Our Peppermint Cocoa ice cream is one of the easiest recipes you can make during the holidays. For such an incredibly intense mint & cocoa ice cream, we use single-distilled peppermint oil before folding in crushed candy canes. So pull off your warm woolen mittens, and wrap your chilled fingers around a piping cold cup of this peppermint cocoa ice cream. Make sure to tag us in your homemade scoops on social. For more recipes, check out our Ice Cream Cookbook.

Peppermint Cocoa Ice Cream

Makes about 2 ½  pints

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Guittard’s Cocoa Rouge)
  • 1 drop peppermint oil (Seely Farm’s peppermint oil is our favorite!)
  • 3 cups Ice Cream Base, very cold (recipe follows)
  • 1 pint of homemade peppermint candies (recipe follows)
  1. Bring the sugar and ¼ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan and immediately take it off heat, whisk in the cocoa powder, and keep at it until you have a smooth, sticky paste. Let it cool until it's just slightly warmer than room temperature. Add the peppermint oil and stir really well. Chill until cold; it will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  2. Put the cold peppermint-cocoa mixture and the ice cream base into a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and turn on the machine. Churn just until the mixture has the texture of soft-serve (timing ranges depending on the machine). 
  3. Quickly transfer the ice cream into freezer-friendly containers. Spoon in a layer of the ice cream, sprinkle on some of the peppermint candies and use a spoon to press them in gently. Repeat. Cover with parchment paper, pressing it to the surface of the ice cream so it adheres, then cover with a lid. It’s okay if the parchment hangs over the rim. Store it in the coldest part of your freezer (farthest from the door until firm, at least 6 hours. It will keep for up to 3 months.

Ice Cream Base

Makes about 3 cups

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup 
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 ⅓ heavy cream
  1. Combine the sugar, dry milk, and xanthan gum in a small bowl and stir well.
  2. Pour the corn syrup into a medium pot and stir in the whole milk. Add the sugar mixture and immediately whisk vigorously until smooth. Set the pot over medium heat and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent a simmer, until the sugar has fully dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. 
  3. Add the cream and whisk until fully combined. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 6 hours, or for even better texture and flavor, 24 hours. Stir the base back together if it separates during the resting time. The base can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. (Just be sure to fully thaw the frozen base before using it)

Peppermint Candies

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 6 drops pure peppermint oil (we use Seely Farms)
  • 8 drops natural red or green food coloring (optional)


  • Small saucepan with lid (1-2 quart volume) 
  • Candy thermometer
  • Large silicone baking mat 
  • 2-3 pairs disposable gloves

Note: Making candy is hot and dangerous work. If you prefer, crushed up candy canes (we recommend Hammond's Candies) are just as good in the ice cream. This recipe makes 1 pint of candy which is more than you’ll need for the ice cream, but it’s difficult to make any less. Extra candy is perfect for decorating cupcakes, folding into cookie batter or garnishing hot cocoa! 

  1. Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a small pot. Thoroughly mix together, making sure that there are no clumps of dry sugar left.
  2. Cover pot and heat on medium-high heat.
  3. Cook until syrup comes to a boil and all the sugar is dissolved. 
  4. Remove lid and continue to boil until syrup reaches 290F. Don’t stir!
  5. Once syrup reaches 290F, carefully pour into a pool in the center of the silicone mat (make sure that the mat is on a level surface). Sprinkle drops of peppermint oil and food coloring over surface of syrup. Let sit for a few minutes. 
  6. Put on your gloves (wear multiple pairs if using disposable). Fold the mat in half horizontally with the syrup in the center. Open mat and then fold vertically. Keep folding the mat until the syrup starts to form a blob of candy and is shiny and just cool enough to touch with your gloved hands (it will still be quite hot).
  7. Pull the candy into thin ropes, then twist the ropes back together and pull again. Repeat until candy starts to harden and crack when pulled. Pull out into thin sticks and let cool to room temp.
  8. Once candy has cooled, place sticks in ziplock bag. Use a rolling pint to crack sticks into small bits (about ¼ inch or smaller). Toss with a small spoonful of cornstarch to prevent sticking and store in a dry container with tight lid.