french vanilla ice cream

Ice Cream 101: Making Homemade Ice Cream is Easier Than You Think! Start With This Classic French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

French Vanilla Ice Cream is easy to make, and is the best ice cream you’ll have had all year!  

There is something about ice cream that brings you back to your childhood, on a hot summer day, or the first time you made it yourself.  Keep on reading to learn the basics about making homemade ice cream.

french vanilla ice cream

I bought an ice cream maker, and it has been my new favorite appliance!  I have made a couple different kinds of ice cream, and this French Vanilla Ice Cream is by far my favorite.  It’s so rich and creamy, and makes a fantastic after dinner treat!  All you have to do is throw the freezer bowl in the freezer over night, whip up a batch and you’ve got delicious homemade ice cream!

French-style ice cream is the classic; made with egg yolks, cream and flavors that are cooked to make a custard, which is then churned, frozen and made into ice cream.  American-style ice cream is made without the eggs, so it isn’t as rich.  American-style ice cream works well for fruit ice creams. 

There are a few different ways to make ice cream and although the hands-on prep time for frozen desserts is short, some steps are essential to achieving the best flavor and texture.  One of the most important factors in making frozen desserts is to immediately cool them down to either stop the cooking of the eggs (in French-style ice creams) or to keep fruit vibrant for sorbets and granitas.  Because ice creams have such few ingredients, splurging on ingredients makes for the best frozen treats.  

french vanilla ice cream

So now that you know about how to prepare the ice cream, lets learn about churning.  Electric ice cream makers are the simplest of ways to churn ice cream, and are most accessible.  There are a couple different kinds of electric ice cream makers too, the most common, like this Cuisinart (which I have) has a freezable insert that needs to be pre-frozen for at least 24 hours before churning.  Another type of ice cream maker is a compressor style, like this Breville (which is on my wish list), are ready to churn at any time, and can make batch after batch of frozen desserts continuously.  To churn ice cream, add a very cold base to the ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers directions – usually around 25-35 minutes.  When it’s finished churning, you can serve it right away as a soft-serve style or freeze it for 2 hours for a firmer, scoopable ice cream.  One quart of most ice creams will make 6-8 servings.

And when I went back to take a picture of the firmer, scoopable ice cream I had just made, my boys ate it all, and this is what was left…

french vanilla ice cream

Here’s how you make it…How long will it last in your house?


Makes 1 1/2 qts

2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp vanilla bean paste (or one vanilla bean split in half lengthwise, seeds scraped)
8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt


In a heavy saucepan over medium high heat, combine half and half, cream, and vanilla bean paste (or pod and seeds) and warm over medium heat until it barely comes to a simmer about 4-5 minutes.

french vanilla ice cream

Meanwhile, vigorously whisk egg yolks, sugar, and salt until the mixture lightens in color and doubles in volume – about 2-3 minutes.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat.  Whisking constantly, slowly add 1 cup of the warm cream mixture into the egg mixture and whisk until smooth.

Pour the resulting egg-cream mixture back into the saucepan place over medium-high heat and whisk constantly.  Using a wooden spoon , stir until the mixture forms a custard thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon – only 1-2 more minutes.  Do NOT let it boil.

french vanilla ice cream

Meanwhile, set up an ice bath in a bowl, and nest a smaller, heatproof bowl inside.  Pour the warm mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the smaller bean.  Discard vanilla bean, if using.  Stir the custard for 2-3 minutes until cool.  Stir in vanilla extract.

french vanilla ice cream

Remove bowl from ice bath and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until very cold – 4 hours or up to 3 days.

Pour the cold custard into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturers settings.  Transfer churned ice cream, after taking a bite of course, to a freezer safe container, and place a piece of parchment or wax paper over the top.  Freeze until firm – about 2 hours, and serve.

french vanilla ice cream

Click the link below for the printable version of this recipe.

French Vanilla Ice Cream

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