This Persian saffron ice cream will blow your mind away. The combination of saffron, rose water, cream, milk and pistachios is so fragrant and irresistibly delicious. An easy treat to wow a crowd!
Saffron Ice Cream
This classic ice cream is one of the best Persian desserts ever. It is among the first ice cream recipes I learned to make at home and has remained a family favorite after all these years.
Known as Bastani Sonnati in Persian, this popular summertime treat requires just a few ingredients. Traditional recipes use sahlab (starchy flour from orchid tubers) and mastic (a tree resin) to thicken and emulsify the mixture.
Some modern Persian ice cream recipes use eggs to make a custard ice cream base. I have tried that, but did not like the eggy flavor. Instead I have always thickened the milk with corn starch or custard powder and it works perfectly well.
And I have a really cool trick to make your ice cream healthier, while still keeping it very satisfying and delicious.
Milk, Cream, Sugar, Saffron, Rose Water, Pistachios
Milk: I use whole milk.
Heavy Cream: For healthier alternatives check below
Sugar: You can also use half sugar and half honey or maple syrup too. But that may impart a mild flavor.
Saffron: A little goes a long way with this expensive spice, but use only the best quality product, preferably Persian saffron, which has an intense color and flavor.
Rose Water: For the traditional recipe we use 2 to 3 tablespoons of rose water. If this is new to you, try using less and scale it up.
Vanilla: This is really optional, and I don’t use it most of the time. But some Persians like the touch of vanilla added to the ice cream.
How to Make Ice Cream More Soft
Below are some approaches to make sure the ice cream turns out creamy and soft.
Sugar: This is a very important ingredient for the smooth texture of ice cream. Although we create so many recipes lowering or substituting sugar, this is not a recipe to fool around with. You need the right amount of sugar or honey for the recipe. If using honey, it should be about ¾ of the quantity of sugar in the recipe.
Fat: An optimal amount of fat will give you a smooth ice cream without ice crystals. Therefore, using some cream, half-and-half or milk with higher percentage of fat is essential for a creamy texture.
Gelatin: A teaspoon of gelatin added to a quart of the mixture can improve the texture of ice cream. Follow the specific instructions for using gelatin.
Ice Cream Machine: When the ice cream mixture churns as it gradually freezes, it incorporates air and prevents ice crystal formation. This leads to a more creamy and fluffy result.
Easy No Churn Saffron Ice Cream
There are different ways you can do it.
Using Ready Made Ice Cream
The easiest and quickest way to do this is to combine store bought vanilla ice cream with saffron infused rose water and pistachios. Freeze and serve.
Using Cream and Condensed Milk or Custard
For an easier homemade version, whip 2 cups of heavy cream until stiff peaks. Then gradually fold in a can of condensed milk. Stir in saffron infused rose water and pistachios. Freeze the mixture.
If you prefer to use a custard base rather than condensed milk, then dissolve ⅔ cup sugar in 1 cup milk and bring it to a boil. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of corn starch in ¼ cup of milk and whisk that in the milk and cook at medium-low heat until it thickens into a custard. Let it cool and fold that into whipped cream instead of condensed milk.
Be sure to stir the mixture every half hour to break the ice crystals and until frozen and creamy.
This recipe is vegetarian, gluten free, egg free, low sodium and soy free. Below are a few suggestions, some of which I have not tried myself.
- Vegan/Dairy free: Try full fat coconut milk. I have not tried this, but you could add coconut cream instead of heavy cream. And/or enrich the milk with walnuts as I suggest below for the healthier version
- Nut Free: Skip the pistachios.
- Refined Sugar Free: Use ½ cup honey instead of sugar.
- Flavor Twist: Try almonds or walnuts instead of pistachios.
- Use only one cup of cream.
- Combine the remaining two cups of milk with one cup of walnuts and blitz in a high speed blender until very smooth. Pour this walnut milk through a large sieve or colander that has been lined with two layers of cheese cloth.
- Try maple syrup or honey instead of sugar. Although these sweeteners will add sugar to the recipe, they also provide a small amount of other nutrients.
- If you decide to use sugar, I have found ½ cup of sugar to be sweet enough.
Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the ice cream and store in an airtight ice cream container to prevent ice crystal formation. If possible, store it in the door section of your freezer as the temperature is slightly warmer.
Let the ice cream thaw a bit at room temperature or in refrigerator to soften its texture before scooping it out. The traditional way to serve it would be as scoops of ice cream with cream chunks. But you can also enjoy it in a cone or a waffle cup.
A wildly popular option is to create ice cream sandwiches using firm waffle cookies. Simply soften the ice cream and spread it in a thick layer between two waffles cookies. Roll the sides of the ice cream sandwich in pistachios and then freeze it. Let it thaw a few minutes before enjoying it.
Make an ice cream float or create a sundae if you like!
More Dessert Recipes
- Persian Love Cake
- Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding)
- Chia Mahalabia with Pistachios
- Rose Rice Custard with Pomegranate Jelly
★ DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? PLEASE COMMENT AND GIVE IT A STAR RATING BELOW!
Persian Ice Cream (Bastani)
- Waffle Cookies Rose Petals
- Dissolve corn starch in ½ cup milk and stir well until smooth.
- Take the remaining milk and sugar in a large saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium high heat.
- Lower the heat and whisk in the corn starch-milk mixture, stirring constantly. Simmer until it reaches a thin custard consistency or coats the back of a spoon. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool on an ice bath.
- Using a small mortar and pestle, grind the saffron with a pinch of salt until it is a fine powder. Dissolve it in the rose water and let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Stir in saffron-rose water, heavy cream and vanilla until well combined.
- Chill the mixture in refrigerator for several hours/overnight or over an ice bath (by setting the saucepan in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water).
- Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the pistachios in the end just when the ice cream is starting to set. Check note below about cream chunks.
- Frozen Cream Pieces: Often Persian saffron ice cream has chunks of frozen cream in it. To make this, simply pour heavy cream in a thin layer over a flat plate that has been lined with parchment paper. Place the plate in the freezer and let the cream freeze until hard. Then break the cream crust into ½ inch pieces and add it along with the pistachios or just on top of scooped ice cream.
- Storage: Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the ice cream and store in an airtight container to prevent ice crystal formation. If possible, store it in the door section of your freezer as the temperature there is slightly warmer.
- For easy no churn homemade ice cream, other variations and serving suggestions, scroll up the page to the blog post.