Tres Leches Homemade Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream is truly one of those treats you have to try at least once to fully appreciate just how great it is compared to store-bought varieties. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat just about any kind of ice cream that’s being offered, but most can’t compete to the creamy, fresh flavor made in your own kitchen.


butter, sugar, ice cream

Homemade ice cream is truly one of those treats you have to try at least once to fully appreciate just how great it is compared to store-bought varieties. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat just about any kind of ice cream that’s being offered, but most can’t compete with the creamy, fresh flavor made in your own kitchen.

My neighbor and I acquired ice cream makers within weeks of each other a few summers back, and it has become a friendly rivalry to see who can create the tastiest treat. Our kids love that we bring out fresh tubs after dinner with bowls and spoons for all to sample. Everything from fresh fruit, nuts, spices and candies has been used to enhance the basic recipe.

This time I’m trying something completely different. It’s called Tres Leches Homemade Ice Cream. It means "three milks" (if my daughter’s first-year Spanish language knowledge is correct). Like the famously rich cake it is named after, this ice cream includes milk, cream and sweetened condensed milk. A trio of dairy delights practically assures me bragging rights in the battle of frozen confections. Just to add insult to injury, though, it’s finished with an added swirl of caramel sauce (homemade or not is your decision.) Honestly, it’s not even a fair fight, right?

To get started, gather the necessary ingredients (cream, milk, eggs, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla).

ice cream, ingredients, eggs

Combine the cream and milk in a 2-quart saucepan and cook over medium-low heat (stirring occasionally) just until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat.

cream, milk, saucepan

Meanwhile, separate the yolks from the egg whites. Save the egg whites for another use (egg white omelet, anyone?).

seperate, egg, yolk

Combine the eggs and egg yolks in a medium bowl and beat at high speed until thickened and pale yellow.

beat, egg, yolk

Slowly whisk ½ cup hot cream mixture into eggs. This helps gently warm the eggs so they are less likely to curdle.

temper, eggs, cream

Take this mixture and slowly pour it into the remaining hot cream mixture in the saucepan. Make sure to keep whisking the whole time. (If you don’t keep things moving, you’ll have really creamy scrambled eggs and will need to start again.)

heat, cream, saucepan

Now turn the heat to low and cook this mixture, while stirring constantly, until it can coat the back of a spoon.

coat, spoon, ice cream

If you have a thermometer, it should reach 160°F. Don’t let it boil, or it’ll be a lumpy mess.

thermometer, 160, ice cream

Remove from heat and stir in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.

ice cream, milk, vanilla

Strain the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl and chill in the refrigerator at least 2 hours. Straining helps remove any solids that may have escaped your diligent stirring.

strain, ice cream, mixture

While the custard mix chills, you can relax or take a few minutes to make your own caramel sauce. The recipe for Rich Buttery Caramel Sauce is simple and worth the effort.

Start by measuring the butter, sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup and whipping cream. Place all the ingredients except the cream in a saucepan.

caramel, saucepan, homemade

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil (5 to 10 minutes).

boiling, caramel, saucepan

Cool 5 minutes before stirring in the whipping cream.

caramel, sauce, stir

Set aside 1/3 cup of caramel sauce for swirling into the ice cream, and keep the rest to serve later.

caramel, sauce, measuring

Add the chilled custard mixture to your ice cream maker and churn until thickened.

custard, ice cream, maker

Once the ice cream has thickened to your desired consistency, slowly drizzle in the caramel sauce (while the machine is still running) just until it is swirled into the mix.

ice cream, maker, caramel

You can serve it immediately if you like your ice cream the consistency of "soft serve", but I prefer mine firmer. Just place it in a container with a tight-fitting lid and chill in the freezer for a few hours. I find fresh ice cream tastes best within a week of preparing it, but we rarely have any that lasts longer than a few days!

ice cream, freezer, container

I really should find a spot on my bookshelves for the shiny trophy I’m sure to win after the neighbors sample this treat…

ice cream, caramel, homemade

Try Tres Leches Ice Cream the next time you want to impress your neighbors, or just if you want a tasty, homemade ice cream to enjoy for yourself.


Emily is paid to write for the Land O’Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.

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Ready to make the recipe? Let’s get started making Tres Leches Homemade Ice Cream!

Tres Leches Homemade Ice Cream Image
Tres Leches Homemade Ice Cream

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