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Thomas Jefferson's Vanilla Ice Cream

Our third president's 1780 recipe for dessert

If you can't make it at home, visit Mount Rushmore for a taste.

In addition to signing the Declaration of Independence and being our nation’s third president, Thomas Jefferson is also (most importantly?) credited with introducing the newly formed country to ice cream.

Mount Rushmore is honoring Jefferson’s memory by sourcing his vanilla ice cream recipe from the Library of Congress and serving it yearround at the park’s Memorial Team Ice Cream Shop. The 1780 recipe is credited for igniting Americans’ passion for the dairy dessert after Jefferson scooped the treat at Monticello.

So, break out your sabotiere, the inner canister of the original ice cream maker that was chilled in a bucket of ice. Haagen Dazs may not make ice cream like this anymore, but you can.


  • 2 bottles of good cream
  • 6 yolks of eggs
  • 1/2 Pound sugar
  • Stick of vanilla


Put the cream on a fire, first putting in a stick of vanilla When near boiling, take off the fire and pour it gently into a mixture of eggs and sugar, stirring well Put it on the fire again stirring thoroughly with a spoon to prevent it from sticking to the dish When near boiling, take it off and strain through a towel Put the mixture in a Sabottiere and set it in ice (sprinkled with a handful of salt) an hour before it is to be served Put salt on the coverlid of the Sabottiere and cover the whole with ice for 7 minutes Turn the Sabottiere in the ice 10 minutes, and when well taken, stir well with the spatula Put the mixture in moulds, which will sit in the same bucket of ice until serving