If ever there were an ice cream to rival my forever love (coffee ice cream, naturally), it would be this one.  Salted butter caramel ice cream.  It’s all right there in the name – all good things.  In fact, I’ve been making this for a few years now but haven’t gotten around to snapping a photo because I can’t keep the spoon out of it!

For the sake of research, I tried a few other popular/well reviewed caramel ice cream recipes and I have to say, none even came close to comparing with this version.  It wins by a landslide.  Yes, it takes slightly longer to make than other custard based ice creams because of the caramel, but it is well worth the effort.  It makes my tastebuds very happy indeed.


  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream, warmed
  • 4 tbsp. salted butter*, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


  • 01

    Add the sugar to a medium saucepan in an even layer.  Heat over medium until the sugar at the edges of the pan begins to melt.  Use a heatproof spatula to stir the melted sugar from the bottom and the edges to the center, until all the sugar is dissolved.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the caramel reaches an amber color (test a drop on a white plate if needed).  When the caramel reaches the correct color, immediately remove it from the heat.  (Be vigilant here!  Caramel can go from perfectly cooked to burnt in seconds – it is no fun when that happens, trust me!)

  • 02

    Add a bit of the cream in a slow drizzle down the inside edge of the pan, whisking to incorporate before adding more.  If done slowly enough with warm cream, this can help prevent the mixture from seizing.  Whisk in the butter.  If the mixture has seized, don’t worry – just return the pan to the burner over low heat and stir gently, breaking up lumps as well as you can.  If you can’t get rid of them all, it’s okay.  Whisk in the salt and 1 cup of the milk.

  • 03

    Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup (my preference) and whisk to blend.  Slowly pour a bit of the warm caramel mixture into the bowl with the eggs, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.  Continue until most of the caramel has been mixed in.  Return the custard to the saucepan over medium-high heat.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent burning, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon (about 170˚-175˚ F).

  • 04

    Pour the custard through the mesh strainer into a bowl or storage container.  Stir in remaining 1 cup of milk and the vanilla.  Let cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.  Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • 05

    *If using unsalted butter, increase the sea salt to ¾ tsp.


  • Charli Dickenson

    Oh wow. I think I’ve found the recipe that finally spurs me on to get an ice cream maker!!!

  • FoodNerd4Life

    Sounds delicious and perfect for this weather. It’s a great take on salted caramel flavour that’s everywhere now.

    FoodNerd x

  • Warm Vanilla Sugar

    If this is the rival to your coffee ice cream, I’m in! This looks fabulous!

  • Jamie Stone

    YES. This is the thing.

  • Emily @ Life on Food

    I was totally thinking this as my ice cream recipe for the week. Looks amazing!

  • HalfBakedHarvest

    YUM!! Salted butter is an amazing thing!

  • I’m totally making this! I just bought a salted caramel gelato and it’s awesome! I’ve loved every one of your ice cream recipes that I’ve tried!

  • Kathy

    This is sure to be a favorite in our house! Will be making it soon!

  • Kelsey

    Oh. My. Goodness. This looks insane. I bet it would be a great compliment to coffee ice cream, too. I’ll take one small scoop of each, please!

  • Best ice cream flavor ever! I’m sure I could make dinner out of this!

  • Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen

    I’m with you, Annie. Coffee Ice Cream reigns supreme, but Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream? I’m so there! Love your blog. I’m in Indy, too. :)

  • Caroline L.

    Oh my! Looks insane. If you’re ever in San Francisco, you should go to Bi-Rite Creamery and try their salted caramel ice cream. Mindblowing!

  • Yumm… burnt sugar and butter ice cream is one of my faves at my local ice cream shop. This looks similar :)

  • Kelli Z

    When can I come over? ;) Looks yummy!

  • annieseats

    Theirs is actually one of the other recipes I was most excited to try because I had heard such amazing things, but for us, it didn’t even compare to this one. I much prefer DL’s version :)

  • annieseats

    Any time, dear. Any time :)

  • Steph in Lex

    I have been on a homemade ice cream kick–made your double chocolate chip cookie dough and the Philadelphia-style vanilla ice cream in the past 48 hours–and was planning on doing chocolate peanut butter next, but this just jumped the line! YUM!!

  • I have been obsessed with salted caramel anything lately. This looks incredible.

  • Vicki Bensinger

    Sounds delicious and best of all there are only a few ingredients.

  • Lynnette Strobel

    I am wondering if you tried the salted caramel ice cream recipe from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream? We had a throw down at work and her recipe beat DL’s 17 to 11. The people who didn’t like Jeni’s found it to be too rich. Hard to imagine!

  • Sara L’arcobaleno di Sara

    oh Annie best ice-cream flavor!! Can I have one!??! xoxo Sara

  • mbartley93

    Give me 10 minutes to get ready and I’ll be over at your house to take any of the extras off your hands.

  • Kimiko

    Just made this tonight and you’re right, the extra time to make the caramel is so worth it…I even accidentally gave myself a small burn while making the caramel and its still worth it. It smells amazing and tastes amazing! I’m so glad you shared this one!

  • Rayna W.

    I love homemade ice cream, and this flavor is to die for! Thanks for sharing!

  • nessa

    I think we have just found liquid gold :) Yum!

  • Latina

    I took this to an ice cream social at church last night. All I got was to lick the spoon! Delicious!

  • anita

    I just whipped up a batch of this heaven-in-a-bowl. After I had already started, I realized I only had a half cup of sugar, so I substituted a cup of brown sugar for a cup of white. The caramel came out just a very little bit burnt tasting (I think due to the different melting points of the two sugars), but it’s delicious that way! Holy cow. Serendipitous mistake! Thank you, Annie!

  • Heather

    Just made this and it is delicious!! I always like a bit of crunch in my ice cream, so I added honey/salted toasted pecans. YUM!!

  • Lauren Ochoa

    Just thought you might like to know…I asked for an ice cream maker for my birthday (October!) and this is going to be my first batch. I will probably mix it up the day before so it will be all ready to go in as soon as I get the bowl chilled.

  • annieseats

    Make sure the bowl is very well chilled, at least 48 hours. (I know the instructions say 24 but for the first go-round, I say 48.) Yay for homemade ice cream!

  • Lauren Ochoa

    In that case I will hope my hubby is smart enough to take the bowl out and stick it in the freezer before he wraps the box. Otherwise I will die of impatience waiting!

  • bcr27

    This is the best ice cream I’ve ever made, hands down

  • Just made this today for Memorial Day tomorrow. Wow! Delicious! The caramel is the best ever! Somehow I was able to put in the freezer rather than eat it right away. I did like the ice cream mixer bowl and paddle clean. I see batches of this in our household this summer!

  • Allison Kennedy

    I went on a bit of an ice-cream making binge last week…I made the salted butter caramel, the dreamy creamy strawberry, and pineapple sorbet. The strawberry was my mom’s favourite but THIS recipe was definitely mine! I’ve been enjoying it for the last two weeks and finished the last bit of it today! mmmmmm SO GOOD! (I did also add 1tbsp. of vodka as my freezer is set very cold so homemade ice cream tends to end up rock solid without the addition of extra alcohol. It was the PERFECT scooping consistency!)

  • Rachel

    I made this ice cream for a coworker’s birthday. He’s a chocoholic, and this ice cream accompanied a rich chocolate cake. I’m pleased to inform you that he didn’t touch the cake but had three scoops of this ice cream. Your recipes never fail to impress!

  • annieseats

    Love to hear that! For the record, I agree with him. Most of the time I go for chocolate but where this ice cream is concerned, I choose it every time. So glad it was a hit!