toasted sesame honey gelato recipe
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For years, ice cream shops have been pushing the flavor envelope, so why not try making unusual ice cream flavors at home? These 13 unique ice cream recipes will keep you happy all summer long and are a nice change from vanilla and chocolate.

If you need even more inspiration, consider Secret Breakfast, a boozy bourbon ice cream with cornflake crunch from San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe; rosemary–olive oil ice cream from Atlanta’s Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream; or sticky black rice from New York’s Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream (while not currently available at the shop, you can make it at home from the recipe in “Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream”).

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Likewise, the home cooks on Chowhound have never been content to stick to vanilla or chocolate when they drag their ice cream makers out of the cupboard.

We’ve already brought you 13 classic ice cream flavors (with a few minor departures from your typical scoop shop offerings thrown in for good measure), but here, we’re really pushing the ice cream envelope. Not all of them require an ice cream maker, but even the ones that do can be adapted.

Related Reading: The Best Ice Cream Makers for Every Personality | 8 Ways to Make Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Machine

So no reason not to dive in and check out these cool twists on homemade ice cream!

1. Strawberry Balsamic Mason Jar Ice Cream with Black Pepper

Mason jar ice cream is an easy way to make your own without an ice cream machine (though you do need some arm strength…), and you can add whatever flavors you like. Our senior video producer Guillermo Riveros calls this combo of roasted strawberries, balsamic vinegar, and cracked black pepper his “new hit of the summer.” Get the Strawberry Balsamic Mason Jar Ice Cream recipe.

2. Candied Bacon Ice Cream

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For your salty-sweet cravings, yumyumyogi recommends this candied bacon ice cream by David Lebovitz. Get the Candied Bacon Ice Cream recipe.

3. Watermelon Basil Sorbet

Chowhound woodleyparkhound suggests a grapefruit–black pepper sorbet that’s barely sweet, tangy, and carries a nice punch of heat from the black pepper. We like that idea, but for something extra-summery and in keeping with the same maverick spirit, we’re trying this watermelon and basil sorbet next! Get the Watermelon Basil Sorbet recipe.

4. Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream

If you like the idea of breakfasty ice cream but not so much frozen bacon, follow bluemoon4515‘s lead and make cinnamon toast ice cream; it’s an indulgent flavor with a nice play on textures (smooth ice cream, crunchy cinnamon toast bits). Or take it back to Saturday morning cartoon time and use Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal for a similar effect.

5. Coconut Curry Ice Cream

If you like Indian flavors, try this stunning golden blend of sweet and savory, recommended by laurendlewis. Get the Coconut Curry Ice Cream recipe.

6. Sweet Corn Ice Cream

As nickblesch points out, the sweet flavor of corn goes surprisingly well with ice cream—and corn ice cream has long been a popular flavor in Mexico. Get the Sweet Corn Ice Cream recipe.

7. Jesus Juice Sorbet

This sacrilicious pick was put forth by DougWeller. It’s a red wine and cola sorbet inspired by San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe: 1 cup sugar | 1 cup water | 1 cinnamon stick | 2 cups cola | 1 cup good-quality dry red wine | 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar | 1 teaspoon salt. Method: In a large, heavy, nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium heat; stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Stir in the cola, wine, vinegar, and salt and remove from the heat. Cool, chill for 1 hour or overnight. Remove cinnamon stick before freezing according to your machine’s instructions. (If you don’t consume alcohol or find this offensive, keep scrolling down for a Slurpee-inspired option!)

8. Tahini Chocolate Banana Soft Serve

Love hummus—or halvah? So does chinaplate, who offered a tahini and honey ice cream recipe in the original community thread. But you could also try this dairy-free tahini chocolate soft serve based on bananas. Bonus: it does not require an ice cream maker! Get the Tahini Chocolate Banana Soft Serve recipe.

9. Matcha Ice Cream

Coolhaus ice cream sandwich recipe vegan ginger cookies and matcha ice cream

Brian Leatart

This matcha green tea ice cream comes from the certified ice cream experts at Coolhaus, and is just as delicious on its own as it is sandwiched between ginger molasses cookies. Get the Matcha Ice Cream recipe.

10. Moringa Ice Cream

Staying with the green theme for a moment, moringa powder makes a vibrant and deliciously different ice cream when blended with coconut, avocado, mint, and lime. It’s probably the most summer-appropriate way to try the superfood powder for yourself. Get our Moringa Ice Cream recipe.

11. Saffron Ice Cream

Saffron is not just for savory dishes—this classic Persian ice cream also has fragrant notes of rosewater and mastic, with pistachios for garnish. Get our Saffron Ice Cream recipe.

12. Toasted Sesame and Honey Gelato

toasted sesame honey gelato recipe


Not quite as savory as some tahini desserts (see the complex soft serve above), this gelato with toasted sesame seeds and sesame oil balances that deep, nutty flavor with sweet honey, but it’s still far more interesting than your average scoop. Get our Toasted Sesame and Honey Gelato recipe.

13. Mango and Cayenne Paletas

mango cayenne paleta recipe


Yes, these are ice pops, but they’re ice cream adjacent and have certainly earned their place in the annals of frozen dessert history. Inspired by Mexico’s ultra-refreshing paletas, these sunny pops spark sweet mango with spicy cayenne pepper so they cool you down but also have a little kick. They’re dairy-free, too. Get our Mango and Cayenne Paleta recipe.

Related Reading: The Best Brands of Dairy-Free Ice Cream You Can Buy | Healthy Ice Cream Options

14. Cherry Coke Sorbet

If Cherry Coke Slurpees were your summer jam through middle and high school, try this grown-up—dare we say, sophisticated—take on the convenience store classic. This sorbet combines that iconic cola with sweet cherries, cherry juice, a little lemon, and simple syrup. You’ll need a food processor, but no ice cream machine is required. Get the Cherry Coke Sorbet recipe.

15. Black Raspberry Oreo Ice Cream

Black raspberry chocolate chunk ice cream is an underrated choice with a great balance of sweet and tangy flavors (and a gorgeous color)—but we also love that pure, uncomplicated cookies and cream. This genius ice cream invention mashes them up and is the only thing we really want to eat all summer. Get the Black Raspberry Oreo Ice Cream recipe.

More Chill Choices

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The original version of this story was by Leena Trivedi-Grenier in 2014; it has been updated with additional images, links, and text.

Jen is an editor at Chowhound. Raised on scrapple and blue crabs, she hails from Baltimore, Maryland, but has lived in Portland (Oregon) for so long it feels like home. She enjoys the rain, reads, writes, eats, and cooks voraciously, and stops to pet every stray cat she sees. Continually working on building her Gourmet magazine collection, she will never get over its cancellation. Read more of her work.
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