Vanilla bean ice cream was and still is a staple in my house. The vanilla base can be transformed into any flavor, savory or sweet, to match your mood or whatever you’re pairing it with!–Dana Pollack
HOW DOES NO-CHURN ICE CREAM WORK?
It would be lovely to live in a world where ice cream machines were inexpensive, easy to store, and didn’t require you to plan ahead. No-churn ice cream has all of those things and is pretty darn delicious too but it works in a slightly different way. Sweetened condensed milk helps get the smooth consistency we all want in our frozen treats. Added sugar brings down the freezing point which helps to keep the ice cream from freezing rock hard, and because it’s been cooked, sweetened condensed milk has less water content, so you don’t get a lot of ice crystals in your finished product. Finally, making sure to give it a really good mixing before freezing is key. An ice cream maker constantly churns the cream, adding air to make it light and fluffy. With no-churn ice cream, this happens when you use your electric mixer—and it happens a lot faster.
No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 to 7 vanilla beans, scraped
- 1 cup chilled heavy cream
- 1 cup chilled whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- Pinch of fine salt
- 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- In a food processor, combine the granulated sugar, vanilla seeds, and the empty vanilla bean pods. Pulse until the pods break down. Sift to remove any excess pods and measure out 1/4 cup (50 g) of vanilla sugar. You'll have additional vanilla sugar that you can store in an airtight container and use for a different recipe.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the cream with the 1/4 cup of vanilla sugar on medium-high until small to medium peaks form, about 8 minutes.
☞ TESTER TIP: To avoid being sprayed with whipped cream, cover the edge of the bowl while the cream is being whipped.
- In a separate bowl, combine the whole milk, vanilla extract, salt, and condensed milk. Gently whisk the whipped cream into the milk mixture.
- Pour the mixture into a 9-by 5–inch (23-by 13–cm) loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until the ice cream is fully set, at least 4 hours. Serve immediately from the freezer.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I make no-churn ice cream all the time, with 2 ingredients. I was intrigued when this recipe called for sugar and milk, I thought how could it be bad? It was so creamy and delicious. When making this, be sure to cover your mixer when whipping the cream. It needs to be whipped at high and the cream will splatter everywhere. This recipe for no-churn vanilla ice cream is very easy to double because trust me, you’ll be making it a lot!
Nothing against my beloved ice cream maker, but this no-churn vanilla ice cream was a sensational alternative! Perfectly sweet and speckled with vanilla bean seeds, this was a summertime treat that I’d love flavor alternatives for. I loved this so much my mind immediately began racing about possibly adding cocoa nibs next time, or maybe fresh berries or a homemade jam swirl? But for now, I really enjoyed this base vanilla bean version straight out of the fridge topped with ripe strawberries.
As for the recipe itself, I used 5 vanilla beans to make my vanilla sugar and I used vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract. Seeing that you only need 1/4 cup of the sugar for the recipe, my leftover vanilla sugar will be used this week as a crispy top for some blueberry muffins and perhaps some sugar cookies.
With the weight of the condensed milk trying to dominate the thinner texture of the milk, you really need to whisk it here so that it becomes a smooth mixture. That way, the ice cream base when placed in the freezer is smooth as can be. You don’t want lumps of whipped cream in the base, as it needs to be suspended throughout for a creamy taste.
As for the loaf pan, I lined mine with plastic wrap before pouring in the ice cream base. Not knowing if a savory dish had been made in my loaf pan before making this, I thought I’d be safe and line the pan. After 3 hours in the freezer, it was a soft-serve consistency, but after 4 hours, it was perfectly chilled and easily scoopable. As for how I served the ice cream, yes, I did just grab a spoon after 4 hours and enjoy a couple of bites straight out of the fridge! But then I did decide to be more civil (ha) and actually scoop a bit out and serve it in a bowl with fresh berries. This recipe was as fun to make as it was to eat. Scratch that, it was fun to make but twice as fun to eat.
Overall, I liked the no-churn vanilla ice cream although it does use a kitchen mixer and a food processor, so it is quite heavy on the use of equipment, despite not using an ice-cream machine. I would like to make this no-churn vanilla ice cream again, in several different ways:
1. Reducing the amount of sugar for a less sweet flavor.
2. Churning the ice cream in an ice cream machine to see if the vanilla seeds would stay in suspension and if the ice cream was more scoopable.
3. Perhaps using vanilla extract to bring down the cost of the ice cream.