dirty chai ice cream

Dirty Chai Ice Cream

[Go straight to the recipe]

I’ve been making ice cream now for almost five years. And it’s been four years since I hosted a virtual ice cream social on RealSimple.com. It was a fun project for the month of July 2011, during which I spent every weekend making and photographing ice cream. It gave me the first taste of what would eventually become belinder.

Dirty Chai Ice Cream

Well, now all of that work is gone. With all the changes Real Simple’s website is going through, the blog that I worked on (more than just the Ice Cream Social) has been removed from the site. It’s sad to see all the posts I created just vanish into thin air, but that’s the nature of the internet, I guess.

Dirty Chai Ice Cream

The good thing, is that the disappearance of all that work led me to revisit and tweak this recipe. It was the first ice cream flavor I ever created from scratch, and it was time to take another look. I originally called this recipe “not-so-award-winning dirty chai” because it was my entry into the 2011 Ice Cream Takedown. A fun and exhausting day to be sure, but I didn’t walk away with a prize.

Dirty Chai Ice Cream

The key is to infuse the ice cream base with the chai spices, and let it steep just like you would tea or homemade chai concentrate. (No, it doesn’t look very pretty in the pot, but we’ll overlook that fact.)

Dirty Chai Ice Cream

Now the real question: What makes it “dirty?” When you order a dirty chai at a coffee shop, you’ll get chai with a shot of espresso, one of my favorite drinks. So this recipe adds a ¼ cup of freshly brewed and chilled espresso to the base just before churning.

Dirty Chai Ice Cream

It might not be a flavor that I can eat all the time (like mint chocolate chip or coffee chocolate chip), but it will always be one of my favorites.

Dirty Chai Ice Cream
makes 1 quart

1 ¾ cups whole milk
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
½ cup sugar
a pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey
chai spices (see below)
¼ cup chilled espresso

Chai Spices
3 slices peeled ginger, sliced about ¼-inch thick
7 cardamom pods
3 star anise pods
10 whole cloves
4 black peppercorns
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon orange zest
10 teaspoons loose black tea
1 vanilla bean scraped
1 cinnamon stick


1. Combine milk and heavy cream, sugar, and honey in a 3-quart saucepan and heat over medium heat.
2. Bring mixture to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, and cook for approximately 4 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and in the chai spices. Allow to steep for 25 minutes.
4. Strain the tea and spices from the ice cream base.
5. Chill the base in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
6. Make ¼ cup espresso (or pick it up from your local coffee shop) and add it into the chilled base.
7. Freeze the base in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
8. Transfer to a freezer-safe plastic or glass container, and freeze at least 4 hours before serving.

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