Sweet Corn Ice Cream

Sweet corn ice cream is weird.

I wasn’t sure I should share this recipe with you, because it is so unusual. But it is also wonderful and the adventurous among you might just love this ice cream like I did. So, here I am. The thing you need to remember is that sweet corn ice cream tastes like sweet corn. Don’t fool yourself into thinking this is going to taste like anything other than corn. I know that sounds obvious, but as prepared as you might be, the first bite is shocking. Delicious, but shocking. It is confusing that it is so creamy and so cold. A couple of bites in and you find yourself thoroughly enjoying it.

You need to pair this with something to have it make sense. I ate a dish with fresh blueberries and peaches and loved it. I wanted more. I served some with a blueberry galette (recipe to follow) and it was a perfect accompaniment. I think a swirl of raspberry jam would be amazing.

I ate a dish on its own and I found myself wanting salt and pepper. See, weird.

So, I challenge you to give this a try. You might love it, like I do.

But if you don’t, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Sweet Corn Ice Cream (I looked at recipes from Claudia Fleming and Martha Stewart)

  • 4 ears of sweet corn, shucked
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Coarse salt
  • 7 large egg yolks

Carefully cut  kernels from the cobs and transfer them to a saucepan. Break the cobs in half and add them to the pan. Stir in milk, cream, 1/2 cup sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Discard cobs.

Working in batches, puree corn mixture in a blender until smooth. Return mixture to saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Whisk together egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk 1 cup corn mixture into yolks and sugar, then return yolk mixture to saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook over medium-low heat until custard thickens and can easily coat the back of the spoon, about 10 minutes.

Strain custard through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing down on solids; discard solids. Transfer bowl to ice-water bath, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.


51 comments to “Sweet Corn Ice Cream”

  1. You’re killing me with summer goodness this week, Tim. Yep, this looks odd alright. But I’m game. Thanks for the inspiration…freezing the bowl of my machine as we speak.

  2. Waw, I like it! Definitely gonna make this one!

  3. I grew up eating sweet corn ice cream cause they sell it in supermarkets back in Malaysia :p They’re really delicious!

  4. This looks so intriguing. I’m trying to imagine what it tastes like and failing miserably so I might just have to make it!

  5. What if you put salt and pepper IN the ice cream?

  6. Delish!!! I made this last year and loved it. At first it may sound strange but it is wonderful. Especially over warm blueberry cobbler. Have a wonderful weekend!!!

  7. Monica: You could totally put more salt and pepper in the ice cream, but I am afraid that you then have a frozen side of creamed corn.
    Megan: Thanks! Let me know what you think, I’ll be curious.

  8. Sweet corn ice cream doesn’t seem too weird to me. There’s a Filipino ice cream that is corn and cheese…now that’s weird! And, I like your idea of pairing it up with some fruit. Seems like it would help the tastebuds from getting confused.

  9. Tim, have you tried sweet corn custard? Karen Demasco has a good recipe. I cut way back on the corn when I made it a second time which made it more like vanilla custard with a hint of corn. Delicious, but oh so weird!

  10. I love all the interesting ways you’ve been making use of summer produce lately. I made sweet corn ice cream last year, and we paired it with a fruit crisp, but I’m not sure that was the best tack. On its own, or with just a little fruit (maybe the tartness of the fruit balanced it?) seems just right.

  11. I am captivated by this recipe. Enchanted, drawn in, and also a bit of an “umm, well…”. I appreciate the clear statement that it’s not a case of “It’s so GOOD you WON’T even KNOW it’s CORN!!!!” Prepared is good. Made me think at once the feeling of shock and befuddlement on seeing corn kernels used blithely and often in ice cream and other sweet puddings, desserts and fruity-snack-drink thangs in Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan, years ago on first travels and right up through a summer trip, where corn and black eyed peas and other ‘savory’ ingredients treated as interesting and appealing little food items that should be able to play wherever they want to play. It opened my eyes to the fact that I have My Rules about food, based on what I learned and saw in my childhood and beyond, and that while those are traditions and foodways, they aren’t handed down from some On-High Authority. It’s just food. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I say, well, that was interesting but now I’ll go back to what I thought before. But I like the stretch. Thanks for it. I’m going in. I’m open to it. I’m intrigued. Happy summer.

  12. I had a sweet corn gelato at a restaurant in New York City a couple of summers ago (Batali’s Otto). It was one element of a multi-part dessert that included peach sorbet and fresh blackberries–sort of like a sophisticated sundae. I thought it was brilliant. Maybe blackberries and peaches would be right pairing for your ice cream too, TIm?

  13. We are kindred spirits. I had the most amazing corn ice cream at a local restaurant a few weeks ago, and have been determined to make it ever since. Imagine my excitement to find Claudia Fleming’s recipe on line at the Epicurious site a few days later. The corn (and even some extra cobs) are in my fridge right now, and the recipe is sitting on my counter, just waiting for the weekend so I can make it. Too funny that you made this based on the same recipe I was planning to use. If it’s half as delicious as the one at the restaurant, I will be thrilled. :) Have a great weekend!

  14. Love this! We are serving this at work (L’Etoile, Madison) right now on top of a blueberry/cornbread crumble. We midwesterners wait soooooooooooo loooooooonng for our little window of corn and tomato goodness; thanks for these perfect recipes to celebrate that we’re in that window right now!

  15. Corn ice cream is great served as a surprise dessert where the guests have to guess what the ice cream was made of. It’s really weird, because the taste is familiar, but many people need quite some time until they figure it out.
    Katie mentioned it above, blackberries are a perfect pairing for sweet corn ice cream. I tried it with blueberries too but I missed some sourness – blackberries were by far the best pairing for corn.

  16. It’s so funny – I just was thinking about sweet corn ice cream yesterday. In fact, I just asked Melissa Clark on twitter if she’d ever made it. I’m a fan of corn, so this is something I need to try. Clearly the signs are all pointing towards it.

  17. Don’t you just love it. I’ve been making the Corn Ice Cream recipe from James McNair’s “Corn Cookbook” for the last twenty years. Another great thing about corn season.

  18. My heart is fluttering out of my chest thinking about this! I love sweet corn with an intense burning passion, and I can just imagine the weirdly delicious creamy-salty-sweetness going on in those perfect scoops.

    Must. Make. Now.

  19. hahahaha i love this first sentence. Sadly, i’m sans ice cream maker or i would definitely give it a go!

  20. I love this idea. I worked at this fabulous Gelato Cafe in Philadelphia. She made fresh gelato on a daily basis. People would stalk our website for sea salt, basil, and olive oil flavors. I’m thinking a nice Rosemary and Goats milk would pair nicely with that blueberry galette as well. I love savory sweets!

  21. Just can’t do it.

  22. When I first saw your picture and title, I thought, well that’s weird. And I guffawed (well that sounds weird when not in a book) when I saw that the first thing you said was that it was weird as well. It sounds really interesting and delicious, but weird. I think when I finally invest in an icecream maker I’ll try it.

    But maybe not.

    It -is- quite bizarre.

  23. I grew up in Malaysia and sweet corn ice cream is a complete norm, as are taro and durian ice cream. When I asked my friends here if they’ve had sweet corn ice cream, they looked at me like I had two heads.

    Love it!

  24. Corinne from Toronto, Canada says:

    August 21st, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    I had forgotten I loved sweet corn ice cream as a child growing up in Malaysia. What wonderful memories of opening the box and cutting blocks of the same size for me and my 5 siblings. They were all watching so I couldn’t cheat, ha. Can’t wait to make this. I wonder if my husband will think this is weird like he thinks it’s weird that ais kacang (a Malaysian dessert) has corn kernels. I know our son will love it, and I love that I will get to tell him it was my childhood fav. Thank you for the inspiration.

  25. Tim, you’re blowing my mind. First, a savory cobbler. Now sweet corn ice cream?! A little crazy, but also kinda genius! :)

  26. As your Malaysian readers have commented, sweet corn as ice cream is NOT weird but rather part of the wide array of flavors. In the Philippines, ice cream flavors include purple yam or ube and avocado.
    Someone’s weird pleasures can be somebody else’s banal habits.

  27. Indeed, Martin. I write from my own point of view, it is a blog. For me- it is definitely weird. I don’t think anyone (myself or others who commented) meant to be culturally insensitive. The flavor is odd to a Western palate. In any case, I am now very glad to know that if I ever travel to Malaysia I have corn ice cream to look forward to.

  28. Tim, I did mean to sound like I disapproved. I apologize if I sounded like I was scolding you. Ha ha ha. I should be the last person to do that. I have my share of wild gustatory prejudices. You are definitely correct, we all write and taste based on our upbringings or backgrounds but what is fantastic about your sweet corn post is precisely your openess to try new experiences and being candid about your ambivalence. Bravo!

  29. No worries, Martin! Thanks for the comments, as always.

  30. This looks amazing! If you are ever in Austin, Texas, you MUST go to one of the top restaurants, called Uchiko. They feature a Sweet Corn Sorbet dessert that is unforgettable! (www.uchikoaustin.com)

  31. Sounds delish…I like to eat my normal vanilla ice cream with fat an crunchy packet potato crisps. This sounds like it might be even better with them! Trust me, it’s worth a try!

  32. Tim! Wow! I tried this ice cream three years ago when I went to Providencia, a gorgeous island in my country (https://www.lottieanddoof.com/). It was on the menu of a very nice restaurant and I couldn´t stop myself from trying it!! I loved it and had forgotten about it!! The one I tried though, was good on its own, I ate one every day I was on the island. They have great crabs too, if you´re lucky to be there in the good season. If not, well, you can watch the millions of baby crabs climb from the sea to the mountain and eat corn ice cream!!

  33. sorry, this is the good link: http://www.providenciaespasion.com/fotos.htm. Oh! and the ice cream there, they leave whole kernels! sweet!

  34. I first had corn ice cream in northern Michigan a decade ago at the much-lauded and sadly defunct restaurant Tapawingo; it was served with a berry cobbler and was divine. I did a twist on sweet corn ice cream last year that was an amalgamation of Claudia Fleming’s corn ice cream and buttermilk ice cream recipes and it was awesome. I agree it pairs amazingly with berries (I served it with a simple berry coulis), but I certainly don’t mind it on its own either!

  35. ooh, i made a version with coconut milk and loved it! i tried it with a blueberry caramel sauce, but actually preferred it alone :)

  36. Will have to try this version. My husband made Rick Bayless’ corn ice cream last week–flavored with cinnamon and orange and it’s quite lovely. http://www.rickbayless.com/recipe/view?recipeID=94
    I’m in Madison, WI too (hi Nancy at L’Etoile), and our CSA gives us corn that is so sweet that it seems best suited to dessert anyway. We like this particular ice cream topped with a Spanish fruit compote that is cooked in wine (zurracapote–there is also a drink by this name).

  37. This makes me think of the amazing avocado tapioca bubble teas my husband and I love. At first, people are always skeptical… but there is something so wonderfully creamy about them! I bet this fits into that category too :)

  38. In love with this ice cream. I had my first bite of corn ice cream when it randomly appeared in the freezer at Whole Foods. And now it’s a long lost ice cream love. Time to try this at home…

  39. Sounds weird, I am not sure that my taste buds are ready for this experience :-)

  40. I just made this, and I find myself stealing off to the freezer at all times of the day or night just to have a teaspoonful, it is so wonderfully curious. I kinda want to garnish it with some kind of sweet, crispy bacon.

  41. A little while back, I tried these sweet corn puff snacks that were made in Asia. The taste was sweet and salty at the same time. My tastebuds went “Whaa?”, then “Yum!”. I wonder if sweet corn ice cream will produce a similar effect. I’ll have to wait until next summer to see… thanks for the recipe! :)

  42. add in cherries. i swear it. sweet corn + cherry ice cream will change your life.

  43. I have been making this recipe for two years and I love it every time. The last batch I topped with candied walnuts and freshly picked cherries. There was a flavor and texture explosion in my mouth with the sweet cold cream, sour cherries and crunchy walnuts. Looking forward to more combinations to mix with this ice cream!

  44. Hello,
    May I know how many gram is 4 ears of sweet corn??
    Thank you! =)

  45. Hi Tim– I made this ice cream for my dad for Father’s Day today, topped with a blueberry compote, and it was fantastic. My dad absolutely loved it. Thank you for the recipe!

  46. Corinne from Toronto says:

    August 30th, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I made this a few years ago and it was divine. Making it tonight. When I told the sweet corn farmer I’m making this, she didn’t bat an eye, haha. Can’t wait for my son to try his mother’s favourite ice cream as a child. I know he will love it. He truly loves real food :) I should make your recipe every time corn is in season :) Thank you again for the inspiration.

  47. Tanny Fernandez says:

    June 2nd, 2016 at 8:47 am

    I need help! While I was boiling the corn and milk mixture (prior blending the mixture), I realized my ice cream freezer bowl was not ready. It will take 24 hrs to freeze. Should I continue the recipe or put the I blended mixture in the fridge and continue the recipe tomorrow? Any help is appreciated!!!

  48. Hi Tanny- No problem! Continue with the recipe all of the way until the end (before putting into ice cream maker) and then just refrigerate it until your machine is ready. Then, just churn that ice cream.

  49. Making this now and a tad confused! Only one cup of the corn/milk mixture gets used? Thanks!

  50. Hi Stephanie- The rest of the milk is still in the saucepan. I’ll try to clarify further in the instructions.

  51. My thoughts, in order:

    1. I want to eat this
    2. Do I want to eat this?
    3. But I’m out of bourbon peaches…

    Alas, I left town for the eclipse and my neighbors picked all their corn, so it will have to wait until next year. Thank you for providing the most unusual response to the question ‘what ideas do my favorite food folks have for using up corn?”


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