Helado de Lucuma

A recipe for lucuma ice cream, similar to the version served at Helados OVNI, a roadside artisanal ice cream shop south of Lima, Peru.

“Lucuma is one of the signature fruits of Peru (it is also found in northern Chile). Lucuma, with a green skin and orange, yoke like flesh, is found along the lower slopes of the western side of the Andes. The flavor, particularly in sweets, is unlike any fruit you have ever encountered. It’s somewhere between pumpkin and maple syrup. I use the frozen pulp in cocktails sometimes (lucuma pulp, pisco or vodka, amaretto, touch of cream, blended with ice), but helado de lucuma, aka as ice cream, is where it really shines.

Pronounced “loo-koo-mah,” the eponymous ingredient is sometimes called eggfruit for its dry, orange-yellow flesh, which is similar in texture and color to a hard-boiled egg yolk but tastes more like a cross between punpkin and brown sugar. Found only in the lower altitudes of Peru and Chile, green-skinned, baseball-sized lucuma has long been a staple of the indigenous cuisine; it is depicted on the ceramics of Peru’s ancient coastal civilizations. It has a thin shell that peels off when ripe and a brown seed.

On the side of the Pan-American Highway south of Lima in the town of Chilca (Kilometer 63.5) is Helados OVNI, a small ecological ice cream stand that sells Peru’s most famous lucuma ice cream. Selling just one flavor (lucuma, with or without pecans), the brightly painted ice cream shop is named after the Spanish acronym for an unidentified flying object (sightings of which are frequently reported in the area), is plastered with UFO paraphernalia and a dirt covered E.T. will welcome you.

In Peru, lucuma ice cream regularly outsells strawberry and chocolate. Even the fast food chains like Bembo’s have it on their menus. Pinkberry, who launched in Peru a few years ago, quickly realized they would have to add a lucuma yogurt flavor in order to compete. Lucuma is also used to make pastas, mousses, and smoothies.

Frozen lucuma pulp can be purchased from Hispanic supermarkets in the United States. Several import companies now sell the pulp, including Goya and Peru Food Import. Lucuma powder is also available and may be used.” – Nicholas Gill


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup lucuma (thawed)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Makes 1 quart


  1. Heat 1 1/3 cups of the cream in the top of a double boiler over simmering water over medium heat.
  2. While the cream is heating, whisk egg yolks, sugar, and corn syrup in a metal mixing bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then whisk mixture back into the remaining cream in the double boiler. Cook while stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture begins to thicken and has a slight boil, about 15 minutes.
  3. Strain into a clean bowl and place into an ice bath. Add lucuma pulp, vanilla, and remaining cream and whisk until blended. Refrigerate until cold, about 4-5 hours. Process according to manufacturer’s instructions.
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