! If you like this flavor, check out Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, they’re a homegrown small biz here in Buckeyeland, I think you’ll LOVE LOVE LOVE her flavors!!! http://jenisicecreams.com/


  23. Erin @ Art + Food + Life on April 8, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Am I missing something? I am reading the recipe wondering where the butter comes in for the praline. I know it should be in with the sugar but I did not see it in the directions.

    Help! I want to try this one! :)


  24. Erin @ Art + Food + Life on April 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Nevermind…i had to read it a third time. I blame it on Friday tiredness ;)


  25. Aleida on April 8, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    I don’t even like ice cream and I want some of this! Absolutely delicious! Thank you for using one of my favorite things in the entire world.


  26. Allison on April 8, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Oh, my word. I must try this. It’s salted caramel, it’s David Liebovitz, and it’s ice cream. What is not to like. It’s the best invention ever.


  27. Brandi on April 8, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    How necessary is the ice bath for the milk?


    • Michelle on April 10th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      Hi Brandi, The ice bath helps to speed up the cooling process, but it’s not absolutely necessary – I’ve done without when my ice maker was broken ;-)


      • Brandi on April 10th, 2011 at 11:07 pm

        Great, thanks!


  28. Rodzilla on April 9, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Looks greats, I immediately thought of Jeni’s in Columbus. Did you use any special salt?


    • Michelle on April 10th, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      I used Sicilian sea salt (couldn’t get fleur de sel or maldon near me).


  29. Kulsum at JourneyKitchen on April 9, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I need this is my life. It would make my bad hair day to a good day. *sigh*


  30. Fran {The Flavorful Fork} on April 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I really do need to get an ice cream maker now. So yum!


  31. Sandra on April 9, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Never had salted caramel before but you’ve piqued my interest. And, everything is better with brownies!


  32. The Food Hound on April 9, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    I love salted caramel ANYTHING!! Can’t wait to try this now that it’s ice cream season!!


  33. Julia on April 10, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    I was looking around for recipes to try with my new ice cream maker and I think I found a winner! Yummy! The picture put it over the top as I am running out ASAP to get some more butter!


  34. Sharlene on April 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I am definitely a card-carrying member of the salted caramel fan club and this is topping my to-do list!


  35. Jennifer on April 10, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Bi-Rite in San Francisco makes Salted Caramel ice cream and it’s my absolute favorite. I’ve always wanted to try it — thanks for the recipe!


  36. Tiffany on April 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    I love salt and sweet… so awesome to make an ice cream with that combo!


  37. Felice on April 11, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Well, there goes the diet (again). I love salted caramel anything, and ice cream sound so good right now.


  38. jaclyn@todayslady on April 11, 2011 at 1:45 am

    I. Want. This. Now! Mmmmm sweet and salty-best combo! I definitely would’ve had trouble not eating the caramel before it made it into the ice cream. Really, I just think its absolutely impossible not to eat caramel when its staring at you in the face with all of it’s wonderful aroma and creamy look.


  39. Adriana on April 11, 2011 at 5:52 am

    You are right! Brownies are a great pairing. I made them together a few weeks ago to rave reviews from friends.


  40. The Café Sucré Farine on April 11, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Oh my, this looks and sound divine – I am such a sucker for anything caramel and will definitely be needing to try this – SOON!!! It would be so delicious with my poppy seed pound cake, yum!


  41. Joe The Baker on April 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    My ice cream maker is a 6 quart maker….Can someone update the recipes accordingly for me please?
    Thank you :)


  42. Forks Knives and Spades on April 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    There is nothing better than salty and sweet together. I make fleur de sel caramels often and they’re out of this world delicious….so, salted caramel ice cream can only be equally delicious. My husband would love this too. It would be good with some toffee bits incorporated as well. Yum!


  43. Tracy on April 11, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    This ice cream sounds absolutely divine! Putting on my list to make this summer for sure!


  44. Star on April 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    You make me want to bake/cook! I awarded you the Stylish Blogger Award. Love your site. ;-))


  45. Cookin' Canuck on April 12, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Michelle, this looks so good. Actually, it might be the perfect snack food to enjoy during the playoffs.


  46. Nicole on April 13, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Oh.my.yum! I have just discovered this caramel salt phenomenon. It is amazing! There is a Sea Salt with Caramel Truffel ice cream I discovered a few weeks ago that is to die for. This recipe look fabulous! I am totally going to try this soon! Thank goodness my girls over at Couple of Crumbs spotlighted your site or I may have never found you! Already on my list is snickerdoodle popcorn, s’more cookies, and THIS! And I haven’t even checkout the other caramal salt recipes. Did I see brownies?!! Ahhh!

    Love this site and I adore the name!


  47. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on April 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Fabulous! I think I need to make some of this ice cream myself!


  48. Amanda S on April 13, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Yum with brownies!!! This ice cream looks really great!


  49. momgateway on April 14, 2011 at 12:14 am

    I think your ice cream is fantastic..I buzzed it!


  50. Suzanne on April 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    wow, can’t wait to try this on out!


  51. Foodiewife on April 16, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I’ve read the directions, several times, envisioning how to do this. I’m going in– you have no idea how much I love caramel. I haven’t stopped thinking about this recipe of yours, since I saw the photos. Wish me luck! I’m excited!


  52. byron on April 20, 2011 at 3:53 am

    @David Lebovitz
    i love your recipe of Salted Caramel Ice Cream thanks for the reciper.



  53. Christine on April 20, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    This makes me want an ice cream maker so. bad.


  54. Debbie on May 21, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I made this the other day and it was seriously the best homemade ice cream I’ve ever had! It was delicious and had a great consistency (it seems like many homemade ice creams are either too soft or too hard after freezing).


  55. Erin on June 19, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Thanks for the amazing recipe. A friend and I made this in a KitchenAid this weekend and it never really thickened, do you have any thoughts on what would cause that? We suspect it might have something to do with the fact that we added the caramel bits about halfway through the churning (per manufacturer instructions) and the salt slowed down the freezing. Still very very tasty!


    • Michelle on June 19th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Erin, This ice cream does churn up a bit softer than traditional ice cream due to the caramel sauce in the custard, but it should definitely thicken. Adding the praline bits too early may have caused it (I added mine at the end), but I imagine it should have thickened already at that point. Was your custard chilled for at least 8 hours before you tried churning it?


  56. Erin on June 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Hi Michelle,
    Yes, everything was cold… we chilled the freezer bowl for about three days and chilled the custard for at least 15 hours. We added the praline after about 12 minutes of churning and KitchenAid recommended ~30 minutes total churning. After we added the praline it didn’t get any thicker. So, we can confirm that your tip about waiting until the end is a good one! Thanks for your reply :)


  57. Taylor on July 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Oh my word. I just made this ice cream and it is absolutely wonderful! I made it without a ice cream maker with my hand mixer and it turned out wonderfully. I adore anything that involves salted ice cream and this lived up to all my expectations!


  58. Amy V. on July 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I just made the base this morning. It was my first ever attempt at home made ice cream. I almost just grabbed a straw and drank it! *lol* It is chilling in my fridge right now. I just realized I forgot the vanilla. Do you think I can add it now? I don’t know how I will wait to churn and eat! The waiting is the worst!!


    • Michelle on July 28th, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      Hi Amy, Yes you can add the vanilla now. It just can’t be added when the mixture is on the stove because it will cook right out. Enjoy the ice cream!


  59. Meghan on August 29, 2011 at 10:10 am

    I had some issues getting this to thicken in my KitchenAid also (all my fault, though. SO. IMPATIENT.) Once it did, it was perfect! I used to think I didn’t like caramel very much – apparently I don’t like the brown goo that PASSES for caramel in a lot of sweets. Awesome recipe!!


  60. Kris on October 23, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I’ve made this twice now- once for a friend who took care of our animals while we were on vacation, and one for us because it is just so darned yummy. I asked my friend’s husband who it turned out, and he didn’t get any! Wife and kids ate it all before he got any poor guy.


  61. SweetCarolyn on November 5, 2012 at 12:45 am

    If we added pecans to this, would it be like a butter pecan? Or even better because it is caramel?


    • Michelle on November 6th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      It won’t taste as much like butter pecan as it would a “turtle” type of flavor, minus the chocolate. I think it would be good!


  62. Sarah on December 30, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I got an ice cream maker for Christmas, and I think this will be the first type I make!


  63. Elizabeth Kellett on February 13, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Hey Michelle! I am working on this now and am wondering if there is a way to quicken the 8 hour cooling process? I am making this as a surprise for my husband for tomorrow but don’t want the ice cream maker running when he gets home.. The surprise won’t be a surprise then :) do you think I could chill it more quickly in the freezer or not?


    • Michelle on February 13th, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      Hi Elizabeth, Definitely don’t put the custard in the freezer to speed up the process. You could probably cut it down to 6 hours or so; the key is making sure it’s thoroughly chilled or it won’t churn and thicken up into an ice cream texture.


  64. Ruks on June 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Michelle,
    Just made this and I was wondering if you found it s bit too sweet? Other recipes don’t call for as much sugar. It’s delicious but I could only have one scoop as I found it very rich and sweet.


    • Michelle on June 5th, 2013 at 9:31 am

      Hi Ruks, I usually find questions about whether foods are too sweet or not sweet enough to really be a matter of personal taste. What tastes too sweet to one person might be perfect to another. If you found the ice cream too sweet, try reducing the sugar a little next time.


  65. Mike C on July 11, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Got my Cuisinart ICE-100 delivered to the house yesterday. Used this salted caramel recipe for my intial test-run. FAN-TAST-IC recipe…and results! Ice cream is incredibly smooth, creamy and delicious! Thanks!


  66. Angie on September 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    You actually made your own Ice-cream? I’m such a newb compared to you.


  67. Jennifer on October 19, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    I’m super sad. I’ve been craving this ice cream ever since I tried some at an ice cream shop at an airport, strangely enough. I found this recipe and was super excited to make it. Everything went exactly as the recipe said. When I chilled it, it separated. I whisked it back together before I churned it and it churned for over an hour and didn’t freeze. I put it in the freezer and it separated again and is still not freezing. What did I do wrong? :(


    • Michelle on October 22nd, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      Hi Jennifer, I’m not sure – if you didn’t make any substitutions and followed the directions as written, I don’t know why it would separate and not freeze.


  68. Dinka on December 26, 2013 at 1:59 am

    Mine never turned creamy either. It just remained a soup even though I churned it for over half an hour and didn’t add the pieces until the last minute.


  69. Lynne on March 23, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Add me to the failed list on this one. First, I must have burned the sugar because it tasted burned. I didn’t realize it until I had made the custard and tasted it – I haven’t had very good experiences lately with caramel making, I tried to make the salted caramel sauce and burned that, and now this. I followed the directions (except that maybe I stirred it too much? I didn’t read that you are only supposed to stir it “intermittently” until I had already been stirring it almost constantly), but it goes from ok to burned so quickly – I honestly had no idea that it had burned – there wasn’t a smell or smoke, and it was a nice golden color. Anyway, I continued making the ice cream hoping that the other ingredients would somehow mask the burned taste. Let me tell you, it’s impossible. Burned sugar is a horrible taste and can’t be covered up. If I were to do it again, I would have cooled some of the caramel after step 5/2 and tasted it before I added the other ingredients. At least at that point you have only wasted 1.5c of sugar.
    So, after I cooled the custard over night, I churned it, but it stayed very soft. I wasn’t too concerned because I usually have to freeze the churned ice cream to actually get it frozen to the texture of store bought ice cream, but this never hardened. I had it in the freezer for ~10+ hours, and it was still goppy soft serve texture, and tasted burned :-(


  70. Faithelis on May 1, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    hey. Thanks For the recipe. I love it so much. I only found out about the salted caramel ice cream on haagen-dazs and have been a fond of it since. Since I already bought my ice cream maker I thought why should’t I make Salted caramel. I tried this recipe and really enjoyed it. Only thing that I would change is the usage of sugar. It’s too sweet. But its okay though. I love this recipe and I love you for posting this. keep up the good work!


  71. kake on May 18, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Do you use coarse sea salt?


    • Michelle on May 19th, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      For the ice cream custard, I used fine sea salt.


  72. Vishal263 on July 4, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Hi Michelle,
    Can I substitute the vanilla extract with essence and what would the quantities be


    • Michelle on July 6th, 2014 at 10:40 am

      Hi there, it all depends on what the “essence” actually is. In some places, it is merely imitation vanilla extract, in which case, you can substitute it in a 1:1 ratio for the vanilla extract. In other places, vanilla essence is like an essential oil, and in that case, you should only use a drop or two.


      • Vishal263 on July 6th, 2014 at 10:47 am

        Thanks, I’ve made the ice cream, don’t have an machine so busy in the process of beating it every 30 mins then freezing


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