Turkish ice cream is called dondurma. Besides milk and sugar it also contains:
Salep- a flour made of ground orchids and
Mastic- a resin that produces a gum.

Because of these ingredients dondurma has a unique texture and flavor. The flavor is described as piney or floral while the texture is uniquely gummy. It melts very slowly because of the gum and sometimes it is thick enough to eat with a fork and knife.

Unfortunately, it seems like salep is rare and is no longer exported from Turkey.

My question is twofold: Where can I find Salep and Mastic? My normal online sources have yielded nothing.
Are there more accessible ingredients that I can substitute to approximate dondurma?

  • 1
    Have you tried a local Turkish restaurant? They might be able to get you some of each ingredient. Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 5:54
  • @Elendil- I'll give it a try. Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 12:12

2 Answers 2


Salep is essentially glucomannan; you can subsitutue Salep with Konjac GM (not konjac flour as it might impart a fishy flavor). And this is the key ingredient in Dondurma.

When it comes to mastic, you can try to omit it as it's mainly for flavor. Not all Turkish Dondurma is with mastic; you could simply use vanilla...

Note: I’ve made Dondurma simply like this, and it turned out almost as authentic as it was in Turkey.

Dry blend the sugar (10% of milk by weight) and KGM (0.6% of milk by weight) and whisk into cold milk.

Keep it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

In a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment beat the hot mixture for 20+ and until it cools down to room temperature.

Transfer to a bowl and put it into the freezer, every 30 minutes take out and whisky a bit, until it’s quite solid.

Keep it in the freezer for another 12 hours. And serve.

  • Yep, it looks like glucomannan and starch are the primary components, so konjac GM and some cornstarch would probably work best. I wonder what else is in there though. Probably some protein and likely some minerals and perhaps some flavoring compounds, as is common for orchids, too.
    – bob1
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 21:12

This article from the BBC indicates that it's been illegal to export salep for quite a while.

This article indicates that cornflour is frequently used as a substitution for salep.

The same author makes four other interesting points about salep. First, the elastic quality of these ‘stretchy’ ice creams is not, as some writers state, due to the presence of mastic. It is true that mastic has elastic qualities and that it is often an ingredient of these ice creams. But it is there for flavouring purposes; the stretchiness of the ice cream is due to the salep which it contains.

Secondly, salep itself is almost tasteless and its thickening qualities are not readily distinguishable from those of arrowroot, potato starch, and cornflour. Indeed packets of ‘instant salep’ list cornflour as an ingredient, along with salep and sugar. The questions implicit in these observations leap to the mind; all the more so when one reflects that Claudia Roden (1985) considers that the substitution of cornflour for expensive salep is legitimate (and adds, incidentally, that Egyptians now commonly add grated coconut to the confection).

  • 1
    I have to admit that I am skeptical. If the mastic has no effect on texture and the salep can be substituted with cornstarch then how would it be any different from gelato? Dondurma is very elastic- much more so than gelato. Still- I'm going to give it a try and post back how it goes. Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 0:46
  • 2
    I'm very curious to hear how it works out. I also saw a few things that hinted at using lavender in place of salep, but without ever having tasted it, I can't guess if that's a horrible or brilliant idea.
    – bgporter
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 13:27

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