Matcha Ice Cream (抹茶アイス)
Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream is a popular flavor of ice cream around the world. Here in Japan, it’s known as Matcha Ice (抹茶アイス), and it’s made by adding a particular type of powdered green tea called matcha to an ice cream base before freezing it.
The trick to making this smooth and creamy green tea dessert is to prevent the formation of ice crystals in the ice cream mixture while incorporating a small amount of air. There are several ways to achieve this, such as by rapidly freezing it using dry ice or liquid nitrogen or mechanically churning it while it freezes using an ice cream maker.
For this Matcha Ice Cream recipe, I’m sharing an easy method to make a velvety smooth ice cream that doesn’t require any exotic chemicals or churning. Instead, all you need is a bowl and a whisk.
Table of contents
Why This Recipe Works?
- Using a mixture of high-fat cream with sweetened condensed milk for the ice cream base provides the right balance of fat, sugar, and water to minimize the formation of ice crystals in the green tea ice cream as it freezes.
- Partially whipping the cream provides just enough aeration to make the ice cream scoopable while maintaining a dense, creamy texture.
- Fresh, high-quality matcha gives the ice cream a vibrant green hue without making the ice cream astringent or bitter.
Ingredients for Matcha Ice Cream
- Cream – To get homemade ice cream to freeze without forming ice crystals, you need to use cream with a relatively high percentage of fat. I’ve found that the sweet spot is between 36-40% butterfat; this will be labeled as “heavy cream” in the US. Any less fat and the mixture will get icy. Any more fat and the Green Tea Ice Cream will get greasy.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk – Sweetened condensed milk is whole milk that has had about 60% of the water removed and has been sweetened with sugar. It is not the same as evaporated milk. This adds a milky flavor to the matcha ice cream without too much water. It’s also the main sweetener for the ice cream.
- Matcha – You can read more about what matcha powder is in the FAQ section below, but be sure to use fresh, high-quality matcha to get the best color and flavor without bitterness or astringency.
- Sugar (optional) – I don’t like to make my homemade ice cream super sweet, so the sweetness imparted by the sweetened condensed milk is plenty, but if you want your ice cream to taste more like store-bought ice cream, you can add up to 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to the mixture. Other easily dissolved sweeteners such as maple syrup or honey will also work.
How to Make Matcha Ice Cream
Matcha is ground so finely that it tends to form clumps that are very difficult to dissolve in a liquid. That’s why you always want to sift it through a tea strainer before using it.
Then you want to add the sweetened condensed milk and use a spatula or whisk to mix the two ingredients until there are no visible lumps.
Add the cream to the bowl and mix everything together. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula.
Once the Matcha Ice Cream mixture is uniform in color, use a whisk or egg beater to whip the cream until it’s about the consistency of thick pancake batter. It should still be pourable, but you should be able to see ripples run through the cream if you drag the whisk through it. Be careful not to turn it into whipped cream or the ice cream will end up fluffy like cheap ice cream.
Transfer the Green Tea Ice Cream base into a container with a lid and put the container in the freezer overnight.
To serve the Matcha Ice Cream, remove the container from the freezer about five minutes before you plan to eat it so it can soften a little. This will make it easier to scoop.
Other Matcha Recipes
Matcha Ice Cream, also called Green Tea Ice Cream, is a flavor of ice cream made by adding matcha, a high-quality green tea powder, to an ice cream base before freezing it.
Matcha is a special kind of green tea made from leaves harvested from the young spring shoots of the tea tree (Camellia Sinensis). The plants are covered with a shade cloth for a few weeks before harvest, increasing their chlorophyll and amino acid content while minimizing the formation of bitter catechins. The result is a vibrant green tea loaded with umami without being bitter or astringent. Once harvested, the green tea leaves are separated from the stems, and then the leaves are steamed to preserve their color. Then they are dried in an oven before being ground in a stone mill to an average size of 15 microns.
Matcha is a 2-syllable name pronounced as follows (read the italicized parts).
ma like mall
‘ there is a brief pause between the ma and the cha
cha like Charlie
Culinary grade matcha is usually cheaper than matcha meant for drinking (sometimes labeled “ceremonial”), but you get what you pay for. The color and flavor of culinary matcha will not be as good as higher-quality matcha. Even amongst high-quality matcha, the color can vary slightly from a basil green to a vivid shamrock green. Of all the cultivars of matcha I’ve tasted, I really like the color and flavor of Okumidori for this frozen treat. It has a full-bodied matcha flavor and ample umami without much astringency, and the color is highly saturated. You can order packs of Okumidori here.
- 12 grams matcha (~2 tablespoons)
- 100 grams sweetened condensed milk (1/3 cup)
- 225 grams heavy cream (1 cup)
- Powdered sugar (optional, to taste)
- Sift the matcha into a medium bowl.
- Use a spatula to stir the sweetened condensed milk into the matcha until it’s smooth and free of lumps.
- Pour the cold cream into the bowl and stir the mixture together, being sure to scrape up all of the condensed milk sticking to the bottom and sides of the bowl. Taste the mixture and add powdered sugar if you don’t feel it’s sweet enough.
- Now use a whisk or egg beater to whip the mixture until the surface of the cream shows ripples, and it’s about the consistency of thick pancake batter.
- Pour the Matcha Ice Cream base into a container with a lid and then put it in your freezer overnight.
- Remove the ice cream from the freezer about 5 minutes before serving, so it softens a little before scooping.