Discover Kinako Ice Cream

Ice cream flavored with a toasty tasting Japanese product.

Ice cream flavored with a toasty tasting Japanese product.


When my husband heads to the store to buy ice cream, I just roll my eyes.

Because he always gets the same flavor, no matter what.

In a world of Chunky Monkey, Tin Roof, strawberry cheesecake, Vietnamese coffee and more, he reaches for vanilla. Every single time.

Oh, he’ll tell me that he might get something different this time.

But of course, he never does.

So I am left to my own devices — to make my own. And in my mind, the more distinctive, the better.


That’s why when “The Perfect Scoop” (Ten Speed Press) was revised and updated recently, I couldn’t wait to pore through my review copy. The original frozen desserts bible by food writer and popular blogger David Lebovitz, who worked at Chez Panisse for a dozen years, was published a decade ago — when I didn’t yet own an ice cream machine. This time around, I was ready. Boy, was I, to make something creamy smooth and unique.

I lingered over possibilities such as “Spritz Sorbet,” “Zabaglione Gelato,” “Lemon-Speculoos,” and even “Green Pea Ice Cream,” before deciding upon “Kinako Ice Cream.”

Kinako powder.

Kinako powder.

It helped that I still had some leftover kinako powder from making other dishes. The roasted soybean flour tastes like roasted nuts, but beguilingly so, because you can’t quite put your finger on what nuts it could be exactly. It’s readily available in small bags at Japanese markets.

The ice cream base is a rich blend of whole milk and heavy cream with half a dozen egg yolks, along with a little sugar and the kinako.

Try a scoop.

Try a scoop.

The resulting ice cream, a pretty light caramel color, possesses the roast-toasty taste of nuts and chestnuts, and even a little hint of Thai ice tea on the very finish.

It’s not vanilla by a long shot.

Which leaves my husband the one rolling his eyes this time.

An ice cream for when you want a change of pace from the usual.

An ice cream for when you want a change of pace from the usual.

Kinako Ice Cream

(Makes about 1 quart)

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons kinako powder

Pinch of salt

2 cups heavy cream

6 large egg yolks


Whisk together the milk, sugar, kinako, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.

Warm the kinako-flavored mixture. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Pour the mixture into a blender and puree for 30 seconds.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

From “The Perfect Scoop” by David Lebovitz


More Kinako Recipes to Try: Kinako and Black Sesame Cupcakes


And: Persimmons with Kinako Dressing and Black Sesame Sea Salt from State Bird Provisions

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  • I love kinako in desserts. Bring it on! πŸ™‚

  • Did he eat it at least? Looks so pretty. It’s popular now to just sprinkle kinako on ice cream as a topping. He could probably just do that with his vanilla ice cream.

  • Ben: He did try it. But he still prefers vanilla. LOL

  • More for you, methinks!

  • This recipe is only in his original release of The Perfect Scoop , not the Revised and Updated version, unless I’m missing something (it’s not in the Index or listed at the start of the ice creams chapter.

  • Robert: You are correct. I was going on a binge in making various ice creams and only realized later that this recipe was in the original book, not the revised one. Hope you give it a try. It really is a divine and memorable taste.

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