Turkish Ice Cream Recipe: Dondurma

How to Make Turkish Ice Cream

Ice cream, of course, is a favourite summer treat all over the world. However, authentic Turkish dondurma is very different from the ice cream made in other parts of the world (see our homemade Turkish ice cream recipe below).  Salep powder and mastic (an aromatic resin from mastic trees endemic to Turkey and Greece) added to Maraş dondurma made in Turkey gives this unusual ice cream a unique flavour and the ability for it to be stretchy, like gum.

Turks prepare Maraş ice cream mostly from goats milk, sugar, salep (wild orchid root powder) and mastic (aromatic resin). Turkey’s Kahramanmaraş region first produced Turkish ice cream, hence it is known as Maraş Ice Cream.

According to Turkish legend, it was first discovered as an extension of a type of iced dessert called “karsambaç”  in the Ottoman palaces. As the legend goes, there was a shopkeeper from Maraş, known as Osman Ağa, who sold salep (wild orchid root powder) to Ottoman palaces and noble mansions.(salep was accepted as an aphrodisiac in Ottoman times) After the day’s sales, Osman Ağa buried his leftover salep powder in a sugar and milk mixture. The next day, Osman Ağa noticed the change in the consistency of the salep;  that the mixture of milk, salep and sugar had grown thick and gum-like. Of course, he tastes it – and realised that although the consistency is similar to karsambaç, the flavour was unique. He shared his new find, known as salepli karsambaç, which many people grow to like very much. And thus, Maraş dondurma was born.

Maraş dondurma (Turkish ice cream) is distinctive in terms of taste and smell. It differs in its aroma, essence, hard yet flexible consistency, bright white colour, its resistance to melting and its ability to remain at low temperature for a long time. A knife and fork is sometimes used to eat Turkish ice cream. Maraş dondurma is one of Turkey’s signature desserts, and its name has become synonymous with the name of the city, Maraş, for producing delicious dairy products. It has acquired an important place in Turkish dessert culture.


  • 1 cup of sugar.
  • 5 cups of milk.
  • 1 teaspoon salep.

*Turkish ice-cream needs to be made a day ahead to ensure it’s frozen and ready to eat.
Salep is a flour made from the tubers of orchids.


  1. Pour 5 cups of milk into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Add sugar into boiled milk and continue boiling. In a small bowl, mix the salep with water and melt.
  3. Slowly pour the salep that you melted into boiling sugar milk and continue mixing. It is important that salep dissolves completely in milk. For this reason, stir until the the salep is completely melted in milk.
  4. Remove the boiling milk from the fire and stir and try to cool it. Pour the cooling milk into a proper pot and place it in the freezer.
  5. As the ice cream begins to freeze after 15-20 minutes, stir it with an iron spoon. (Recommended for more flavoring)
  6. Repeat stirring every 15-20 minutes until the ice cream gets the consistency of the gum.
  7. When Maraş ice cream becomes stretchy and hard in texture, you can take it out of the freezer and enjoy it.

* Salep powder mixture is available from selected specialist delis. You can find it sold at Spice Market and Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.