Dondurma with berris, sour cherry syrup, and toasted walnauts

What is Dondurma Ice Cream?

Dondurma is a style of ice cream traditionally made in Turkey. It is delicious, stretchy, chewy, and sweet, comes in various flavours, and the texture is unlike any other store-bought ice cream. The main ingredients are milk, sugar, Salep, and mastic – an aromatic resin. The two main ingredients that make all of the magic happen are Salep, a type of flour made from the root of the early purple orchid, and Mastic, Arab gum, which has a slight aroma of anise, mint, and fennel. The proportion of Salep to mastic will influence the final product’s texture. Increasing the amount of the orchid flower and skipping or putting just a little bit of the mastic makes the texture denser, and you can eat it with a fork and a knife. Salep or Sahlap is made from specific orchid tubers native to Turkey and contains a nutritious, starchy polysaccharide called glucomannan.

Salep is used not just for ice cream but also to make hot milk beverages, which are very popular in the Middle East.

The first time I had Dondurma was when I was a little child, but at that time, I didn’t know the name or type of ice cream I was having. I enjoyed it.

Many years later, around 2010, when I was working on edible and solid cocktails, I came across an ice cream post from Dave Arnold at about Turkish ice cream, which brought back childhood memories and good times. After reading the article, I had to make the Dondurma. I wanted to create ice cream for adults without using any expensive equipment, like a stand mixer or liquid nitrogen, as in the post by Dave Arnold. I wanted to see if I could do it at a minimum expense so anyone could do it at home.

If you are looking for more detailed information on the history of the Dondurma cream, I came across two sites: Instanbulfood and

I dropped everything I was doing and started looking for the ingredients I needed. I didn’t realize how hard it was to find Salep and Mastic; none of the major store chains, Amazon or eBay, had it for sale.

It took me about two months of searching the Internet without finding where I could buy the Salep. I used Guar gum and Gellan gum as substitutes, but it wasn’t the taste I remembered or the desired stretchiness or elasticity I hoped for. Finally, I found a vendor in Lebanon who was shipping internationally. I ordered a couple of packages. The product was sold as Sahlap, and I couldn’t see the ingredients on the box. Still, I didn’t want to wait anymore, so I went for it. While waiting for the product to arrive, I continued experimenting with the ice cream recipe using milk, cream, sugar, corn starch, and mastic; at that point, it wasn’t about the taste but the texture. Here is the recipe I was playing with.

2 cups of milk
1 cup 35% cream
3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tbsp cornstarch
0.3 g mastic – make sure you are using the food grade one.
1 tbsp sugar – used for mastic preparation


  • Warm the milk, cream, and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
  • Mix the cornstarch with 1 tbsp milk to dissolve it.
  • Stir everything together.
  • Add the vanilla and the prepared mastic*.
  • Simmer for 10 min.
  • Keep stirring.
  • Put in the fridge or over an ice bath to chill the mixture.
  • Put it in the ice cream maker and follow the instructions for your particular equipment.

Mastic preparation

  • Put the mastic in the freezer for 20 min.
  • Mix the mastic with 2 tbsp sugar in a spice grinder or use a pestle and mortar.
  • It needs to be crushed in a powder-like texture.

The final result was really nice ice cream, with a specific mastic aroma and a smooth texture without ice particles, but it wasn’t elastic and stretchy. I guess I needed Salep after all, and maybe I should also increase the amount of the mastic.

Finally, after a few weeks of waiting, my order arrived; I also stopped by the local Greek store to buy more mastic resin. They looked like beats, half-sized rice grains, in a small package. Now, I am ready to proceed with my Dondurma obsession.

Yield: 5

Dondurma - Turkish Ice Cream

Dondurma elastic ice cream

How to make stretchy mastic ice cream

Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 21 minutes


  • 1 cup of Milk 2%
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 30 gr. Salep
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla 
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 gr. Mastic*
  • 2 oz of Bourbon or liquor of your choice.
  • .5% gellan – optional for Brule ice cream


  1. Mix the salep and milk to dissolve it.
  2. Add the cream, sugar, and vanilla.
  3. Stir constantly over low heat.
  4. Add the prepared mastic* and keep stirring on low heat.
  5. Use a soup ladle and start mixing and scooping out at the same time some of the mix and pouring it back in until you see it starts thickening. This step might take you between 20 to 40 min.*
  6. Transfer into a bowl, let it cool, and put it in the fridge until you can freeze it using an ice cream machine.
  7. The texture feels stringy and elastic. This is how it should be.
  8. Follow the instructions of your ice cream maker until the desired consistency is achieved.
  9. Add the Bourbon 5 min before the ice cream is ready. Skip this step if it is for kids.
  10. Transfer into an already-cooled freezer-safe container.
  11. When ready, remove the ice cream from the freezer and let it sit before cutting and serving. The cutting part will depend on how much salep was used; the more used, the firmer it will become.
  12. If the ice cream is not that firm, stirring it very well after a few minutes at room temperature and stretching it, which will increase its stretchiness and elasticity. The stand mixer will be a great help here.

If using Gellan. See this post also Brulee Dondurma Ice Cream.

  1. Whisk vigorously to disperse the gellan in some of the milk
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring (to hydrate the gellan).
  3. Simmer for 1 minute (this ensures the gellan is hydrated). Then, proceed with the rest of the recipe. You might have to decrease the salep to achieve the desired texture.

Without Gellan, you can use a blow torch to caramelize the top and serve immediately. With Gellan, the ice cream will be
more heat stable.


  • *Put the Mastic in the freezer for 20 min. Use only food-grade mastic, not the one used in the construction.
  • After that, mix it with a bit of sugar and use a spice grinder or mortar/pestle to grind everything well.
  • In step 5 - using a stand mixer - the kitchen robot will save lots of time and effort, but I wanted to do it without spending any money on additional equipment, like in the old days.
  • The Salep used in Turkey is not allowed to be exported. The one I bought had some starch added, but the result was still good.

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