Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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Although of course you can buy vanilla ice cream at any grocery store, there’s no doubt that homemade ice cream beats store-bought in texture and flavor hands down. This version uses whole vanilla beans, which lend their distinctive taste and appealing black flecks to the ice cream.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 6


  • 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups (20 fl. oz./625 ml) heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt


In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk, cream and
 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) of the sugar. With the tip of a paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla beans into the pan, then toss the pods into the pan. Place over medium heat and bring just to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and steep for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large heatproof bowl, vigorously whisk together the egg yolks, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) sugar until the mixture falls in a thick, wide ribbon when the whisk is lifted, about 2 minutes.

Remove the vanilla bean pods and reheat the milk mixture to a bare simmer. Slowly add the milk mixture to the yolk mixture while whisking constantly. Pour 
it all back into the saucepan and simmer gently over medium-low heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thickened enough to coat the spoon, about 3 minutes. Draw your finger across the spoon. The custard is ready if it does not immediately run back together.

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a storage container, let cool to room temperature, and then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Pour the cooled mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. You can eat it right out of the machine, if you like, but the texture will be like soft-serve. For a firmer texture and deeper flavor, transfer the ice cream to a tightly covered container and freeze for about 6 hours. Makes 1 1/2 quarts (1.5 l).

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cook Good Food (Weldon Owen, 2014)

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