Everyday Eats & Sweets / Recipes

Chai Tea Ice Cream

Chai tea ice cream

Remember the homemade chai concentrate I offered up over the holidays?

I haven’t made it in months. It’s not because I don’t like it anymore — I can’t get enough of the stuff. But with temperatures hovering in the high 70s lately, it’s just too damn hot to think about making chai. It’s the type of thing I make when it’s cold outside and there’s a fire inside, neither of which has been true for the last couple months.

But then I got a new toy in the mail this week — the Cuisinart ICE-21 ice cream maker — and I thought… hmm. I wonder what chai would taste like in ice cream form. Actually, I first wondered what basil would taste like in ice cream form, but my guy wasn’t feeling such an adventurous flavor to christen our new machine, so I decided to take a shot at chai. (Don’t worry, basil fans, basil ice cream will be coming this summer!)

Just two days after I got the Cuisinart, I was enjoying the thickest, creamiest, and most delicious chai ice cream ever… for breakfast. You can substitute chai ice cream for hot chai in the morning, right?

This recipe uses my favorite spices for chai, but feel free to add allspice, peppercorns, nutmeg, mace, vanilla, or any spice you normally like to steep in your chai. It will be fantastic any which way!

Chai Tea Ice Cream

Makes 1 1/2 quarts


2 cups heavy cream, divided
2 cups whole milk
6 bags black tea (Assam, English Breakfast, Earl Grey, or a full-bodied Darjeeling are best)
1-inch piece ginger, sliced into thin coins
3 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks, broken apart
4 whole star anise
1/4 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks


The night before, put your ice cream freezer bowl in the freezer.

The day of, gather all your ingredients. I have to admit I love making chai because I love looking at all those beautiful and exotic spices!

Chai tea ice cream ingredients

Keep 1 cup of heavy cream in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

Combine the other 1 cup of heavy cream with the milk, tea bags, ginger, chai spices, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.

Combine heavy cream, milk, tea bags, ginger, chai spices, sugar, and salt over medium-low heat

Heat the mixture until it starts to bubble around the edges, but do not let it boil. If it looks like it’s going to boil, remove the saucepan from your stove and adjust the heat.

Once you see bubbles on the surface, lower your heat and steep for about 30 minutes until the chai is well infused with the tea and spices.

Scald the mixture and steep spices in the chai for 30 minutes

Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1 cup of cold heavy cream into a bowl, and place a fine mesh sieve over it.

Pour cold heavy cream into a bowl and fit with a sieve

Remove the chai from heat and strain the mixture into the bowl of heavy cream. I like to press down on the tea bags with a spoon to really get all that wonderful flavor out. Give everything a good stir.

Strain chai into cold heavy cream

Stir to combine chai and heavy cream

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Temper the yolks by pouring a small amount of chai into the bowl and whisking it quickly so you don’t cook the yolks (and end up with scrambled eggs).

Whisk and temper the egg yolks

Keep adding a small amount of chai at a time and whisk until everything is smooth and well blended. You have now just made your custard base!

Custard base

Return the custard to your saucepan and heat it through over low heat. Stir the custard until it thickens just enough to coat a spoon, about 5 minutes.

Heat custard until it thickens slightly

Transfer the custard to a bowl and bring it to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.

Once the custard is nice and cold, churn it in your ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions. Mine took about 15 minutes to churn into a thick and creamy texture.

Churn the custard in your ice cream maker

I like my ice cream a bit firmer though, so I scooped it into an airtight container and put it in the freezer for another couple hours. Let me tell you… Those were the longest two hours of my life! I think I opened the freezer door no less than five times to “check” on the ice cream. But after tormenting myself all morning, it was well worth the wait!

Chai tea ice cream

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • ashish
    March 13, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Please give the substitute for Eggs…we don not eat eggs..thanks

    • Linda Ly
      March 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Hi, this is a custard-based ice cream recipe, which uses eggs, so unfortunately I don’t know what you could substitute.

  • Ronnie Mccord
    April 16, 2013 at 9:27 am

    You have to try it with Thai tea next time. Also coconut pandan ice cream is really good.

    • Linda Ly
      April 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm

      I actually have Thai tea and pandan leaf tea at home, will have to give those a try!

  • Patience Jane
    November 21, 2012 at 8:14 am

    I’m making this for Thanksgiving and serving it with apple pie, so that it has the same flavor as a chai-der. Can’t wait to taste it!

    • Linda Ly
      December 11, 2012 at 3:18 am


  • annon
    September 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Instead of using black tea and adding all the spices, could you just use chai tea bags??

    • Linda Ly
      September 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm

      Yes, but the flavors will be weaker overall. There’s a big difference in chai made with whole spices, and chai made with tea bags (which don’t always use the freshest ingredients).

      I also tend to tweak the spices depending on my mood, but maybe you prefer the flavors already incorporated into your tea bags. Experiment and see what you like!

  • theviewfromGreatIsland
    April 9, 2012 at 5:38 am

    This looks incredible, I love using Chai flavors, they are so fragrant and unusual.  I can’t wait to try this.

  • Jazmin
    April 9, 2012 at 5:03 am

    This looks brilliant, I am so keen to try this! 

    I once had chai fudge, oh it was so delicious, I highly recommend it for sweet fudge loving fans.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:44 am

    sounds and look delicious. I enjoy a cup of the chai tea, will love it in the ice cream form as well. 


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