Cherry Ice Cream

Three scoops of cherry ice cream in a glass bowl.

This is the best cherry ice cream you will ever have. I am NOT exaggerating. This ice cream recipe surpasses even the store-bought premium brands by using fresh or frozen Bing or black cherries, cream, milk, sugar, and a few secret ingredients to keep it super creamy and lush. I add a bit of Amaretto liqueur for a subtle almond background flavor and to make this ice cream scoopable straight from the container.

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We are pitting and slicing black cherries on a cutting board.

I love homemade ice cream any time of year and experimenting with different flavor combinations. Some of our faves have been this peach ice cream, laced with bourbon and swirled with crunchy streusel, and this espresso ice cream with shards of dark chocolate.

This cherry ice cream recipe is a remake of one I did several years ago. That was good. This is better. I used the basic techniques learned from Jeni Britton Bauer’s cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home and embellished it with roasted cherries and Amaretto.

The result is an ice cream base that’s super smooth and creamy, with no icy crystals, a satisfying body and chew with a melt that rivals any super-premium ice cream. The cherries are chewy, dark and sweet.

Best of all, you can make it at home using a standard ice cream maker (ours is the Cuisinart).

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Why you’ll love this ice cream:

  • It’s got a rich cherry flavor with a subtle amaretto finish.
  • The cherry flavor comes from real cherries, roasted to concentrate the flavors and give them a wonderful texture and chew. (You can use fresh or frozen).
  • The ice cream base doesn’t require any eggs, so there’s no fussy tempering or concern about the custard breaking or curdling.
  • It makes a full quart of rich cherry ice cream.
  • Amaretto liqueur does double duty in flavoring the ice cream base and preventing it from freezing to a solid block that makes most homemade ice creams hard to scoop directly from the freezer.
  • It’s PERFECT. Seriously — this black cherry ice cream will BLOW-YOUR-MIND.

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • Cherries – You can use black cherries or bing cherries, fresh or frozen.
  • Sugar – Plain granulated sugar works best.
  • Cornstarch – Helps to thicken the ice cream custard and give body to the roasted cherries.
  • Cream Cheese – This is high in casein proteins (because acid is added to the milk), and it helps to bind the custard and give the ice cream body. You won’t be able to taste the cream cheese because it only uses a small amount, and it’s used for the structure it provides. Don’t use low-fat or neufchâtel.
  • Fine Sea Salt or Kosher Salt – This won’t make the cherry ice cream salty; it balances the flavors.
  • Heavy Cream – It wouldn’t be premium ice cream without it.
  • Light Corn Syrup – Attracts moisture; the glucose in it helps prevent ice crystals and lends elasticity to the ice cream. Light corn syrup is not the same thing as high fructose corn syrup. I use Karo.
  • Amaretto – An almond-flavored liqueur.

If you’ve ever had a cherry ice cream where the cherries were icy and crystallized instead of being chewy and sweet, this method is a game changer.

Roasting the cherries with sugar and cornstarch accomplishes several things:

  • Roasting the fruit bursts the cell walls, so that the liquid leaks out of the cherries.
  • When the juices leak, they mingle with the sugar and cornstarch creating an oozy sauce, that won’t freeze into icy crystals.
  • The cherry flavor becomes concentrated in the fruit and prevents it from freezing solid, keeping the black cherries chewy and pliable.

How to roast cherries:

  1. Remove the stems and pits from the cherries and cut into halves or quarters.
  2. Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl, whisk well to combine.
  3. Add the cherries to the sugar mixture and toss very well to coat.
  4. Spread the cherries onto a rimmed sheet pan in a single layer and roast for 20-25 minutes, until the fruit is slumped and the juices are syrupy.
  5. Transfer the cherries and syrup to a airtight container and refrigerate.

You can make the roasted cherries several days ahead and keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to churn the black cherry amaretto ice cream.

The basic method for making this (and most of my ice cream recipes) comes from Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid ice creams. I’ve found it to be foolproof.

You’ll need a small prep bowl, medium mixing bowl, hand mixer, 4-quart saucepan, and whisk or heatproof rubber spatula to make the ice cream.

The method for the ice cream:

  1. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, sea salt, or kosher salt with a hand mixer until smooth.
  2. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the milk and set aside.
  3. In the saucepan, combine the remainder of the milk, sugar, cream and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Combine the remaining milk and cornstarch in a small prep bowl to form a slurry and add it to the cooked milk mixture.
  5. Return the pan to the stove and bring to a boil, stirring constantly for one minute until the milk mixture thickens.
  6. Add ¼ cup of the cooked milk to the cream cheese and beat until smooth. continue adding more hot milk and beating it into the cream cheese mixture in a steady stream until they are completely blended and smooth.
  7. Stir in the amaretto.
  8. Cover the ice cream mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight until well chilled.
  9. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the ice cream is nearly churned, that’s when you’ll add the cherries.


  • If you’re using an ice cream maker that uses a frozen canister, ensure that it has been in the coldest part of your freezer for at least 24 hours. Don’t remove it from the freezer until you’re ready to churn.
  • When adding the roasted cherries to the ice cream machine, ensure that the cherries are very cold (coming straight from the refrigerator). Drain some liquid from the roasted cherries adding just the fruit to the ice cream. Too much liquid can make the ice cream saucy or grainy. Save the excess cherry sauce to spoon over the ice cream when you serve it.
Ingredients for the ice cream base.


  • If you like a crunchy texture in your cherry ice cream, add toasted sliced almonds after adding the cherries. This will make a cherry amaretto crunch ice cream that’s to die for!
  • Add mini chocolate chips or dark chocolate chunks toward the end of churning for a homemade Cherry Garcia ice cream that Ben and Jerry would be proud to serve.
  • Swap out other alcohol for the Amaretto. Try it with Cognac, Rum, Bourbon or Vodka. You could also intensify the cherry flavors by adding Kirsch.
  • For cherry vanilla ice cream, add 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract when you add the Amaretto or other liqueur.


Is there a cherry ice cream flavor?

Cherry ice cream uses fresh or frozen black cherries or bing cherries in a rich ice cream base. It can be augmented with other flavors using extracts, alcohol or liqueurs and enhanced further with other mix-ins.

What is Cherry Garcia ice cream made of?

Cherry Garcia has a vanilla ice cream base, dark black cherries and chocolate chunks.

Who makes vanilla ice cream with cherries?

Several major ice cream makers have cherry flavors. Two that come to mind are Breyers and Ben and Jerry’s. But you can make your own homemade black cherry ice cream in your ice cream maker, and it is AS GOOD as any premium store-bought brand.

Can I make this black cherry ice cream recipe in advance?

Yes, you can make various components in advance. Roast the cherries several days ahead. The ice cream custard with Amaretto can be made one or two days early. And, of course, you can make the cherry ice cream two weeks ahead of time and keep it frozen until you’re ready to serve.

This is the equipment I use and recommend for making and storing my homemade ice cream. {These are affiliate links which means if you make a purchase, you’ll pay no more for the item and I receive a small commission}.

The Cuisinart ice cream maker is a simply engineered ice cream churn with a few parts and nothing complex. There’s a frozen canister, a motor which turns the ice cream canister, a fixed paddle to agitate and churn the ice cream and a lid with an add-ins opening, which is helpful for adding the roasted cherries to the ice cream.

I love this ice cream container because it makes scooping the ice cream in long even scoops very easy. It’s insulated and has an airtight lid, to prevent the cherry amaretto ice cream from taking on weird freezer flavors.

This container is a smaller 1-quart size, so it may be better if you don’t have a lot of space in the freezer. The lid is made of silicone, making it easy to remove, but the container is solid. The airtight seal keeps the black cherry ice cream fresh for weeks (not that it will last that long).

This ergonomic ice cream scoop transfers the heat from the handle in your hand to the tip, allowing the scoop to glide through ice cream without straining your wrist.

churning ice cream mixture in the churn.


You can keep the cherry ice cream for up to two weeks in an airtight container in the freezer. I recommend this 1-quart container or this 1½ quart container {affiliate links}.

How does it taste?

This is the best cherry vanilla ice cream I’ve ever had. The mouthfeel is ultra creamy, with satisfying elasticity. The cherries are soft, chewy and pliable with no ice crystals, and there are plenty of cherries, so you get some in every bite.

Scooping a spoonful of ice cream from the container.

What our tasters said:

“This is LEGIT! Add a few chocolate chunks and it’s the best version of Cherry Garcia ice cream I’ve ever had.” — Scott.

“The cherries are perfect in here. It’s the best cherry vanilla ice cream I’ve ever had.” — Barb.

“The texture is SPOT ON. It melts perfectly on my tongue.” Jenn.

After the cherry ice cream fully freezes, it rolls and scoops smoothly.

What goes with cherry vanilla ice cream:

  • Drizzle leftover syrup from the roasted cherries over a bowl of this ice cream.
  • Add a spoonful of hot fudge sauce with whipped cream and a cherry on top for an outrageous sundae.
  • Spoon some pecan caramel sauce over a bowl for an over-the-top flavor combo.
  • Add wet nuts and whipped cream for a crunchy other-worldly treat.
A dish of cherry ice cream with a spoon.

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A bowl of cherry ice cream surrounded by black cherries.
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5 from 3 votes

Cherry Ice Cream

This is no ordinary cherry ice cream recipe. It’s made with roasted black cherries so you get dark, sweet chewy cherries in every bite. I add a splash of almond liqueur to the ice cream base, which gives it a light almond flavor and makes the cherry amaretto ice cream easy to scoop, right from the container.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword amaretto, cherry
Dietary Restrictions Egg Free, Gluten-Free
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8




  • 2 cups black cherries (or bing) (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


  • 2⅔ cups whole milk divided
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese not lowfat
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • cups heavy cream
  • cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • cup Amaretto


  • Ensure your ice cream canister has been in the freezer for at least 24 hours.


  • Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  • If you’re using fresh cherries, rinse them under cold water, remove the stems and cut the cherries in half. Remove the pits and discard them.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch and whisk together until evenly blended. Add the cherries and toss to coat. Transfer the cherry mixture to a rimmed baking sheet and spread evenly into one layer.
  • Bake the cherries for 20-25 minutes until they’re slumped and syrupy. Remove from the oven and transfer the cherries to an airtight container. Chill in the refrigerator. (You can make the roasted cherries up to 4 days ahead of time).


  • Reserve 2 tablespoons of milk in a separate prep bowl and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and salt together until smooth. Set aside.
  • Combine the remaining milk , cream, sugar and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan over medium high heat. Stirring constantly, bring the milk mixture to a rolling boil. Cook and stir for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • Whisk the reserved milk with the cornstarch and stir to form a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the cooked milk mixture and return to the heat. Bring the pot back to a boil, stirring constantly for one minute until it thickens.
  • Add ¼ cup of the hot milk to the cream cheese and beat until smooth. Continue adding the remaining hot milk mixture to the cream cheese until it’s well blended and smooth.
  • Stir in the Amaretto. Cover the ice cream base with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it’s very cold.


  • Set up your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.
  • Add the ice cream base to the canister and start the machine. Churn for about 20-25 minutes until it’s soft serve consistency.
  • Drain the liquid from the cherries (you can reserve the liquid to drizzle over a bowl of the ice cream) and add them to the ice cream. Churn for 5-6 minutes more.
  • The ice cream will be a soft serve consistency and can be enjoyed straight from the container.
  • For firmer ice cream, transfer the mixture to a freezer safe container and freeze until solid, 4 hours or overnight. Makes 1 quart of ice cream.


Each serving size is about ½ cup of premium ice cream.


Calories: 424.68kcal | Carbohydrates: 52.18g | Protein: 4.78g | Fat: 21.47g | Saturated Fat: 13.28g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.94g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5.3g | Cholesterol: 67.51mg | Sodium: 147.39mg | Potassium: 244.71mg | Fiber: 0.64g | Sugar: 49.24g | Vitamin A: 1382.28IU | Vitamin C: 4.14mg | Calcium: 144.58mg | Iron: 0.21mg

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  1. Amazing – have never made ice cream without the custard base before. THIS is texture on steroids and just lovely. Used london dry gin instead of amaretto – so savoury and amazing. Thank you for this recipe!

  2. Jean Brown says:

    5 stars
    Love the almond flavor combined with the cherries. Cool and creamy perfection!

  3. 5 stars
    Ice cream is one of the few things I’ve never tried to make – this recipe may just be my inspiration to give it a go!

    1. Homemade ice cream is the best – and you can find these super-simple Cuisinart machines for $40-$50.

  4. I have never made ice cream before…but this looks awesome. All along I thought you need an ice cream maker. Guess I was wrong.

    1. Actually, I did use an ice cream maker for this.

  5. I totally feel you on those winter ice cream cravings. The best part about making your own is you don’t have to venture out into winter weather to get some. This looks really good.

    1. Thanks, Tracy! Glad I’m not the only one craving the cold stuff!

  6. This looks great for any season; we love the warmth added by the amaretto; great ice cream idea here!!!

  7. foodhuntersguide says:

    I love making homemade ice cream and this flavor sounds yummy

    1. Glad you like – it’s one of my favorites!

  8. This looks great! Just curious… what does the flour do? That isn’t a typical ingredient in ice cream. Does it help it to stay thick and creamy?