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Create a classic vanilla custard ice cream base with personalized mix-ins
Learn how to make vanilla ice cream at home. This is the perfect recipe for every use because you can customize it with mix-ins or toppings of your choice! The homemade custard ice cream base is made with lots of egg yolks (for creaminess), cream, and milk. This is the best simple machine ice cream recipe to make at home no matter the occasion!
I know there are other people out there who are as obsessed with ice cream as I am! If you're an ice cream lover, you have to try this classic vanilla custard ice cream base recipe. It's one of the best basic recipes, especially for beginners, because you can add in whatever mix-ins or toppings your heart desires!
This recipe is part of our all things ice cream series. Throughout this series, you'll learn how to make different homemade ice cream recipes, along with the best ice cream machine, and even popular ice cream flavors you should try.
What You'll Learn In This Recipe
In each recipe on this site, I hope to teach you a knew skill or tidbit that can help in the kitchen. This homemade vanilla ice cream recipe will teach you:
- What makes a custard base ice cream?
- How to change up this recipe to create new & unique flavor combinations.
- The secret to prevent ice cream from getting icy.
- How to properly temper eggs and cook an ice cream base.
Vanilla Custard Ice Cream Video Tutorial
Many people think making ice cream at home requires a lot of ingredients. Really, there are only a few things you'll need. Here are some of the ingredients and the science behind them.
Whole Milk: Make sure that you get whole milk (not 2% or skim). We need the fat in the milk to achieve the creamy texture of the ice cream. Milks also helps to add water to the ice cream which is necessary for the mixture to properly freeze in an ice cream machine.
Heavy Whipping Cream: Both milk and cream are considered butterfat. Most of the butterfat in the ice cream comes from cream. Since cream is a lot higher in fat, we have to make sure it's balanced out by the milk. If there's too much butterfat in a recipe, you'll get a greasy mouthfeel taste (we definitely don't want that).
Egg Yolks: French-style custard base ice cream is known for its high percentage of egg yolks and cream. The eggs help give a rich and silky smooth texture in the ice cream. Since custard recipes have eggs, the base needs to be heated to kill any potentially harmful bacteria. Check out this video to learn how to properly temper the eggs.
Granulated Sugar: Obviously we need to add in sugar to get some sweetness in the ice cream. But, sugar also helps lower the freezing point of the water, which keeps the entire ice cream mixture from completely freezing up.
Mix-Ins: These are completely optional, but can be a fun way to change up the flavor of your ice cream. All you need to do is add the mix-ins during the last few minutes of the ice cream churning process. Just make sure to roughly chop the mix-ins to make them bite-sized. Here are some of my favorite ice cream mix-ins:
- Cookie dough
- Chocolate chips
Tools & Equpiment
Here are a few tools you'll need for this recipe:
Ice Cream Maker: This recipe requires an ice cream maker (no exception). It's necessary to help freeze the mixture and get the correct texture. If you're looking to buy an ice cream machine, check out the full review of my favorite machines to decide which one is best for you!
Recipe Frequently Asked Questions
The ice bath helps quickly cool down the ice cream base. The ice cream base needs to cool (and stop steaming) before you cover it and refrigerate. The ice bath speeds up this process.
If there aren't too many bits, yes. You should be able to save this. Just make sure you strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and discard all the bits. It takes some time to learn how to properly temper eggs. If you need help, check out this video.
Yes, if you want your ice cream to freeze in the ice cream maker, it has to be super cold (around 40-42°F). Don't try churning the ice cream while it's still hot. You'll just end up with a soupy mess (ew!).
If you're tight on time, just the temperature of the mixture every hour with an instant read thermometer. There's not much you can do to speed up this process.
Make sure that you properly store your ice cream after it has been churned. Every time you increase the temperature of your ice cream and then re-freeze it, there is more of a chance of the ice cream becoming icy.
To keep the temperature regulated, store your ice cream in a long, plastic Tupperware. It will help the ice cream freeze quicker after churning it. Also, store the ice cream in the back of the freezer (not the door) to keep it at a stable temperature. Of course, don't keep the ice cream out of the freezer for too long.
Classic Vanilla Custard Ice Cream Base
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
- Fill a large bowl with ice to use later as an ice bath. Place an empty bowl on top of the ice. Set aside.
- In a heavy bottom sauce pan combine milk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Cook over medium heat until mixture is steaming and small bubbles start to form around the edge of the pot.
- Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a medium sized mixing bowl. Once the milk and cream is steaming, spoon a ladel full of the hot mixture over the eggs and quickly whisk together. Repeat process once more.
- Add egg mixture to the sauce pan, and whisk to combine. Continue to cook, stirring contantly, until the ice cream base reaches 180°F on an instant read thermometer.
- Place a fine mesh strainer over the empty bowl on top of the ice bath. Stain ice cream base. Chill ice cream base until it has stopped steaming. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, or up to overnight.
- Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process for about 20-25 minutes, or according to the manufacturer's directions.
- The ice cream will be on the soft side but can be eaten right away or put into the freezer to "cure" or harden up for a couple of hours. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to two weeks.
Other Recipes To Try
Looking for other ice cream recipes to try? Check these out:
- Peanut Butter Whiskey Milkshake
- Birthday Cake Ice Cream
- Orange Limoncello Sorbet
- Black Cherry Ice Cream
- Chocolate Moose Tracks Ice Cream
- 10 Delicious Sorbet Recipes for an Ice Cream Maker
Don't forget to check out my Pinterest board for more popular ice cream recipe inspiration.