White House Cherry ice cream


No need to wait for a Presidential invitation!  Grab some Maraschino cherries, and we’ll make our own White House Cherry.



The White House  is clearly one of the emblematic landmarks of the United States. Somewhat surprisingly, however, there does not seem to be any particular links between the Presidential residence and White House Cherry ice cream. So, sorry! No exciting stories to tell here about former US Presidents inventing, or craving, this ice cream.

Still, White House Cherry clearly qualifies as an American classic anyway, being advertised in US newspaper as early as 1929  (according to Lynne Olver at the foodtimeline.org).




Presently, however, White House Cherry seems to have fallen somewhat out of fashion in the U.S.

According to fellow ice cream aficionado Michelle (also known as The Ice Cream Empress of the late Ice Cream Forums) who kindly helped out on the topic, this may have something to do with an American preference for fresh, rather than candied, cherries these days.  Be that as it may, the flavour has not been totally forgotten. For example, at the time of this writing, Jeni’s Splendid Ice creams has picked it up (with added chocolate), so it cannot have lost its pull altogehter. In Europe, however, I have never seen it for sale so it is indeed a good thing that we can make our own!


White House Cherry is basically vanilla ice cream mixed with Maraschino cherries. Let us start with the vanilla base.

We have plenty to choose between on this front! Since we are dealing with a classic American ice cream, we could of course always use a simple Philadelphia style base. If you would like to cook the base, however, you could still avoid using eggs by going for a starch based ice cream (Sicilian gelato). But personally, I wanted to test the Italian gelato base recently posted here.

The (rather slim) Italian gelato vanilla base being churned


Onwards to the Maraschino cherries!  These sweetened cherries are popular as emblematic toppings on cupcakes. But they are also found in many drinks, and were originally prepared by immersion in Maraschino liquor (thereby the name).

But already in the 1920’s, American production began to replace the liquor with a non-alcoholic brining liquid and sugary syrup. Today, I would wager that almost all commercially available Maraschino cherries are produced without alcohol.

Taking the easy route, I used such prefabricated cherries, but you can of course also make your own (I found what appears to be helpful instructions here).  Once the vanilla base ice cream has been churned, the (whole, and well-drained) Maraschino cherries  should gently be added to the ice cream and blended in before freezing.


Maraschino cherries


White House Cherry is a delicate flavour, very pleasing to those of us who like Maraschino cherries. It is also a very good looking ice cream, thanks to the highly decorative whole Maraschino cherries. And no, there is really no need to cut the Maraschino cherries to pieces before blending them into the vanilla: pitted and very sweetened, the cherries will offer no resistance to scooping anyway – and they look gorgeous!  Just make sure that the cherries are well drained before blending them into the vanilla ice cream.

Since we are dealing with highly sweet ingredients here, a word of caution might be appropriate. My first batch actually turned out to be overly sweet, partly also because of me using way too many cherries. That said, several friends still professed a liking, proving once again that taste is a very personal matter:-)

In the recipe below, however, the suggested sugar amount has been somewhat reduced, in order to better take account of the added sweetness from the cherries. And the overall amount of cherries have been somewhat reduced too.  If you are as sweet-toothed as the friends I just mentioned, however, you might want to tinker further with both the sugar- and the cherry amounts.  If so, I happily leave it to you to find your personal favourite ratios;-)


White House Cherry ice cream



Scopes of White House Cherry (after a night in the freezer). Note that the sweetened cherries offer no resistance at all to scooping.


5.0 from 1 reviews
White House Cherry ice cream
Classic American flavour, here based on a gelato-style vanilla ice cream recipe closely adapted from Fernanda Gosetti's classic book “Il Gelato”
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 100-125 ml (0.4 - ½ cup) sugar
  • 450 ml (little less than 2 cups) milk
  • 100 ml (0.4 cup) cream
  • ¾ - 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 100-150 gram Maraschino cherries (drained but whole)
  1. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the small seeds and put all together with the milk and about 75 ml (1/3 cup) of the cream in a saucepan. On low heat, bring to a close boil. Remove the vanilla bean stalk-pieces (but keep them on the side – they’ll be reinserted later!).
  3. Slowly and little by little, pour the hot milk/cream into the egg-sugar mixture, whisking all the time (“the tempering stage”).
  4. When the ingredients have been mixed, pour back the liquid into the saucepan.
  5. On low heat, continue to whisk, ultimately bringing the mixture up to about 82-84º Celsius (189-183 ºF); the stage when you should be able to draw a line through the custard on the back of a spoon (or equivalent) that stays. For added security, use a thermometer! And remember to whisk all the time – you don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs!
  6. Take off from the heat, put in the vanilla beans again and cool down the ice cream base as fast as possible. When sufficiently cool, put in a refrigerator to chill for about five hours (or preferably, over night).
  7. Remove the vanilla bean-parts and pour the chilled ice cream base in your ice cream machine and churn according to instructions.
  8. Put the ice cream in a freezer-safe container, and gently blend in the well-drained, whole Maraschino cherries. Cover the surface with plastic film, put the lid on the container, and store the ice cream in the freezer.
Taste is personal - the Maraschino cherries are very sweet and have a distinct flavour. While this recipe tries to find a workable overall balance, I invite you to experiment with the ratios of sugar and cherries in case you would like a sweeter (or even less sweet) end result. If in doubt, start out with the smaller amount of sugar and test! Also remember that the perceived sensation of sweetness will be affected (reduced) by time spent in the freezer. Thus, an ice cream that verges on the "too sweet"-side directly after churning might taste more balanced after a few hours in the freezer.


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13 Responses

  1. Wow, look at those huge cherries! Thank goodness the sugar syrup they’ve been soaked in should keep them soft.

    • Anders says:

      Michelle, thanks for checking by, and thanks again for your help:-). And yes, it is quite amazing to discover that the cherries neither freeze solid, nor offer any added extra “scoop-resistance” whatsoever – a good reminder about sugar’s capacity to counteract solid freezing in ice creams.

  2. Joanie says:

    I was always under the assumption that the cherries were representing the ornamental cherry trees lining the Potomac in DC around the White House. I guess I always just assued that despite having no evidence, haha.

  3. grace shultz says:

    Years ago when i was little my dad would buy us a whitehouse pineapple orange icecream it was delicious it would be nice if it could be brought back.

  4. Kathryn says:

    This year, I got a fantastic birthday present. While in a secondhand household goods store, we found a Bialetti exclusive ice cream maker. The user’s manual was in Italian, with an small insert in English with recipes. I don’t think the machine had ever been used. I have no idea how old it is; there’s no website printed in the manual, and I can’t find any ice cream maker on any current Bialetti webites. So I have a feeling that my machine is from pre household computer days, making it at least 25 years old. You don’t have to prefreeze anything- it’s an actual freezer. I LOVE it, and I was thinking about making maraschino cherry ice cream. Then I came upon this website. The recipe sounds amazing, and I will be making it for Christmas.

    • Anders says:

      It certainly sounds like you have come across a real treasure there! All the best to your future ice cream-making (including this recipe, which I hope will please you) and have a merry Xmas!

  5. Scott Frazer says:

    My dad was especially fond of Whitehouse cherry ice cream. This article brought back some nice memories.

  6. lisa ackerman says:

    My dad was born in Melville PA and has talked fondly of Yetters ice cream and candy store. Banana splits for 75¢ and so on but his favorite was the Whitehouse ice cream. I’m so excited to find this recipe and hopefully bring back some of those fond memories.

  7. Meg says:

    When do yo add the final .25ml of crème?!?

    • Anders says:

      Dear Meg,
      Congratulations for being so observant! Several years have passed since this post first was posted but you’re the first to have pointed out this error. My apologies – I have corrected it now: all of the cream
      can indeed go into the mix from the start. However, if you have a batch prepared and have kept some of the cream aside, you can also just add it during the final churning 🙂

  8. Jo says:

    My Dad’s favorite was the White House cherry but I could have sworn it had nuts (likely walnuts) in it too.
    My Dad was mostly a generous man but wasn’t up for sharing this sweet treat.

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