This is the best Vanilla Ice Cream recipe I’ve made to date. It’s so rich and decadent, the only recipe you’ll ever need for a premium homemade vanilla ice cream. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a hard time putting down that spoon!
My absolute biggest diet downfall is ice cream. It’s my favorite food in the world and something I could NEVER give up. This recipe uses an ice cream maker and to me, it’s well worth the small investment! I’ve tried making the popular no churn ice cream with sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream, which is good (I’ve never met an ice cream I didn’t like), but this one is superb!
I use to make what I thought was the best vanilla ice cream from the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cookbook. That recipe includes two eggs but they aren’t cooked into a custard. I’ve always liked the recipe but now that I’ve made this ice cream a few times there’s no turning back. The cooked custard base gives this ice cream an exceptionally creamy, more luxurious texture, in my opinion.
I have to admit I’m not sure why I was so hesitant to make a custard base for ice cream before. It’s really not difficult to do. Just keep your heat low (don’t go higher than medium) and you won’t scramble your eggs. At least I haven’t yet. And if you happened to have a few little “chunks” don’t worry, they’ll be strained out before you freeze the ice cream base anyways.
So let’s get to it…
Vanilla Ice Cream Ingredients:
The majority of recipes I’ve come across for basic vanilla ice cream had either 4, 5 or 6 egg yolks. I used 6 (hey, I’m making a premium vanilla ice cream here!)
The heavy cream to whole milk ratio in premium ice cream is typically 2:1. Many recipes have some variation of this ratio or used half and half instead of milk. I kept to the ratio of 2:1 cream/milk.
I used 3/4 cups of sugar which wis pretty standard in many of the recipes I’ve seen and that’s the amount I’ve always used when making homemade ice cream. I haven’t experimented yet with other sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, nor have I decreased this amount to 1/2 cup, but I’ve seen several recipes with less sugar.
I made a batch with vanilla extract and one with vanilla beans. Both were equally delicious so if you don’t care about seeing the little specs of vanilla beans in your ice cream, go for the extract. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper. But do use real, quality vanilla, not imitation vanilla. [Update: I made this again and used 1 vanilla bean and extract, even better!]
What’s the difference between ice cream and gelato?
If you used 4 egg yolks and reversed the ratio of cream to milk to 1:2, then you’d have gelato! Having said that, I’ve seen all sorts of recipes for gelato that use various number of egg yolks, no egg yolks, cream, no cream, etc. From what I’ve read, the main difference between ice cream and gelato not only is the fat content, but also the amount of air that’s whipped into it as it’s churning. Ice cream is churned at a faster rate which incorporates more air, increases the volume and is a bit “fluffier,” while gelato is churned slower, incorporating less air and produces a denser, more intensely flavored product. In fact, a gelato machine is different from an ice cream machine. Since the typical home ice cream machine churns at one speed, you don’t really get the variation like professional machines would. So if you’re using a home ice cream machine and want to make gelato, you might want to try and churn it a bit less time to reduce the amount of air incorporated in it. Gelato is also served at a warmer temperature than ice cream.
Basically, if you want a less fat (lower calorie) version of ice cream use the gelato proportions, I guarantee you love it too. For a creamy, premium, and what I think is the best vanilla ice cream, without any other goodies added in, I prefer the more eggs and cream version best…why does that not surprise me?
- 6 egg yolks
- ¾ C. sugar
- 2 C. heavy cream
- 1 C. whole milk
- 1 Tbls. good vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean (split and scraped) - opt.*
- Briefly whisk egg yolks in small bowl, set aside.
- In small saucepan, heat cream, milk and sugar until sugar is dissolved and little bubbles are starting to form around edge of saucepan.
- While whisking, slowly add about a quarter cup of the milk/cream/sugar mixture to bowl with the egg yolks. This is to temper the eggs and raise the temperature of the egg yolks without scrambling them. Add a bit more cream mixture and whisk again. Repeat.
- While continuing to whisk, slowly add the egg mixture to the sauce pan with remaining milk/cream/sugar mixture and continue to stir while heating until mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Swipe your finger across the mixture on the back of the spoon and if the edges stay put, it's ready. Takes about 5 minutes, more if your temperature is lower. If you have a candy thermometer cook until 170º
- Strain mixture into bowl and set in ice bath for about 30 minutes to cool down (stir occasionally). Store custard base in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight to thoroughly chill.
- Stir vanilla extract into ice cream custard base.
- Pour custard base in ice cream maker and process according to your ice cream maker's instructions. For me, it's 20 minutes.
- Store ice cream in container and let freeze several hours or overnight to firm up.
Like this recipe? Pin this for later!