Food & Drink

Sorghum and Grits Ice Cream

Serves 6

The Most Southern Ice Cream Ever

It isn’t honey, it isn’t molasses, and it sure isn’t sugar. Sorghum syrup is a homegrown Southern sweetener in a class of its own, with a distinctive and lingering flavor. In Sorghum’s Savor, North Carolina­­­–based food writer Ronni Lundy takes an equally deep look at the lengthy history of this versatile Appalachian staple, which can lend bittersweet base notes to everything from biscuits and cocktails to curries and salads. You’ll find recipes for all of those in Lundy’s new cookbook, alongside passages explaining how modern makers distill syrup from pressed sorghum cane juice, and why they still bother.

One of the most creative dishes in the book comes from chef Edward Lee, of 610 Magnolia and MilkWood restaurants in Louisville, Kentucky. When Lundy began work on Sorghum, her friends insisted that she include his recipe for sorghum and grits ice cream, a classic-in-the-making at MilkWood. Though presented in an unusual form, the ingredients are traditional as can be: milk, grits, sorghum. That’s breakfast in Appalachia, and the makings of a fine dessert, too.


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    • 1 1/2 cups milk

    • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

    • 3/4 cup sorghum syrup, plus more for drizzling

    • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

    • 1 large egg

    • 1 egg yolk

    • Pinch of sea salt

    • 1/3 cup of cooked grits, dried and separated*


  1. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, bring milk, cream, sorghum, and brown sugar to a gentle simmer, stirring until the cream mixture is smooth.

  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and the yolk with the pinch of salt. Slowly add the warm cream mixture until combined. Pour custard through a fine mesh sieve and cool in the fridge for a couple of hours.

  3. Pour mixture into the freezer canister of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Right before it is done, slowly add the grits a little at a time until all are mixed into the ice cream.

  4. Transfer ice cream to a container and freeze for at least 1 hour. When ready to eat, let the ice cream sit for about 15 minutes before serving. Serve with a little sorghum drizzled over the top.

  5. *Cook grits. Rinse with cooler water in a sieve and shake to let drain well. Turn them out on a baking sheet, separating with fingers to make a single layer. Let them air dry over an hour, coming back and separating once or twice.

Recipe from chef Edward Lee of MilkWood in Louisville, Kentucky