Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

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This Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream recipe is made with eggs and heavy cream to get a rich and smooth custard base. This homemade ice cream recipe has a heavenly vanilla flavor, a divinely smooth and creamy texture and freezes beautifully for ice cream cones and sundaes.

Knowing how to make old fashioned vanilla ice cream in an ice cream maker is very helpful when the weather starts warming up. It’s perfect for a classic vanilla ice cream cone or a Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich! Drizzle with homemade Butterscotch Sauce! Level up with my Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream, Dark Chocolate Ice Cream and Raspberry Ice Cream recipes!

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream in a bread pan with an ice cream scooping spooning out a portion.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Best vanilla ice cream. There’s something about homemade vanilla ice cream that tastes so much better than store-bought. Is it the labor of love that went into it or the building anticipation as you wait for it to freeze before scooping? Either way, this recipe is going to become a huge hit in your house! One reader said, “This vanilla ice cream recipe will forever be my vanilla ice cream recipe. I have NEVER had homemade ice cream this creamy and delicious!”
  • Ice cream maker vanilla ice cream. Unlike the no-churn ice cream recipes, this recipe is churned, which means it’s light, fluffy, and super creamy. The churning keeps the forming ice crystals small and smooth. It also thickens the texture due to the air churned into it.
  • Perfect on its own — perfect with mix-ins! The vanilla flavor is so good on its own and is a great recipe to build off of with mix-ins and add-ons. See my Recipe Tips section for ideas. One reader left a comment saying, “I’ve made this recipe several times now and each time feels like a little miracle! I’ve had fun with different mix ins, from oreo’s to fresh raspberries and chocolate chips. It’s a bit dangerous to know how to make ice cream THIS GOOD, that turns out even better than the local favorite go-to!!”

Ingredient Notes

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream ingredients portioned into glass bowls, on a silver baking sheet.
  • Egg Yolks: Homemade ice cream with eggs produces a custard-based ice cream. Egg yolks (and churning) create a rich and creamy texture. The eggs are tempered (slowly elevating the temperature while stirring) when you pour the hot cream into it. It will melt the sugar and gradually cook the eggs (without turning into scrambled eggs).
  • Granulated Sugar: When streaming in the hot cream, this will help melt the sugar granules to create a smooth texture.
  • Salt: This is just enough salt to enhance the flavor.
  • Heavy Cream: Heavy cream and heavy whipping cream can be used interchangeably. Do not use half and half. Half and half is half cream/half milk so it doesn’t have a high enough fat content.
  • Whole Milk: You’ll want to use whole milk because it has a higher fat content than 2% or 1%. When making homemade vanilla ice cream, it’s all about getting the proper fat content from the milk and cream + the tempered eggs.
  • Vanilla Extract: The vanilla flavor is obvious and works with the egg ratio for a vanilla custard without a heavy egg flavor.For an even more prominent vanilla flavor you can use vanilla bean paste.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Beat the sugar and eggs yolks. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg yolks, sugar, and salt. Mix on medium speed until pale yellow and light and airy, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Heat cream and milk. In a large pan, heat the cream and milk over medium-low heat. If you have an instant read thermometer, the mixture should reach 155-160°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, it will be hot but not boiling!
Sugar and egg yolks in a metal mixing bowl.
A light yellow fluffy mixture being mixed by a stand mixer.
  1. Stream in the warm cream. With the mixer on low, stream the warm cream into the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, about 3 minutes.
A white hot liquid being poured into a Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream custard mixture in a stand mixer.
  1. Heat the egg and cream mixture. Next, pour the cream/egg mixture back into the large pan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Heat to 155-160°F. If you don’t have a thermometer heat it until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. It should NOT boil, however, a few bubbles may come up along the edges. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  2. Strain to remove any small chunks. Set a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Pour the warm mixture into the bowl through the fine mesh strainer.
  3. Chill. Cool the mixture over an ice bath, stirring every few minutes. Then place the mixture in the refrigerator until completely chilled.
  4. Churn. Set up your ice cream machine according to the manufacturers directions. With the machine running, add the mixture in a slow steady stream. Churn according to the directions.
A light yellow vanilla ice cream mixture coating the back of a spoon.
An ice cream maker churning Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.
  1. Freeze. Transfer to an airtight container and place in the freezer for several hours to firm up. Serve with your choice of toppings, as a vanilla ice cream cone or a vanilla ice cream sandwich!
Creamy vanilla ice cream in a dark colored bread pan on a light grey background with spoons next to the pan.

Recipe Tips

Properly freeze the ice cream maker bowl for the correct amount of time (see the manufacturing instructions). I would freeze it for even a day longer to really make sure it’s frozen. Not having a cold enough bowl will greatly impact the ability for the mixture to freeze correctly.

Follow the directions precisely when it comes to heating and cooling the mixture. The key to getting a smooth texture and a proper custard ice cream is to slowly heat and slowly cool the mixture.

Be sure to place a fully chilled cream and milk mixture into the machine for optimal results.

Mix-ins and Toppings:

  • Crushed peppermint
  • Oreos — or check out my Oreo ice cream recipe
  • Chocolate chips
  • Crushed (or whole) candy pieces, depending on size
  • Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough Bites — follow along with my Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream recipe!
  • A caramel ribbon
  • Brownie bits
  • Raspberry sauce
  • Homemade hot fudge
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups — Use any leftover vanilla ice cream to make a delicious Reese’s Blizzard!

Not only can you add things to your custard vanilla ice cream to make it unique, but you can also use any leftovers to create something completely new like praline ice cream or Oreo Milkshakes.

Using homemade ice cream for Ice Cream Cake Roll can be a great option because it is soft enough to spread and roll.

Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

It’s definitely helpful to make this recipe ahead of time! You’ll at least want to prepare in advance because you need you ice cream maker bowl to be frozen prior to churning.

Store in an airtight container in the freezer for a few hours before serving for a more solid texture. If you serve right away, it will be more like a soft serve texture.

This recipe will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. Store in an airtight container to prevent freezer burn.

Recipe FAQs

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream in a bowl on a grey background.

More Frozen Desserts

  • Asphalt Pie
  • Cookies and Cream Popsicles
  • No Churn Oreo Ice Cream
  • Oreo Ice Cream Cake

This recipe and blog post was updated March 2022. The original recipe called for 8 egg yolks, and has since been reduced to 7 egg yolks. This still gives the ice cream the custard taste, texture, and creaminess but with a less likely chance of there being an “eggy” taste to the ice cream.

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