Dondurma recipe: original Turkish ice cream recipe

dondurma recipe Turkish ice cream

Summertime is ice cream time - period. 


But anyone who has ever been to Turkey will have noticed that ice cream is different in Turkey. Turkish ice cream is less creamy, but much stickier than usual. You will notice this when the ice cream seller pulls the Maras dondurma a meter in length and it forms strings like chewing gum. That's what makes Turkish ice cream so special. 


We love Turkish ice cream too. While most of Istanbul's ice cream stores close their doors in the winter season, small ice cream stores sprout up in the summer. The same ice cream store is usually not in the same place. So one day you go for a walk as usual and realize "Aah, new ice cream vendor". 


But Turkish ice cream culture is very different to what we are used to. Ice cream coups with fruit, banana splits, spaghetti ice cream - nope, non-existent. There are usually no seats in the ice cream store either. Instead, you get your Turkish ice cream, as usual, in a cone or a cup. What you can always have it topped with are chocolate and nuts. The ice cream scoop is optionally dipped in melted chocolate and hazelnuts. This gives you a layer of chocolate around the Turkish ice cream.

dondurma recipe Turkish ice cream

But you can also easily make Turkish ice cream yourself. So this time we have ventured into Turkish ice cream and today we warmly recommend our dondurma ice cream recipe.


What is dondurma?

Traditional ice cream (dondurma) is called maras in turkey. Maraş (marash) ice cream originally comes from Kahramanmaras in eastern Turkey. It is characterized by its sticky texture, which is almost reminiscent of chewing gum. So much so that Turkish ice cream can be found in strings. But the consistency is also the reason why Maras ice cream is so popular in Turkey. This is because Turkish ice cream melts much more slowly and can therefore withstand the high temperatures in summer. Another special feature of real Maras ice cream is that it is made from goat's milk. We have used fresh milk for our Maras ice cream recipe. You can of course choose what you use to make the Turkish ice cream recipe.

dondurma ice cream recipe
dondurma ice cream recipe

And the secret of the chewing gum consistency of Turkish ice cream? Unbelievable, but true: orchids! More precisely, the grounded product of dried orchid root tubers. This powder is also better known as 'salep' or "sahlab" which is why Turkish ice cream is often called 'sahlab ice cream'.


You may know salep as an oriental hot drink that is deliciously creamy and vanilla-flavored. The drink actually owes its creaminess and taste to salep, i.e. the root tubers.


Not all salep is the same: what you need to know about Turkish ice cream

It's not always easy to find real pure salep in Germany. Here in Turkey, the light-colored powder is easy to buy in the Aktar (spice store). So if you are on vacation in Turkey, we highly recommend that you ask for "saf salep" at your nearest spice bazaar. This is the pure flour of orchid tubers.


The salep powder you find in Turkish supermarkets, on the other hand, is just an instant powder with a mixture of sugar, flavors, milk powder and thickener. As a rule, it does not even contain a small proportion of real salep.

dondurma recipe

Where can you buy Salep?

As already mentioned, it is very difficult to find real Salep in the West. However, you can easily find it online here*. Incidentally, the high price per kilo is normal, as salep is also an expensive ingredient in Turkey. However, if you want to achieve the consistency of chewing gum, only real salep will help you. The instant powders only add flavor - unfortunately nothing else. Once you have salep at home, you can use it to make the fragrant, hot milk drink "Salep" as well as ice cream.

The story behind Maras ice cream

Who actually came up with the idea of using orchid powder to make ice cream? It is said that during the Ottoman period, a man known as "Maraşlı Osman Ağa" sold wild orchids or salep. One winter day, the aforementioned Marasli Osman from the Kahramanmaras region mixed the leftover salep with sugar and milk and buried it in the snow. When he looked at the mixture the next day, he noticed a unique texture and decided to publicize his new creation. This is how "salepli karsambaç", now known as Maras Dondurma (Maras ice cream), was born. 


Side info: Salepli Karsambac means "Karsambac with salep". Karsambac is a Turkish ice cream specialty that is very easy to make in winter. Clean snow is poured into a bowl and covered with syrup, grape molasses, rose water, honey, jam or the like. So with salep, it's literally "salep ice cream".


Today, however, it is not only the actual maras ice cream, i.e. milk ice cream, that is made in this way. Instead, all Turkish ice cream, from strawberry to pistachio, is made with salep.

How do you prepare the Turkish ice cream recipe?

It couldn't be simpler. Bring the milk, sugar and Salep to the boil while stirring, leave to cool and then place in an ice cream maker or container. If you are making the Salep ice cream without an ice cream maker, mix briefly with a blender every two hours. Repeat this three times to prevent crystals from forming.

Turkish ice cream recipe

And what does Turkish ice cream taste like?

Completely different and incredibly delicious. The consistency is rather firm and sticky. What stands out is the delicious flavor, which is really only achieved through the salep. Otherwise, all you need for the Maras ice cream recipe is milk and sugar to taste. Pure salep already has a very fine aroma, which it also imparts to the Turkish ice cream. The smell and taste are reminiscent of vanilla, cinnamon and flowers - a taste sensation and a must for every milk ice cream fan.


Dondurma recipe: original Turkish ice cream recipe


  • 2 liters of whole milk (goat's milk is also fine)
  • 1 tbsp pure salep*
  • 250 grams/1,2 cups of sugar (or to taste)


Step 1: Stir all the ingredients in a pot until smooth and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly. When the mixture comes to the boil, you will notice that it thickens.

Step 2: If the ice cream mixture is thick, remove the pan from the heat and leave everything to cool. Now pour the mixture for the Turkish ice cream into the ice cream maker or a freezer container and place it in the freezer.

Step 3: If you are making the dondurma recipe in a container, mix the ice cream briefly every two hours. Then leave the Turkish ice cream in the freezer for one night.

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