Sage & Brown Butter Ice Cream

Last week I visited Thibault and family in France, which meant we had to crank some ice cream. When discussing flavor ideas, Thibault commented that he had a bunch of fresh sage that needed to be used. After looking around online, Thibault suggested we combine it with brown butter. I was immediately excited by the idea. The last time we had made ice cream together, I made brown butter chocolate chip cookie dough and had fallen in love with the rich smell of browning butter. It seemed like just the right kind of rich flavor to compliment the aroma of sage.

We came up with the following recipe, which needs to be started the evening before you crank the ice cream.

Sage & Brown Butter Ice Cream

A rich and delicious ice cream with the delicate aroma of sage. This recipe requires some advance preparation.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Ice Cream
Prep Time 40 minutes
Crank Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 2 quarts


  • a handful of fresh sage leaves
  • 900 ml whole milk
  • 125 g butter
  • 200 ml cream
  • 1 egg
  • 225 g sugar
  • vegetable oil (for frying the topping)


Prepare these the evening before:

  1. Wash the sage and pick the leaves off the stems.

  2. Pour out about 100ml of whole milk from a one-liter bottle to make room for the leaves.

  3. Put the sage leaves in the milk bottle and then seal and shake it. Leave the milk and sage in the fridge overnight to steep.

  4. Put the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.

  5. Swirl the pan constantly as the butter melts and cooks. 

  6. After about 5-10 minutes you'll start to see golden brown particles forming in the butter and it will smell deliciously nutty. Turn off the heat and keep swirling the butter for another 15-30 seconds. 

  7. Put an ice cube in a bowl and add the butter and whisk together to stop the cooking.

  8. Pour the butter through a fine sieve to remove some of the brown bits.

  9. Cover and chill the butter overnight in the fridge.

Prepare and freeze the ice cream:

  1. Remove the chilled butter from the fridge and break off the firm butter from the top of the bowl. You should see wet brown bits that have separated from the butter. Discard the brown bits and transfer the firm butter to a small saucepan.

  2. Heat on low just until the butter is melted, and then turn off the heat.

  3. While the butter melts, combine the egg and sugar.

  4. Whisk together the egg and sugar until thick and creamy. 

  5. Whisk the cream into the egg and sugar mix.

  6. Quickly whisk in the melted butter.

  7. Pour the sage-milk through a sieve into the mix and whisk together until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Set the sage leaves aside on paper towels to dry.

  8. Transfer the mix to the ice cream machine and freeze. Let the ice cream sit and firm up while you make the topping.

To make the topping:

  1. Heat a layer of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.

  2. Pat dry the sage leaves.

  3. When the oil is hot enough that a leaf starts sizzling as soon as you drop it in, add all the leaves to the oil and fry quickly.

  4. The leaves should get crispy in less than a minute. Remove the leaves as soon as they are crisp, careful not to burn them.

  5. Transfer the fried sage leaves to a dry paper towel to soak up some excess oil.


  1. Scoop the ice cream into bowls and top with a few crispy sage leaves.

I was very pleased with the ice cream. It was rich and aromatic and the crispy leaves added a nice texture contrast as well as little bursts of sage flavor. I look forward to experimenting with crispy herb toppings on other ice creams in the future.

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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