Vibrant, indulgent and velvety smooth homemade matcha ice cream bursting with earthy matcha flavor. This refreshing and creamy green tea ice cream is so easy to make at home and much better tasting than store-bought desserts!
Matcha is a flavor deeply rooted in Japanese culture and traditional tea ceremonies. Renowned for its earthy fresh aroma, matcha is nowadays one of the most popular dessert flavors in Japan.
Slowly, but surely, this incredible green tea flavor is making its way to desserts worldwide. From Sakura Matcha Latte, to the famous Starbucks Strawberry Matcha Latte or the viral Fudgy Matcha Brownies, matcha is here to stay!
After trying matcha ice cream, it has become one of my top favorite flavors due to its earthy green aroma and unique flavor profile. Although it only has a handful of ingredients, this recipe yields the most silky smooth and flavorful ice cream. Its vivid green color is also entirely natural, and no artificial ingredients are added.
This summer is all about ice cream extravaganza! Hojicha Ice Cream is like a deeper, roasted version of this matcha ice cream! Also check out this incredibly fragrant Ube Ice Cream and the most refreshing Pandan Ice Cream.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Natural flavor: This matcha green tea ice cream is entirely natural, with no artificial additives. The recipe focuses on showing the natural essence of pure matcha powder to create a vibrant and earthy flavor.
- Authentic taste: Every lick of this matcha ice cream tastes just like a delicious cup of silky smooth matcha tea. The authentic flavor comes from the perfect balance between the grassiness of matcha powder and the creaminess of milk. In the true spirit of authentic Japanese desserts, this ice cream is not too sweet, so the flavor has room to shine!
- Silky smooth texture: Prepared in a traditional way using eggs and cream, this green tea ice cream is incredibly rich and velvety. The ice cream base is left to mature, then carefully churned to ensure the perfect texture.
- Easy to make: Despite the rich and complex flavor, this recipe is surprisingly easy to make. The preparation itself takes about 10-15 minutes, then the rest is a waiting game. Follow my fail-proof method below to make the perfect ice cream every time!
What is matcha ice cream?
Matcha ice cream (抹茶アイスクリーム), also known as matcha ice (抹茶アイス) or green tea ice cream, is a popular ice cream flavor from Japan. It has a vibrant green color and a distinct grassy, earthy flavor.
Green tea ice cream is made from high-quality matcha powder, which is blended with a mixture of eggs, cream, milk and sugar. This creates a very creamy and silky ice cream, with a grassy-floral flavor. The color is entirely natural, as green tea powder is naturally very vibrant.
In Japan, this ice cream can usually be served in different ways:
- Soft-serve in waffle cones
- Firm scoops in paper cups – commonly served with red bean paste (azuki) topping
- Green tea mochi with ice cream filling
- Ice cream sandwich or monaka (最中) made by sandwiching green tea ice cream between two mochi wafers
This creamy matcha ice cream recipe is authentic, rich and extremely flavorful, superior to store-bought desserts.
What does it taste like?
Matcha ice cream has a distinct grassy and earthy flavor, with subtle floral hints. When made with high-quality matcha, it has a slightly sweet undertone, which helps boost the earthy flavor.
This recipe is a unique balance of richness, creaminess, freshness and earthiness. Made with eggs and cream as a base, green tea ice cream is very rich and velvety smooth, coating your mouth with an indulgent flavor.
Entirely natural, this recipe relies on natural matcha flavor and minimal sugar to create the perfect ice cream flavor. It’s not too overpowering, nor too overly sweet. It’s well balanced, refreshing and invigorating. The aftertaste is also extremely pleasant, just like after drinking a cup of green tea.
Except of matcha powder, all the other simple ingredients can be found in most pantries. Green tea powder can easily be found online or in most Asian grocery stores.
Here’s what you will need for this recipe:
- Matcha powder (抹茶) – the main ingredient for this recipe. It’s important you use a high quality matcha (premium culinary or ceremonial). See section below on Types of matcha powder.
- Milk – whole milk is needed for this recipe for the best texture and creaminess.
- Cream – heavy whipping cream works best for this recipe, as it adds richness and creaminess. Cream can be replace, see how in the section below on Substitutions.
- Sugar – regular white sugar works best. You can also use brown sugar, but it will dull down the vibrant green color.
- Eggs – needed for creaminess. Medium eggs work best for this recipe. For extra richness, 1-2 additional egg yolks can be added.
- Salt – a small pinch is used to balance out the flavors.
- Optional: vanilla – although optional, vanilla helps bring out the naturally sweet undertones of matcha powder. I recommend using vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract.
Types of matcha powder
Matcha powder (green tea powder) is made from green tea leaves. It’s commonly used in a varieties of ways, from making tea, to matcha lattes, ice creams and other desserts. Picking the right type of matcha for different recipes is really important, as it can affect the flavor.
Matcha ice cream relies solely on the natural flavor of green tea powder to give its unique taste. That’s why it’s important to use good quality matcha. However, each matcha producer and company categorizes green tea powder in their own way, which can make it confusing.
In Western countries, matcha is usually split into two main types of matcha: culinary and ceremonial. Let’s look into each type:
- used for baking and cooking
- usually more inferior in flavor, and can sometimes taste bitter
- this works for cakes and other bakes because baking will most often remove bitterness
- less vibrant in color, usually a dull green or yellow-brown color
- there are many different grades of culinary matcha, ranging in price and quality
- used for drinks and lattes
- a step below ceremonial matcha, still high quality but less expensive
- good grassy flavor, with little to no bitterness
- vibrant green color, with no trances of yellow
- used for tea ceremonies
- highest quality matcha, can be very expensive
- it usually has an intense grassy flavor, with zero bitterness, plus natural sweetness
- very vibrant green in color
Choosing high quality matcha powder
- Color – good quality matcha is vibrant green in color. Poor quality matcha is usually yellow or brown in color.
- Texture – it should be a very fine powder, with no obvious grains. Good quality matcha usually lumps together into small bits.
- Smell – high quality matcha smells fresh, grassy and aromatic. Low quality matcha can sometimes smell unpleasant, like seaweed.
- Price point – with high quality matcha, generally it cannot be too cheap. As a rule of thumb, high grade or premium culinary matcha is around $25-30 per 3.5 ounce tin.
For this ice cream recipe I recommend choosing the middle ground: premium (premium culinary) matcha powder. It offers a great flavor, with almost no bitterness and a vibrant green color. The price point is also advantageous, as this recipe uses quite a bit of matcha powder.
Of course, ceremonial grade matcha can also be used for the maximum flavor and color, but it can run very expensive.
Substitutions & Variations
Here’s how you can substitute some of the ingredients in this matcha ice cream recipe:
- Milk & heavy cream – substitute with 2 ¾ cups of half & half
- Sugar – substitute with ¼ cup honey or maple syrup or ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
This green tea ice cream recipe can also be customized to your flavor by adding extra ingredients:
- Fruit – add freeze dried fruit into the ice cream after churning for a boost of flavor. Some of my favorite fruits to add are strawberries, mango or raspberries. You can also add fresh fruit as a topping when serving your ice cream.
- Chocolate – fold in some white chocolate chips into the churned ice cream for a boost of sweetness and to add some texture.
- Citrus – add the zest of 1 lemon or 1 orange into the ice cream base before cooking it, then simmer to infuse the milk. Use a sieve to remove zest.
- Red bean – add it as an ice cream topping for a uniquely Japanese dessert.
- Coconut – sprinkle some toasted coconut flakes on top for a refreshing tropical flavor.
How to make matcha ice cream at home
Apart from its wonderfully earthy and fresh flavor, this green tea frozen dessert is great because it’s easy to make at home. Here’s how:
1. In a bowl, combine eggs and sugar.
2. In a sauce pan, heat up the cream and half of the milk until bubbling. Pour it into the eggs to temper them.
3. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened.
4. Heat up the remaining milk, then pour it over the sifted matcha powder.
5. Whisk well to combine, then transfer to a separate bowl and chill for a few hours.
6. Churn matcha ice cream until soft-serve, then freeze until firm.
Without ice cream machine
This matcha ice cream recipe can easily be made without special equipment like ice cream maker, although some changes need to be made.
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ⅔ cups sweetened condensed milk
- 1 ½ tablespoon matcha powder
- Sift the matcha powder into heavy cream, then use a hand mixer to beat until medium peaks.
- Pour in the sweetened condensed milk, then mix again to combine.
- Transfer the ice cream mixture into an airtight and freezer-safe container and freeze for 4-6 hours.
Yep, it’s as simple as that! This recipe is created to ensure the green tea ice cream remains fluffy and soft when frozen. It tastes very creamy and delicious, although not as rich as the original method using a churner. Also, it’s slightly sweeter, as more condensed milk is needed for the right texture.
Success Tips & Tricks
- High quality matcha powder – As the star ingredients in this green tea ice cream recipe, matcha needs to be of good quality. Check out the section above on Types of matcha powder.
- Sift matcha – Use a fine sieve to sift the matcha powder and remove any lumps. If you skip this step, you might have small lumps of matcha, which make the ice cream grainy.
- Mix matcha separately – Matcha shouldn’t be cooked at high temperatures, as it can ruin its delicate flavor. Mix matcha separately with hot milk (maximum 170°F or 75°C) and whisk well before mixing it into the remaining ice cream base.
- Don’t make too sweet – The secret to authentic Japanese matcha ice cream is a balanced flavor that isn’t too sweet. So try to resist the urge of adding extra sugar.
- Chill before churning – Chilling the ice cream base before churning is important as it allows the flavors to mature and infuse properly. Also, a well-chilled base is easier to churn.
- Freeze in shallow container – After churning, transfer the ice cream into a shallow container. This helps the green tea ice cream freeze more evenly, without ice crystals forming.
Serving & Storing
Green tea ice cream needs to be stored in the freezer. Place the churned ice cream in an airtight and freezer-safe shallow container, then level out with a spatula. Add a layer of plastic wrap on the surface of the ice cream to prevent crystals from forming, then seal and freeze.
This ice cream will store well for up to 2-3 weeks, although for the best texture I recommend eating it as soon as possible.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, matcha ice cream contains caffeine. Matcha powder is made from green tea, which naturally contains caffeine. Generally, green tea contains much less caffeine than coffee, and it’s also said to affect the body differently. (Disclaimer: this does not constitute medical advice. Please consult your doctor for accurate medical advice)
This recipe uses less sugar than commercially available ice creams, which makes it slightly healthier. However, like most sweet desserts, green tea ice cream should be consumed in moderation.
This recipe is naturally gluten free, as no wheat or other grains are used in making it.
Yes, most green tea ice creams contain dairy. This recipe also contains dairy, as it is made using milk and heavy cream. However, you can use plant-based alternatives like coconut milk and cream (but this will change the flavor slightly).
This recipe is around 186 calories per servings, which is fairly low compared to most store bought ice creams. (Please note that nutritional information is indicative only)
This happens when the ice cream is not churned properly. Please make sure to follow your ice cream machine manufacturer’s information. Some machines require pre-freezing the bowl by up to 12 hours in advance.
Secondly, this can also happen if the egg mixture is not cooked well. Ensure the mixture thickens and cooks to about 180°F (80°C).
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Green Tea Matcha Ice Cream Recipe
- small sieve (for matcha)
- medium sauce pan
- large bowl
- ice cream maker (see section on how to make without)
- cooking thermometer, optional
- 2 cups full fat milk (500 grams)
- 1 ½ tablespoon matcha powder (8 grams)
- 2 medium eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream (200 grams)
- pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the eggs and salt. Using a hand mixer, whip up the eggs until frothy. Start sprinkling the sugar into the eggs, little by little, whilst mixing continuously. Keep mixing until the eggs look pale and fluffy.
- In a saucepan, heat up the milk and heavy cream over medium heat until it starts to bubble. If using a cooking thermometer, it should read maximum 180°F (80°C).
- Separately, in a small bowl, sift the matcha powder, removing any lumps. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of the hot milk on top, then whisk well with a bamboo or electric whisk.
- Pour the remaining hot milk over the eggs, mixing well to combine. Return mixture to the stove, cooking over low heat whilst mixing continuously. It should take about 5 minutes for the eggs to temper. If using a thermometer, it should be a maximum 180°F (80°C).
- Remove mixture from heat, then set aside to cool down for about 10-15 minutes or to the previous temperature of 180°F (80°C).
- Using a sieve, pour the matcha mixture into the liquids, whisking well to combine.
- Let ice cream base cool down completely, then refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or preferably overnight.
- Once chilled, pour mixture into ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s indications. Time varies depending on the machine, but it typically takes between 20-30 minutes to make soft-set ice cream.
- After churning, transfer ice cream to a shallow freezer-safe container and level out the top with a spatula. Freeze for at least 4-6 hours or until firmly set.
- Nutritional value is estimative only and is calculated per serving, without any additional toppings. This recipe makes 8 servings (2 small scoops per serving).
- Storing: keep in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 2-3 weeks. Consume within a few days for the best texture.