Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

This vanilla bean ice cream is a classic, perfected. Yes, we know, you’ve been promised this before by others. But we mean it.

A plastic container filled with vanilla bean ice cream with a metal ice cream scoop resting in it.

Those of us who crave vanilla ice cream know that sometimes you don’t need a lot of bling. Sometimes it’s nice to just let your spoon sink into something that tastes pure as the driven snow. Okay, vanilla-enhanced snow. Indulgently rich, creamy, sigh-inducing, vanilla-enhanced snow. This vanilla bean ice cream recipe is for those times. Of course, if you wish to stir in whatever at the end–some crushed black raspberries still warm from the garden, a package of chopped peanut butter cups, a swirl of fig preserves, a handful of chopped nougat–we’re not going to stop you. Not even going to try.–Renee Schettler

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

A plastic container filled with vanilla bean ice cream with a metal ice cream scoop resting in it.
This ice cream is made with a custard base which can be adapted and flavored with fruit purees, chocolate, or coffee. It keeps for up to 1 month in the freezer.
Alison Walker

Prep 15 mins
Chill 1 d
Total 1 d 1 hr
328 kcal
5 / 6 votes
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  • Ice cream maker (optional)


  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup superfine sugar (or just blitz granulated sugar in a blender until finely ground but not powdery)
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream


  • Split the bean lengthwise and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape out the seeds. Place the vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan along with the milk. Place over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat and let infuse for 30 minutes.
  • Mix the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Remove and discard the vanilla bean from the infused milk. Gradually blend the infused milk into the yolk mixture, using a wooden spoon or a whisk, then set aside while you wash and dry the saucepan you used to infuse the milk.
  • Return the milk mixture to the clean saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard has thickened sufficiently to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle.
  • Strain the mixture into a bowl and let it cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, gently pressing the wrap directly against the surface of the custard to prevent a film from forming, then refrigerate until chilled through, maybe 4 to 6 hours if you’re impatient or, preferably, 24 hours if you're the sort who can tolerate a little anticipation. (Here's the thing. The longer the custard stands in the refrigerator, the more flavor will develop.)
  • Stir the cream into the custard.
    If using an ice cream maker, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
    If using your own devices, transfer the mixture into a shallow freezer-proof container, such as a roasting pan, and freeze until ice crystals form at the edges, about 2 hours. Turn it into a bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer or a whisk. Pour the mixture back into the container and return to the freezer. Repeat every 2 hours until the ice cream is completely frozen.
Print RecipeBuy the A Country Cook’s Kitchen cookbook

Want it? Click it.


Can I vary this vanilla bean ice cream?

Here's just a handful of the infinite number of variations you can conjure...
Honey Ice Cream: Stir in 2 tablespoons of honey when you add the cream.
Nutmeg Ice Cream: Stir in 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg when you add the cream. This is also very, very good with cinnamon. 
Fruit Swirl Ice Cream: Stir in a couple of spoonfuls of fig jam or strawberry compote after taking it out of the ice cream maker. 

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1half-cupCalories: 328kcal (16%)Carbohydrates: 27g (9%)Protein: 4g (8%)Fat: 23g (35%)Saturated Fat: 13g (81%)Cholesterol: 203mg (68%)Sodium: 46mg (2%)Potassium: 116mg (3%)Sugar: 25g (28%)Vitamin A: 982IU (20%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 104mg (10%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Vanilla bean is my favorite ice cream flavor. This version is pretty great. I’m a big texture person and I love the rich creamy base and the crunch of the seeds from the vanilla bean. I can see making the custard in the morning (or even the night before) and mixing in the cream and churning when we’re ready for dinner...I mean dessert. The ice cream doesn’t need to be hardened–it’s perfect to eat just out of the ice cream maker. However, I might decrease the sugar just a bit and add a pinch of salt as it’s a bit on the sweet side for me.

I LOVE ice cream. I’m not one of those fair-weather ice cream eaters, who only indulges in a cone when it’s a perfect, say, 80°F day on the boardwalk. I am a harsh critic, and, to be honest, vanilla doesn’t usually jazz me too much. I’m much more a chocolate gal. But this rich, creamy, easy-to-make ice cream is fantastic. It’s no more labor-intensive than any other ice cream and tastes just fine without superfine sugar (I didn’t even blitz my granulated sugar in the blender and the ice cream came out fine). It takes about five hours to be completely chilled. I will say, as is the case with most homemade ice creams, that it's best the day you make it. This isn’t uncommon, though.

Originally published May 25, 2012


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  1. Just made this using 6 egg yolks. The best Ice cream that I have ever made. I will not be buying any more store bought ice cream again.

  2. My ice cream maker has a one gallon capacity. To create enough custard do I simply multiply the ingredients or should i modify any of the amounts?

  3. I made this delicious ice cream last week for a group of friends for “game night”. Because I have 2 freezer bowls for my Cuisinart ice cream maker, I couldn’t make just one batch, could I?

    I doubled the recipe and the only change I made was adding approximately 3-4 (+?) tablespoons of Vanilla Bean Puree (Heilala’ brand) in addition to the split vanilla beans (Heilala brand). I added the puree after the cooking process and as it was cooling. I had never used vanilla bean puree before, but I read the puree should be used in the same proportions as vanilla extract. I allowed the mixture to chill over night and pulled the beans out and scraped them right before processing. I love seeds in a vanilla bean ice cream and the puree was a great addition.

    To the 2nd batch I added about 1 cup (?) of chopped dark red cherries and some mini semi sweet chocolate chips about half way through the churning process. I really did not pay attention to how much I was adding, but I think there was a bite or two of cherry and chips in every spoon full but not overwhelmingly sweet.

    The ice cream was easy to make, creamy, smooth, and delicious. This will definitely be my go to recipe for ice cream. I can’t wait to make it again.

    1. I must try that vanilla bean puree, Cherie, as it sounds wonderful. As do the cherries and chocolate chips!

  4. I’m going to preapare this amazing ice cream for my little vanilla ice cream lovers. Just clear please, I haven’t whip the heavy cream?

      1. 5 stars
        Thank you for comment. I did it!!! Was not easy task for me, because I have no ice cream maker yet. Also first portion of custard curled, but at the end I have a batch of delicious ice cream. It was very interesting experience. The structure was not so smooth as it would have been if processed in the ice cream maker. But the taste is great, even my two-year-old daughter really loves this. Thank you for great recipes.

        1. You are so very welcome, Svetlana! We are ridiculously in love with this recipe and glad to hear you are, too. Just curious, how did you make the ice cream? Did you freeze it in a pan and stir occasionally? Or…?

          1. Yes, exactly as described in “If using your own devices” section. I froze the ice cream in a pan and whipped it every 2 hours using a hand mixer. It’s certainly not the most effective method, and I suppose the texture can be slightly better if using a special device. But it gives me an opportunity to feel the whole process, before purchasing an unnecessary kitchen gadget that only costs and takes space in the kitchen.

          2. Understand completely, Svetlana. I refused to buy an ice cream maker for years, literally more than a decade, before finally doing exactly as you—making a batch by hand to see if I thought I’d make ice cream often enough to warrant investing the money and space in a machine. (We ended up getting one as a wedding present, and I’m so glad we did!) Thanks so much for sharing your experience, look forward to hearing about the next recipe you try!

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