Saffron Cardamom Ice Cream

*To read more about what inspired me to start this new (weekly!) blog series, click here!*

Saffron Cardamom Ice Cream | Blogging Over Thyme

I know what you’re thinking.  Did she really just make another ice cream?  Why yes, yes I did.

I promise guys, I really tried to resist the heavy cream this week (after all, despite how it may appear, I rarely buy the stuff), but this saffron cardamom ice cream absolutely had to be made.  You will love this!

Saffron Cardamom Ice Cream | Blogging Over Thyme

The saffron is definitely the star of this ice cream.  If you’ve never used saffron before in sweet applications, this recipe is a great starting point.  A little bit truly goes a long way and It lends such a distinct warmness (not to mention, beautiful golden color) to everything it touches.

The cardamom and pistachios are the supporting acts, if you will.  The ice cream could definitely hold its own without them, but they work so harmoniously together.  Plus, anything with cardamom makes me swoon.  Probably my favorite spice ever.

Don’t be surprised if you see a lot more of it around here come fall.  I’m {not} sorry.

Saffron Cardamom Ice Cream | Blogging Over Thyme

Saffron is a difficult spice to describe–a fact that I’ve become increasingly more aware of since I’ve written this post.  This is pretty ironic considering I wrote a five-page paper about it whilst in culinary school.

A lot of people describe saffron as “hay-like,” earthy, and bitter–none of which sound all that appealing (at least, to me).  Pretty unfortunate considering just how amazing of a spice it truly is.

Here’s a fun factoid instead!  Since each saffron flower can only produce about twelve saffron stigmas, it takes roughly 50,000-75,000 saffron blossoms to produce roughly a pound of dried saffron threads.  Did I mention that all of this is harvested by hand?  Hence, the hefty price tag.

Saffron Cardamom Ice Cream | Blogging Over Thyme

This lovely saffron and cardamom ice cream was discovered in a August 1993 issue of Gourmet magazine–not to mention, given a prime spot on the very front cover (second from the left).  The recipe was part and parcel of a feature on uncommon ice cream flavors with an exotic touch.

But the issue was now more than twenty-years old.   How exotic could they really be?  Especially in a day and age where jalapenos were considered hard-to-find.  As I was turning the pages, I was expecting to discover something pretty comical (vanilla?).  Instead, I was totally surprised to discover all sorts of crazy flavors in there, including a black pepper ice cream that involved two types of peppercorns, allspice, and balsamic vinegar!

Saffron Cardamom Ice Cream | Blogging Over Thyme

But in the end, I couldn’t help but be drawn to this saffron and cardamom creation.  Perhaps it was the cardamom or the fact that I already had all the ingredients on hand (except the cream + milk –> go figure).

Either way, I knew I had to make it.  I ended up upping the saffron amount just a tad, halving the recipe, and increasing the amount of pistachios.  I’m happy to report that I absolutely loved it–and here’s hoping you do to!  Enjoy.

Saffron Cardamom Ice Cream

Saffron Cardamom Ice Cream

Yield: 1 Quart
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 45 minutes


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 4 whole large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachio meat


  1. Combine milk, cream, and saffron in a small saucepan. Bring to mixture just to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and allow to sit, covered, for at least one hour (or alternatively, overnight in the fridge).
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until well combined. Meanwhile, bring milk/cream mixture back to a boil.
  3. Add the saffron milk/cream mixture slowly into the eggs, whisking constantly with one hand, to temper.
  4. Place this mixture into a medium saucepan and cook the mixture over low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until it reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit. The mixture should leave a nice thin coating on the back of a spoon.
  5. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a shallow, wide heatproof bowl, preferably over an ice bath Stir in the ground cardamom and cool completely.
  6. Freeze the mixture in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturers directions.
  7. In the last few minutes or so of churning, when the ice cream is almost finished, add the pistachios.
  8. Store in an ice cream container or other container (covering surface with plastic wrap)–and allow to freeze for an additional 4-6 hours to firm up a bit before serving.


You can buy affordable small containers of saffron at Trader Joe’s or at specialty Middle-Eastern grocery stores.

Recipe adapted slightly from August 1993 issue of Gourmet magazine.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 208 Total Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 166mg Sodium: 68mg Carbohydrates: 6g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 6g Protein: 9g
A Beautiful Plate provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician.

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Saffron Cardamom Ice Cream | Blogging Over Thyme

On a side note, I really need to invest in an ice cream scoop.  This whole using-a-normal-spoon-to-make-believable-scoops is not working out so well…

For more, check out the latest Throwback Thursday posts…