Beetroot Ice Cream

This weekend we embarked on a flavour experiment inspired by my brother Tim, who is the Chef de Cuisine at Tru Restaurant in Chicago. Just before Christmas, I took my cousin Sam, his wife Brie, and my other brothers and sister to dine in his amazing restaurant. The third course of the evening was a selection of red and yellow beets with celery, tomato, and chocolate. I was most impressed by the combination of beetroot purée with chocolate shavings.

Big D and I have been talking about making a beetroot sorbet for the better part of the last year. We had always imagined adding black pepper, but Tim’s dish got me thinking differently. When four beetroots arrived in our veg-box this week, I suggested we finally tackle the recipe.

However, we were undecided on how best to extract the beetroot flavour into a nicely textured sorbet. We decided to experiment. And thanks to my handy new Donvier half-pint ice cream maker (that Dad gave me for Christmas) we are able to do test batches a cup at a time and perfect the recipe before the final crank. We tried three approaches:

  1. a sorbet of puréed raw beetroots with sugar syrup
  2. a sorbet made by cooking grated raw beetroots in sugar syrup and then removing the grated beetroots, hoping the flavour stays in the syrup
  3. an ice cream (the standard Russell recipe) with puréed roasted beetroots

The moral of the story? The Russell recipe never fails! Both of the sorbets tasted a bit too bitter and earthy. Maybe the ice cream was better thanks to the milk and cream, or maybe it was better because the beetroots were roasted… Our experiment wasn’t really complete since we did not make a roasted beetroot sorbet… Anyway, the beetroot ice cream was delicious with chocolate shavings on top, so we marched forth with the following recipe (in a half-gallon freezer):

Beetroot Ice Cream

Course Dessert
Cuisine Ice Cream
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Crank Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 2 quarts


  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup double cream
  • 9 small beets
  • 1-2 liters milk


  1. Roast the beetroots in the oven until tender (1-2 hours).

  2. Let the beets cool and then peel off the skin - it should be easy to rub off with your fingers.

  3. In a blender, combine the beets with a little milk and blend until you have a smooth purée.

  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar and mix in the cream. 

  5. Mix in the beetroot purée until smooth.

  6. Add enough milk to fill the can to a few centimeters from the top.

  7. Then freeze!

However, we got too excited to simply add chocolate shavings, and went ahead and made a delicious chocolate gelato, which I’ll describe in a separate post.

The end result was a wonderful combination of colours and flavours: A stripe of deep red beetroot ice cream next to a stripe of chocolate ice cream with freshly ground black pepper to garnish. Individually, each ice cream stood up well. And together they were delightfully interesting. The black pepper seemed a worthwhile addition to most of us, gently complimenting both of the other two flavours.

A real triumph of a dessert. And even better with a small glass of Maury.

Peter Gerard

Peter carried the hand-cranking ice cream tradition from his family in Missouri to Scotland and eventually to New York. He is now likely the biggest importer of White Mountain Freezers to Europe, having imported more than a dozen machines...

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13 Responses

  1. Jaimie says:

    Those of us who were present at the unveiling of the beetroot, chocolate miracle were reduced to eating in stunned silence at the level of craftsmanship we were experiencing. It always goes quiet when these gentlemen serve the ice cream, but there was a sense of reverence to this particular combination. It was actually difficult to comprehend how good it tasted.

  2. Thibault says:

    Eating this ice cream is a bit like writing “green” with a red pen: your brain will try to send you signals according to which there is something wrong, but do not listen to them: eat (the ice cream, not the paper you’ve written on), and enjoy!

  3. cgram7 says:

    looking great peter.

  4. Ali says:

    Wow!, amazing! award for most inventive use for beets in the box! I challenge you to make a brussel sprout ice cream for Xmas, actually.. on second thoughts…

  5. Tim Graham says:

    Well done Peter!!!

    If the Scotland thing doesn’t pan out, I definately have a job for you in the kitchen. Only four star restaurant to serve hand crank ice cream seems entirely appropriate.

    Keep doin’ it man, this is a great food blog.

  6. Laura says:

    What a wonderful way to experience brain freeze



  8. Jase says:

    This sounds great, will try and give this a go in the summer.

    Speaking of unusual flavours, have you tried Bacon & Egg flavour? If you’ve not heard / seen it before, have a look at

  9. Peter Gerard says:

    Actually we once made devilled egg ice cream, but we have yet to upload the recipe. We will have to try bacon and egg though. We have heard of it, but hadn’t seen a recipe. Good luck with the beetroots and please let us know how it goes.

  10. marcus says:

    am going to make beetroot ice cream today and serve it with rhubarb cooked four ways, i made x mas pudding ice cream last week and it was deicious

  11. js says:

    Neat post. I found this searching for Donvier half-pint recipes, but we’ve been getting a lot of beets lately in our CSA too, and I’m a big fan of the savory ice creams.

    Do you remember what you did for the half-pint recipe?

  12. Peter Gerard says:

    When testing in the Donvier we tend to just scale the recipe down proportionally, so we probably had only a spoonful of egg and a spoon of sugar, etc. Basically just use 1/8 of each of the ingredients and you’ll be fine.

  13. js says:

    Awesome. Thanks, Peter.

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