Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

The weather is warming up, and so are my kids, making it the perfect time for ice cream! Homemade ice cream is quite easy and can be just as creamy and delicious as store-bought!

The key to achieving that creamy and smooth consistency is starting with a custard base.

Custards are made with eggs or yolks, and they produce ice cream that is dense and rich. Sometimes when making ice cream without eggs, the ice cream can crystalize. So for me, the extra step of making a custard is worth it!

However, I also have suggestions if you don’t want to make a custard or want an egg-free version.

Bowl of homemade vanilla ice cream with caramel and peanuts.

How to Make Vanilla Ice cream

Before staring make sure to put the bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer overnight or per the instructions that come with your machine. Most will recommend to leave it in there for at least 24 hours.

In a small saucepan, whisk 2-3 eggs (or 3 yolks) really well. Then whisk in 1 cup whole milk, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of salt.

I’ve tried different ratios of milk and cream, such as 1 1/2 cups of each. I have also used 2% milk. Both ways work, but using whole milk and a higher ratio of cream will obviously create a richer, creamier ice cream.

Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and gently heat while whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. It might take 8-15 minutes for it to thicken up and become creamy. Take off heat.

Joby's Test Kitchen pot with custard cooking on stove.

Let the custard cool to room temperature which will take about 30-60 minutes. Try to stir it every 10-15 minutes so a skin doesn’t form on top.

Joby's Test Kitchen vanilla custard in pot

Next, transfer the custard to a large glass container or bowl. If there are bits of cooked egg in the custard, pour it through a sieve or strainer to get the lumps out.

Cover and chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.

Joby's Test Kitchen bowl with custard and heavy cream.

When the custard is completely chilled, whisk in 2 cups heavy cream and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Chill again for at least 4 hours or overnight.

If you forgot to put your ice cream maker bowl in the freezer do it now!

Joby's Test Kitchen ice cream in ice cream maker.

When you’re ready to churn the ice cream, follow the instructions on your ice cream machine. It will probably require you to turn on the machine before adding in the custard mixture.

Once it’s fully churned, store the ice cream in a freezer-safe container.

Joby's Test Kitchen ice cream being churned in ice cream maker.

Eggs in ice cream

Using only egg yolks produces a richer, creamier custard. If I have time, I sometimes separate the yolks out and save the whites for another recipe. But usually I use whole eggs.

You can also try different ratios like 2 whole eggs + 1-2 yolks, or 1 egg + 2 yolks.

Joby's Test Kitchen 3 brown eggs

You can even make an egg-free version. It might not turn out as creamy as the eggy custardy version, but it can still be delicious. Below are two ways to make it, one with a thickener and one without:

  • No Thickener: Beat together milk, cocoa, sugars, and salt, until really well combined. Then whisk in heavy cream and vanilla. Chill several hours and follow instructions for your ice-cream maker.
  • With Cornstarch: In a saucepan, whisk together milk, cocoa, sugar, salt, and 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch really well. Place over medium heat and bring to simmer, whisking continuously. Continue cooking 1-2 minutes until mixture is thick and silky. Chill 1 hour. Then add heavy cream and vanilla and chill several hours. Follow instructions for your ice cream maker.

Ice Crystals in ice cream

To prevent ice crystals from forming on your ice cream, you can place plastic wrap or parchment paper directly on top of the ice cream when freezing.

Or you can try adding 1-3 teaspoons of arrowroot or tapioca powder to the custard, which helps it stay creamy and not harden up as much. There’s no need to do this if you’re already using cornstarch in the custard.

Joby's Test Kitchen scoop of vanilla ice cream in cone.

No Ice Cream Maker? 

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, make the custard as directed, chill, and mix in heavy cream.

Place in a durable metal bowl in the freezer. After 30-45 minutes, take it out and beat vigorously with a whisk until it looks creamy. This requires some elbow grease, so use a hand-held blender if you have one!

Put back in the freezer. Repeat this process every 30-45 minutes for several hours. Stir in add-ins when the ice cream has thickened and is almost solid. This method may not result in the smoothest ice cream, but it should taste fine.

Of course, the best part of ice cream are the toppings! My favorites are caramel and roasted peanuts. My kids prefer it in a cone.

How do you like to eat your ice cream?

Joby's Test Kitchen bowl of vanilla ice cream with caramel and peanuts.

What My Kids Say:
9 year-old: “It’s just good.”
7 year-old: “Cold, creamy, and delicious.”

here are some other Cold desserts you Might enjoy

Cookie Dough Ice Cream
Check out this unique way to make your very own cookie dough ice cream!
Check out this recipe
White bowl of homemade vanilla cookie dough ice cream.
Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream
Creamy chocolate ice cream with chunks of fudge brownie.
Check out this recipe
Bowl of 2 scoops chocolate brownie ice cream.
Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes
These mini cheesecakes have a golden graham cracker crust and a simple strawberry topping.
Check out this recipe
Mini strawberry cheesecake.
Homemade Vanilla Custard
Here is a simple and quick way to make vanilla custard or pudding.
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen bowl with vanilla custard.

Joby's Test Kitchen homemade vanilla ice cream in waffle cone.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Joby’s Test Kitchen
Creamy sweet vanilla ice cream made with only a handful of ingredients.
Prep Time 6 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 1/2 cup portions
Calories 206 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Ice Cream Machine

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup (240ml) milk
  • ½ cup (96g) sugar
  • ⅛-¼ tsp salt
  • 2-3 whole eggs or 3 yolks
  • 2 cups (480ml) heavy cream
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Before staring make sure to put the bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer overnight or per the instructions that come with your machine.
  • In a small saucepan, whisk the eggs really well. Then whisk in the milk, sugar, and salt.
  • Place saucepan over medium-low heat and gently heat while whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. It might take 8-15 minutes for it to thicken up and become creamy. Take off heat.
  • Let the custard cool to room temperature, about 30-60 minutes. Try to stir it every 10-15 minutes so a skin doesn’t form on top.
  • Next, transfer the custard to a large glass container or bowl. If there are bits of cooked egg in the custard, pour it through a sieve or strainer to get the lumps out. Cover and chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.
  • When the custard is completely chilled, whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla. Chill again for at least 4 hours or overnight (if you forgot to put your ice cream maker bowl in the freezer do it now, but make sure it sits long enough for the liquid to freeze).
  • When you’re ready to churn the ice cream, follow the instructions on your ice cream machine. Store ice cream in a freezer-safe container.

Notes

Eggs: Using only egg yolks produces a richer, creamier custard. If I have time, I sometimes separate the yolks out and save the whites for another recipe. But usually I just use whole eggs. You can also try different ratios like 2 whole eggs + 1-2 yolks, or 1 egg + 2 yolks.
Egg-Free Version: Egg-free ice cream might not turn out as creamy as the eggy custardy version, but it can still be delicious:
  • No Thickener: Beat together milk, cocoa, sugars, and salt, until really well combined. Then whisk in heavy cream and vanilla. Chill several hours and follow instructions for your ice-cream maker.
  • With Cornstrach: In a saucepan, whisk together milk, cocoa, sugar, salt, and 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch really well. Place over medium heat and bring to simmer, whisking continuously. Continue cooking 1-2 minutes until mixture is thick and silky. Chill 1 hour. Then add heavy cream and vanilla and chill several hours. Follow instructions for your ice cream maker.
Ice Crystals: To prevent ice crystals from forming on your ice cream, you can place plastic wrap or parchment paper directly on top of the ice cream when freezing. I’ve also added 1-3 tsp of arrowroot or tapioca powder to the custard, which for some reason helps it stay creamy and not harden up as much. No need to do this if you’re already using cornstarch in the custard.
Milk and Cream: I’ve tried different ratios of milk and cream, such as 1 1/2 cups of each. I have also used 2% milk. Both ways work, but using whole milk and a higher ratio of cream will obviously create a richer, creamier ice cream.
Prepping Ice Cream Maker: Some ice-cream makers have a container that needs to be placed in the freezer. Make sure to leave it in there for at least 24 hours or per the instructions that come with your machine. Also, they usually need to be turned on before adding in the custard mixture.
No Ice Cream Maker? If you don’t have an ice cream maker, make the custard as directed, chill, and mix in heavy cream. Place in a durable metal bowl in the freezer. After 30-45 minutes, take it out and beat vigorously with a whisk until it looks creamy. This requires some elbow grease, so use a hand-held blender if you have one! Put back in the freezer. Repeat this process every 30-45 minutes for several hours. Stir in add-ins when the ice cream has thickened and is almost solid. This method may not result in the smoothest ice cream, but it should taste fine.
Keyword heavy cream, ice cream, vanilla

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