How to Make Cherry Ice Cream

Updated: May 22, 2023

This custard-based cherry ice cream is as rich and decadent as something you'd find in a fancy restaurant.

If you love a pint of cherry ice cream, this recipe is for you! With a creamy custard base and sweet dark cherries, it’s a perfect summertime treat.

The ice cream comes together easily, so if you have the kind of ice cream maker that requires a frozen bowl, make sure it’s ready to go!

How Do You Make Cherry Ice Cream?

This ice cream starts with a rich custard, made on the stovetop. Once the custard is cold, it’s combined with cherries and whipped in an ice cream maker. A few hours in the freezer and the dessert is ready to be scooped into a cone or a dish, or turned into a super delish sundae.

Want to learn more before you start? Our ice cream guide is here for you!

How to Make Cherry Ice Cream

ingredients for cherry ice creamTMB studio


  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 teaspoons almond extract
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen dark sweet cherries, pitted (if frozen, thaw cherries before using)
  • 3 drops food coloring


Step 1: Prep an ice bath for the custard

Find a roasting pan or a large bowl that can hold a slightly smaller bowl within it. Add very cold water and ice until the larger bowl is around one-third full. Then, place the second bowl into the ice water. You’ll be pouring your ice cream custard into the empty bowl, so make sure that your ice water won’t spill over when the second bowl is filled.

Step 2: Make the custard

pouring cream into a pot and stirring with a whiskTMB studio

In a large, heavy saucepan, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt until blended; stir in cream. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly and a thermometer reads just over 160°F. (Do not allow the custard to boil). Remove from heat immediately.

Step 3: Cool the custard

hands stirring custard in a large glass bowl making Cherry Ice CreamTMB studio

Rapidly scrape the custard into the empty bowl that is sitting in the ice water bath. I like to pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer so that the ice cream will be perfectly smooth. Stir gently for two minutes to cool the custard. Add almond extract (or vanilla extract if that’s what you have on hand).

Step 4: Chill the custard

Remove the inner bowl from the ice bath, and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the custard. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. You want the mixture to be very cold before it goes into the ice cream maker.

Step 5: Prep your cherries

Place half of the pitted cherries into a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add these to the custard, along with the red food coloring. Coarsely chop the remaining cherries by hand.

(Have extra cherries? Try some of these amazing recipes!)

Editor’s Tip: You can skip the food coloring if you don’t have any or prefer not to use it.

Step 6: Whip it good

making cherry ice cream in an ice cream makerTMB studio

Pour your custard into the cylinder of the ice cream maker, ensuring that it’s not more than two-thirds full. If you have extra custard, keep in the fridge until you’re ready to make another batch.

Freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions, adding the remaining cherries about 5 minutes before the end of the churning time.

Step 7: Freeze the mixture

Cherry Ice Cream being scooped from an ice cream makerTMB studio

Transfer the ice cream to freezer-safe containers, making sure to leave headspace for expansion. Freeze until firm, at least two to four hours.

Want more ice cream ideas? We’ve got you covered!

Tips for Making Cherry Ice Cream

Can you make cherry ice cream without an ice cream maker?

You sure can! Just follow our guide to making ice cream without an ice cream maker.

What are the best cherries to use for ice cream?

This recipe calls for dark sweet cherries, such as black or Bing cherries. These are sweet but with a little hint of acidity. If you want to mix it up, color-wise, try adding some yellow Queen Anne cherries. Like it sour? Look for Montmorency or Morello cherries.

What’s in Cherry Garcia ice cream?

Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream is cherry ice cream with cherries and “fudge flakes.” This recipe gets you almost all the way there! To perfect your copycat Cherry Garcia ice cream, add your favorite chocolate chips or chunks to the mix in the last five minutes of churning.