Gingerbread ice cream – Traditional Christmas style

Christmas gingerbread – few cookies have such a strong link to Christmas, at least in Scandinavia! And no wonder, since eating gingerbread cookies even is supposed to make you kind!  But if this kindness is linked to the sheer happiness and satisfaction brought about by savouring the cookies, friends of ice cream should look no further – this Gingerbread ice cream actually tastes more of traditional gingerbread than most cookies do! 

Avid readers may remember that I have posted recipes for gingerbread ice cream a few times before. And surely, one can never have too many recipes of this annual favourite! Today’s version is built on a custard base infused with all the right, traditional gingerbread-spices, and – I dare say – comes with a profound and  powerful flavour-punch that makes most gingerbread cookies pale in comparison!

If you are in a hurry, preparing a custard base does take a little time however, so those who instead prefer a really quick recipe for gingerbread ice cream ready in about 30 minutes –look here!

Gingerbread makers by Helge Artelius

Traditional gingerbread cookies form an integral part of Christmas in Sweden and several other countries. But this ice cream recipe actually tastes even more of ‘gingerbread’ than most ordinary cookies!

This great recipe was handed to me by my friend Lena (who also introduced me to the wonderful world of sorbet spooms). The winning formula stems from the fact that it actually includes most of the ingredients normally going into a regular, traditional batch of gingerbread cookie dough (save for the flour). So thanks to this very genuine combination of gingerbread spices, baking soda/baking powder, and a fair amount of golden syrup, this ice cream is guaranteed to match and even exceed most expectations!


Fresh ginger, cinnamon, dried bitter orange peel, clove … our traditional gingerbread spices


How to do it

The procedure follows the standard way of preparing custard based ice cream, with the particular spices being infused into the base.

Depending on how strong flavour you would like, you could add the dried spices as they come, or – like me – crush them lightly with a mortar and pestle.

You might be a bit extra careful about not adding too much of the bitter orange peel. Here, just a little will go a long way so stick to the recipe; otherwise you might end up with a markedly ‘adult’ bitterness to the overall flavour. Mind you: most adults will likely accept (or even like) this, but your ice cream would probably not be very popular with children: Trust me – I speak from bitter personal experience, after inadvertedly having overdosed on the peel once …

The (lightly) crushed spices have already been added. Now, it is time for the golden syrup

The (lightly) crushed spices have already been added. Now, it is time for the golden syrup

As usual for custard bases, it is important to whisk well in order to avoid scrambled eggs and/or getting the base burnt. While the Spoon-test provides a good rule of thumb for knowing when the custard base is ready, the cautious may want to check the temperatures with a thermometer (I normally do). Another precaution may be to pass the custard base through a sieve when ready, which should take care of any unwanted “lumps” and – of course – any remaining pieces of the spices.


Sieving off remaining pieces of the spices is a necessity, at least at some point in time

Sieving off remaining pieces of the spices is a necessity, at least at some point in time

Should you like to make the flavour infusion even stronger, feel free to leave the spices in the base during the whole cooling down/chilling down phase: this will add to the impact (as above, I would be extra cautious with regard to the bitter orange peel, though).

Personally, I felt that the spicy punch already was powerful enough as it was, and sieved off the spices right after taking the base from the stove.


Gingerbread ice cream in the making

When the ice cream base has been sieved and properly chilled (at least for a few hours and preferably over night), churn it in your ice cream machine.

If you have no ice cream machine, you could still-freeze the base in your freezer: given the relatively high amount of sugar and – particularly – golden syrup, this ice cream will turn out nicely even without an ice cream machine (I have tried!): just remember to do the “manual churning” during the freezing and keep in mind that the ice cream (due to the high sugar content) will require a few extra hours in the freezer in order to freeze properly (read all about how to best still-freeze without ice cream machine in this post).

The result


Gingerbread ice cream

I have savoured many different recipes for gingerbread ice cream, and most of them have been very nice. Still, this is probably the one which comes closest to emulating the powerful flavour sensation of eating gingerbread dough! Clearly, the traditional combination of gingerbread spices – cinnamon, ginger, clove and bitter orange – brings forward a most impressive flavour punch! The inclusion of golden syrup and baking soda are also part of many actual recipes for gingerbread cookies, and particularly the syrup ensures that the consistency and texture turns out to be extremely smooth, scopable and generally inviting. 

Merry Christmas!


5.0 from 2 reviews
Gingerbread ice cream - Christmas special
My friend Lena's gingerbread ice cream actually tastes more profoundly of gingerbread than most gingerbread cookies do: A clear treat for any lover of the traditional sweet Christmas speciality!
  • 250 ml (1 cup) whole milk
  • 250 ml (1 cup) cream
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate (alternatively, 2 teaspoons baking powder)
  • 1 tsk (dried) bitter orange peel
  • 1-2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1½ cinnamon stick
  • 100 ml (about 0.4 cup) golden syrup
  • 100 ml (about 0.4 cup) sugar
  • 5-6 egg yolks
  1. Put together the spices, the bicarbonate/baking powder, the golden syrup and the milk and cream in a saucepan. Bring to an almost-boil and simmer for about five minutes. Take off from the heat and let cool down somewhat (note - just a little; it needs to be fairly hot for the next step anyway).
  2. Now, whisk together the sugar and the egg yolks in a bowl.
  3. Then, carefully and while whisking, start to drizzle in - little by little - the fairly hot dairy mixture (the 'tempering stage').
  4. Return the resulting ice cream base to the stove: on low-medium heat, and while constantly stirring with a spatula, bring it up to about 82-85º Celsius/179-185º F (Some would settle already for a temperature in the region of 77-82º C/170-179º F, although this depends on how thoroughly you want to pasteurise your ice cream base). If you do not have a thermometer, the rule of thumb according to the "Spoon-test" will be when you can trace a line on the back of your spoon (or spatula) which stays.
  5. Take off from the heat and pass the base through a sieve, sieving off remaining pieces of the spices.
  6. Cool down the ice cream base as quickly as possible. When cool, put the base in the refrigerator to chill, preferably over night and at least for a few hours.
  7. When thoroughly chilled, pour the ice cream base into your ice cream machine and churn according to its instructions. Or still-freeze your ice cream, using only your freezer (see the special post on the website about making ice cream without ice cream machine).
  8. Finally, pour the churned ice cream into a freezer-proof container, cover with plastic film, put on a lid and set to freeze in your freezer (unless you want to eat the ice cream immediately 😉 )
For stronger flavour (but this recipe already packs quite a punch, so be careful), leave the spices to infuse further during the cooling down/chilling down phase: only sieve them off when it is time to churn the base.
You may also lightly crush the spices before adding them to the base in the first place. And remember - go easy on the bitter orange peel!


Gingerbread ice cream

Gingerbread ice cream

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12 Responses

  1. Katerina says:

    I always prefer infusing herbs rather than folding cookies, so this must be amazing. I once used molasses, but golden sirup looks like a good idea. The only thing which really suprise me is the soda bicarbona thing 🙂

    • Anders says:

      Dear Katerina,

      Yes, the golden syrup really makes quite some positive difference – the ice cream gets a very nice, smooth consistency, with a sweet flavour that (like molasses, I guess) really is ideal for gingerbread.

      And I agree with you – the sodium bicarbonate surprised me too. In order to be sure, this should probably merit some blind-testing, but I would guess that the sodium bicarbonate somehow adds a further touch of “baked cookie” to the overall flavour 🙂

  2. Thais says:

    I tried this recipe after trying another one with a more American combination of spices and molasses and it was soooo overpowering, I was so disappointed 🙁 I had tried gingerbread ice cream in Germany and it tastes so different from that. Then, I ran into your recipe and decided to give it a try and O.M.G it is sooooo amazingly different and delicious!!! Thank you so much for sharing! I am definitely keeping this one and licking the bowl as I type this LOL… 🙂

  3. Agnieszka says:

    Thank you for all the ice cream inspiration!
    My absolute favourite ice-cream is Häagen Dazs “Cookies & Cream” and “Strawberries & Cream” and I would really like to try to do it myself 🙂 There is something really nice about their texture. Do you have any idea of how to do a “Häagen Dazs” like base?

    Vänliga hälsningar

    • Anders says:

      Hello Agnieszka,
      Happy to hear that you feel inspired!
      If you want to do something Häagen Dazs-like, I would suggest that you start with a French-style custard base (high in butterfat = relatively more cream than milk, and a lot of egg yolks). Lycka till!

  4. Rosie from Sydney says:

    This was delish! What an amazing blend of spices. Had to use fresh orange and used a mix of dried and fresh ginger as I was nervous about the fresh ginger. Have only had the mix in the freezer a couple of hours and hasn’t firmed up completely but had to try it early.

    • Anders says:


      So happy to hear that you liked the flavour – probably my own favourite gingerbread recipe. Merry Xmas!

  5. Tash says:

    What can I say? This ice cream is absolutely amazing! It’s got layers of flavour, spicy at first with lingering warmth from the ginger. I live in a warm weather Christmas country so this was part of my Christmas dessert.

    I substituted 30ml treacle for the golden syrup and used 3 strips of fresh orange peel because I don’t have bitter orange here. I also made 1.5 times the recipe (and I’m so glad I did!) Thanks for sharing.

    I was intrigued about the baking soda too – not sure what it does but I added it anyway – maybe it’s the magic that makes this recipe so great.

    • Anders says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I also wondered about the baking soda but like your suggestion that it may be the “crowning magic” 😉
      (My own guess is that it contributes to the overall “baked cookie”-character of the flavour)

  6. Linda says:

    I have some gingerbread liqueur I might add in, for some extra kick; this sounds delicious

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