You Can't Resist This No-Cook Butter Pecan Ice Cream

August  2, 2015

If the grocery store isn't your favorite place, it should be. We're sleuthing for the best back-of-the-box recipes and every Sunday, Posie Harwood from 600 Acres will share our latest find. 

Today: With this simple homemade ice cream recipe, butter pecan will change from a flavor you're stuck with to one you're glad to have.

Shop the Story

Visiting the freezer section of the grocery store was always thrilling as a child. I could stand there with my nose pressed against the glass for ages, debating the relative merits of chocolate chip cookie dough over caramel fudge. 

The endless possibilities (and alluring names) of ice cream flavors made choosing a pint difficult, but I was up to the challenge. After serious deliberation, I'd go for the most candy bar-like option. Ben & Jerry's Concession Obsession (R.I.P.!) was a particular favorite: a blend of nonpareils, fudge-dipped peanuts, fudge-covered crisped rice candy, and a caramel swirl. 

Without fail, my grandfather would select butter pecan. I kept quiet, not wanting to offend, but I wondered if he understood how this worked. You could have any flavor! Choosing boring old butter pecan seemed practically like having no ice cream at all.

While I still eat too much ice cream, I have matured over the years into someone who can appreciate the subtle pleasures of butter pecan. It's sweet but not overly so. There's no candy or caramel core to assault your tastebuds. Instead, you get layers of flavor: First a creamy vanilla, then a buttery, nutty crunch, and finally, a delicate whisper of maple.

Best of all, I've discovered this excellent no-cook ice cream method that is brilliant for impatient cooks. You all loved the blackberry-lemon version from earlier in the summer, and I implore you to try this flavor despite it being decidedly unsexy and not bright purple.

Stir your ingredients together, then pour the mixture into your ice cream maker. If you don't have an ice cream maker, that's okay: Instead of the 3 cups of half-and-half, use 2 cups of heavy cream. Whip the cream to stiff peaks, then gently fold in the rest of the ingredients. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart container or a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan and freeze until firm.

A note on the extract: The recipe calls for maple extract. You can buy it here, but if you don't want to get a special ingredient, you can use maple syrup. The flavor won't be quite as concentrated, but it will be delicious nonetheless. I'd recommend using the best-quality maple syrup you can get your hands on (make sure it is real maple syrup!), as the flavor will be stronger.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Adapted from Eagle Brand

Makes 2 quarts

3 1/2 cups half-and-half
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon maple extract (or 2 tablespoons maple syrup)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Do you have a favorite back of the box recipe, or have you heard about a great one? Leave any suggestions in the comments, and I'll try them out and share them here!

Photos by Posie Harwood 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • Bella B
    Bella B
  • Klaudia
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


AntoniaJames August 5, 2015
I can see three ways to adapt this to improve it, taking a page out of my own recipe for butter pecan ice cream. (I'll give you a hint. I developed it for a guy who adores pecan pie . . . and it's inspired by a then-unique, marvelous touch added to the butter pecan of my childhood in Virginia.) Stay tuned . . . . . ;o)
Posie (. August 5, 2015
Ooh, I can't wait!
Bella B. August 2, 2015
This looks just delicious!
Klaudia August 2, 2015
My God, this just looks AMAZING! I drool just as the sight of these photographs :)