Rich, luscious Vanilla Bean Ice Cream made with heavy cream and vanilla bean paste for the best flavor and mouthfeel.  So easy to make at home!

This versatile Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe is terrific on fruit pies, crisps, or served topped with berries or fudge sauce. You’ll love it!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream in a white and turquoise ice cream bowl on a polka dot napkin

Why You Should Make this Vanilla Ice Cream

It’s June, but it feels like August. Hot, sultry, sticky days and nights. It’s the perfect time to break out the ice cream maker.

  • To keep peace at our house, I made plain ol’ vanilla, but not any ordinary ice cream. With fudge sauce for chocoholics, caramel sauce for caramel lovers, or sweetened berries for a change of pace, this simple flavor will please everyone.
  • This Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is ultra-rich, with the ultimate creamy mouth-feel. And cold. Yup, that’s important when it’s 90º outside.
  • It’s a fun family activity! Instead of just opening the freezer to dig out a carton, show your kids that ice cream can be made at home!
  • It’s a David Lebovitz (the ice cream guru) recipe. I used his ingredients and used an abbreviated technique.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's in Vanilla Ice Cream?

Most vanilla ice creams are made with cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract or vanilla beans. There can also be milk, half and half, and salt. A no-churn vanilla ice cream will contain sweetened condensed milk.

How is Ice Cream Made?

Vanilla ice cream is made by making a vanilla custard with cream, eggs and vanilla, then chilling it overnight. Then it is churned in an ice cream maker until firm enough to scoop.

Does Vanilla Ice Cream Have Eggs?

A traditionally made vanilla ice cream contains eggs. They are used to make the custard which is churned and frozen make the ice cream. If using a no-churn recipe, no eggs are needed.

What is Custard Ice Cream?

French Ice Cream or Custard Ice Creams have a cooked egg, custard base. A custard is like a pudding made with a sweet mixture of milk, eggs and flavorings. An ice cream custard generally is made with cream, too.

How to Use an Ice Cream Maker?

The key is to read the manufacturer’s instructions that came with your appliance. Most electric ice cream makers need the insert to be very cold. Store it in the freezer so it’s always ready to go.

Manual ice cream makers use rock salt and ice to freeze the ice cream. Churning is accomplished by turning a crank, though you can now purchase old fashioned ice cream makers that have been adapted for electicity to do the churning.

Can Dogs and Cats Have Vanilla Ice Cream?

Dogs do not digest lactose, contained in dairy, very well. Though vanilla ice cream won’t harm them, it’s best not to make it a regular treat. Chocolate, as most dog owners know, is toxic to dogs, so never feed dogs an ice cream containing chocolate.

The sugar and dairy in ice cream can cause diarrhea and other digestive issues in cats, so they should not be fed ice cream, either.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream in a cone textured ice cream bowl topped with hot fudge sauce

How to Make Homemade Ice Cream

There are two methods for making ice cream, churning, and the no-churn method. No churn ice cream recipes are made with sweetened condensed milk and use a mixer instead of an ice cream maker. The more traditional method uses an ice cream maker and a rich custard base. This recipe uses the classic technique.

  1. Allow the vanilla to steep in warmed milk, sugar, and salt. This will infuse the vanilla flavoring into the milk.
  2. Whisk the yolks in a large Pyrex measuring cup with a spout. PRO-Tip: Using a heatproof liquid measuring cup makes it easy to pour the custard compared to using a mixing bowl.
  3. Slowly drizzle a bit of the hot milk into the yolks, whisking constantly.
  4. PRO-Tip: This process will temper the eggs, or warm them without cooking the eggs. If it’s done too fast, bits of scrambled eggs will be in the custard!
  5. Continue to slowly add the milk to the eggs, then return the mixture to the pan.
  6. Cook, stirring constantly, till mixture thickens (it should coat the back of a spoon). PRO-Tip: To test, dip a spoon into the mixture, remove it and draw your finger across the back of the spoon. A path across the spoon should remain if the custard is thick enough.
  7. Wash the Pyrex measuring cup and add the cream to the cup. Strain the yolk/milk mixture (to remove any cooked egg particles) into the cup full of cream and mix in vanilla.
  8. Cool at room temperature, then place the custard in a container with a lid and refrigerate overnight.
  9. To make the ice cream, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your ice cream maker. PRO-Tip: Make sure your insert has been in the freezer overnight. If it’s not super cold, the ice cream may not freeze properly.

Tips for Making Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

  • I allowed the vanilla bean paste to steep in the hot milk for a few minutes. The original recipe used a whole vanilla bean and called for an hour of infusion time. As I was starting the process at 9 PM, I hurried it up a bit, but there will be more flavor transfer if you let it steep the full hour.
  • The addition of two whole cups of cream allowed for silky, decadent ice cream. Don’t skimp or replace with half and half if you want the best results. Just have a smaller helping if you’re counting calories.
  • There was an overnight rest in the fridge, as with all the best ice cream custard recipes. So plan to make the custard the day before you want to indulge.
  • I served this with homemade hot fudge sauce to appease the chocoholics. It makes the perfect summer treat!
  • Use it to make a Brownie Sundaes with Hot Fudge.

More Homemade Ice Cream Recipes:

The Ceramic ice cream bowls and ice cream cones used in my photos were found at Anthropologie, summer 2013.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream in a white and turquoise ice cream bowl on a polka dot napkin

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Yield 1 quart

A simple, luscious ice cream flavored with real vanilla pods.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a large saucepan. When the mixture comes to a simmer, take it off the heat and stir in vanilla paste. Let steep a few minutes.
  2. Whisk yolks in a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup (or use a bowl). Slowly drizzle just a bit of the hot mixture in the yolks while whisking constantly.
  3. Continue to slowly add the milk to the eggs, then return the mixture to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, till mixture thickens (it should coat the back of a spoon).
  4. Wash the Pyrex measuring cup and add the cream to the cup. Strain the yolk/milk mixture (to remove any cooked egg particles) into the cup full of cream and mix in vanilla.
  5. Cool at room temperature, then place the custard in a container with a lid and refrigerate overnight.
  6. To make ice cream, follow the manufacturer's instructions for your ice cream maker.

Notes

Inspired by David Lebovitz.

Total time does not include overnight chilling.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 331Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 186mgSodium: 51mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 0gSugar: 22gProtein: 4g

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