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Vanilla bean ice cream is the classic ice cream you know and love! Flecked with real vanilla bean, this egg-free ice cream is dreamily smooth and creamy.
Fragrant and floral, vanilla is not just a classic flavor and scent.
It’s also one of the most expensive spices in the world. Vanilla pods are hand-harvested from finicky tropical orchids and then carefully dried before being transformed into one of our most essential baking ingredients.
The work that goes into vanilla shows just how un-boring it is. And when it comes to ice cream, you can’t beat an original.
I’ve been making homemade ice cream for years now, and my family still gets excited every time I pull out the ice cream maker.
Who wouldn’t be excited, knowing freshly churned ice cream is moments away?
Why you’ll love this recipe
Minimal ingredients – This vanilla ice cream recipe is one of my favorites to make because I nearly always have all of the ingredients on hand.
No eggs – You don’t have to fuss with making a custard and worry about overcooking the egg yolks here. The ice cream is still wonderfully creamy, and I love that I can serve it to my friends with egg allergies.
Easy method – The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for it to finish churning! After simmering a few of the ingredients together, nearly all the time is hands-off.
Crowd-pleaser – It’s ice cream… need I say more?
Ingredients for vanilla bean ice cream
We only need a few ingredients for this recipe. Gather together:
Heavy cream and milk
Heavy cream is also sometimes labeled as “heavy whipping cream.” It contains at least 36% milk fat, which is how the ice cream achieves the silky, creamy texture.
If you’re in the UK, you can swap in double cream. While it has more milk fat, I recommend going higher rather than lower.
For the milk, I use 2%. If you prefer, you can use all heavy cream. I do not recommend swapping more milk for the cream, as it will make the ice cream have an icier texture rather than smooth.
White granulated sugar is needed here. I have used brown sugar for other ice cream recipes, but I don’t recommend it here.
Vanilla bean pod
To get tons of vanilla flavor, we use two kinds of vanilla. You’ll want a vanilla pod that is not too dried out, so consider this a chance to buy a new batch!
Remember that you can reuse the pod to infuse your own batch of vanilla sugar.
Vanilla bean paste
I prefer to use vanilla bean paste over pure vanilla extract. Because the tiny vanilla seeds are suspended in syrup, they disperse easily within the ice cream to give you plenty of those black flecks everyone associates with vanilla bean ice cream.
We’ll also need just a pinch of salt.
How to make vanilla ice cream
First, we need to prepare the vanilla bean.
Slice it down the center lengthwise. Using your paring knife, pry open the sides to reveal the black seeds in the center.
Scrape as much of the seeds as you can out of the pod and put them into a small saucepan along with the pod itself.
Add 1 cup of the heavy cream, sugar, and salt, and heat over medium.
Whisk to combine and dissolve the sugar. Make sure it does not get too hot; we are just dissolving the sugar here.
Once all of the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
When cooled, whisk in the other cup of cream, milk, and vanilla bean paste.
You can transfer the mixture into a pourable mixing bowl or large reusable container, or simply leave it in the saucepan.
Cover and place in the refrigerator until completely chilled. This will be for a minimum of 2 hours, but ideally for at least 4 hours or longer.
The vanilla bean will be infusing as it chills, so resist the urge to churn as soon as it is cold!
Once fully chilled, remove the vanilla bean and set aside. (You can rinse and dry it, then place into a container of sugar to make vanilla sugar.)
Set up your ice cream machine, removing the frozen churning bowl from the freezer and placing it in the machine just when you’re ready to churn.
Whisk the mixture to disperse ingredients and pour into the prepared ice cream machine.
Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For my Cuisinart machine, it only took 30 minutes to churn to soft-serve consistency.
You can serve the ice cream right out of the machine for softer ice cream, or pack into freezer containers until solid.
Homemade ice cream will last in the freezer for about 3 months.
Make sure to store it in a freezer-safe container, such as coated paper containers. If you make a lot of ice cream, consider an ice cream freezer container.
I love vanilla ice cream on its own, but you can add to this recipe to make it your own.
I recommend only adding mix-ins during the final moments of churning, or when you are transferring the churned ice cream to the storage container.
Adding mix-ins too early can prevent the ice cream from fully churning. Also, depending on the size of your additions, it can clog the machine’s churner.
With that in mind, here’s some ideas for making a custom blend (or the best sundae ever!):
- Sprinkles (try homemade sprinkles!)
- Finely chopped nuts
- Grated chocolate
- Mini chocolate chips (I don’t recommend regular size chocolate chips, as they will freeze too hard and not be fun to eat)
- Lemon curd or your favorite jam
- Crumbled cookies
Want to take your ice cream making to the next level? Try my strawberry pretzel ice cream!
My whole family loves ice cream, and making it at home is even better. Give this vanilla bean ice cream a try!
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 cups heavy cream, divided use
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- Make sure to freeze the container of your ice cream maker at least a day in advance.
- Using a paring knife, split open the vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape out as many seeds as you can and put into a small saucepan along with the vanilla bean pod.
- Add 1 cup heavy cream, sugar, and salt and heat over medium. Whisk to dissolve the sugar. Once completely dissolved, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Add the remaining 1 cup heavy cream, milk, and vanilla bean paste and whisk to combine. Cover and chill mixture in the refrigerator 4 hours or longer.
- When ready to churn, set up your ice cream maker. Remove the vanilla pod from the liquid, dry and set aside for another use. Whisk liquid to recincorporate ingredients, then pour into ice cream machine. Churn according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Serve directly out of the ice cream maker or store in containers.