Dulce de leche butter pecan ice cream

A rich, flavourful frozen treat!

I’ve been a big fan of dulce de leche for years, though I didn’t know it by that name years ago when my mom used to magically transform cans of sweetened condensed milk into a thick, toffee-like treat. It’s been a hot week so it seemed the perfect time to experiment with a new flavour of homemade ice cream…and this one’s a winner. Don’t skip the buttered pecans (unless you are avoiding nuts) as they do add a great pop of flavour and texture to the ice cream.

Dulce de leche ice cream with buttered pecans


  • 1 cup (250 mL) milk (anything but skim)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) heavy (35%) cream
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (250 mL) dulce de leche (purchased or see instructions at bottom to make your own)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter
  • 1 cup (250 mL) pecans in large pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) salt

Equipment: digital thermometer, ice cream maker


  • Make the ice cream base by putting milk, cream and 1/4 cup sugar into a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Over medium heat, stirring often, heat the mixture until it is steaming but not boiling.
  • Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a medium bowl and whisk gently.
  • When milk mixture is hot, add half of it in 1/4 cup increments to the eggs, whisking constantly to combine. This will warm the eggs so they do not cook too quickly.
  • Return the egg and milk mixture to the saucepan and cook until the mixture is thickened and reaches 170F. Whisk constantly and do not let it boil.
  • When custard has thickened, whisk in dulce de leche.
  • Strain the cooked custard through a fine-meshed sieve or piece of cheesecloth into a large bowl then refrigerate for 3 – 6 hours (or put in freezer for 60 – 90 minutes, stirring often) until very cold.
  • While custard is chilling, make buttered pecans by melting butter in a medium-sized, heavy duty frying pan. Add pecans and salt; stir to coat nuts evenly with butter. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, for about 8 – 10 minutes until nuts are thoroughly toasted. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Remove from pan and let cool.
  • When ready to freeze, put custard mixture and nuts into your ice cream maker and churn for the amount of time specified in your ice cream maker’s instructions.
  • Note that the ice cream will be soft when you finish churning; transfer it to an airtight container and freeze for 1 – 2 hours to let it firm up before serving.

Makes 1 litre.

Dulce de leche ice cream

To make your own dulce de leche: preheat oven to 425F. Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk into a shallow glass or ceramic oven-safe dish. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and place it into a second, larger pan. Add hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the small dish. Bake for 60 – 75 minutes, adding additional water to maintain level throughout baking time, until the milk becomes browned and caramelized. Remove from oven and lift the small pan out of the larger one. Let cool to room temperature then whisk until smooth.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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