The Best Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (Custard-Style)

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This homemade vanilla ice cream uses a custard-style base (with eggs) to make a creamy deliciously scoopable homemade ice cream.

» You might be interested in the differences in – Vanilla vs French Vanilla.

homemade vanilla ice cream

This is honestly the only ice cream recipe I ever use. If you look at our ice cream recipes on this site, you’ll notice that they all have one thing in common – this ice cream base. It’s the start of all great ice creams. Once you’ve got this recipe down, all you have to do is add whatever flavoring you like to change it up in 100s of different ways.

We use our ice cream maker for this recipe, so be sure to put the barrel in the freezer a day ahead so it’s good and frozen by the time you want to use it.

» Here are 50 of our favorite ice cream maker recipes. We think this Chocolate chocolate chip ice cream is to die for!

Ingredients You Need

This ice cream uses a custard base, so it has egg yolks in it.

  • Half and half or heavy cream – There is a debate out there about how much butterfat the best ice cream has. It can range anywhere from non-fat all the way up to 20%. Using half and half and whole milk results in the best texture and fat level for me. Use heavy whipping cream if you like your ice cream super creamy.
  • Whole milk – I always use whole milk – we’re not pretending this is a low-fat dessert
  • Egg yolks – Set the eggs and milk out about 15 minutes before you start to get them to room temp
  • Sugar – Granulated sugar is fine in this recipe. If you’re going to replace it with a sugar substitute, I recommend using only allulose, because it doesn’t harden like erythritol and the others do. This makes a big difference.
  • Vanilla – Use the highest-quality vanilla you can. The flavor of the vanilla is strong and can be a little off-putting if you use a low-quality vanilla. You can also add vanilla bean to this recipe.
  • Salt – A little bit of salt helps to balance the sweetness.
homemade vanilla ice cream

How to Make Vanilla Ice Cream

We use this same ice cream base for chocolate chocolate chip ice cream, cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip, and any other flavor of ice cream we make. It’s an easy base and it tastes great and very creamy.

The other great part about using this base for everything is that it starts to become second nature to make it. There are quite a few steps to making custard-style ice cream, but it’s not hard, and it’s very much worth the effort.

Step One: Heat the Milk Mixture

milk mixture on stove

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, salt, and half the sugar. Stir the mixture constantly as you bring it just to a simmer. Remove from heat.

Step Two: Temper the Egg Mixture

eggs and sugar

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar just until combined. 

You need to temper the eggs, so they don’t cook. Tempering is just bringing the egg mixture up to a higher heat in a slow way so the egg doesn’t cook from flash heat. It will be easier to temper the eggs if you have allowed the eggs to come to room temperature before you started.

Slowly stir 1/2 cup of the milk mixture in a drizzle into the egg mixture. If you do this slowly enough, the eggs won’t begin to resemble scrambled eggs.

tempering egg mixture

Step Three: Combine and Thicken

Pour that egg mixture back into the saucepan with the milk mixture. Heat over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Do not boil the mixture. If the mixture gets too hot and boils you could end up with scrambled eggs.

Remove the pot from the heat.

Step Four: Chill the Mixture

The egg mixture in a plastic container waiting to cool.

Pour the mixture into a bowl or container. To avoid putting the hot mixture in the refrigerator, you can chill the mixture over another bowl filled with ice for 10-15 minutes to cool it down first. Just get a second bowl that’s similar size or larger than the one your mixture is in. Fill it with ice and set the bowl with the custard over it. When it’s cooled down a bit, refrigerate it for at least two hours, until it’s cold.

Step Five: Churn the Ice Cream

pour in the ice cream base

After the ice cream base mixture has completely cooled, stir in the half and half or heavy cream (whichever you’ve decided to use) and vanilla. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker, and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions.

ice cream churning

Pour into a freezer container or loaf pan and store in the freezer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does this ice cream have to be made in an ice cream maker?

This ice cream recipe is made in the ice cream maker. It’s an easy way to churn the ice cream mixture to make it freeze faster and make it super creamy, so we prefer it.
However you can still make it without an ice cream maker. At the end, mix in only half of the heavy cream and reserve the rest. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. When ready to eat, add the ice cream cubes to the blender with the remaining heavy cream and blend until smooth.

Is it safe to use raw eggs in this ice cream?

According to the USDA, heating the eggs to an internal temperature of 160F is enough to kill Salmonella, if present. Be sure to use a digital thermometer to make sure your mixture gets to that degree. You could also use pasteurized eggs or egg product (in a carton or out of the shell), which have been pasteurized.

Do I have to add eggs to the ice cream?

Eggs add flavor, prevent ice crystallization, and create a smooth and creamy texture, so they are an important ingredient for delicious ice cream. You can make ice cream without eggs. Here is a chocolate ice cream recipe that doesn’t include eggs.

Can I add flavoring to the ice cream besides vanilla?

You can use any flavoring or fruit you want in this ice cream. I love the aromatics and flavor of fresh ripe peaches, but you could also use strawberries, blueberry, or mango, plus any other flavoring you like, such as chocolate, peanut butter, Snickers, etc.

homemade vanilla ice cream

What Ice Cream Maker to Use?

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Machine, 1.5 Quart Sorbet, Frozen Yogurt Maker, Double Insulated, White, ICE-21P1
CUISINART Ice Cream Maker, Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt Machine, 2-Qt. Double-Insulated Freezer Bowl, Silver, ICE30BCP1

If you’re really wanting to make great ice cream at home, you have to invest in an ice cream maker. I’ve had the same one for many years and it’s never made a bad ice cream.

The one I recommend is the Cuisinart 1.5 quart ice cream maker. It comes in a few different colors and it looks neat and tidy. You just have to keep to recipes that are small enough to fit, which shouldn’t be a problem.

The Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker is a slightly more professional model that’s 2 quarts and has an LCD screen and 3 settings plus an improved paddle with faster processing time.

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homemade vanilla ice cream

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homemade vanilla ice cream

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

This homemade vanilla ice cream uses a custard-style base to make a creamy deliciously scoopable homemade ice cream.
4.65 from 164 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Churn Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 10 Servings
Calories: 166kcal
Author: Laura Lynch

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (237 ml) whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 g) salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups (473 ml) half and half or heavy cream use whichever one you prefer
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4 ml) high-quality vanilla extract

Instructions

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, salt, and half the sugar. Stir the mixture constantly as you bring it just to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining sugar just until combined.
  • To temper the eggs, slowly add 1/2 cup of the milk mixture in a drizzle into the egg mixture. Do this slowly so as not to cook the eggs.
  • Pour the entire egg mixture back into the saucepan with the milk mixture. Simmer over medium heat, about 3-5 minutes. Do not boil the mixture.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and let cool.
  • Pour the cooled custard mixture into a chilled bowl and refrigerate for about two hours until cold. To avoid putting the hot mixture in the refrigerator, you can chill the bowl over another bowl filled with ice for 10-15 minutes to cool it down first.
  • When you’re ready to churn the ice cream, add the half and half or heavy cream (whichever you've decided to use) and vanilla extract to the custard mixture. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker. Churn until the ice cream is thick, per your ice cream maker's instructions.

Equipment Needed

Notes

  • This recipe makes half a gallon of ice cream.

Nutrition

Calories: 166kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 101mg | Potassium: 111mg | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 341IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 0.3mg

18 thoughts on “The Best Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (Custard-Style)

  1. Tommy Williamson says:

    Just wondering how much ice cream does this recipe make … such as 1/2 gallon, 1 gallon? It may have said but if it did I didn’t see it. If it did I apologize for not seeing it! I love making homemade and always look for new/different recipes! I have 3 different freezers … ALL hand cranked! Two one gallon and one two gallon freezer! I think the ice cream freezes better in a hand cranked freezer!
    Thanks
    Tommy

    • Angela Morris says:

      Hi Tommy, we love making different ice cream recipes as well. This recipe makes half a gallon. Happy ice cream making!

  2. JMS says:

    Try adding 1 tablespoon cocoa and 1 tablespoon instant coffee to the milk while it cooks. Amazing mocha ice cream

  3. Colleen says:

    I’m excited to try your recipe! My ice cream maker processes 4 cups at a time. Your recipe makes 8 cups. Would the remaining mixture be ok in the fridge while the ice cream maker goes back in the freezer overnight?

    • Angela Morris says:

      While I haven’t tried it, the mixture should be fine in the refrigerator over night. I hope it comes out great for you!

  4. Jaymes Rite says:

    Does this recipe double well?
    We tried it and enjoyed it however sometimes need more than this recipe yields for a larger group. Has anyone doubled the recipe with the same great results ?

  5. Jahid hasan says:

    after reading your making process it seems too easy to make and influenced me to make it as quickly & Your picture was delicious and huge My screen does not hold this cell.

  6. Risa Campbell says:

    if you don’t have an ice cream freezer, after mixing ingredients, just put mixing bowl in your freezer. When partially frozen, beat mixture again and place in covered containe, freeze till solid.

  7. John says:

    Hi! This looks great. Does the heating of the full mixture pasteurize the eggs? I wasn’t sure what max temp you suggest (says not to boil, of course). I’ve just started making ice cream and have been reluctant to use uncooked eggs so it would be great if this makes them safe. Thanks!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      According to the USDA, heated the eggs to an internal temperature of 160F is enough to kill Salmonella, if present. If you’re worried, be sure to use a digital thermometer to make sure your mixture gets to that degree. You could also use pasteurized eggs or egg product (in a carton).

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