Onions as the next great ingredient in ice cream? Believe it.

In the dead of summer, ice cream is a necessary, and as we get well into National Ice Cream Month, we wondered how creative we could get with adding onions into ice cream.

Before you say “Ew!” hear us out.

We’ve had onion ice cream before at a special event. It made for a great dessert. However, we couldn’t get a recipe. So we worked with Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA, executive chef at the University of Northern Colorado, to develop his own version of onion ice cream.  Why is this important? We at the National Onion Association believe strongly in getting vegetables in the diet. If you can get away with infusing the great nutrition of an onion into a sweet dessert, why not?

Onions naturally contain sugars. When you caramelize onions, the process draws out those sugars for a great flavor much richer than a raw onion any day. So Chef Essig came up with Caramelized Onion Brandy Ice Cream.

Caramelized Onion Brandy Ice Cream is easy to make and so sweet!

Making onion ice cream

See video here.

But this recipe is not like stringy onions are winding their way through your ice cream cone. This recipe uses caramelized onions that are deglazed with a bit of brandy, then puréed into a liquid with the traditional milk, cream and sugar.

After the liquid is pureed, heat to a simmer — careful not to boil over — then let it steep for 15 minutes.

Another unique element is that you don’t need an ice cream maker to make it. Just pour it in a clean, metal pan and put in the freezer from 2-3 hours, popping in every 20 minutes for a stir to get air into the mix.

After 2-3 hours in the freezer, this ice cream is ready to scoop!

This recipe calls for cardamom, too, which infuses a hint of citrusy-spicy flavor to the onions and the brandy. Chef Essig also put some chives and shallots into this recipe, giving it a hint of savory, which could almost make this ice cream perfect a perfect replacement for the salad before dinner. Trust us, this ice cream is yummy and easy to make. Try it out and tell us what you think.

Caramelized Onion Brandy Ice Cream


1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 ¼ tsp vegetable oil
6 teaspoons brandy
2 cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups milk, whole
1 ½ cup sugar, granulated
¼ teaspoon salt
3 cardamom pods
2 teaspoon dried shallot (optional)
2 teaspoon chives (optional)


Thinly slice onion.Heat oil in sauté pan and deeply caramelize onion over medium heat. Deglaze the pan with brandy and cook off all alcohol. Reduce any liquid until dry. Weigh out 2/3 cup of the onion. Combine the heavy cream, milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, and 2/3 cup of the caramelized onions in a sauce pot. Bring to boil and remove from heat. Be cautious not to allow it to boil over. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 15 minutes. 

Transfer to a blender and blend till smooth. Transfer to a clean, shallow, metal pan appropriate for the size of the liquid. Add dried shallot and chives if desired. Place the pan in the freezer. Stir every 20 minutes until the ice cream reaches the desired consistency. This could take up to 3 hours. Yields approx. 1 1/3 quart

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