How To Make Vanilla Ice Cream From Scratch


For something as simple as ice cream, it’s really amazing the number of ingredients you can find on some of the cartons. Even some of the allegedly “premium” brands.

My current peeve is how hard it is to find food without corn syrup. By the way, did you know most ketchup has more calories per ounce than ice cream does? It’s the corn syrup. Are you sure you want your kids to finish those nuggets (with ketchup) before they’re allowed to have ice cream?

There are exceptions. One of the few kinds of ice cream I feel good about buying and feeding to my kids is Breyer’s vanilla. Four ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, vanilla. Just how it should be. And, not coincidentally, exactly what I put in mine. (And no, I’m not getting paid to say that. Though if anyone from Breyer’s wants to send me a few gallons to thank me for the mention, I can be reached via email :-)


2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla


First step is to mix the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. You can do this by hand, but I don’t have the patience. So I throw it in the mixer on low speed and walk away for five minutes.

Yes, it really can take that long for sugar to dissolve in cold milk. Or you can start checking it after a minute and keep turning it back on and checking again every thirty seconds. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Once the sugar is dissolved, add the cream. You still have it on low speed, right? We’re not making whipped cream here.

My wife does a lot of Christmas cookies, so we got the larger bottle of vanilla. It can pour pretty quickly, and cookie recipes tend to be really precise. So to control it better, instead of removing the entire seal I opened it like you used to do with cans, before everything had a pop-top.

The recipe I started from said one to two teaspoons of vanilla. I go on the low side, maybe even a little less than a teaspoon. If the girls weren’t already excited about having vanilla, I was going to leave it out completely. Last time I made it, I tasted the sweetened cream/milk mixture before adding the flavor. It was pretty good already. Maybe next time.

Here’s where I break from other recipes I’ve seen. Don’t pour the mixture directly into the ice cream maker. Pour it into the container the finished product will go in.

Then put it in the freezer. Check every ten minutes or so to see how close it is to freezing. When you start to see it freezing around the edge, mix that back in with the rest.

When it is very nearly frozen all the way through, then you pour it into the ice cream maker.

It’s a little hard to see in these videos, but when I first turned the machine on the cream was still pretty thin.

Within 5 minutes it was nearly finished.

When the cream is piling up on the mixer instead of flowing back down like a liquid, pour it back into the container you’re going to store it in.

Then put that in the freezer for several hours, or overnight. After pouring it out, there will be some frozen to the inside of the ice cream maker. Scrape this out with a stiff rubber spatula. It should be enough for one serving. Don’t tell the kids. Mine believe there’s none ready until hours after I turn the machine off.

I’ve added chocolate chips for the girls before, but I prefer dark chocolate. Like 85% cocoa. Lindt made these super-thin wafers of it, which go just great with the vanilla ice cream.

With really dark chocolate, and really rich ice cream, this little bit is really all you need.

It looks so pretty, I almost felt embarrassed to eat it with my fingers. But I got over it.

And that’s it.

Come back soon to see why I really made this: An apple crisp that is so easy your kids can make it.

Oh, and I’m writing this several days before it’s supposed to be published. If you’re reading it during the week it was posted I’m on vacation. So if I don’t respond to your comments right away, it’s because there’s no WiFi reception at the pool.


  1. Kitchen Flavours says:

    Wow that looks so easy to make and looks gr8 also.

  2. We don’t have an ice-cream maker. It’s very sad.

  3. Sweet Bird says:

    holy jebus I need an ice cream maker

    • you actually don’t need a ice cream maker doing it the home meade way is the fun part whichis in a bag with ice and salt got to and type in how to make homemade ice cream it will tell you.

  4. So simple, so good! Oh – I’ve tried to hunt down my Grandmother’s Bread and Butter Pickle recipe, but I don’t think she ever wrote it down. Mother never canned with her and those that did are gone. But now I’m on a quest – who knows what I’ll dig up.

  5. Homemade ice cream is on my list of things to make for my year of living like Grandma. I will use your recipe (and the apple crisp one too)!

  6. KF, you got it. And it tastes better than it looks.

    Kristin and sweet bird, I’ve seen things online where people use a large and a small coffee can, put ice and salt in between them and the ingredients in the smaller can, and have the kids roll it back and forth. They claim to be able to make ice cream this way. I’m convinced these are all an elaborate “in joke” like snipe hunting.

    Mel, “What … is your quest?” (This Monty Python reference has been brought to you by the number 3 and an African swallow.)

    April, you going to use a hand-cranked ice cream churn for that? I think I’ve actually got one of those in the basement. Now I’ve got to go looking.

  7. That looks delish. Can I ask why you pre-freeze it before using the ice cream freezer? ( is it a texture issue?)

  8. Jess, it’s strictly a time issue. The tub sits in the freezer getting nice and cold, but it starts to warm up the moment you take it out. I did one batch where I took too long mixing everything. Dissolving sugar in cold milk takes forever.

    So I get the mixture as close to frozen as I can, but still liquid. Then when I pour it into the ice cream maker, it’s done in just a couple of minutes.

    And (total bonus) I’m able to do two batches back-to-back. The girls always want mint-chocolate-chip, but I’m usually making plain vanilla to go with pie.

  9. Anonymous says:

    your directions worked great. i didnt use your recipe, though, since i didnt like that you didnt use a real vanilla bean and didnt have use egg and heavy cream in there, which provides the richness to the ice cream.

  10. Anon, I almost did the version with the egg, but wanted to start basic. As for the vanilla bean, I’ll be picking some up on my next trip to the West Side Market.

  11. I have the same machine, and I just keep the dasher in my freezer at all times. That way, I take it out at the very last minute and I know it’s frozen enough and stays that way for quite a while. Also, I believe you’re suppose to turn the machine on and then pour the mixture in through the top (I do it this way), which gets things moving right away.

  12. Gina, I keep it in the freezer too. But I still need to chill the cream until it’s nearly frozen before pouring it in. When I do that I can actually do two batches back-to-back. I just tried a batch of chocolate a couple of days ago, and it didn’t set up correctly.

  13. Thanks for this – just got an ice cream maker and can’t wait to try! Just to clarify, do you recommend 1-2 Tablespoons of vanilla or 1-2 Teaspoons? Thanks!

  14. Anon, you knew that sounded wrong, didn’t you? But you were too polite to just come right out and say, “Yo, you messed up the ingredients.”

    You are, of course, completely correct that it should have been teaspoons. And now that’s what it says.

  15. Krystal Wight Armstrong says:

    Is there a huge difference in using egg and vanilla bean? If so, is there further instruction on this not-so-basic 'advanced' recipe? 😉

  16. I've got the egg recipe on standby, but whenever I make this everyone loves it. I'm afraid I'll make the custard version and I'll be spoiled for the simple kind.

    For the vanilla, I use real vanilla extract, not artificial. So the flavor is still really good. Would making my own from a fresh bean be better? Hard to say without doing a side-by-side comparison.

  17. how long does it take and how much ice-cream do you get?

  18. Mine took about two hours in the freezer, then about ten minutes in the ice cream maker. At that point it was soft but edible. I put it in the freezer overnight.

    It makes about one quart.

  19. Thanks a lot…I’ve been trying to find the easiest ice cream recipe for a long time. It really helped a lot and the ingredients are easy to find. Thank you very much again..=)

  20. a few years ago breyers started adding tara gum to their vanilla and gar gum to other flavors..i asked them about this and they said people did’nt like the grainy texture it had . this was exactly why i liked it . the larger ice crystals made it feel good AND taste good. now its like frozen pudding just like dryers and most other brands..seems like most people think the creamier the better….breyers did send me some coupons as consolation..i sent them back..don’t need a coupon for a product i’m not going to buy anymore

  21. Dane, it sounds like you’d appreciate the frozen chocolate truffle pie, made with raw sugar.

  22. dane, drew is rite i appreciate the frozen choc truffle pie made with raw sugar geniver

  23. Hey There! I am new to the Blog…and let me first off just say that I am hooked! I never could understand how/why my Granny could sit at the family table and read recipes all morning..but after reading your blog I get it! I have found myself lost for hours just reading! Just an FYI I tried your recipe for pork in the crock pot..and it was AWESOME!!

    My question here is, I LOVE peach ice cream in the summer…how would I go abouts adding peaches to this recipe?

    Oh ya..**side note** the coffee can ice cream does work! lol when we make hand crank ice cream at Grannys we give the younger kids this to do to keep’em busy!

  24. Ashley, I’d peel and dice the peaches first, freeze them, and add them in right at the end. Maybe even mix them in by hand. I like chunks, though. If you want smaller bits, go ahead and do it in the food processor.

    • hi my name is shayla i had a taste for ice cream and so i looked up how to make homemade icecream and your website was the first thing i saw and i tell ya your blog helped me out alot ,thanks .And i also didnt know that icecream was so easy to make.

  25. do u hav to hav a ice cream maker to make ice cream?

  26. Laura, you don’t have to, but it makes it a whole lot easier. The alternative is a boy scout trick: Put the ingredients in a zip–top bag. Put that inside a second zip-top bag full of crushed ice and just enough water to make it slosh around. Mash the two bags around for about 10 or 15 minutes.

    You’ll need to cut the recipe in half, and it will be more soft-serve than from an ice-cream maker, but it’s quick and simple.

  27. Looks gr8 to me to I’m going to try it right now

  28. looking good cant wait to try these for my self

  29. Bianca Brown says:

    I would love to try some of this delicious ice cream. i think its lovely.


  1. […] me to try making my own cheese. In fairness, it never occurred to me to try making my own bread, or ice cream, or barbecue sauce either. Now, though — now that I know more about the junk that goes into […]

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