French Ice Cream Custard Recipe

French ice cream is based on a cooked egg custard. Rumor has it you can't call anything "ice cream" in France unless it has at least 8 egg yolks per quart of milk or cream. True or not, this does make for an amazingly rich and delicious custard ice cream base.

french ice cream custard recipe

Photo: D. Monniaux, under a GNU Free Documentation License


2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole milk

1 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise

8 large egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Heat cream and milk in small sauce pan until hot, but not simmering.

  2. Scrape seeds out of a vanilla bean into the milk.

  3. Take pan off stove and cool.

  4. Beat egg yolks, sugar and salt with an electric mixer until white and foamy.

  5. Pour half a cup of hot milk slowly into the egg mixture. Mix.

  6. Slowly pour in the remainder of the milk and cream and mix.

  7. Return mixture to pan and cook until it reaches about 82 C (180F). The mixture should coat the back of a spoon and running your finger through it should leave a line.

  8. Fill a bowl with ice and place a smaller bowl in it.

  9. Fit a sieve over the smaller bowl.

  10. Pour the custard into the sieve and strain.

  11. Let it cool, stirring often.


Use this base as a French vanilla ice cream recipe, or add other flavorings to make a decadently rich desert.

Note that you can save the used vanilla beans to make your own vanilla sugar. Simply rinse them, and when dry, store in a container with sugar.


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