As crazy as it sounds, this pickle ice cream with a crunchy peanut butter topping is quite the flavor combo. A creamy vanilla ice cream base gets an added upgrade with a healthy dose of sweet bread and butter pickle juice, and a salty peanut butter sauce. We know, it might sound a little off-putting at first, but for the true pickle lovers out there (and even those who tolerate them), you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that this creamy frozen dessert is the answer to so many cravings you never even knew you had.
Pickle Ice Cream
Credit: Sara Tane

I work with a lot of people who know food, and some of them are not too pleased with me right now. What would cause such a fun-loving group of food professionals to turn against me in an instant? Well, I may have spent all afternoon parading a decadent bowl of pickle-flavored ice cream coated with a crunchy peanut butter topping around the test kitchen (#professionalism). And there were just as many awestruck, eye-widening, jaw-dropping reactions of hands-down approval, as there were lip-puckering, nose-holding, head shaking reactions of absolute terror and disgust. You can’t win ‘em all, I guess, right?

With an idea as out there as this one, I knew I wouldn’t be able to please everyone, but for my own selfish curiosity and pickle-loving tendencies, I had to act on this random idea. If pickles are now inspiring soda and popsicles, who’s to say we can’t push it just a wee bit further and churn it into a creamy vanilla ice cream base? I saw this epiphany as nothing more than a culinary challenge, and I couldn’t rest until I whipped up a batch to see if I could actually make something so seemingly uninviting gain support from the harshest of critics.

Let me caution that if you don’t like pickles (breaks my heart), there’s essentially no chance that you’ll enjoy this ice cream flavor. However, if you can get down with a little brine (talking to you, pickleback fanatics), this savory-meets-sweet frozen dessert is pretty darn tasty, if I’m being honest. I opted to use pickle juice from bread and butter pickles, which are naturally much sweeter, so there’s not a bitter, punchy aftertaste that you might get from a salty dill pickle.

Let’s just say that the first go around was intense. I used 1 ¼ cups of pickle juice to make sure that the flavor would actually come through, rather than hide behind the dairy and sugar. And boy oh boy did it burst right through. For a majority of people, this was too much pickle for their nickel (not a saying, I just liked the rhyme), although a few adamant palates swore that this was the perfect punch of flavor.

For the next batch, I scaled back to ¾ cup and folks took to it much more positively. The acidic, vinegary notes of the pickle are still easily detectable, without being so offensive to the nose that it ruins the whole experience. Instead, the tang and gentle spices of the pickle brine complement the cream base; think buttermilk ice cream, but with a fresh new personality. Not to mention, the saltiness and crunchiness from the peanut butter topping added the most delightful, toasty nuttiness to complete the sweet-sour pickle-y notes. If you’re going to make your own (which you should), feel out the level of pickle-ness that you’re going for, and use your best judgment as to whether you want to scale up or down on the pickle juice. #PensivePickleThoughts

Coming from someone who prides herself on a strong, passionate love of pickles, even I’ll say that hearing the words “pickle” and “ice cream” together is inherently off-putting (that, of course, was not enough to stop me from being the troll that I am and concocting it anyway). That being said, for every person that initially scoffed at the idea of a combination so outlandish and incompatible, there was a good amount of people who later came around to the idea (my Pickle Converts, as I like to call them) once they were pressured into trying it.

Let me be clear, I did not win everyone over and I never will, but I think that’s what makes food the ever-divisive, highly-polarizing subject that it is, and why us internet creatures all love talking about it so much. Love it or hate it, it’s still an obsession, and when it comes this pickle ice cream, I’m completely there for it.

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane