Ditch chocolate and vanilla in favor of salted watermelon—trust us, you’ll never go back.

By Bridget Hallinan
July 11, 2019
Jen Causey

Summer may be peach season, zucchini flower season, and tomato season—but everyone knows ice cream is the true hallmark of warm weather. It’s why hordes of people crowd roadside stands when temperatures rise above 70 degrees, clamoring for waffle cones packed with fresh scoops of vanilla and mint chocolate chip. The ice cream truck makes its rounds in the neighborhoods, preceded by a familiar jingle; clothes, too, bear the marks of ice cream season in chocolate stains and smears of blueberry. And yet, as visceral and delicious as buying ice cream can be, nothing compares to making it at home.

If you’re set on instant gratification, you’re probably better off grabbing it at the store— after all, ice cream has to be mixed first, and then frozen for several hours (even overnight) before it’s ready to be eaten. But with a little patience and willpower, the creaminess, freshness, and undeniable satisfaction that comes with homemade ice cream make it well worth it. I started out with basic recipes like chocolate, eventually working my way up to lavender and other flavors that you can't readily find in the freezer aisle. It gave me a real sense of pride when I served it to my friends and family, seeing that they, too, could taste how special it was and appreciate the effort. So this summer, while my ice cream maker sits ready-to-go in the freezer, I’m determined to go even further outside the box—and encourage you to do the same. Enter some of the more unconventional and unique ice creams we’ve tested over the last year or so, ranging from olive oil to condensed milk with black sesame polvoron. Sure, you could always make cookie dough—but if you're up for a challenge, check out these recipes below.

Olive Oil Ice Cream

Victor Protasio

Portland’s iconic Salt & Straw ice cream shop has plenty of inventive flavors—think Buttered Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, and Wildflower Honey with Ricotta Walnut Lace Cookies—but one of its classic recipes is a simple olive oil ice cream. The whole milk and olive oil make for a silky and creamy texture, and you can also experiment with different nut oils, like hazelnut or walnut. (Just make sure they’re high-quality, and avoid ones that are solid at room temperature.) The best part? You can store it in the freezer for up to three months.

Get the recipe here.

Salted Watermelon Ice Cream

Jen Causey

Watermelon, like ice cream, is a summer staple—so why not combine the two? Paige Grandjean’s recipe uses coconut milk for a touch of sweetness, lime to draw out the juiciness of the watermelon, and crunchy flakes of sea salt for good measure. After 15 minutes of active time and at least six hours in the freezer, you’ll end up with six servings. Garnish with fresh pieces of watermelon, the flaky sea salt, and lime zest for maximum flavor. 

Get the recipe here.

Condensed-Milk Ice Cream with Black Sesame Polvoron

At LASA in Los Angeles, chef Chad Valencia makes his own version of ice cream by folding condensed milk into whipped cream—no churning required. A gently toasted black sesame crumble adds texture and a welcome nuttiness.

Eva Kolenko

On the menu at LASA in Los Angeles, you’ll find a condensed milk ice cream with black sesame polvoron for dessert—and chef Chad Valencia was kind enough to give us the recipe so we (and you) can make it at home. The sesame adds a nutty flavor, creating a nice textural contrast against the smoothness of the ice cream. Bonus: you don’t have to churn it, either. 

Get the recipe here.

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