Why Ice Cream Is the Most-Patriotic Dessert on July 4th

Turns out one of the Founding Fathers had a real sweet tooth for the stuff.

By: Emily Lee


Photo by: JackJelly ©JackJelly

JackJelly, JackJelly

Still deciding which dessert to serve at your July 4th party? This piece of little-known American trivia proves that one choice is better — or at least more patriotic — than the rest:

Thomas Jefferson, the key author of the Declaration of Independence, is also credited as the author of the first-known ice cream recipe recorded by an American. Although his recipe for classic vanilla is undated, scholars believe Jefferson hand-wrote it during his time in France (1784 to 1789) — and that the famously food-obsessed Founding Father likely had his first taste of the stuff during his travels abroad. In fact, Jefferson loved the cool, creamy concoction so much that he brought his recipe back to the States and served it to guests at the President’s House in Washington on many occasions, helping to cement its place in the American culinary tradition.

Falling in love with ice cream was easy, no doubt, but making it in the late-18th century was an entirely different story. Even though Jefferson’s recipe calls for just four ingredients, it requires a degree of effort that most contemporary gourmands would not deign to consider. We’ll let the recipe speak for itself.

Thomas Jefferson’s Vanilla Ice Cream

2 bottles of good cream

6 yolks of eggs

1/2 lb sugar

1 vanilla bean


Mix the yolks and sugar. Put the cream on a fire in a casserole, first putting in a stick of vanilla. When near boiling take it off and pour it gently into the mixture of eggs and sugar. Stir it well.

Put it on the fire again stirring it thoroughly with a spoon to prevent it’s sticking to the casserole. When near boiling, take it off and strain it thro’ a towel.

Put it in the sabottiere. Then set it in ice an hour before it is to be served.

Put into the ice a handful of salt. Put salt on the coverlid of the sabottiere and cover the whole with ice. Leave it still half a quarter of an hour. Then turn the sabottiere in the ice 10 minutes. Open it to loosen with a spatula the ice from the inner sides of the sabottiere. Shut it & replace it in the ice.

Open it from time to time to detach the ice from the sides. When well taken (prise) stir it well with the spatula.

Put it in moulds, justling it well down on the knee. Then put the mould into the same bucket of ice. Leave it there to the moment of serving it.

To withdraw it, immerse the mould in warm water, turning it well till it will come out and turn it into a plate.

Note: A sabottiere (“sorbetiere” in modern French) is the inner canister of what’s now known as an ice cream maker.

There you have it — the recipe that helped spread the gospel of cool, creamy, icy goodness across the nation. We’re feeling pretty thankful for no-churn recipes right about now — and, you know, electricity.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

Celebrate our Founding Foodie with these easy homemade ice cream recipes, just in time for your July 4th celebration:



Photo by: Kat Teutsch

Kat Teutsch





Food Stylist: Stephana Bottom Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks ,Food Stylist: Stephana Bottom Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks

Photo by: Andrew Purcell

Andrew Purcell

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved



FNK AVOCADO ICE CREAM Food Network Kitchen Food Network Avocado, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Lemon Juice, Fine Salt, Heavy Cream

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

entwine, May 2011

Photo by: Yunhee Kim ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Yunhee Kim, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo: Jack Jelly/Getty Images

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