When introducing kids to foods they are just learning to like, sometimes it can be helpful to offer it in a not so typical form. This carrot ice cream is certainly not typical, but that doesn’t mean it’s not tasty! And if your child already likes ice cream, this could be a great way to start to expose them to carrots.

Carrot ice cream is a great option for kids (especially picky eaters) because:

  • Cold mutes the flavor of foods, giving this ice cream a smaller “carrot flavor” compared to serving carrots warm.
  • Ice cream is a familiar food to most kids, making it easy to look at and explore. If your child is willing to get close to a new food, they are already one step closer to tasting it (compared to an offering that makes them go, “Yuck!” and leave the table.)
  • You’ve got the option to add sprinkles! This easy element and fun and familiarity can really tip the scales for some kids when it comes to taking that first bite!

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Carrot ice cream in a bowl with chocolate granola on top sitting next to ice cream with scoop, napkin, and spoon

What You’ll Need

Supplies

  • ice cream maker (don’t forget to freeze the bowl at least 24 hours in advance)
  • measuring cups (for liquid and dry ingredients)
  • measuring spoons
  • saucepan
  • peeler (this peeler is a great option for kids)
  • sharp knife (a crinkle cutter works well for cutting hard carrots)
  • whisk
  • spatula
  • spoon and fork (for optional tasting)
  • blender
  • container with lid for storing carrot ice cream in the freezer (this storage container is space saving and keeps your ice cream the perfect texture)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (the smaller the pieces, the less cooking time)
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice (more to taste – A juice box is a perfect way to get just a small amount of juice to use for this recipe; then you can serve the remaining juice to your child at their next meal or snack.)
  • toppings of choice

How to Make with Your Child

This recipe isn’t complex, but it does require 2 parts with breaks for cooling at the end of each. Plan to have pockets of about 15-30 minutes to complete each part.

Carrot ice cream is a great recipe to involve your child in making because kids often only have a short attention span when helping in the kitchen. With each of the 2 steps of this recipe, they get the opportunity to come back fresh and willing to more actively participate.

Part 1 – Prep and Cook Ingredients

First you’ll need to peel and cut the carrots into rounds – a great job for kids since the carrots size and shape doesn’t matter when they are headed to the blender! Plus, having your child help with this step allows them to start to learn about carrots long before a finished product hits their bowl.

You can use descriptive language and questions to help their learning:

  • “These carrots are cold and very hard. They have a thin skin on them. Can you see how it makes them look a little dirty?
  • “Look how bright orange they are after we peel them! They are smooth and the peeler glided right over the skin to take it off.”
  • “How does it feel when you slice them? You can feel that hardness again as we try to push our knife through. Will that change after we cook them?”
  • “Why do you think carrots are a good vegetable to put in ice cream? Why not broccoli or celery?”

Then, combine the heavy cream, milk, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and carrots in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook until carrots are fork tender (the larger the carrot pieces, the longer this will take). Stir with a whisk occasionally.

Now is a great time to have your child waft the smell of the simmering mixture or if they feel ready, smell it directly. The can also use the whisk to pretend they are stirring a witches brew – getting them closer to the mixture and again, learning about it.

More descriptive words and questions can help:

  • “What can you smell? I smell warm milk, cinnamon and sweetness.”
  • “What’s happening in our pot? The sugar is dissolving and becoming part of the milk. The carrots are cooking.”

If you’re child feels ready, the warm milk and cream taste delicious even in this stage. They can use a small “tasting spoon” to dip it, blow on it to cool it, and then give it a try.

It’s also fun to go “fishing” for carrots to try to stab one and see if it’s fork tender. They can also try a carrot in this stage if interested by licking, biting and spitting out, or biting and chewing/swallowing.

Remember, we don’t want to pressure at any step, but it’s always OK to offer the opportunity to explore or model for your child! And of course, use more descriptive language!

  • “The carrots were hard when they came out of the refrigerator. Now they are soft since they’ve been cooked. What other hard and crunchy foods do you like? What other soft foods do you like?”

Once the carrots are soft, it’s time to remove the mixture from the heat, allow to come to room temperature, and then cool completely in the refrigerator.

Part 2 – Blend Ingredients

Once completely chilled, transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Then, add the apple juice to brighten the flavor a bit. You can also adjust the salt to taste in this stage.

Adding bits of apple juice and/or salt and then having your child use a tasting spoon to make the decision to add more or not can be a fun, special responsibility for them. If they aren’t quite ready for it, you can model for them.

  • “How is our mixture changing as we puree it in the blender? The texture went from a liquid with chunks to a smooth homogeneous mixture. The color is orange now!”
  • “Why are we adding apple juice? Will it add a little sweetness? Or maybe some acid?”

Transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker and churn until it’s the consistency of soft serve ice cream. Once complete, put in a container with a lid and freeze for a few hours or overnight.

How to Store

The carrot ice cream can be served right from the ice cream maker if you prefer a soft consistency. For a firmer texture, put in a storage container, cover, and freeze for a few hours. Once frozen solid, you will have to leave it out for a few minutes to make for easier scooping.

Have your child help decide how to serve it – soft or a bit more frozen, based on their preference.

Close up of carrot ice cream with chocolate granola sprinkled on top and around the bowl with a cutting board off to the side

How to Serve

This carrot ice cream pairs well with anything you’d typically enjoy with apples! Consider foods such as granola, crushed pecans or walnuts, sprinkles, whipped cream, crushed graham crackers, melted peanut butter, etc. We tried it with both honey oat granola and salted dark chocolate granola. The chocolate won!

It’s also helpful if some of the toppings are a favorite for your child. Pairing something new with a an old favorite makes the new food less scary. Plus, while kids may just pick the topping off their ice cream, it’s likely that will come with some tiny warm up bites of the carrot ice cream.

And if they aren’t ready to take a bite, your work was not for nothing!

You can enjoy the time together as you give the carrot ice cream a try and your child eats whatever components sound good to them. They benefit from helping in the kitchen, building positive associations, your modeling and learning about the food through language.

  • “This ice cream tastes cold and sweet. It has an earthiness to it from the carrots. I love the way the cinnamon compliments the carrot.”
  • “When foods are cold, the flavor isn’t so strong. This carrot flavor is small. A raw carrot flavor is medium. A cooked carrot has the biggest flavor.”

Ready for more recipes and activities that give you exact steps and language to use to help your picky eater expand their diet – just like this carrot ice cream? The Mastering Mealtimes Membership can help!


Kim Slack is a Registered Dietitian, Quality Improvement Professional, Parent Coach and founder of On Your Table, LLC.  She supports parents, so that they can support their children to learn to eat a varied diet.  Kim has helped countless families have happier, calmer mealtimes and grow competent eaters.  Kim also has 2 boys of her own at home.  Learn more about her from her about page.

Carrot Ice Cream

Carrot Ice Cream

This carrot ice cream is a beautifully orange and sweet way to help your child learn to enjoy carrots!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Easter, Fall, Halloween, Kid Friendly, Picky Eater, Vegetable Dessert, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Churning Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 202kcal
Author: Kim Slack, RD

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice more to taste
  • toppings of choice

Instructions

  • Place ice cream maker bowl in the freezer at least 24 hours before you plan to use it.
  • Gently whisk together heavy cream, whole milk, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt in a saucepan.
  • Add carrots to mixture and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Turn down after simmer is reached to prevent mixture from boiling over.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally until sugars are dissolved and carrots are fork tender. The smaller your pieces of carrots are, the less cooking time needed.
  • Remove mixture from heat and cool to room temperature. Then, transfer to a container with a lid and cool completely in the refrigerator for a few hours, or ideally, overnight.
  • Transfer cooled mixture to a blender and blend until completely smooth.
  • Add apple juice and adjust salt to taste if needed.
  • Pour blended mixture into ice cream maker and churn for 20-25 minutes or as recommended in you ice cream maker's instructions.
  • Transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze for a few hours. When ready to serve, allow to sit out of freezer for a few minutes before scooping.
  • Enjoy with your favorite toppings!

Notes

Your language and descriptive words throughout the cooking process help your child learn about the food and become more comfortable being around it and perhaps even tasting it.  Here are some things you can talk about during each step of making this carrot ice cream!
  • “These carrots are cold and very hard. They have a thin skin on them. Can you see how it makes them look a little dirty?
  • “Look how bright orange they are after we peel them! They are smooth and the peeler glided right over the skin to take it off.”
  • “How does it feel when you slice them? You can feel that hardness again as we try to push our knife through. Will that change after we cook them?”
  • “Why do you think carrots are a good vegetable to put in ice cream? Why not broccoli or celery?”
  • “What can you smell? I smell warm milk, cinnamon and sweetness.”
  • “What’s happening in our pot? The sugar is dissolving and becoming part of the milk. The carrots are cooking.”
  • “The carrots were hard when they came out of the refrigerator. Now they are soft since they’ve been cooked. What other hard and crunchy foods do you like? What other soft foods do you like?”
  • “How is our mixture changing as we puree it in the blender? The texture went from a liquid with chunks to a smooth homogeneous mixture. The color is orange now!”
  • “Why are we adding apple juice? Will it add a little sweetness? Or maybe some acid?”
  • “This ice cream tastes cold and sweet. It has an earthiness to it from the carrots. I love the way the cinnamon compliments the carrot.”
  • “When foods are cold, the flavor isn’t so strong. This carrot flavor is small. A raw carrot flavor is medium. A cooked carrot has the biggest flavor.”
Share a picture of your recipe or cooking with your kid!Tag @kids.food.exposure.dietitian or use #kidsfoodexposure!

Nutrition

Calories: 202kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 139mg | Potassium: 173mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 4046IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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