A tried and true, Classic Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream recipe, with a rich, creamy and easy custard base. Perfect to build extra layers of decadent ice cream flavors on.
This homemade vanilla ice cream is a classic summer treat!
There’s nothing vanilla about Classic Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream! It’s the most popular ice cream flavor in the world for a reason. It’s a classic for a reason. And it’s my favorite ice cream flavor for a reason.
It’s a fantastic canvas on which to build extra layers of decadent, delightful ice cream flavors too. And it’s the perfect base for any kind of ice cream topping or sauce.
I’ve been making homemade vanilla ice cream for years, and today’s recipe is easily the best of all the different versions I’ve tried. And I’ve simplified the process over the years to make this classic old fashioned homemade vanilla ice cream.
But first, some exciting news!
Before I get to the recipe, I’ve got some major news to share with you, my dear readers! 🙂 We moved to Canada! Yes, the great white north – as if the US mid-west wasn’t cold enough for us before.
BUT, it’s just started to warm up, so we moved here at just the right time. I’m based in Ottawa now, and I’m loving my new city and home. I’ve been quiet on the blog front for a couple of months as you may have noticed, but we are settling in and I’m itching to get back to work again! 🙂
This classic homemade vanilla ice cream is officially the first blog recipe I’ve made in my new home! 🙂
It’s an easy recipe, and I’ve had years of practice – so I’m going to share with you guys the techniques and tips I’ve learned when making this delicious summer classic.
The basics of homemade vanilla ice cream
The base for classic vanilla ice cream only requires,
- Sugar (or any sweetener)
- Egg yolks
There are homemade vanilla ice cream recipes that don’t use eggs, or use plant-based milk. There are also “no churn” vanilla ice cream versions as well. This however is a recipe for classic vanilla ice cream that’s churned in an ice cream machine.
The good news though is that this recipe is near impossible to mess up. Really. Ice cream is such a forgiving dessert, and the ratio of ingredients can be readily adjusted, and you’ll still end up with a decadently creamy vanilla ice cream that’s sure to make your summers that much more enjoyable!
Here are some basic adjustments for this vanilla ice cream recipe
- The higher the cream amount, the lighter the resulting ice cream (because more air is incorporated during churning).
- The more egg yolks you add, the thicker and richer the ice cream (since this results in a more custard-like base).
- The higher the fat content (cream and egg yolks), the creamier the ice cream.
- The lower the fat content (milk, and fewer egg yolks or thickening agents), the icier the resulting ice cream.
To that last point – it’s important to note that the eggs in this recipe act as a thickener that yields a creamier texture. Other ways to thicken your ice cream base include xanthan gum or cornstarch (for vegan or egg-less ice cream). You could also use corn syrup as a stabilizer to prevent the ice cream from getting icy too.
Do I need to use the best ingredients to make classic vanilla ice cream?
Since ice cream is a versatile and forgiving recipe, it’s great to know that you don’t need to make ice cream with prime ingredients.
Speaking of ingredients, salt is an important one in this vanilla ice cream recipe. Add at least a pinch of salt to your ice cream base to make the flavors more prominent and balanced. If you’re like me and you like that sweet-salty combo, then you can add up to 1/2 tsp of sea salt to your base.
The ONLY exception here however is a good quality vanilla extract. That you shouldn’t skimp out on. It is to make the BEST vanilla ice cream recipe in the world after all! 🙂
Vanilla extract of vanilla bean?
You don’t have to get vanilla beans, or expensive vanilla bean pastes/extracts. A vanilla extract that you can buy from your local supermarket will certainly make fantastic vanilla ice cream. Just don’t use imitation vanilla however!
But if you do have access to some top of the line vanilla extract, you’re more than welcome to use that too if you like!
If you’re using vanilla bean, then you will need to scrape the vanilla bean caviar (or vanilla bean seeds) from the pods and add that to the custard base. I also like to add the empty pods to the base as it cooks, so it has a chance to infuse even more flavor. Because who doesn’t love more vanilla flavor in classic vanilla ice cream??
Step by step on making classic vanilla ice cream
Scrape the vanilla bean pod (if using)
Cut the bean lengthwise and use the flat part of a knife to open the bean. Then use the flat edge of your knife to scrape along the center to get all of the vanilla caviar out.
If you’re using vanilla extract or paste, you can add it directly to the base.
Prepare the base
First, separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Make sure your hands are clean and dry. If you plan on making meringue with the egg whites, take care not to get any yolk in the whites. You can use as little as four egg yolks (for a less rich custard) or as many as 8 egg yolks (for a richer, fudgier custard) to make ice cream. I like to go with 6.
Place the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla bean caviar (or extract) and salt in a saucepan and whisk until pale and thick.
Pour the full cream milk and cream into the saucepan (with the egg yolks) and whisk until fully mixed.
Next, heat the custard. Make sure to stir or whisk the base while you’re heating to prevent the eggs from curdling. You want to heat the base until it reaches 165°F – 170°F. This is the temperature at which the eggs will be pasteurized and are safe to eat.
If you don’t have a thermometer, then you can cook the custard base until it steams. But DO NOT let it come to a boil.
Then you need to let it cool down to room temperature. Some recipes like to cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap (to prevent a skin from forming on top), but I like to whisk the base occasionally as it cools down which helps with breaking the skin as well. Once at room temperature, you can chill the custard for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge.
Now the base is ready.
Making the vanilla ice cream
How long you need to chill the ice cream base depends on your ice cream maker. You do not have to let it chill overnight, but it does help. Especially with a freezer bowl churner.
The colder the ice cream base, the quicker it will churn in the freezer bowl ice cream maker. If you have a compressor ice cream machine, then you can even churn the base while it’s cool (and not chilled).
The only instance where an overnight chill is required is if you want the flavors to infuse for longer.
Once the base is churned according to manufacturer’s instructions, the ice cream is transferred into a different container and frozen for at least 2 – 4 hours or overnight until set. Then your homemade vanilla ice cream is ready to be enjoyed!
Other flavor variations for homemade vanilla ice cream
- Chocolate chip ice cream – add mini chocolate chips in the last few minutes of churning.
- Fudge swirl ice cream – add chocolate fudge sauce during the last two minutes of churning to create a ripple effect.
- Bourbon vanilla ice cream – add about 1/4 cup of bourbon to the base.
- Cookies and cream ice cream – add crushed Oreos when the ice cream is at soft serve stage.
- Fruit and nut ice cream – add chopped, roasted almonds and dried fruit during the last few minutes of churning.
My favorite way of enjoying this classic vanilla ice cream recipe though is to simply eat it out of a cone, with lots of toppings! 🙂 Bring on the chocolate fudge sauce, sprinkles, candied nuts, brittle, crushed cookies…. oh the options!
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EQUIPMENT NEEDED FOR THIS RECIPE
ICE CREAM MAKER – An inexpensive freezer bowl ice cream machine will be perfect for the average cook/baker. I have used & recommend this Cuisinart model. If you do constantly make ice cream in summer, then I would recommend investing in an ice cream maker with a built in compressor. These machines do not require to be pre-chilled and you can make many batches of ice cream over and over again. I currently own, and recommend this Cuisinart model.
Classic Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
The only homemade vanilla ice cream recipe you will need! This step by step recipe is easier, creamier and delicious. It's a classic summer treat!
EASY - A great starting point for any novice ice cream maker. Requires an ice cream machine.
US based cup, teaspoon, tablespoon measurement. Common Measurement Conversions
- 1 vanilla pod or 1 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 5 - 6 egg yolks
- ¾ cup white sugar
- Generous pinch of salt or ½ tsp for a salted vanilla ice cream
- 1 ½ cups full cream milk
- 1 ½ cups whipping cream
If you’re using vanilla bean, split the bean lengthwise and scrape off the caviar from the bean. Place the caviar in a medium-sized saucepan.
Add the 6 egg yolks into the saucepan, along with the ¾ cup (150 g) sugar, and salt. If using vanilla extract, add the 1 tbsp extract to the egg yolks instead. Whisk until you have a creamy, smooth and thick paste.
Add about ½ cup of milk first and whisk to mix well. Add the rest of the milk and 1 ½ cups cream and whisk to combine. Add the scraped vanilla pod into the milk too.
Heat over medium heat while whisking frequently. Heat the custard until the temp. registers between 165 - 170°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, then heat the custard until it steams. This takes about 10 - 12 minutes. Do NOT let it come to a boil.
Remove from the heat and let it cool down to room temperature. Whisk occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on top. Alternatively, you can cover the surface with plastic wrap (make sure the plastic wrap is touching the surface of the custard), and let it cool down.
Chill the custard base in the fridge for at least a few hours (or overnight) until completely chilled.
Strain the custard to remove the pods, but do not use a fine sieve since this will remove the vanilla bean caviar as well.
Churn the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the churned ice cream into a container and freeze for at least 2 - 4 hours until the ice cream is completely frozen.