Kulfi Ice Cream (No-Churn Indian Ice Cream)

June 19, 2020 By Aneesha |

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This Kulfi Ice Cream is an eggless, no-churn Indian ice cream recipe that’s incredibly rich, decadent and easy to make without an ice cream maker. It’s pleasantly perfumed with saffron, cardamom and rosewater, and adorned with an assortment of crunchy nuts.

three scoops Indian ice cream in white bowl with chopped pistachios

Fragrant Indian Ice Cream Recipe

Frozen dessert recipes hold a special place in my family!

I’m not sure if it’s the warm weather in California or the sweet creamy texture, but there is just something so special about enjoying a few scoops of ice cream after a long day.

Everyone in my family has a ‘different’ favorite ice cream flavor, but I’ve always enjoyed exotic flavors more, like this fragrant and nutty Indian flavored Kulfi Ice Cream.

It’s prepared with milk, sugar and intensely fragrant ingredients including floral saffron and rose water along with sweet cardamom and pistachios. If you’re familiar with Mother Dairy flavors (Indian brand), this will remind you of their ‘Mawa Malai’ ice cream.

Besides the mesmerizing flavors, another unique quality of kulfi is the method of preparation. It’s an egg-free, no-churn recipe. If you are new to the no-churn ice cream method, prepare to be amazed.

It’s a no-ice-cream-maker-required recipe that makes a richer, denser and more enjoyable ice cream for you and your family to enjoy.

scoops of kulfi ice cream in two white bowls topped with chopped nuts

No Machine, No-Churn Ice Cream

This kulfi recipe takes the same approach as my Chocolate Ice Cream but highlights those Indian spices and flavors that are so near and dear to my heart.

If you aren’t drooling already, let me highlight a few reasons why I love making this ice cream:

  • There is no standing over a hot stove
  • It requires the ease of an electric mixer
  • The ice cream base is ready in 10 minutes!
  • It’s wonderfully floral and fragrant with textural appeal

Much Easier Than Traditional Stovetop Kulfi

Traditional kulfi is made in a thick, heavy-bottomed pot that requires a reduction of milk and the constant need to stir to prevent the milk from scorching. It then needs time to chill before setting in the freezer. This whole process can take a few hours.

This simple, whipped cream method requires no cooking, no babysitting and is ready in only 10 minutes with the help of an electric mixer!

Taste Comparison With Traditional Kulfi

Traditional kulfi has a denser and creamier consistency since it is prepared with thickened milk and sugar with no air incorporated. The long simmer on the stovetop takes on a flavor similar to dulce de leche or caramelized cream.

This no-churn kulfi recipe is closer to regular ice cream – light and a bit airier – since it includes whipped cream. The notes of saffron, cardamom, rosewater and pistachio add balance to the sweet cream and really make the flavors of India shine.

Ingredients – Notes & Substitutions

You will need a handful of simple, yet fragrant, ingredients to make homemade kulfi ice cream.

The sweetened condensed milk, heavy whipping cream and chopped nuts are easily available at supermarkets, but the special floral ingredients can be found in most Indian or international grocery stores, or on Amazon.

chopped nuts, saffron, cardamom, rosewater, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk
  • Saffron: Saffron is the dried stigmas of the saffron flower that are individually picked by hand.
    • Look for it in local Middle Eastern or Indian grocery markets.
    • It’s important to buy high-quality saffron that’s bright red in color (steer clear of any signs of yellow).
    • If not available, saffron can also be found at Whole Foods, gourmet grocery stores or on Amazon.
  • Rose Water: Rosewater is simply flavored water made by steeping fresh rose petals in water. It’s smooth, floral, refreshing and sweet.
    • Look for it in Indian grocery markets, the international food section of grocery stores or online.
    • If unavailable, another great substitute is kewra essence, Indian floral water made from pandanus flowers.
    • That being said, vanilla extract is a good alternative. It won’t be as potent as rose water, but it will deliver the same fragrant, floral aroma.
  • Cardamom: Cardamon is a spice popular in both sweet and savory Indian recipes. It has a unique sweet and savory flavor that pairs exceptionally well with pistachios.
    • I highly recommend purchasing whole green cardamom pods rather than ground cardamom, then deshelling and crushing the seeds at home (see below photo). Freshly cracked seeds make a world of difference in flavor in this recipe.
crushed cardamom seeds in mortar
Freshly pounded green cardamom seeds

How To Make Kulfi At Home – Step-by-Step Instructions

All you need is an electric mixer and 10 minutes to make the ice cream base – the rest is left to the freezer. Simply:

1. Soak Saffron

Soak saffron strands in hot water while you whip the cream. Alternatively, add saffron and water to a microwave safe bowl and heat for 25-30 seconds.

Bowl of dry saffron on the left and soaked saffron on the right
Dry Saffron strands on the left; Soaked saffron on the right

2. Whip Heavy Cream

In a large mixing bowl, add heavy cream and start whipping using a hand mixer. Alternatively, use a stand mixer and use the whisk attachment. Whip the cream till it forms stiff peaks.

whipped cream in glass bowl with electric beaters
Whipped Cream with stiff peaks

3. Combine with Condensed Milk

Add a scoop of whipped cream into the condensed milk bowl and mix to combine. Note: This lightens the condensed milk.

adding whipped cream to bowl of sweetened condensed milk

Then pour the condensed milk into the whipped cream. Using a spatula (not whisk) gently fold the two together till you reach a silky-smooth consistency. 

two hands stirring ice cream mix in glass bowl

4. Mix Flavorings and Nuts

Add soaked saffron along with the liquid, crushed cardamom, rose water and chopped nuts into the bowl and gently fold it in. Mix till well combined.

chopped nuts and ice cream mix in glass bowl with yellow spatula

5. Chill Ice Cream

Pour this mix into a parchment-lined metal pan or a freezer-safe glass bowl. Seal it tightly using an airtight lid or a few layers of plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer. Chill for 6-8 hours for the ice cream to set properly. Enjoy!

Covering a bowl with a green airtight lid

Serving Suggestions – Special Kulfi Moulds

I love to serve kulfi ice cream the homemade way – a few large scoops, a sprinkle of chopped nuts and a large spoon!

But if you’d like to serve the kulfi restaurant-style, feel free to purchase a set of Kulfi molds with the stand. To fill and freeze, simply:

  1. Use a pitcher with a spout to easily fill the molds, leaving a 1/4 inch at the top for expansion
  2. Seal the moulds tight with the screw top and freeze for 5 hours
  3. After the 5 hour mark, remove the tops and insert a popsicle stick. Set in the freezer for another 2-3 hours
  4. To remove, dip the molds in a bowl of warm water until the pops loosen (about 20-30 seconds), then pull gently upward to get nice, clean kulfis
  5. Garnish with an extra sprinkle of nuts and enjoy!
scoops of kulfi ice cream in two white bowls topped with chopped nuts

Variations To Try

I like to think of this kulfi recipe as an introduction to the world of frozen Indian desserts. The number of flavors and creations are just limitless. Here are some ways of tweaking this recipe:

  • Substitute the cashews and almonds with pistachios, stir in 2 drops of green gel food color and enjoy a more potent pistachio flavor in your ice cream.
  • Add crushed and dried food grade rose petals to enhance the rose flavors in this recipe and create a ‘wow’ factor. Stir in 1 tablespoon for this quantity.
  • To boost the saffron flavor, simply double the quantity.

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • Bloom the saffron threads. It is important to bloom (soak in hot water) the saffron threads prior to mixing as this develops their natural floral flavor and aroma.
  • Make sure to chill the sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. I simply pop the whole can of condensed milk and a pint of heavy cream in the fridge as soon as I get home from the store to chill for a few hours. The colder the ingredients, the easier the ingredients will whip to the right texture.
  • Add rose water, kewra essence or vanilla extract. Rosewater will provide a smooth, floral, refreshing flavor, but kewra essence (made from pandanus flowers) is another great substitute. If all else fails, use an equal amount of vanilla extract. It will not be as strong as rose water, but it will offer similar floral notes.
  • Use one, two or three different nuts. I am partial to pistachios, but feel free to use any combination of assorted chopped pistachios, cashews or almonds. Feel free to skip one or two based on your liking. Just make sure they are unsalted and chopped to a fine texture (not ground).

Kulfi Ice Cream FAQs

What is kulfi ice cream?

Kulfi, or Quilfi, ice cream is traditional Indian ice cream with roots as far back as the 16th century. It is a frozen dairy dessert similar to American ice cream in appearance but made without the addition of air. This makes it richer, denser and creamier in texture (similar to Italian gelato).

What is kulfi ice cream made of?

Kulfi is typically made of condensed milk (milk and sugar) and flavorful ingredients including saffron, cardamom, rosewater, mango and pistachio. These flavors are most commonly found in many desserts across India.

Is kulfi healthier than ice cream?

Kulfi is a healthier take on traditional American ice cream as it relies solely on milk, sugar and natural flavorings without the inclusion of eggs and preservatives.

More Indian Dessert Recipes Like This

  • Mango Lassi: Sweet, tangy and fruity yogurt drink made with 5 simple ingredients
  • Instant Pot Mango Cheesecake: Sweet mango blended with a custard-like cream cheese filling and baked in a crushed pistachio-cardamom crust
  • Kesar Badam Halwa: Sweet saffron-almond pudding deemed the ‘king’ of Indian desserts
  • Carrot Burfi: Carrots cooked in flavored milk, then sautéed with almond flour till they form a fudge-like consistency
  • Carrot Halwa: North Indian pudding made with carrots, milk, sugar and cardamom, then garnished with chopped nuts

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three scoops Indian ice cream in white bowl with chopped pistachios

Kulfi Ice Cream (No-Churn Indian Ice Cream)

This Kulfi Ice Cream is an eggless, no-churn Indian flavored recipe perfumed with saffron, cardamom, rosewater and assorted nuts, that's ready to chill in 10 minutes.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Chill: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 472kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pinch saffron (7-8 strands soaked in 1 tablespoon hot water)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream chilled (1 pint)
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk chilled (1 can)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed cardamom fresh (5-6 pods seeded and crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons rose water or kewra essence (see notes for substitution)
  • 1 cup assorted nuts (pistachio, cashews, almonds) finely chopped (see notes)

Instructions

Soak Saffron

  • Soak saffron strands in hot water while you whip the cream. Alternatively, add saffron and cold water to a microwave safe bowl and heat for 25-30 seconds.
    Bowl of dry saffron on the left and soaked saffron on the right

Whip Heavy Cream

  • In a large mixing bowl, add heavy cream and start whipping using a hand mixer. Alternatively, use a stand mixer and use the whisk attachment. Whip the cream till it forms stiff peaks.
    whipped cream in glass bowl with electric beaters

Combine with Condensed Milk

  • Add a scoop of whipped cream into the condensed milk bowl and mix to combine. This lightens the condensed milk. Then pour the condensed milk into the whipped cream. Using a spatula (not whisk) gently fold the two together till you reach a silky-smooth consistency. 
    two hands stirring ice cream mix in glass bowl

Mix Flavorings and Nuts

  • Add soaked saffron along with the liquid, crushed cardamom, rose water and chopped nuts into the bowl and gently fold it in. Mix till well combined.
    chopped nuts and ice cream mix in glass bowl with yellow spatula

Chill Ice Cream

  • Pour this mix into a parchment lined metal pan or a glass bowl. Seal it tightly using an airtight lid or a few layers of plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer. Chill for 6-8 hours for the ice cream to set properly. Enjoy!
    Covering a bowl with a green airtight lid

Video

Notes & Recipe Tips

  • Bloom the saffron threads. It is important to bloom (soak in hot water) the saffron threads prior to mixing as this develops their natural floral flavor and aroma.
  • Make sure to chill the sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. I simply pop the whole can of condensed milk and a pint of heavy cream in the fridge as soon as I get home from the store to chill for a few hours. The colder the ingredients, the easier the ingredients will whip to the right texture.
  • Add rose water, kewra essence or vanilla extract. Rosewater will provide a smooth, floral, refreshing flavor, but kewra essence (made from pandanus flowers) is another great substitute. If all else fails, use an equal amount of vanilla extract. It will not be as strong as rose water, but it will offer the same floral notes.
  • Use one, two or three different nuts. I am partial to pistachios, but feel free to use any combination of assorted chopped pistachios, cashews or almonds. Just make sure they are unsalted and chopped to a fine texture.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates based on mixed, assorted nuts. Serving size can vary. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 472kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 88mg | Potassium: 336mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 1007IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 192mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Keyword: indian ice cream, kulfi ice cream, kulfi recipe
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HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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