This classic homemade Vanilla Ice Cream recipe is perfect all by itself, but also makes a great base for so many wonderful add-ins.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Ice cream is a year round favorite in our house. It’s a temptation, so we’ve learned to try to pass that frozen aisle while grocery shopping, and reserve appeasing our frozen addiction with truly top-notch ice cream, made with real, fresh ingredients. Sometimes we’re successful. Sometimes, not so much. We’ve found that when we eat real homemade ice cream, we don’t need as much. Real ice cream satisfies with less. I suppose, that can be said about most foods. Real is more better.

This Vanilla Ice Cream is certainly real, and certainly satisfying. It is rich and decadent and everything that vanilla ice cream should be. Master this recipe and you’ll find that you can add in all kinds of treats for a variety of flavor combinations. And this classic is excellent for topping that warm piece of pie.

If you haven’t invested in a home ice cream maker, do so. The new electric counter top versions are great for small batches, and so very easy to use. For around $50-60 dollars you can be churning up your own batch in no time.
I’m still learning with every batch I make, but here are just a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.

Homemade Ice Cream Recipe tips:

  • In my opinion a custard base is hard to beat. Unless you need to avoid eggs for dietary reasons, it’s good to know how to make a custard base. I used to be intimidated by ice cream recipes that involved making a custard base, but it’s not that difficult. They just take a little more time, but they are so worth it.
  • Don’t rush it. When making an ice cream base, chill time is more important than you think. Plan ahead to give the base enough time to chill and mingle thoroughly. Don’t cut chill time.
  • Quality ingredients make a world of difference. Real vanilla beans, fresh cream and eggs … don’t skimp on the good stuff!
  • Just as quality ingredients are important, being prepared with the correct tools on hand can help avoid frustration and problems. Invest in heatproof rubber spatulas, a whisk, a fine mesh strainer and non-reactive, heatproof bowls and pots.
  • Don’t over churn. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve over churned a batch of homemade ice cream. Over-churning causes the butterfat in the cream to begin to separate producing a weird texture. It still tastes good. It’s butterfat after all. But it’s not the best for a smooth, creamy ice cream finish. When churning, set your timer for a little less than recommended, then begin to watch for signs of soft-serve consistency. It should NOT begin sticking to the side of the bowl, and the paddle should just begin to make a path in the ice cream.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

I have also discovered a few ice cream cookbooks that have come in handy. It is always a great idea to learn from pros who have mastered their art. These are some of my favorites:

  • Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones from Bi-Rite Creamery: This book not only has fabulous recipes, but step by step instructions with pictures. Yay for pictures! This book and the next one show clearly what to look for when making a custard base. Good stuff.
  • The Perfect Scoop: My copy of this is filled to the brim with stickies. David Lebovitz shares a great variety of frozen treats, as well as step by step tips. The book really gets me thinking out of the box for flavor combinations. Speaking of David, I have to mention his recipe for Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream, found on his site. It’s over the top! One of my very, very favorites.
  • Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home: I recently visited Jeni’s while visiting friends in Ohio and was smitten with the creative selection of flavors. Jeni’s book also gives step techniques and inspiration for creating your own unique flavors.

I hope these tips help get you churning a batch of this delicious homemade Vanilla Ice Cream real soon. Enjoy!

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

(The recipe below follows more of the Bi-Rite/Sweet Cream and Sugar Cone process, while the proportions are closer to David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop Vanilla Ice Cream recipe.)

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Yield: Makes about 1 quart.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 40 minutes

This Vanilla Ice Cream is certainly real, and certainly satisfying. It's rich and decadent and everything that vanilla should be. Master this recipe and you'll find you can add in all kinds of treats for a variety.


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ice and water for ice-water bath
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or substitute one of my favorites, Vanilla Bean Paste)


  1. Combine the cream, milk, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, vanilla bean, and scraped seeds from vanilla bean in a medium nonreactive saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium-high heat until small bubbles being to appear around the edges. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for about 30 minutes.
  3. In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until smooth.
  4. Prepare an ice-water bath for chilling the base before refrigerating.
  5. Return the pan containing the cream mixture to the stove. Uncover and over medium-high heat, bring to a simmer.
  6. To temper the egg/sugar mixture, stream in 1/2 cup of warmed cream mixture, whisking constantly. Repeat with another 1/2 cup of warmed cream mixture.
  7. Slowly stream in tempered egg/cream mixture into the cream mixture in the saucepan stirring with a heatproof spatula.
  8. Continue to heat over medium, stirring constantly, gently scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir, until thickened. (The mixture should coat the back of a spatula or wooden spoon, holding a clear path when you run your finger through it. The base should be thick like tomato soup but no thicker.)
  9. Pour the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a container for chilling. Carefully set the container into the ice-water bath, and stir the base with a clean spatula or wooden spoon until cool. Remove base from ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. Overnight would be even better!
  10. Once base is totally chilled, stir in the vanilla extract until combined.
  11. Freeze base in ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions. (Remember to be careful to avoid over-churning.)
  12. For soft serve, enjoy immediately. For firmer ice cream transfer to freezer safe container, cover, and freeze for at least 4 hours.


(Adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones and The Perfect Scoop Vanilla Ice Cream recipes.)

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Originally posted February 18, 2013. Updated June 7, 2015.