Cafe con Leche Ice Cream

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Cafe con Leche Ice Cream recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

Cafe con Leche Ice Cream ~ rich, creamy, coffee-flavored ice cream. Just sweet enough to take the bitterness out of the coffee, without so much sweetness as to be overwhelming and cancel the richness of the coffee.

Everything about this recipe makes me grin.

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While it hasn’t been a hardship to play with my new ice cream maker, a rich and creamy coffee flavored ice cream almost became my nemesis this past week. I made no less than five versions of coffee ice cream, before I realized that the rich and creamy ice cream I wanted just wasn’t going to happen without eggs.

I tend to be more of a “throw it in the machine with minimal time invested” kind of ice cream maker. Most of the time, if you balance the ingredients right, it works well that way.

However, I wanted all the flavor of my beloved Cafe con Leche to be dominant in this ice cream. Unfortunately, adding a cup of brewed espresso meant that I was basically adding a cup of water to the ice cream.

All of the variations I kept trying were turning out crystallized and more icy than creamy. I tried versions using just espresso powder and cream, versions with combinations of both; basically, if you could think of a way to make this without the eggs, I tried it. No luck; for the flavor I wanted, eggs were required.

The ten minutes spent cooking the custard base for this ice cream is so completely worth the time and effort, I can not encourage you enough to try it.

I rarely choose a custard-based ice cream over a Philadelphia style recipe, both for the taste and for the time spent. However, this ice cream is exactly the coffee ice cream I craved. I already know that this is going to be my special occasion ice cream for years to come!

Cafe con Leche Ice Cream recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

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Cafe con Leche Ice Cream

5 from 4 votes


  • 1 cup brewed espresso
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup half and half or ½ cup heavy cream plus ½ cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


  • Pour the hot espresso over the sugar and salt in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the cream and stir again. Lightly whisk the egg yolks and slowly pour them into the espresso mixture, whisking constantly.
  • Stir constantly while warming the mixture over medium heat. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon, this should take about 10 minutes. Combine the half and half and vanilla in a medium size glass bowl and pour the warm mixture into the cream. Stir to combine and then place in the refrigerator.
  • Chill for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight, before freezing according to your ice cream maker's directions. Serve immediately for soft-serve ice cream or store in an airtight container and freeze for a couple of hours for a firmer ice cream. Serve with Chocolate Sauce if desired. Enjoy!
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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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20 Comments Leave a comment or review

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  1. Jenn S says

    Okay, you have posted enough ice cream recipes that I have made the decision to come find you and stalk you… I'll be camped out on your door step this afternoon, so don't be frightened 🙂

  2. Gram Mary says

    Of course, there are no calories in this, correct?! I suppose it would behoove me to crank this in an old fashioned ice cream maker……not! Real, homemade coffee ice cream IS the gift of the gods!

  3. Andrea says

    It doesn’t say to over with plastic to prevent a skin from forming. I understand that you don’t want the condensation before it cools off, but still wonder about a skin forming.5 stars

  4. Terry Anastacio says

    I absolutely love your blog and so far this is my favorite with all the ice cream recipes. I got myself a ice cream maker a year ago because my partner loves ice cream and i thought it would be a nice treat when he comes home after being away a week at work. Im still going strong making him a new batch each time so i love all these new recipes to try. My friends now are getting tastes of my ice cream and love it. Thanks for the many new recipes im going to try …5 stars

  5. Bobby says

    I understand the concept of ice crystals forming from the water in the espresso but wouldn’t a good instant coffee dissolved into the mixture not have such an effect for a Philadelphia style coffee ice cream ?

  6. Trudi Gold says

    This was my first time making ice cream. The flavor of this ice cream is absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing recipes.

    I must have done something wrong as once the ice cream was frozen (in the freezer) it was very hard. Not ice cream hard, but more like ice hard. I did follow the recipe and used the Cuisinart ICE-130 machine and ran it for 20 minutes. Scooped out the very thick , creamy and yummy ice cream and put it in the freezer. Now I don’t know how to get it to soften enough to scoop it out! HELP please.

    Thank you and Aloha5 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      This is a pretty firm ice cream, Trudi. Mine isn’t usually quite that hard though. I would allow it to thaw at room temperature for a bit before serving. If/when you make this again, you can add 1 or 2 tablespoons of vodka to the mixture just before starting the churning and freezing process. Vodka will impart no flavor to this recipe or take away from the taste of the ice cream.

  7. Doris Dempsey says

    This sounds great and I want to make it for our July 4 party but have a couple questions:

    What type freezer do you use for this recipe and how much does it make?

    Thanks, Doris