Black Sesame Ice Cream Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • Brown sugar complements the flavor of roasted sesame.
  • Unlike black tahini, Japanese-style sesame paste is roasted, giving it a much deeper flavor and jet-black appearance.
  • When the custard is steaming-hot, the yolks will be cooked through.

Anyone who's traveled abroad can relate to the experience of returning home and struggling to re-create a favorite dish. Even with the simplest ingredients, manufacturing practices may vary from country to country and change everything. (Witnessthe difference between American and Belgian brown sugar, one made from molasses and the other with caramel.)

Such was the case in my quest to reproduce the black sesame ice cream I fell in love with during my time in Japan. It was always jet-black and outrageously nutty, with a pleasant bitterness like dark chocolate and an almost savory edge.

Black Sesame Ice Cream Recipe (1)

Japanese Black Sesame Paste Makes All the Difference

I knew from snooping around in Japanese kitchens that the key was commercial black sesame paste, rather than black sesame seeds. Though seeds alone can makea tasty ice cream, those ground at home can't provide the intensity of color, flavor, or richness that I longed for. It's like comparing a jar of Skippy to peanut butter made in afood processor—similar but undeniably a different beast.

Yet the black sesame paste I found in supermarkets invariably made my ice cream bitter, bland, and a sickly shade of gray-green. I realized immediately that there was something unique about Japanese black sesame paste, so I ordered the genuine article online.

As it turns out, black tahini is made from hulled, raw black sesame seeds, giving it a bitter astringency and only a mild nuttiness. Japanese-style black sesame paste, on the other hand, is made from toasted black sesame seeds, with their hulls intact. Those two factors give Japanese black sesame paste its super-nutty flavor and deep black color, with just a hint of bitterness—something that's lovely and mellow, rather than sharp.

That level of intensity is able to survive dilution with milk and cream, meaning that the prized flavor and color are evident in every bite.

Black Sesame Ice Cream Recipe (2)

Use Turbinado Sugar to Amplify Flavor

In Japan, black sesame desserts are often served withkuromitsu, which means "black honey," though it's really a type of light molasses. It has a maltiness and mild acidity that underscore toasted black sesame in a delightful way. To cash in on that classic pairing without having to source yet another specialty ingredient, I reached for turbinado sugar instead: Its all-natural molasses flavor is perfect for the job, though Demerara or light brown sugar would work nicely, too.

Making the Ice Cream Base

With those ingredients in place, I make the ice cream base in much the same way as the custard for myOreo ice cream, with the eggs, sugar, milk, and cream all mixed together from the start and gently warmed over medium-low heat.

Once the mixture is warm to the touch, I bump the heat up to medium and keep cooking and stirring until it's steaming-hot, but well short of bubbling. If you need to be certain the eggs are cooked through, aim for about 155°F (68°C), but hitting that specific temperature isn't important to the success of the recipe.

Off heat, add the black sesame paste, whisk until smooth, and strain to remove any bits of chalazae or chunky sesame pieces—the fineness of the paste will vary from brand to brand. On that note, if you do find yourself with a coarser black sesame paste, feel free to hit the ice cream base with animmersion blenderto smooth it out, though I found this step unnecessary with ultra-smooth brands like Kuki.

Churning the Ice Cream

Refrigerate the ice cream base until it's no warmer than 40°F (4°C) before churning. (This can take about four hours, so use an ice bath to speed this process along if you're in a hurry.) As with any ice cream churned in a canister, it's vital that that canister be as cold as possible, so adjust the dial if your freezer is usually warmer than 1°F (-18°C); otherwise, your ice creams won't be as creamy as they should. I love myCuisinart ice cream machine, but any stand-alone machine should produce equally excellent results.

When the ice cream is thick and light, you can enjoy it like Japanese soft-serve, or transfer it to a chilled ice cream container, empty yogurt tub, or loaf pan. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the ice cream (to prevent freezer burn), then cover with a lid or sheet of foil and freeze until it's firm enough to scoop.

Black Sesame Ice Cream Recipe (4)

Dressing Up Black Sesame Ice Cream

I'm crazy about black sesame ice cream by itself—it's bittersweet, rich, and complex enough to stand all on its own. If you'd like to dress it up, though, I've found that black sesame ice cream is amazing with a spoonful of raspberry purée.

Black Sesame Ice Cream Recipe (5)

It's something of a peanut butter and jelly vibe, with the toasted black sesame perfectly complemented by the bright acidity of fresh fruit.

Black Sesame Ice Cream Recipe (6)

And if you have any extra black sesame when you're done, be sure to try Daniel'sroasted carrots with black sesame dressing—it's a recipe he invented to polish off all my leftover black sesame paste.

October 2017

Recipe Details

Black Sesame Ice Cream Recipe

Active25 mins

Total5 hrs

Serves8 servings

Makes1 quart


  • 6 ounces turbinadoor light brown sugar (about 3/4 cup; 170g)

  • 4 1/2 ounces egg yolk (about 1/2 cup; 125g), from 7 large eggs

  • 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight

  • 7 ounces heavy cream (about 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons; 195g)

  • 8 ounces whole milk (about 1 cup; 225g)

  • 6 ounces Japanese-style black sesame paste (about 2/3 cup; 170g), such as Kuki (see note)


  1. Combine turbinado or light brown sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a 3-quart stainless steel saucier, then whisk in cream and milk. Cook over medium-low heat until warm to the touch, then increase to medium and cook, stirring constantly with a flexible spatula, until mixture is steaming-hot but not bubbling, about 8 minutes or to 155°F (68°C) on a digital thermometer. Off heat, whisk in black sesame paste and strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large stainless steel bowl. For a more hom*ogeneous color, process about 30 seconds with an immersion blender; this is strictly an aesthetic consideration.

    Black Sesame Ice Cream Recipe (7)

  2. Fill a sink compartment or extra-large bowl with a few inches of ice water and place bowl of custard inside, stirring from time to time, until cool, about 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until no warmer than 40°F (4°C), about 4 hours, or hold up to 1 week.

  3. Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions. Meanwhile, place a 1-quart container and flexible spatula in the freezer. When ice cream is fluffy and thick, shut off the machine and scrape ice cream into chilled container, using chilled spatula. Enjoy as soft-serve or cover with plastic pressed directly against surface of ice cream, then close lid and freeze until hard, about 4 hours.

    Black Sesame Ice Cream Recipe (8)

Special Equipment

3-quart stainless steel saucier, balloon whisk, flexible spatula, digital thermometer (optional), fine-mesh sieve, immersion blender (optional), ice cream maker


The flavor and color of this ice cream hinge on high-quality Japanese-style black sesame paste, which is made from roasted, un-hulled black sesame seeds. The jet-black paste is rich, intensely nutty, and pleasantly bitter, like dark chocolate. Look for it in squeezable pouches at your local Japanese market, or shop for Kuki black sesame paste online. American brands of black sesame paste (often labeled "black tahini") are made from raw, un-roasted black sesame seeds, for a flavor that's too mild and astringent for ice cream.

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Black Sesame Ice Cream Recipe (2024)


What is the flavor of black sesame ice cream? ›

The flavor and color of this ice cream hinge on high-quality Japanese-style black sesame paste, which is made from roasted, un-hulled black sesame seeds. The jet-black paste is rich, intensely nutty, and pleasantly bitter, like dark chocolate.

Is black sesame ice cream good? ›

Because it's not overly sweet, it's easy to eat a lot of it without feeling like you're getting a sugar high. I love its delicate complexity. Back home, I made a super-simple, super-quick version of black sesame ice cream because my ice cream maker is currently on the blink and in need of repairs.

What flavor goes with black sesame? ›

Myo notes that its flavor profile is complementary to warm flavors like vanilla, cinnamon, and chocolate. In the form of seeds, it can add a new dimension to homemade granola; streusels for coffeecakes, muffins, loaves, or cobblers; and buttery cookies like sugar and shortbread.

What goes with black sesame ice cream? ›

Although this ice cream is so good on its own, we love to add fresh seasonal berries. Black sesame goes particularly well with berries or fruit with a little acidity to bring out the flavours. Enjoy with fresh strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blueberries - all with a little acidity.

Is black sesame just toasted white sesame? ›

The Difference Between Black Versus White Sesame Seeds

Black sesame seeds have a deeper color and almost always have the hull on. White sesame seeds have their hulls removed and reveal the inner white part of the seed. Removing the hull not only changes the color it also changes the nutritional value.

What is black Hawaii ice cream? ›

Black Hawaii is dedicated to the black Hawaiian volcanic shores, wild and unforgettable as its unic gelato flavor. Natural black color thanks to vegetable carbon. Unic taste with coconut water and raw cocoa beans. Lactose Free.

Why is black sesame expensive? ›

Like most agriculture, black sesame crop yields fluctuate yearly based on weather, pests, soil health, and other factors. Surging inflation also drives up costs for land, labor, fertilizer, and transportation. These supply chain issues place pressure on prices across the entire production chain.

What does black sesame do for your hair? ›

Improves hair health

Consuming black sesame seeds can nourish hair follicles, promote hair growth, and prevent premature greying and hair loss due to their high content of nutrients like iron, zinc, and selenium.

What makes black ice cream black? ›

The frozen dessert is a cloud of deep black. That dark color in the ice cream is natural because of a surprising ingredient: charcoal. No, it's not quite the charcoal you used on the grill last night. Activated charcoal is popular in beauty products.

How would you describe the taste of black sesame? ›

It can be more savory or sweet, depending on where the sesame paste is from. But compared to white sesame seeds, the black variant has a mild nutty flavor. For example, in Japanese cooking, this paste is usually created with an added sweetener to be used in pastries and other sweet goods.

What does torani black sesame taste like? ›

With a toasted top note, Torani's Puremade Toasted Black Sesame Syrup is a perfect combination of sweet and savory, balanced with a delicious earthy, nutty finish.

What does black sesame milk taste like? ›

Black sesame offers a distinctive, nutty, and bold flavor - it's also naturally rich in calcium, iron, and magnesium. Expand your milk horizons with this creamy and delicious Black Sesame Milk! Its smooth, slightly sweet flavor and unique color will give your recipes a fun, tasty twist.

Why is black sesame so good? ›

Some of the trace minerals in black sesame seeds — in particular iron, copper, and manganese — are important for regulating your metabolism, cell functioning, and immune system, as well as the circulation of oxygen throughout your body, among other activities ( 6 , 7 , 8 ).

What flavors are in black ice cream? ›

Buzz over black ice cream served at New York City's Morgenstern's started making the rounds about a year ago, and it has officially made it west to a shop called Little Damage in L.A. The flavor they are calling Black Roses is said to taste a little like chocolate with a hint of charcoal, which makes sense when you ...

What does black sesame milkshake taste like? ›

As far as taste goes, those who have sampled the drink say it has a vague peanut butter flavor with a delicate sweetness that comes from the black sesame seeds.

What does black sesame taste like? ›

If you've never had black sesame before, the best I can do is say it's somewhat similar to peanut butter, perhaps sweeter and earthier. If you've had it before, then it's like eating a cone of the inside of a black sesame Tang Yuan (Chinese sweet rice ball). Either way it's delicious and definitely worth a try.

What is the flavor of black ice cream? ›

But it leaves intrigue to what the taste could be. Unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately—charcoal ice cream does not have a unique taste. Ice cream shops that offer the black dessert typically add various flavors to the recipe. Black ice cream can taste like coconut, vanilla, or, really, any of your favorite flavors.

What does black sesame mochi ice cream taste like? ›

Black sesame seeds provide a rich nutty flavor and umami notes. When roasted, it adds a bold, aromatic and nutty flavor to desserts for a unique blend of savory and sweet.

How would you describe the flavor of sesame? ›

With their mild, sweet and nutty taste, sesame seeds elevate recipes with a satisfying crunch. When baked or toasted, sesame seeds release an almond-like aroma and deep flavor. These tiny seeds are a fantastic ingredient for condiments and sauces.


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