Candied Walnut Gelato

Candied Walnut Gelato
Candied Walnut Gelato

If you have been around here for a while, you know how much we love gelato! And making gelato at home is way better than anything you can buy in the stores in the US. This walnut flavored gelato has been on our minds for a while and we finally made a version that is not only tasty, but absolutely irresistible! This homemade Candied Walnut Gelato is great to make during fall to top on pies or enjoy alone!

Why Walnuts?

Walnuts have a great taste that make them worthy of a gelato! The inspiration behind this recipe came from one of our friends who visited Italy and asked us to recreate her favorite gelato she had on her trip. Challenge accepted!

We candied the walnuts since they can have a slightly bitter taste when used raw or even toasted. This method of candying walnuts is so easy and performs the task perfectly for this application. It gives the walnuts an extra sweet flavor and counteracts their natural bitterness.

We tried this recipe with black walnuts as well, but we found that the flavor wasn’t exactly what we wanted for this recipe. The flavor of black walnuts is pretty aggressive and earthy so we opted to go with regular walnuts instead.

Walnut Extract

To achieve the overall nutty flavor in the cream itself, we turned to a Black Walnut extract. Walnut extract can be a bit difficult to find at stores, but it can be ordered easily online. It is worth getting for this gelato recipe and it would be great in other dessert recipes as well. The flavor of the walnuts really comes through in this gelato and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Gelato vs Ice Cream

Although gelato is the Italian word that translates to ‘ice cream,’ they do have some important differences. This mainly comes down to the fat content and the way they are churned. You can read more HERE. But in general making homemade ice cream and gelato involves pretty much the same ingredients, although the proportions are a bit different.

Do I need a machine to make gelato?

We highly recommend a machine to make gelato, and generally most machines or ice cream maker attachments will work here. Most stand mixers have attachments like THIS but a standalone ice cream machine can be a good option too. 

You can make gelato by hand, but we must warn you that the texture will not be as creamy as making it in a machine. It will still be delicious either way though, so if you want to make it by hand, you can read more about it HERE.

Worried about using raw eggs? Make a custard base instead!

If you are concerned about your eggs based on the source, or uncomfortable using raw egg yolks in general, we recommend that you make a custard base first as follows:

  • Add the cream, milk, salt, and 1/3 cup of the sugar in a saucepan and gently heat on low, stirring frequently.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until smooth and set aside.
  • When milk just begins to bubble, remove from heat and VERY SLOWLY whisk it into the egg mixture. If you do it too fast the eggs will curdle. Once combined, return to heat over low to medium-low and gently stir until mixture has thickened slightly and coats the back of a spoon (approximately 3-4 min).
  • Remove from heat and add the walnut and vanilla extracts, stirring to incorporate it thoroughly. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes before placing in your ice cream/gelato maker.


We hope that you enjoy this recipe for Candied Walnut Gelato! If you give it a try, leave us a comment below or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!

Candied Walnut Gelato
Candied Walnut Gelato

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Candied Walnut Gelato

Course: DessertCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Churning Time


Total time




  • For the Walnuts
  • 1 cup 1 walnut pieces

  • ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp sugar

  • 1 Tbsp 1 + 1 tsp unsalted butter

  • For the Gelato
  • 1 cup 1 heavy cream

  • 1 cup 1 whole milk

  • Pinch kosher salt

  • 1 cup 1 sugar, divided

  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 1 ¼ tsp walnut extract

  • 3 large 3 egg yolks (see note)


  • Candy the Walnuts
  • Warm a skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the sugar and walnuts, and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. The sugar should have caramelized, but do not let the mixture burn. Remove the walnuts to a sheet of parchment paper and let cool – separating the nuts from each other as much as you can. Once cooled, you can put the walnuts in a plastic container and shake them to further separate them from each other.
  • Make the Gelato
  • Combine the cream, milk, salt, and 1/3 cup of the sugar in one bowl and whisk. In another bowl, combine the remaining 2/3 cup of sugar and the egg yolks and whisk. Add a little of the milk mixture (about 2 Tbsp) to help cream the egg yolks and sugar. Once the egg yolks have become lighter and fluffy, add the remaining milk mixture, vanilla extract, and walnut extract, and whisk to thoroughly combine.
  • Place the contents into your ice cream or gelato machine and mix per your machine’s instructions until thickened and creamy. Our gelato machine takes about 40 minutes to make this recipe. Add the candied walnuts into the mixture for the last minute or two of churning – just to incorporate them into the gelato. For best results, place gelato in a freezer safe container and store in the freezer overnight before eating.


  • If you don’t want to use raw eggs, see instructions for making a custard base in the blog text above.

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