Thomas Jefferson’s Ice Cream Recipe

Thomas Jefferson’s complicated legacy encompasses his roles as an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States. Jefferson was also an enthusiastic “foodie,” with a willingness to try new cuisine and an interest in kitchen gadgets.

Jefferson particularly enjoyed ice cream, a dessert he likely encountered during his time in France, from 1784 to 1789. And while Jefferson didn’t introduce the young United States to ice cream—the frozen treat was served in the American colonies as early as 1744—he helped popularize the dish and is the first known American to write down a recipe for it.

Jefferson’s ice cream recipe is one of only 10 surviving recipes in his handwriting. The website for Jefferson’s Virginia home, Monticello, includes both Jefferson’s original ice cream recipe and an updated version by Jeffersonian historian Marie Kimball.

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