Classic French Vanilla Ice Cream

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Makes about 1 quart
Credit: David Lebovitz
Originally from April 2013 on my old blog

This is, without a doubt, the best vanilla ice cream you will ever have. Vanilla is often looked down upon for being bland and expected. But, I believe vanilla is very unappreciated. What’s better than a warm slice of cake, pie, cobbler, brownie, WHATEVER with a nice, big scoop of cold, melting, creamy vanilla ice cream on top? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. Don’t try and come up with a response because there is none.

The point is, there is more than vanilla than you think. This ice cream is creamy, sweet without being too sweet, and has a custard-y taste that only fresh, homemade ice cream has. Let me tell you, there is nothing better than taking a spoonful of ice cream right out of the ice cream maker right after it’s been churned. It’s so soft and smooth and just perfect.

It’s pretty important that you use a real vanilla bean here. Trust me, it takes this recipe from something you could probably find at an ice cream shop to something way beyond. It’s kind of ironic that I used a Mexian vanilla bean for a French Vanilla recipe, but I used what I could find.


  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • any mix-ins (of course this is optional, but, if you want to jazz up plain vanilla, you can add crushed cookies like Oreos or Girl Scout Cookies, chocolate chips, chopped fresh fruit, lemon zest, cinnamon, marshmallows  candy, cayenne pepper, whatever the heck you want! That’s what’s so great about making your own ice cream: it is so customizable).

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. If your vanilla bean is very hard, soak it in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes.

Warm the milk, 1 cup of the cream, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Scrape in the vanilla bean seeds and toss in the vanilla bean itself, too. Once warm, cover, remove from heat, and let steep for 30 minutes.

Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a fine mesh sieve over the top. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. SLOWLY pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and into the cream. Put the vanilla bean into the custard, and add in the vanilla extract. Stir until cool (you’re not gonna get it to be cool. Stir until barely warm) over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge, I recommend 8 hours or overnight. If you must, you can store it in the fridge for an hour or so, but make sure the mixture doesn’t freeze, even if just barely at the sides or bottom, if you do that.

When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, and freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to your manufacturer’s instructions.

If you’re adding a mix in, you can either pour it into the ice cream machine during the last 2 minutes of stirring, or, just fold it into the ice cream after you’ve taken it out of the mixture, when it’s still soft and easy to stir.

Happy dining!!


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