Make Mint Julep Gelato for the Derby!

For the Kentucky Derby, you need Mint Juleps, right? Well for the Derby, or any time, this is a fabulous ice cream recipe for those Summer (or almost summer) days…

This gelato was inspired by our neighbors, Sara & Paul, and their wonderful mint juleps that they make for the Derby.  Their recipe is a little nontraditional, as it calls for lemon, but I like their version even better than then typical Mint Julep drink.

Gelato is healthier than ice cream because it has less fat in it, and it’s texture is just wonderful.  And while I don’t have a real gelato maker, I fake it by using my Kitchen Aid’s ice cream freezer attachment, and using the lowest speed.   (And if you like this, check out my Southern Iced Tea ice cream over on Foodwhirl, it uses a similar process.)

The instructions below take three days, but you can cheat and start today on this, to  have it ready for tomorrow.  Just skip to Day 2, and add your lemon/mint after you add your milk.


  • 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • ~3/4 c mint sprigs, loosely packed
  • 1 to 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 teas vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon


I took many of these instructions from the Ice Tea Gelato recipe, so refer to that more instructions, and more photos of the actual freezing process.

Day 1: Infuse the milk with mint & lemon zest

(Photos 1, 2, 3) Zest 1 lemon. Crush your mint leaves in your hands to release the flavors, and place all  in large glass jar with 2 cups milk.  Let sit overnight.

If you’re using an ice cream maker that requires freezing the bowl (like my Kitchen Aid) don’t forget to freeze your bowl.

Day 2: Make  your custard:

(4) Strain milk to remove mint /lemon (put the lemon/mint back in the jar and stick it in the fridge for later use).

(6) Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat thoroughly with a whisk until lightened in color and smooth.

Heat milk and cream on stovetop until bubbles are just forming around the of your pot.  (7) Slowly add the hot milk mixture, a little bit at a time, continuing to stir.  When the all the milk has been added and the mixture is combined, return to the pot.  Cook over medium heat until mixture reaches 160 degrees, or had thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon – note, for this recipe, mine never gets that thick, so don’t worry too much about it.

(8) Remove from heat, and place custard in an ice bath to chill.

(9) Return the mint and lemon to the mixture, and add your vanilla and bourbon.  Refrigerate overnight.

Day 3:  Make Gelato!

Strain your custard, and place in your ice cream maker (assuming your don’t actually own a gelato maker, of course).  Use the lowest speed possible–gelato ideally should be made at a lower speed, incorporating less air than icecream, to achieve it’s texture.   Freeze until a soft serve consistency is reached. (similar photos here.)

Either serve immediately soft-serve  if you like, or freeze for several hours to a more solid consistency.

(10) Garnish with a sprig of mint, and offer your guests a little extra bourbon for the top if they so desire!

Published on: May 4, 2012