Smoked Vanilla Ice Cream

Smoky sea salt and pecan wood provide a subtle savory note in chef Nathan Brand’s creamy frozen treat.

  • Cook

    8 hours 45 minutes


By Nathan Brand

Updated on August 19, 2021

To infuse his silky vanilla bean ice cream with heady smoke flavor, chef Nathan Brand of Timber! in Johnson City, Tennessee uses a combination of Bulls Bay Smoked Salt and an offset smoker. The Timber! team uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the eggless custard base, but an ordinary home ice cream maker works well too. Brand serves this ice cream on its own, but it’s also superb atop any summer fruit pie or cobbler.


  • 2¼ cups heavy cream
  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp. smoked sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped with tip of paring knife
  • 1 cup pecan wood chips


Step 1

In a medium bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, milk, and sugar. Pour into a wide heatproof dish and set aside.

Step 2

Line a small cast-iron skillet with foil and add the wood chips. Set the oven to broil, place the skillet on the top most shelf and close the door. Cook, checking every 10-15 seconds, just until the chips are evenly burning; turn off the broiler and cover the skillet with a lid or a baking sheet to snuff out the flame, then carefully move the smouldering skillet to the bottom shelf; place the dish of ice cream base on the top shelf, close the oven, and smoke undisturbed for 10 minutes. Open the oven door and remove the ice cream base, it will have a light yellow film on top and will taste of smoke; stir well, cover, refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Step 3

Once cold, whisk the ice cream base well, transfer to an ice cream maker, and churn according to manufacturer instructions until frozen and smooth, 15–20 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and place in the freezer until firm, at least 6 hours and up to 3 days. Scoop ice cream into small dishes, garnish with a pinch of smoked salt, and serve immediately.

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