Cherry ice cream.

1950's beach bunnies- my grandma, mom & great aunt.My grandma, mom & great-aunt at Point Lookout beach in the mid-1950’s

It’s summer! It’s hot, sticky & everyone is heading to the beach. Because ice cream is as much a fixture in the summer as sun & sand, I find myself making more & more ice creams once the mercury goes up. It’s really easy, it’s fun to come up with recipes & ideas, & because I keep the freezer bowl for my KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment in the freezer at all times, I can make it pretty much any time the mood strikes.

As you (probably) know, it’s also cherry season. Cherries are everywhere. Or rather, they were in June, when I couldn’t walk past a farmer’s market or fruit stand without seeing bags & bags of gorgeous cherries. But I figure it being only July 1st, it’s still early enough to say that cherries are still “in season.” And what do you do when you pass those bags of cherries? Do you buy them or walk on by? Because I buy them.

Tons of them.

They’re too pretty not to.

Fresh cherries (ice cream recipe).

But then I’m faced with the rapid decline of such beautiful little red orbs, and I have to then pit every single one (or most of them) and in turn freeze them, bake with them, preserve them, booze-ify them or booze-ify them and then bake with them. Which isn’t a bad problem to have, really, considering. I mean… there are far worse complaints.

I didn’t know this, but cherries are actually a pretty old fruit. Prehistoric in fact:

The native range of the sweet cherry extends through most of Europe, western Asia and parts of northern Africa, and the fruit has been consumed throughout its range since prehistoric times. A cultivated cherry is recorded as having been brought to Rome by Lucius Licinius Lucullus from northeastern Anatolia, modern day Turkey, also known as the Pontus region, in 72 BC.[2]

A form of cherry was introduced into England at Teynham, near Sittingbourne in Kent by order of Henry VIII, who had tasted them in Flanders.[3][4][5]

The English word cherry, French cerise and Spanish cereza all come from the classical Greek (κέρασος) through the Latin cerasum, thus the ancient Roman place name Cerasus, today a city in northern Turkey Giresun from which the cherry was first exported to Europe.[6]

– Wikipedia

Which means that people have been having this cherry problem for centuries! And by problem I clearly mean having far too many cherries & not knowing what to do with them all. But they probably didn’t end up making an ice cream as good as this one.

Vanilla cherry swirl ice cream made with fresh cherries.

Ice cream is a great vehicle for cherries, because they go perfectly with both vanilla & chocolate. This particular ice cream is actually a French vanilla with a cherry swirl, including some chunks of fresh cherry. It reminds me of an old fashioned ice cream parlor or a 1950’s soda shop. Or a day at the shore. It’s the kind of ice cream that you serve with a fancy spoon, in a parfait glass, or a sundae glass, instead of just a regular ol’ bowl.

Very summery.

Very yummy.

And also, very perfect for the 4th of July!

Delicious vanilla cherry swirl ice cream.

Super creamy & summery cherry swirl ice cream.



  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1/2 cup (divided)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lb. fresh cherries, pitted & halved


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the cherries & 1/2 cup of sugar. Cook, stirring, until the cherries have started to break down & release juice, & the mixture thickens. You want a thick, jam-like consistency. Once it reaches that point, place the mixture in a bowl. Once it comes to room temperature, refrigerate.
  2. In another medium saucepan, heat the half-and-half until very hot but not boiling, stirring often. Remove from heat, set aside.
  3. Place egg yolks and sugar in a mixer bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds, or until well blended and slightly thickened. Continuing on speed 2, very gradually add half-and-half and mix until blended. Return half-and-half mixture to the medium saucepan; cook over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge and mixture is steamy, stirring constantly. Do not boil.
  4. Transfer half-and-half mixture into large bowl; stir in whipping cream, vanilla and salt. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 8 hours.
  5. Assemble and engage freeze bowl, dasher and drive assembly as directed*. Turn to STIR (speed 1). Using a container with a spout, pour mixture into freeze bowl. Continue on STIR for 15-20 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved. Slowly spoon in the cherry mixture until the vanilla is swirled with it. Turn off mixer & freeze in an airtight container until firm (8-10 hours).

*Directions given are for a KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment, follow directions on your ice cream maker.

Decadent & delicious vanilla cherry swirl ice cream.

Talk about delicious! And creamy.

It went pretty fast.

By that I don’t mean that it melted fast… but that it was eaten fast.

This vanilla cherry swirl ice cream is beyond delicious.

And it may seem as though there’s a lot of sugar, or that this ice cream would be too sweet. But you have to remember that the cold dulls the sweetness. Something that would be way too sweet when baked, wouldn’t be when frozen. If you’re using sour cherries, add 1/4 cup more sugar to the cherry mixture as you cook it.

You can also make the French vanilla ice cream alone, and omit the cherries. Or serve them on the side.

Or make some cherry bourbon chocolate sauce to serve with it.

Alternately, you can also make a vanilla frozen yogurt & use the same cherry technique to make it vanilla cherry frozen yogurt. Oh, the possibilities!

A recipe for an amazing vanilla cherry swirl ice cream. Perfect for summer.

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  1. Eileen

    This ice cream sounds like the best possible use of the end-of-season cherries! Must go get my hands on some before they’re all gone. 🙂

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