Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream

Hold the pie crust—here’s a cool, creamy use for your garden’s rhubarb!

by Elizabeth Adams
PHOTO: Elizabeth Adams

Sweet summertime—when every Saturday smells like a barbecue, children chase fireflies at sundown and gardeners start to reap the rewards of hard work.

For our family, the humming of an ice cream machine on the back patio was a familiar summer sound growing up. At the end of the night, Mom would pull a vat of creamy vanilla bean ice cream from the refrigerator, a topping for a fresh berry cobbler served to the kids who cleaned their plates. While all of us kids were eager to disperse for yard games after dinner, the prospect of a bowl of ice cream would keep us lingering around the patio.

Homemade ice cream is a treat that embodies the childhood indulgences of summer. This perfectly pure, creamy and decadent recipe for homemade strawberry rhubarb ice cream will serve as a memorable dessert for any summer family dinner or farm cookout.

Making homemade ice cream is a day-long project that isn’t particularly difficult or time-consuming, as long as you have an ice cream machine handy for a portion of the work.  In this recipe, the rhubarb melts into a pink caramel that will eventually turn your pure vanilla ice cream an appealing pink shade, with soft chunks of lightly cooked strawberries in the mix.

Plan to make the custard several hours (ideally eight hours) before serving. For best results, create your custard the night before the day you plan to serve. Once youre ice cream is processed, scoop out generous portions on a hot day, and I promise you’ll feel like a kid again!



  • 3 cups of half and half cream
  • 1 cup of whipping cream
  • seeds of one vanilla bean
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar

Flavoring Syrup

  • 4 stalks of rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1½ cups of fresh ripe strawberries



In a large saucepan, mix half-and-half, whipping cream and vanilla bean seeds and bring to gentle simmer. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.

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In bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar. Once cream mixture has cooled, ladle half cream mixture into egg mixture and whisk together before combining entirely. Return the mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, constantly stirring mixture in figure-eight shape.

Use candy thermometer to monitor temperature. When the mixture reaches custard thickness (usually around 170 degrees F), remove from heat and strain through sieve to remove any curdled milk. Cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Flavoring Syrup

While your custard is chilling, combine rhubarb, water and sugar in saucepan and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer until rhubarb cooks down to thick syrup.

Reduce heat to low and add strawberries. Cook for 5 to 10 more minutes, so strawberries are slightly tender but not overcooked and darkened. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Store in container in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before processing ice cream.

Ice Cream

Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. In last 5 minutes of processing, add strawberry-rhubarb syrup.

Once processed, return your ice cream to the freezer for at least 4 hours. Let ice cream sit on counter about 10 minutes before serving.

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