Tart Cherry Ice Cream: flavor in blossom

I distinctly remember the first time I had cherry ice cream. We were in Sturbridge, Massachusetts for the day, and my mother must have been off in the shops as I was alone with my dad. We stopped at a little ice cream window on a side street and he talked me into ordering Bing cherry ice cream.

I couldn’t get over the size of those deep-dark red cherries. They were nearly the size of quarters, giant slices with ruby centers so red they were nearly black. They weren’t the glaring, artificial red of maraschino cherries; and they were deliciously sweet, with a tart finish. To this day, when I think of the perfect cherry dessert or the perfect cherry flavor, those are the cherries that come to mind. The combination of that tartness with the rich vanilla ice cream was divine.

Over the years I’ve seen many, many versions of cherry-vanilla ice cream, yet I’ve never again seen Bing cherry. Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia is a great cherry ice cream, although still much sweeter than the ice cream I remember from that day. I’d pretty much forgotten about it until we started to carry cherry concentrate. Lo and behold, there was the flavor I remembered!

Dark and thick, the concentrate’s like liquid jewels, with intense cherry flavor. Too strong to drink straight, it’s exquisite in soda water, smoothies, and icings. It makes our Cherry Cupcakes sing, and adds pizazz to our Cherry Berry Crumble.

My first version of the following cherry ice cream recipe included pieces of dried cherries and dark chocolate ganache swirled into the ice cream. It was good, but I really wanted a cherry, cherry, CHERRY ice cream. Like cherry pie in ice cream form. Luckily, version 2.0 hit the sweet spot (pun oh-so-intended), and that’s the one I’m here to share with you.

Onward to Tart Cherry Ice Cream.

In a large measuring cup with a pouring spout combine:
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 cup milk

Whisk in 3/4 cup sugar. Add 1/4 cup Pastry Cream Filling Mix, or instant vanilla pudding mix. Pastry Cream Filling Mix will give you a richer ice cream with a silky smooth mouth feel.

Whisk, whisk, whisk.

Pour in 3/4 cup cherry concentrate.* This is definitely a tart cherry flavor, not a sweet cherry, not a maraschino cherry. It’s got depth of flavor and cherry pucker to it. It’s the ice cream version of old-fashioned tart cherry pie, and its extraordinary.

If you want a milder cherry you can reduce the flavor to as little as 1/3 cup, but I wouldn’t go any less than that, or the ice cream will just taste weak.

*If you don’t have our bottled cherry juice concentrate, check the frozen juice section of your supermarket to see if they have a cherry blend. Use the same amount of thawed concentrate as the cherry concentrate in the recipe. Adjust to taste.

Add 2 teaspoons vanilla. Whisk all the ingredients together and place in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

The colder your ice cream base is, the faster it will freeze, the smoother your ice cream.

Set up your ice cream maker and pour the base in slowly. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.

For our trusty Cuisinart ice cream maker, that’s 20 minutes.

Looks like we’re just about there. The ice cream is thick and creamy. It’s still the consistency of soft serve at this point, but the machine has done its job.

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.  After you take a taste or two (come on, you know you will), scrape the ice cream into a 1-quart container and set in the freezer to ripen. Ripening is the term used for the period of hardening in the freezer after churning. Your ice cream will thank you for it.

Thanks to all you folks who wrote in looking for more ways to use cherry juice concentrate; I hope this recipe fits the bill. For those of you who don’t have the concentrate yet, I hope you’re inspired to give it a try.

I’d love to hear your childhood ice cream memories, cherry or not. Please share in our comments section and spread the joy.

Please make, rate, and review our recipe for Tart Cherry Ice Cream.

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. Tonia

    to ESKARP — to make your own cherry consentrate –> make cherry cider then reduce the cider down by about 1/2 (or a little more) so it’s like maple syrup or a little thicker. I’ve done this with apple cider and it works really well; really concentrates the apple flavor — keeps in the ‘fridge almost forever 😉

  2. Margy

    Oh my goodness! So many new ice cream/gelato recipes over the past few weeks! Good thing I have 4 (yes, that’s FOUR) different ice cream makers. What can I say, we love ice cream, and love to make multiple varieties.

  3. lisagail1070

    I had a Donvier hand crank that I just loved. It made just a quart, and I kept that metal insert in the freezer at all times during the summer months. Then we moved, and when we got to the new place I thought I’d lost it, so my husband threw away the crank/attachments. Then I found it! Oh, I was so mad, they don’t seem to make that style anymore. Love, love, love, cherry ice cream, and I can’t wait to order this concentrate.

  4. Peony

    How long does the cherry concentrate keep?

    Once opened the concentration requires refrigeration. It should be good for about 1 year. Frank @ KAF.

  5. mamsis

    I always forget how much I like cherry flavor- until something like this reminds me…will try this for the birthday party this weekend. I bought some tart cherry juice concentrate 3 years ago to add to soda water when the juice was advertised as being good for your heart…will it off-set the heavy cream’s impact (tee-hee)?
    What have you used as a sauce over the ice cream in the photo? Thanks for another great recipe!
    There is a little extra cherry concentrate drizzled over the top for a big burst of cherry flavor. Hot fudge would be delish too. ~ MaryJane

  6. Cindy leigh

    I LOVE that cherry concentrate! I’ve done so many things with it, including making a cherry balsamic vinaigrette. For a syrup, I add a bit to honey or agave nectar.
    My favorite cherry ice cream was designed for my mom, who loves chocolate covered cherries. My ice cream base is very low fat (no cream), and I melt in dark chocolate and add Dutch cocoa powder. I add a bit of almond extract and KAF cherry flavor (oil-very strong). Then at the end of processing, I added dried cherries coated in dark chocolate- like raisinettes, but with real dried tart cherries. It was awesome! I found those cherries on sale at the grocery store for half price- they weren’t going to stock them any more. I bought all 6 tubs. Alas, they are all gone and I can’t find more. Plus they were cheap! Around $2 for a 16 oz tub!
    Hi Cindy Leigh,
    I bet you could melt some chocolate and coat your own cherry pieces in the meantime. I know what you mean about chocolate covered cherries though, that’s some of the best stuff on Earth! ~ MaryJane

  7. Marsha from Durham, NC

    My favorite ice cream story dates from the time I was four and my grandfather would walk me a few blocks to the local ice cream parlor in Atlanta. He would always order for me. The ice cream had a wonderful flavor and I had no idea what it was until I tasted it again as an adult. It was black walnut. Now I make black walnut ice cream for myself and I still love it. I think that I will try your cherry ice cream as soon as I can order the cherry concentrate.
    Hi Marsha,
    Thanks for sharing. I’m so glad you have such a sweet (literally) connection to your grandfather. ~ MaryJane


Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *