Put away the ice pick. You won’t be needing that any more.

By Betty Gold
Updated August 09, 2019

We have a soft spot for ice cream. The softest of spots. And why not? There’s nothing better than a cup, cone, or sundae on a sweltering summer day (or date night with your Netflix account). If it’s homemade, even better: You can skip the line at the store and have complete control over the quality and quantity of ingredients and mix-ins.

But speaking of soft spots, homemade ice cream is often woefully lacking in this department—especially when it's leftover. Those who love a dish of DIY frozen dessert (and make it frequently) know exactly what I’m talking about: you scoop your treat from the ice cream maker and it’s melty, creamy perfection. But when you go back for more the next night, it’s frozen so solid you’re worried you’ll need an ice pick to eat your dessert. Or worse, that you’ll have to wait hours to serve yourself a bowl of butter pecan. I shudder.

We spoke with Kris Hoogerhyde, a Partner and Pastry Chef at Bi-Rite Creamery, to find out what the secret to serving soft ice cream is. She’s whipped up more batches of blue moon, mint chip, and more than you can imagine (file under: dream job), so needless to say, she knows a thing or two about homemade ice cream tricks.

The secret to easy-scooping ice cream? Just add a bit of booze.

“Adding alcohol to your ice cream is a great way to make it softer and easier to scoop,” Kris says. It’s true: Alcohol has a super-low freezing point, so adding a small splash to frozen treats will help avoid the dreaded frozen-solid, icy-all-over texture that tends to happen to homemade desserts. It’s the same reason your bottle of vodka never solidifies in the freezer.

How much booze is best? Kris recommends you use one tablespoon for every quart of ice cream base you make. “Careful not to overdo it, as adding too much will result in a soupy, creamy mess that will never freeze.”

You can use a neutral-flavored liquor like vodka, or you can pair the alcohol to the flavor of the ice cream you’re making. (We’re listening!) “A dash of bourbon or whiskey in your vanilla ice cream will make it just amazing; a kirsch in your strawberry will elevate it even more.”

Other delicious flavor pairings for boozy ice cream:

  • Bourbon + caramel
  • Whiskey + chocolate coffee
  • Tequila + pineapple sorbet
  • Bailey’s + brownie batter
  • White wine + strawberry sorbet
  • Rum + Speculoos
  • Crème de menthe + mint chocolate chip

If you’re sitting there wondering what you did to deserve this blessed tip, you’re not alone.