French Vanilla Ice Cream

French Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

If necessary, two tablespoons vanilla extract may be substituted for the vanilla bean. To maximize the extract’s potency, stir it into the chilled custard just before churning.–Jack Bishop

What is French Vanilla Ice Cream?

We know what you’re wondering (and, perhaps, have been wondering since you were a kid). What’s so French about French vanilla? While regular vanilla ice cream can be made with or without eggs, there’s no question that French vanilla is made with a custardy base rich with egg yolks, which impart that iconic yellow tint to the ice cream. Plus it’s almost always made with vanilla seeds–those lovely dark speckles. Any other questions?

Special Equipment: Ice cream maker

French Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Makes 1 quart


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 4-inch piece vanilla bean, slit lengthwise, seeds removed, pod reserved
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream


  • 1. Heat the milk, 1/4 cup sugar, and vanilla seeds and pod in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar and break up the vanilla seeds, until it registers 175°F (80°C) on a candy or deep-fry thermometer.
  • 2. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer or a whisk, beat the remaining sugar with the yolks until the mixture turns pale yellow and thickens so that it falls away in ribbons, about 2 minutes with an electric mixer or 4 minutes with a whisk.
  • 3. Slowly whisk 1/2 cup hot milk from pan into the beaten yolks. Then gradually whisk the yolk mixture into the hot milk in the saucepan. Stirring constantly, heat this mixture over medium-low heat until it registers 180°F (82°C), 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and strain the custard into a plastic or nonreactive metal bowl. Stir in the cream. Retrieve the vanilla pod from the strainer and add it to the custard. Place the bowl of custard in a larger bowl of ice water to quickly bring the custard to room temperature.
  • 4. Cover and refrigerate the custard until it is no more than 40 degrees, 4 to 8 hours. Remove the vanilla pod and pour the custard into an ice cream machine. Churn according to the manufacturer’s directions until frozen.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Linda M.

Apr 27, 2000

A fabulous creamy texture and rich vanilla flavor even without the vanilla bean. I decided to make this at the last minute and didn't have a vanilla bean so I followed the directions for adding the vanilla extract just before churning in my ice cream maker. The recipe was easy to follow and the finished ice cream was delicious. It paired perfectly with a warm brownie!

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