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The Best Vanilla Ice Cream is a homemade, custard-based ice cream recipe that tastes so much better than anything store-bought.

The Best Vanilla Ice Cream

When Jack and I got married (many years ago!), one of our wedding gifts was an ice cream maker.  For an ice cream fanatic like myself – that gift was one of my favorites!

The very first batch of homemade ice cream I prepared was this recipe titled, The Best Vanilla Ice Cream. I found the recipe online*, printed it out – and it has been my go-to ice cream recipe ever since!

This is a very rich (but oh-so-good!) vanilla ice cream – and it’s a custard-based ice cream so it is ultra-creamy and unforgettable!


The Best Vanilla Ice Cream

Key Ingredients

  • Heavy Cream, Whole Milk & Granulated Sugar – These are the three key ingredients in any ice cream recipe. If you are going through the effort of making a homemade ice cream – please don’t skimp and try to swap in light cream, low fat milk or sugar substitutes. The best, creamy ice creams relay on cream and milk with a higher fat content, and real granulated sugar.
  • Egg Yolks – Egg yolks are what distinguishes a frozen custard from an ice cream recipe. Room-temperature egg yolks are added to the cream, milk and sugar ice cream base, then heated through just long enough to pasteurize the egg yolks and create a silky-smooth texture.
  • Vanilla Extract – Again, don’t skimp here. Buy a real vanilla extract, not a vanilla-flavored extract. (There is a difference – and the real vanilla flavor is just so much better!) Depending on the brand you buy, your homemade vanilla ice cream may look more yellow if your extract is super dark.


Cooking Tip

This homemade vanilla ice cream is easy to make, but it takes some time – mostly hands-off chilling time. Start this recipe two days before you plan to eat the ice cream.

The Best Vanilla Ice Cream


How do you make The Best Vanilla Ice Cream?

It’s actually quite easy to make homemade vanilla ice cream – but you will need an ice cream maker for this recipe.

  1. Heat – In a saucepan, combine heavy cream, whole milk, and granulated sugar. Heat over a medium flame, stirring frequently, until the mixture is hot and the sugar is completely dissolved. (Just be sure not to simmer or boil the mixture.)
  2. Whisk – While the cream mixture is coming up to temperature, separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and place whisked egg yolks in a bowl.
  3. Temper the eggs –  Once the cream mixture is hot, drizzle about a cup of the mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks – but be sure to whisk while you drizzle it in to prevent the egg yolks from cooking. (This process is called tempering the eggs. It simply warms the eggs before adding them to a hot liquid so they mix in smoothly.)
  4. Heat to thicken – Once tempered, add the egg and cream mixture to the saucepan with the rest of the cream, milk and sugar. Cook again over medium heat until the cream mixture starts to thicken – it’s ready when a spoon dipped in the cream remains coated. (This only takes about five minutes so be careful not to overcook the custard.)
  5. Strain then chill – Strain the vanilla custard through a fine mesh strainer to remove any egg bits. Then pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight before churning. (If your ice cream maker is the kind with a freezer bowl that needs to be frozen ahead of time, be sure to place that in your freezer at least 12-24 hours before churning your ice cream.)
  6. Churn, then freeze – The next day, churn your vanilla ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Pour your ice cream into a freezer-safe container, then freeze until firm.

The Best Vanilla Ice Cream


The Best Vanilla Ice Cream recipe can serve as the base for many other from-scratch ice cream recipes.  We used this recipe as the starting point for our Chocolate Malted Ice Cream.  You can also stir in chocolate chips or other mix-ins at the end of the churning process.

Serving Suggestions

Serve this fantastic homemade vanilla ice cream with:

This recipe was originally posted here on A Family Feast in July 2013. We’ve updated the photos and the post, but the recipe remains the same.

*Note: Like most food bloggers, we always try to give credit to the original source if we’ve adapted a recipe and published it here on A Family Feast.  Unfortunately, the printed version I’ve had in my recipe book for years does not include the link to the original recipe and even after searching online, I’ve been unable to find the original source.

You may enjoy these other ice cream recipes:

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The Best Vanilla Ice Cream

The Best Vanilla Ice Cream

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 18 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 18 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 quart
  • Category: dessert, ice cream
  • Method: freeze
  • Cuisine: American


4 egg yolks, at room temperature

1 cup whole milk

3 cups heavy cream or heavy whipping cream

¾ cup sugar

2 tablespoons real vanilla extract


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat milk, heavy cream and sugar, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot. (This will take less than 5 minutes – do not bring to a simmer or boil.) Remove from the heat.
  3. Take about a cup of the hot mixture and very slowly drizzle it into the bowl with the egg yolks – constantly whisking while you add the hot mixture. (A slow drizzle will prevent the eggs from cooking as you add the hot cream mixture.)
  4. Once your egg mixture is smooth, slowly pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the hot cream mixture.
  5. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens a bit and coats the back of a spoon. (This will take less than 5 minutes as well, and again, do not bring the mixture to a simmer or boil, or it will curdle.)
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl (a large measuring cup like this one works great because you’ll have a spout for pouring the cooled custard into the ice cream maker once it has cooled). Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
  7. Cover the bowl with a large piece of plastic wrap, pushing the plastic down to touch the top of the custard. (This will prevent a skin from forming on the custard as it cools.) Refrigerate overnight. (Freeze your ice cream maker bowl overnight as well.)
  8. Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. (This is similar to the one we use.) After churning, freeze again for 4-6 hours before serving.

Keywords: homemade vanilla ice cream, the best vanilla ice cream, ice cream from scratch


The Best Vanilla Ice Cream

The Best Vanilla Ice Cream

The Best Vanilla Ice Cream

The Best Vanilla Ice Cream

The Best Vanilla Ice Cream

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  • Natalie wrote:

    This ice cream turned out amazing! Thank you for creating the directions so straight forward. My husband calls this “creme brulee” ice cream. Winner! Found via pinterest.

    • Martha wrote:

      So glad you had success with this recipe Natalie. I love your husband’s description – fits perfectly! Thanks for taking the time to write to us today!

  • Mary De Shon wrote:

    I just made your Vanilla Ice Cream. It is sooooo good. Thank you for posting the recipe. AWESOME!

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Mary! So glad you enjoyed it as much as we do!

  • josef wrote:

    a whole lot of people can make something really taste exceptionally good, and how they do it can be different, so here is our family recipe for making van-ice cream; used to be a family secret recipe, except I have given it to too many people over the years:
    5 fresh chicken eggs, separate yolks from whole egg
    3 cups of fresh whole cream,
    3 cups of fresh whole milk,
    1 3/4 cups of cane sugar (no less)
    1/2 tsp. of Penseys double strength Vanilla
    while beating the eggs yolks, slowly add I cup of the sugar, then set aside,
    whip the egg whites until they become stiff enough to form peaks, then fold into the beaten
    egg/sugar mixture,
    stir in the fresh whole cream and whole milk, and then
    stir in the remaining cane sugar.
    heat the ice cream mixture very slowly, while stirring, until if reaches 180 Deg. F (no more),
    cover and set aside until it is cool enough for refrigerating,
    place mixture in refrigerator, overnite.
    I use a White Mountain, hand crank, ice cream mixer as follows:
    place/layer bagged ice (small size ice pieces) around the metal mixing container, in the wooden
    mixing drum: 6 layers of ice and 5 layers of Kosher rock salt (~1 cup of salt); first layer of ice ,
    then salt ,until last layer of ice, at/over top of metal mixing container, cover top of ice, over
    the drum with a towel. turn mixer slowly to affect a thin film icing effect of the ice cream
    mixture in the metal container for 1/2-3/4 hr. or until mixture becomes stiff, as noticed at the
    near end of the cranking period.
    remove dasher from metal container and serve the ice cream; grandma and grandpa, first

    hope you try our way; the Italian angels and saints will smile, josef

    cover and place the ice cream mixture into the refrigerator, overnite.
    I use a WhiteMountain hand crank mixer

    • Martha wrote:

      Sounds incredible Josef! I can tell from the amount of eggs and cream you’ve used, your vanilla ice cream must be exceptionally rich and creamy! Thank you for sharing – I can’t wait to try your recipe!

  • Mark wrote:

    Any way to shortcut the overnight thing? I’d like to make it tonight?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Mark- If you can chill the custard completely before churning in less time than overnight…it might work!!

  • Consuelo @ Honey & Figs wrote:

    I tried this recipe and it turned out wonderfully! Thanks for posting it, it’s truly the best ice-cream ever!
    Have a lovely day 😀

    • Martha Pesa wrote:

      Thanks Consuelo!!

  • monica wrote:

    Thank you! This is just what I was looking for….I’ve only made vanilla ice cream in my ice cream machine the simple way (no eggs, no stove top.) Time to try the more custard-based style–I’m so excited to see how it turns out! 🙂
    PS Found you through Pinterest.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Monica! I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • Linda Harris wrote:

    This recipe is like one I used to make except I used the whole egg. I know the ice cream will be good. My recipe was the best that I have tasted and this one sounds best yet. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you Linda! I hope it’s as good as yours! Thanks for visiting our site!

  • Barbara wrote:

    Can you make this recipe in an electric Cuisinart?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Barbara! Definitely – any kind of ice cream maker will work!

  • Roni Faida wrote:

    I haven’t made ice cream since I was a kid. This looks lush!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Roni!

  • Kathy wrote:

    I love my ice cream maker! I have yet to find a good vanilla ice cream though. I’ll have to give this one a try!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hope you like it Kathy! Thanks for visiting our site!

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