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This coffee ice cream recipe is smooth and creamy, infused with the rich, bitter flavor of espresso. A coffee lover’s dream dessert!

Coffee Ice Cream
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Calling all coffee lovers! Here’s the dessert for you: this homemade Coffee Ice Cream recipe! Imagine: a lusciously creamy frozen dessert, scented with rich, bittersweet espresso. Every spoonful will make you melt a little inside! Pair it with chopped chocolate or chocolate sauce for the ideal simple dessert, or you can even add mix-ins of your choice. It’s the perfect coffee dessert for people who love an after dinner pick-me-up (us!).

Ingredients in this coffee ice cream recipe

This coffee ice cream recipe is made the traditional way: with whole milk, heavy cream, sugar and an ice cream maker! What brings the coffee flavor? Instant espresso powder. It makes the best bold, rich coffee flavor and it’s incredibly simple to toss in. Here’s what you’ll need for this coffee ice cream recipe:

  • Whole milk
  • Heavy cream
  • Cornstarch
  • Granulated sugar
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract
  • Instant espresso powder
Coffee Ice Cream

Working with instant espresso powder

This coffee ice cream recipe uses instant espresso powder to infuse the rich, dark flavor of coffee to this ice cream. The instant espresso powder we used was Delallo brand, but there are lots of other great brands out there.

Side bonus: you can also use instant espresso powder for desserts! Often chocolate cake recipes or brownies call for espresso powder because it brings out the chocolate flavor. Try espresso powder in this Mocha Frappe, Flourless Brownie Pie or Chocolate Zucchini Cake.

Does coffee ice cream have caffeine?

Most coffee ice cream has caffeine because it’s made with real coffee beans! Purchased and homemade coffee ice cream range in caffeine levels. For a ½ cup serving of ice cream, Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream has 21 mg caffeine (¼ cup coffee), Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz has 45 mg caffeine (½ cup coffee).

This homemade ice cream recipe has 54 mg caffeine per ½ cup serving, which is about ½ cup coffee (1 cup coffee has 95 mg caffeine). This is calculated using Delallo’s figure of 36 mg caffeine per 1 tsp (2 g) of espresso powder.

Coffee Ice Cream recipe

How to make coffee ice cream (basic steps)

Making this coffee ice cream recipe is simple: make a custard, cool it, and then churn it in your ice cream maker. The hardest part is waiting for it to “ripen” in the freezer afterwards! This is a great recipe for making ahead, so feel free to make a batch the night before you want to serve it: it saves well! Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Make the custard (5 minutes): Simmer cornstarch, whole milk, sugar, and espresso powder for 4 to 5 minutes, taking care that it doesn’t boil. Then add in the heavy cream, vanilla and salt.
  • Cool the custard (1 hour): Transfer the mixture to a large metal or glass bowl and place the bowl in a smaller bowl of ice water for 1 hour.
  • Churn (25 minutes): Churn the custard in an ice cream maker. After 25 minutes, it makes a soft serve texture.
  • Freeze or “ripen” for hard ice cream texture (at least 2 hours or overnight): Freeze the ice cream for 2 to 4 hours for a scoop-able, hard ice cream texture (as shown in the photos).

Ice cream maker recommendations

You’ll need an ice cream maker for this coffee ice cream recipe, but it’s a great investment! You can use it make sorbetssherbet and ice cream all year round. There are two main types of ice cream makers to try:

  • Freezer bowl ice cream maker (inexpensive). Here’s the 2 quart freezer bowl ice cream maker we use; it’s a little more expensive but very durable. You’ll need to freeze the base of the ice cream maker overnight before making this recipe.
  • Automatic ice cream maker (expensive but easy to use). Only for avid ice cream fans! This automatic ice cream maker is larger and more expensive. It requires no pre-freezing of the base, which is handy. We use this one, but only because making ice cream is our job!
Coffee Ice Cream

Toppings and mix-ins

You can make this coffee ice cream recipe straight up: or vary it to add fun and creative mix-in flavors! Here are a few ideas for mix-ins and toppings:

  • Chocolate: Add ¾ cup chocolate chips or chunks as a mix in, or use the melted chocolate method from this chocolate chip ice cream.
  • Fudge: Add this fudge ripple as a mix-in.
  • Chopped nuts: Try chocolate covered almonds or other chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts.
  • Pretzels: Add crushed pretzels or chocolate covered pretzels.
  • Waffle cone: Add crushed waffle cone pieces!
  • Chocolate sauce: Drizzle with chocolate sauce for a decadent dessert

What else would you add to this coffee ice cream to make it your own? Let us know in the comments below!

More ice cream flavors

Love homemade ice cream? Here are a few of our top homemade ice cream recipes:

This coffee ice cream recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Coffee Ice Cream

Best Coffee Ice Cream

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes (including chill time)
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 1 quart 1x


This coffee ice cream recipe is smooth and creamy, infused with the rich, bitter flavor of espresso. A coffee lover’s dream dessert!


  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk, divided
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup instant espresso powder
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Note: Make sure to freeze the base of your ice cream maker overnight before making this recipe.

  1. In a medium saucepan, slowly whisk the cornstarch into 1 cup cold whole milk, then whisk in the sugar and instant espresso. Apply medium heat and heat for 4 to 6 minutes, whisking frequently, until nearly simmering and the mixture thickens.
  2. Remove from the heat. Stir in the remaining ½ cup whole milk, heavy cream, salt, and vanilla extract. 
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large metal or glass bowl. Place the bowl in a smaller bowl of ice water for 1 hour, making sure not to splash any water into the ice cream. Alternatively, simply place the bowl in the refrigerator and wait for 3 to 4 hours or until the temperature drops to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Churn according to your ice cream maker instructions, about 25 minutes for soft serve consistency.
  5. Transfer the churned ice cream into a loaf pan or storage container. Place the container in the freezer and freeze for at least 2 hours (or overnight), which “ripens” the ice cream and creates the hard ice cream texture. Store in a loaf pan with a parchment sheet over the top or a sealed container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
  • Category: Ice cream
  • Method: Frozen
  • Cuisine: Ice cream
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!