Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream


This recipe for Vietnamese coffee ice cream is based on one by David Lebovitz in The Perfect Scoop.  What a fantastic idea for a coffee ice cream!

Here is David’s original ingredients list:

  • 1.5 cups (600 g) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1.5 cups (375 ml) brewed espresso or very dark coffee
  • .5 cup (125 ml) half and half
  • Big pinch of finely ground dark roast coffee

Here are the ingredients for my version:

  • ¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • .5 cup of espresso or dark coffee
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • Big pinch of finely ground dark roast coffee

Both recipes make around a quart of ice cream. So which one should you make? In a word David’s is more intense and much sweeter. Mine is less sweet, still strongly coffee flavored and is easier to scoop after a night in the freezer.  A big trade off between the two is fat for sugar.  David’s tastes more like real Vietnamese coffee. Of course I hope you play more with these proportions on your own and let me know about it below in the comments.


  1. Combine all the ingredients.
  2. Pre-Chill the mixture as needed. Read more here.
  3. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Store in a freezer proof container/s.  A layer of cling wrap pressed into the top of the ice cream will prevent ice build up on the surface of your ice cream.


Click here for more recipes based on sweetened condensed milk.


Vietnamese Ice Coffee Ice Cream

Primary Ingredients/Quantity:
espresso, sweetened condensed milk / 1 quart

Mix Prep Time: 20 min
Freeze Time: 25 min
Total Time: 45 min
Yield: 1 quart (8 servings)

4.0 stars based on
1 review


Sweetened Condensed Milk Ice Cream Base


I wanted to have one post that contains my current version of a sweetened condensed milk ice cream base. This is a work in progress as I keep tinkering with various proportions of milk, cream and condensed milk. Why do I keep tinkering? Because I actually made the perfect version of this once; silky smooth, absolutely perfect texture, that stayed that way for days in the freezer and I didn’t write it down! Sigh..

If you haven’t tried a condensed milk based ice cream, you should. It has a unique, cooked milk, slightly caramelized taste and very nice texture. It is very sweet!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Sweetened Condensed Milk Ice Cream Base
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Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
Sweetened Condensed Milk Ice Cream Base
  • 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon of tapioca or corn starch
  • 2 inches of split, scraped vanilla bean, use a whole for vanilla ice cream
  1. Combine 2 tablespoons of milk and tapioca or corn starch in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat milk, cream, and condensed milk in a medium, heavy bottomed pot until simmering. Stir regularly to avoid sticking.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in the remixed tapioca/corn starch slurry.
  4. Put back on heat and cook for about a minute or until you can run your finger along the back of your stirring spoon or spatula, and leave a track that doesn't immediately fill in.
  5. Remove mix from the stove and pre-chill as required by your machine.
  6. Freeze in your ice cream maker as per manufacturer's instructions
  7. Store in freezer-proof container with a sheet of cling wrap pressed on to the surface of the ice cream.


Click here for more recipes that incorporate sweetened condensed milk.


How To Make Ice Cream Without An Ice Cream Maker

You can make good ice cream without an ice cream maker. There are a number of ways to accomplish this and if you click here you can see the collection of posts I am accumulating on this topic. But in this post I want to share with you what I think is the single best technique I have found so far. It is simple to implement. You don’t need any special tools. And it results in a smooth textured, easy to scoop, even after hard freezing in your freezer ice cream whose flavor possibilities are open ended, limited to your imagination.

There are of course tradeoffs. This recipe/technique is based on sweetened condensed milk. Ice creams based on condensed milk have a fundamentally different taste and texture profile from simple eggless American style ice creams and egg custard based French style ice creams. They are their own third style of true dairy based ice cream.  I would characterize their taste as slightly carmelized, cooked rather than fresh tasting.  I am by no means, damning them with faint praise.  Vanilla-Cardamom, Vietnamese Ice Coffee are just two of a number of flavors based on condensed milk that I love.  I describe versions of them using this technique below.  Fruit ice creams in most cases, are better served with Philadelphia and custard based styles (not to mention ices) made in an ice cream maker.

With this technique you can not make vegan, dairy-free, or sugar free ice creams. You might be thinking that you could make it sugar free by replacing the condensed milk with evaporated, but unfortunately a cup of evaporated milk still has 23 grams or so of sugar. At some point I will post on blender, frozen banana based, dairy-free alternatives.

Lastly if you want to eat your ice cream as soon as you are done making it and/or you want to explore all the many varieties of frozen desserts you can make at home, including the very best ice creams, you are still going to need an ice cream maker.  With these caveats in mind, the method I’m about to describe is the best way to convince yourself that making homemade ice cream is easy, fun and well worth the half hour it takes to prepare.

I found this simple, clever technique on the Eagle Brands website. If you are a fellow fan of sweetened condensed milk, the website is worth checking out for the large number of recipes there.

Why This Technique Works

First it is based on sweetened condensed milk, which is in some ways the perfect ice cream base. It has a very high sugar content, a very low water content, and is over 8% butterfat by weight, more than whole milk. All of those attributes help a great deal in creating a smooth, non-icy ice cream.

The Second reason, and this is the clever part, is that the recipe calls for whipping the heavy cream used to incorporate air and then folding rather than mixing, the whipped cream into the condensed milk to keep as much of that air as possible. We don’t tend to think about air as ingredient, but in ice cream it is. In commercial ice cream air can be up to 50% of what you eat. Even premium ice creams are often 25% air. If you use an ice cream maker at home you are also incorporating some air into you ice cream. As a general rule when buying ice cream more air means lower quality. Having said that, some air in the mix will add body, contribute to a light smooth texture, and help create an easy to scoop result; all which is what happens in this case.

Creating the base is very simple.

  1. Pour one 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk in medium mixing bowl.
  2. Mix in your flavorings.
  3. In another medium size mixing bowl, whip to stiff peaks, 2 cups of heavy cream.
  4. Fold whipped cream and any mix-ins into the condensed milk.
  5. Pour into a 9 x 5 baking pan (1.5 quart freezer read container), cover and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Here are the links to videos and recipes on the Eagle website, that walk you through the process. Please watch the vanilla one which is very short and shows the basic method.

Basic Vanilla Ice Cream

Cafe Ole’ and Butter Pecan Versions

More Eagle Brand Ice Cream Recipes

Many of these recipes a pretty bad, I’m recommending them mostly to help you get a feel for the technique. You don’t really want to use Folgers coffee or Smucker’s chocolate syrup as basic ingredients unless you are snowed in.

Here are some ideas to help you get more from using this method.


First and foremost, use the freshest, highest quality heavy cream you can.

As with all ice cream recipes ingredients can be halved or doubled to make as little or as much as you would like. With this technique you could actually make one serving if you wanted to.

An ice cream based on a full can of sweetened condensed milk, even with two cups of heavy cream is going to be very sweet. Personally I think a better ratio is 2 cups of cream with 1 cup of condensed milk. Even that is pretty sweet! Sweetness is a very personal preference and there is no getting around a little experimentation if the basic recipe turns out to be to sweet for you.

This technique requires gentle folding together of the ingredients. Check out this short video for a good demonstration of what this means. Remember to fold in ingredients one at a time.

Vanilla Ice Cream

Use a vanilla bean

  1. The first thing I would do is replace the vanilla extract with a vanilla bean.
  2. Split the bean with a knife, scrap out the seeds and add everything to 2 cups of heavy cream in medium heavy bottomed pot.
  3. Heat on the stove over a medium heat, until steaming or you just start to see bubbles. Stir while heating
  4. Transfer the cream to refrigerator friendly bowl, cover and refrigerate for an hour or so until the cream is cold again.
  5. Once the cream is cold, whip it to stiff peaks.
  6. Pour between 1 cup and one entire 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk into a medium size bowl.
  7. Gently fold whipped cream and any mix-ins into the condensed milk until the color of the mixture is uniform.
  8. Pour into a 9 x 5 baking pan (1.5 quart freezer read container), cover and freeze for at least 4 hours.

Add a complementary spice.

Readers of this blog know what’s coming, Cardamom! Cardamom vanilla ice cream is one of my current favorite flavors. In step 3 above add 1 tablespoon of freshly ground cardamom before heating the cream. If you don’t want bits of cardamom (I actually like them) in your resulting ice cream, run the cream through a sieve between steps 4 and 5.

A few other spices that go well with vanilla, alone or in combination, and just to scratch the surface, are nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Google flavor combinations or look for baking recipes that use vanilla for clues to flavors that might work. Add somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, and adjust by taste before freezing.


Mix-ins are solid ingredients (like nuts or raisins) that can be added to ice cream while its freezing. With this method they would be folded in when the whipped cream and condensed milk are combined. At some point I will post a comprehensive list of what can be added, but basicly it can be anything that can be made bite size and which doesn’t not freeze to a rock hard, tooth breaking consistency, after your ice cream has spent a night in your freezer. What freezes like that? Anything with a high water content.

Mix-ins are the base of two ice cream favorites which you can easily make with one of the vanilla ice cream recipes above.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

Take 1/2 – 1 cup of coarsely chopped Oreos or the cookie of your choice. Fold them in when the whipped cream and condensed milk are combined.

Cookie Dough Ice Cream

The cheater way to make this is to buy a tube of prepared cookie dough at the supermarket, coarsely chop into bite size or smaller pieces, fold in 1/2 – 1 cup when the whipped cream and condensed milk are combined.  Cookie doughs are easy to make and there are tons of recipes on the web.  Here is one from David Lebovitz’s traditional ice cream recipe that should work fine.

Cookie Dough

  • 5 tablespoons salted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Combine the butter and brown sugar together in a bowl until smooth.
  2. Stir in the flour until incorporated, then add the vanilla and chocolate chips.
  3. Shape into a 1/2 inch thick disk, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate until firm.
  4. Chop dough into small bite size pieces and fold in 1/2 – 1 cup when the whipped cream and condensed milk are combined.
  5. Bake a few cookies with what is left over.


Vanilla Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Take 1/2 – 1 cup of chocolate chips or your favorite chocolate bar coarsely chopped, and fold in when the whipped cream and condensed milk are combined.

Strawberry Ice Cream

Actually this will work for just about any fruit. If using frozen fruit, let thaw first.

  1. Puree chopped fruit in a blender until smooth. Use enough fruit to end up with about a cup.
  2. Remove and add back to the blender one half cup of puree. Save the other half to use as a topping when the ice cream is served.
  3. Depending on how sweet you want your ice cream, add to the blender between one cup and one full 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk. Pulse until well combined. This will also add a little air to the mix.
  4. In a medium size bowl whip to stiff peaks, 2 cups of heavy cream.
  5. Fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk until combined.
  6. Pour into a 9 x 5 baking pan (1.5 quart freezer read container), cover and freeze for at least 4 hours.

There are a number of ways to intensify fruit flavors.

Use a full cup of fruit. Unfortunately this will add a lot of additional water to the mix, which will probably give you an icy ice cream using this technique. I haven’t tried this, so if you do, please let me know how it works out. Adding a 1 teaspoon of vodka might solve the problem.

Add a teaspoon or less, just a little bit, of the same flavor jam to your mix. Many ice cream makers will view this as heresy. BTW try this when making milkshakes.

Add a drop or two of a complimentary, organic extract or essential oil. Frontier makes a nice strawberry flavor extract. Again use just a tiny bit.

Chocolate Ice Cream

This such a huge topic and this post is getting way to long. Here is one simple suggestion for making a basic chocolate ice cream with this base. This one uses cocoa powder. Every cocoa powders tastes significantly different. Experiment. I currently use Penzey’s Natural Cocoa powder. It is a very strong, dark chocolate and even though I really like it, I’m using it primarily because my spouse bought a bag for her own baking when ordering spices. You might like a lighter version or a milk chocolate.

Use either the original vanilla recipe or the one I describe above but use either half a vanilla bean or one teaspoon of vanilla extract.

In step 2 of the Vanilla recipe above whisk in 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Proceed with that recipe.

If you like dark chocolate ice cream, I recommend adding a shot of espresso or other dark coffee. Which leads me to, last but not least…

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

As with the Vanilla-Cardomom above, I think this is an amazing Ice Cream. The idea is from David Leibovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. If anything begs to be turned into an ice cream it has to be Vietnamese Iced Coffee. For those of you who haven’t tasted one before, it consists of very strong coffee mixed with sweetened condensed milk and half and half or cream, served over ice. Very strong, very sweet. Sound familiar?

  1. Pour between 1 cup and one entire 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk into a medium size bowl.
  2. Whisk in up to 1/2 cup of brewed espresso or dark, strong coffee.
  3. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and refrigerate for an hour or so until the cream is cold.
  4. Once cold, in another medium bowl whip two cups of heavy cream to stiff peaks.
  5. Gently fold whipped cream and any mix-ins into the condensed milk until the color of the mixture is uniform.
  6. Pour into a 9 x 5 baking pan (1.5 quart freezer read container), cover and freeze for at least 4 hours.


Well the above should get you started. I would love to here from you in the comments below if you try this method.


Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

I like this recipe for key lime pie ice cream because its a good example of how much fun it is to create an ice cream equivalent of some other food you enjoy. Last week a we had a couple of candy versions of this.

The first step is to decide what is essential about the original dessert and must be in or at least evoked by the ice cream version. I agree with the choices made by Renee on Magnolia Days. Sweetened condensed milk balanced with the proper amount of key lime juice, and a respectably eggy custard are essential. This may seem obvious but search the net for similar recipes and you will see this is not the case. I like that she uses a half cup of lime juice to balance the sweetness of the condensed milk. A good key lime pie is both tart and super sweet or its something else.

A variation I might try is to add the lime zest from the key limes and an additional cup of cream or half and half. Also I wonder if baking a ready made or fresh, graham cracker pie crust (brush it with a quick egg wash before baking) and then scooping the churned ice cream into it and freezing it like that would work?


Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

Primary Ingredients/Quantity:
Key Limes / 1 quart

Mix Prep Time: 30 min
Freeze Time: 30 min
Total Time: 1 hour

Butterfinger Ice Cream

Well its turned out to be candy week on For this recipe another favorite candy of my long, long, long, lost youth, the timeless, the God Only Knows What’s In It, the quik-crete of teeth, the Butterfinger. Personally I cant imagine a better candy ice cream flavor. And I have to hand it to Nicki on her blog Nicki’s Sweet Side, this woman has a sweet-tooth the size of Texas. In the recipe below you will find: 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 a cup of sugar and 3, count-um 3 crushed Butterfingers. This my friends is one sweet ice cream – not that there’s anything wrong with that!

My version would lose the the sugar and the milk, use 2 Butterfingers, 1 can of condensed milk and 2 cups of cream and I think I would try blending one of the butterfingers with the cream. None of this implies criticism of the original recipe, (I mean just look at it, yum!) just a reflection of my more boring taste.


Butterfinger Ice Cream Recipe

Primary Ingredients/Quantity:
Butterfingers, sweetened condensed milk / 1 quart

Mix Prep Time: 20 min
Freeze Time: 30 min
Total Time: 50 min

Sweetened Condensed Milk Cardamom Vanilla Ice Cream

This is an easy as can be recipe, that makes one pint of silky smooth, sweet, homemade vanilla ice cream without eggs. Just combine the ingredients in a blender and freeze in your ice cream maker. On the other hand I suspect (note suspect, I haven’t actually tried this yet), that an ice cream maker might not even be required. Just mix everything together, store in your freezer, stir once an hour for the first few hours, and in 4 hours or so you will have ice cream. In that scenario you might need to use heavy cream rather than half and half, but this remains to be seen.  Another no ice cream maker required method, especially if you dont want to wait hours, would be to make it using the Ziploc bag method described here.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Cardamom Vanilla Ice Cream
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup half and half (or heavy cream, or milk and heavy cream as you desire.)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds
  1. Grind the cardamom seeds in spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Freshly ground cardamom explodes with flavor!
  2. Add half and half and cardamom to the blender.
  3. Open condensed milk can with a can opener and pour into a blender. It is much easier to use a spatula and scoop out the whole can with the entire top removed.
  4. Blend the mix until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  5. If you have a built-in freezer/compressor ice cream maker add the mix to it and freeze. This should take about 15 - 20 minutes.
  6. If you have a freezer canister model. Pre-chill using one of these methods.
  7. Eat and/or store in a freezer proof container in your freezer. This ice cream stores quite well, getting a little harder in texture but still remaining soft and easy to scoop.


Serving Suggestions

Because it is so sweet, a scoop of this ice cream goes amazingly well with anything based on dark chocolate.  For example, it is a perfect side to a slice of flour-less chocolate cake.


Notes and Variations

I should sub-title this recipe the simplest ice cream base in the world because really that is what it is. You can see how easy the basic foundation of half condensed milk and half cream/milk is to experiment with. Depending on the strength of the flavors you want to add, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of any spice could be used in place of the cardamom. Up to 1/4 cup of a fruit puree or chocolate or caramel syrup are other possibilities. Keep in mind that even without added sugar this is a very sweet ice cream, so flavors that balance that are the way to go. Melting a 1/2 once of bittersweet chocolate in half of the half and half before combining is good example.

Update 4/14/13

A recent version of this ice cream that worked out well,  used these ingredient quantities. It has a nice texture, is just sweet enough for me and freezes fairly well.

1 can of sweetened condensed milk

2 cups of heavy cream

2 cups of whole milk

1 Tablespoon of cornstarch

1 vanilla bean

1 Tablespoon freshly ground cardamom

In this variation I cooked the base by bringing the heavy cream, milk vanilla bean and cardamom to boil for 4 minutes.
Took the pot off the burner for a moment while I stirred in the cornstarch which had been earlier dissolved into 1/4 cup of the milk.
Then I Cooked the mix for around a minute until it thickened from the corn starch.
Then I added it directly to my compressor ice cream maker to churn.
If you are using a freezer canister ice cream maker you need to chill the mix first.


Strawberry Ice Cream with Red Wine Vinegar

Admit it, the “with red wine vinegar” part is why you are reading this right? Vinegar in Ice Cream!? Actually it is an inspired idea and should work very well, both intensifying and brightening the strawberry flavor. This and the use of condensed milk was enough to convince me. There were a couple of things that threw me at first. Combining sweetened condensed milk with 3/4 cup of sugar means the result is going to be VERY sweet. And using an entire teaspoon of salt in a quart of ice cream is a little unusual. The recipe is from a renowned San Francisco Ice Cream shop named Humphry Slocombe which I definitely plan on visiting the next time I’m there. I confirmed with these guys that the sugar and salt quantities are correct. Also that it would be ok to reduce the added sugar to 1/2 cup.

Sophisticated Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe at

Strawberry Ice Cream with a hint of Red Wine

Primary Ingredients/Quantity:
Strawberries, Red Wine / 1 quart

Mix Prep Time: 20 min
Freeze Time: 30 min
Total Time: 50 min

Crumbled cookie ice cream with espresso caramel


I love sweetened condensed milk. It is saturated fat, sugar and god knows what else. Sneak it into coffee, cereal, ice tea, oatmeal and anything you would use milk in. You won’t be disappointed. This was the recipe that introduced me to the idea of using it in ice cream. And after experimenting continuously since first making it, I think using condensed milk as the foundation of an ice cream base is the best use of all. In addition to adding a bit of a caramel taste and probably all the sugar you need in most recipes, it performs magic on the resulting texture. You end up with a smoothness, gloss and density that is very similar to very eggy gelato. 

This ice cream on Seven Spoons is a great take on what I am talking about, and takes an already delicious recipe over the top by adding crumbled cookies and a very liberal drizzle of a coffee laced caramel.

Crumbled cookie ice cream with espresso caramel at the Seven Spoons Blog

Crumbled cookie ice cream with espresso caramel

Primary Ingredients/Quantity:
condensed milk / 1 quart

Mix Prep Time: 40 min
Freeze Time: 30 min
Total Time: 1 hour 10 min