This easy homemade carrot cake ice cream recipe is no-churn, meaning no ice cream maker is required! Loaded with ribbons of freshly grated carrot, it uses sweetened condensed milk and brick-style cream cheese for terrific texture.
For best results, freeze the ice cream for 4 hours or overnight before eating. It's everything you love about carrot cake, but it's ice cream — and it’s yours, following a few simple steps!
Making ice cream was one of my favorite things to do in pastry school, and I've got lots of unique ice cream recipes on my site. But as a practically minded food blogger I want my recipes to be as accessible to as many people as possible and I know not everyone has an ice cream maker at home.
So when Microplane asked me to use their mason jar grater lids to dream up a fun recipe, I knew I wanted to make a no-churn ice cream in a mason jar — the kind anyone can make!
Thank you so much to Microplane for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. And thank YOU so much for supporting the businesses who support The Practical Kitchen! Use code TPK10 for 10% off at Microplane.com!
About This Recipe
If you love carrot cake, you're going to love this carrot cake ice cream. It starts with delicate ribbons of freshly grated carrot, and is has all the classic warm spiced carrot cake flavors you love like cinnamon, nutmeg, tangy cream cheese, and sweet, nutty pecans.
No churn ice cream recipes are super simple and a great way to make ice cream without an ice cream maker. You can even make this carrot cake ice cream recipe in the same 16 ounce jar you'll store it in!
To be honest, no-churn ice cream isn't usually my thing — I find it's often cloyingly sweet and freezes harder than I like. But this carrot cake ice cream uses a few little tricks to avoid both those things.
Instead of the sweetness coming entirely from the sweetened condensed milk, it comes from the fresh carrots and brown sugar. It's just the right amount of sweetness without going over the top.
The addition of cream cheese doesn't just add the tangy flavor of cream cheese frosting, it also helps the carrot cake ice cream freeze with a smoother, creamier texture.
Here are the ingredients that you'll need to make this carrot cake ice cream! See recipe card (at the end of the post) for quantities.
- Carrot - Baby carrots or big carrots work just fine here. Peel the carrot and weigh it before you start grating — you'll want it to weigh slightly more than you need for the recipe to account for not being able to grate the entire carrot plus any carrot bits that you can't get off the grater.
- Cream Cheese - You'll want to use brick-style cream cheese that comes in a cardboard box for this recipe for best results. Cream cheese spread or whipped cream cheese tends to freeze with a bit more of a crystalized texture.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk - This comes in 14 ounce cans. Don't get it confused with evaporated milk; they are not the same!
- Heavy Cream - Also called "heavy whipping cream."
- Brown Sugar - Light or dark brown sugar will both work here. Dark brown sugar has a slightly more intense flavor.
- Cinnamon - A crucial flavor in carrot cakes, imo. Ground cinnamon is just fine here.
- Nutmeg - Fresh nutmeg has a much better flavor than pre-ground nutmeg. A little goes a long way when it comes to nutmeg; don't overdo it!
- Vanilla Bean Paste - Vanilla extract will also work, but vanilla bean paste has a richer flavor.
- Salt - Fine sea salt works best here — the smaller granules dissolve faster and help it smoothly incorporate into the ice cream base.
- Carrot Cake Crumbles and/or Chopped Pecans - These are technically optional, but are so good stirred in at the end! I used my small batch tahini carrot cake for the carrot cake crumbles, but you can crumble up any carrot cake or carrot muffins you like. It's a great way to give some leftover carrot cake new life!
Making this no-churn carrot cake ice cream is relatively easy as far as ice cream recipes go. No need to scald or temper milk or cream, no messing with raw eggs, and you don't even need an ice cream maker!
Here's what I used to make it:
- Microplane Mason Jar Lid Graters - I was so excited when Microplane sent me these lid graters for this recipe. They're so handy! The ribbon grater is perfect for grating the carrot into thin ribbons and the fine grater turns fresh nutmeg into a delicate powder that incorporates smoothly into the ice cream base. If you love Microplane's graters as much as I do, you'll love the convenience of being able to grate your ingredients right into the container you'll use to mix or store them in. (Use code TPK15 for 15% off at Microplane.com!)
- 16 ounce (1 Pint) Jar - I recommend using a 16 ounce wide mouth glass jar to make this no-churn ice cream. Look for the kind with the two-piece canning lids so you can use the Microplane lid inserts.
- Hand Mixer - You'll need a handheld electric mixer that can be run with just one of the two beaters in place.
Detailed Instructions (Step-by-Step Photos!)
Before you start grating anything, weigh the jar and lid. That way when you place the jar back on the scale you can subtract the weight of the jar and lid and know how much carrot you have.
I usually start with a piece of carrot that's about 5 grams more than I need, knowing that I'll probably lose some to pieces I can't get off the lid, and the amount of carrot I need to hold so I can grate it.
TIP: Don't be a hero when it comes to grating carrot — Microplane's grater blades are sharp (that's why we like them!) — stop grating before your fingers get anywhere near the blades.
Peel and grate the carrot into the mason jar using the Microplane Ribbon Grater lid.
There will always be some carrot stuck to the grater that won't make it into the jar, so don't worry about being super precise here. If you're off by a few grams, that's okay.
Add the brown sugar, cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, salt, and cinnamon directly to the jar.
It doesn't really matter what order you add everything else, it's all going to get mixed up anyway. Just don't add the heavy cream yet — that needs to be added last.
Use the Microplane Fine Lid Grater to add the fresh nutmeg. Fresh nutmeg has a much better flavor than pre-ground nutmeg, but don't go overboard.
A little nutmeg goes a long way!
Use a handheld mixer to whip the carrot cake ice cream base. You want to get it as smooth as possible so there aren't any big chunks of cream cheese hiding inside. This can take a few minutes, don't rush it!
Add the cold heavy cream last. The colder it is, the more stable it will be when you whip it up.
Gradually increase the speed of the mixer to high. Whip for 2-3 minutes until the ice cream mixture is very thick and smooth.
TIP: The ice cream will come almost all the way up to the top of the jar. Be careful as you move the beater around — you don't want it to go flying everywhere! Turn the mixer off before you pull it out of the jar.
Carefully stir in any carrot cake crumbles or chopped pecans. Make sure you leave at least a quarter of an inch of space at the top of the jar so the ice cream can expand as it freezes.
Yes, this step gets a little messy, but it's worth it! Use this final mixing step to try to press out any air bubbles that might be trapped inside.
Screw the lid onto the jar so that it's "fingertip tight," loose enough to unscrew with gentle fingertip pressure. This will allow air to escape as the ice cream expands in the freezer.
Freeze the carrot cake ice cream for at least 4 hours before eating, but overnight is best.
Carrot cake ice cream can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. (Good luck keeping it around that long, though!)
To prevent freezer burn, press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface of the ice cream before you put the lid on.
After the initial freezing stage, screw the lid on firmly for storage. It's only that first step where the ice cream will expand that you want the lid to be "fingertip tight."
Practical Tips and Recipe Notes
- If it's easier for you, you can mix the carrot cake ice cream in a bowl or large liquid measuring cup and then transfer it to a jar or freezer safe food storage container.
- This recipe borrows heavily from Buttermilk By Sam's Mason Jar Ice Cream recipe. Funnily enough, Microplane had already sent me the lid inserts and I had already decided I wanted to make a carrot cake ice cream in a jar when Sam published her recipe — she solved for a lot of the issues I usually have with no-churn ice creams (too sweet, not creamy enough) which meant I was able to jump ahead in my testing by using her research and ratios as a jumping off point!
- For the best scoopable texture, let the carrot cake ice cream sit out for 5-10 minutes before digging in.
This is because weighing your ingredients is much more accurate that using volume measurements, especially for something as light and delicate as grated carrot! Using a kitchen scale will give you the right ratios so that this no-churn carrot cake ice cream freezes with the right texture.
Stir it into coffee, use it to make fudge or ganache, drizzle it over fresh fruit, or use it to make caramel. Or you can use it to make other no-churn ice creams!
You can, but I recommend soaking them overnight in some sort of alcohol first — alcohol won't freeze and will help the raisins retain a plump, chewy texture. Rum or bourbon are a good flavor pairing with raisins and carrot cake.
No, you cannot. The fat content of the heavy cream is crucial for whipping the ice cream base into a mixture that will thicken into an ice cream texture. Lower fat options will not freeze with the right consistency.
Homemade No-Churn Carrot Cake Ice Cream
- 16 Ounce Wide Mouth Glass Mason Jars
- Hand Mixer
- 35 grams grated carrot (peel it first)
- 42 grams brick-style cream cheese (NOT Cream Cheese Spread!)
- 38 grams sweetened condensed milk
- 28 grams brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon whole nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 180 grams heavy cream
- Freeze mix-ins. If you're planning on adding carrot cake crumbles or chopped pecans to your carrot cake ice cream, prepare them now and place them in the freezer to chill.
- Peel and weigh carrot. You need 35 grams of grated carrot, so you want to start with a piece of carrot that weighs about 40-42 grams. This will account for the small amount of carrot you can't grate safely and any carrot that sticks to the lid or doesn't make it into the jar.
- Grate carrot. Screw the Microplane Mason Jar Lid Ribbon Grater onto the mouth of a 16 ounce mason jar. Grate fine ribbons of carrot into the jar. Lift the lid and carefully scrape any excess carrot ribbons into the jar at the end.
- Grate nutmeg. Screw the Microplane Mason Jar Lid Fine Grater onto the mason jar and run a whole nutmeg across the top a few times. A little goes a long way, don't overdo it.
- Make the carrot cake base. Add the brown sugar, cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, salt, and vanilla bean paste to the jar.
- Mix. Use a handheld electric mixer with just one beater attached to whip the carrot cake ice cream base together on high speed until smooth. This make take a minute or two, don't rush it!
- Add the heavy cream. Add cold heavy cream to the mason jar and whip again, gradually increasing the speed from low to high, until the ice cream is thick and smooth. It will come up almost all the way to the top of the jar as you beat it, so be careful not to splash everywhere!
- Stir in mix-ins. Carefully stir carrot cake crumbles and/or chopped pecans into the jar. Use this time to press out any air bubbles. Make sure to leave about ¼" of space at the top of the jar so the ice cream has room to expand as it freezes.
- Freeze. Screw the lid of the mason jar on so that it is "fingertip tight." This will allow air to escape as the ice cream expands. Freeze the ice cream for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight before eating.
- Let ice cream sit out for 5-10 minutes before scooping.
- No churn carrot cake ice cream can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Once the ice cream is fully frozen, the mason jar lid can be screwed on tightly.
- Wipe the rim of the jar before tightening the lid so there's no ice cream sticking it together.
- To prevent freezer burn, press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface of the ice cream before putting the lid on.