Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

What's the best homemade vanilla ice cream recipe? Try all our vanilla ice cream recipes and decide for yourself!

A great homemade vanilla ice cream recipe is the mainstay of any ice cream maker's repertoire. It can be the star in its own right, or the canvas for any number of variations or additions you want to mix in.

Vanilla is hands down the most popular ice cream flavor in the world, outselling the second most popular flavor – chocolate – by three to one.

The secret to a really fine vanilla ice cream is the quality of the vanilla itself. Use a poor vanilla essence and it won't matter how fabulous your base was.

homemade vanilla ice cream recipe - vanilla essence

Photo by Yardensachs under a CC 3.0 Share-Alike license

Vanilla beans are one of the most labor intensive crops in the world, which is what makes them so expensive (the second most expensive spice after saffron). You may find three different kinds of beans – Bourbon - which comes from Madagascar, Tahitian and Mexican. If you chance upon cheap beans, don't waste your money. You get what you pay for. And remember to get the maximum use out of your beans - stick used beans in a canister of sugar and you'll have your own vanilla sugar.

All this is not to say you can only make good ice cream with vanilla beans. Although they do make a difference, you can still get excellent results by using a good-quality vanilla essence. In fact, one of our recipes (Double Vanilla) calls for both, beans and essence, because they each bring a different quality to the ice cream. Splurge on the best vanilla essence you can afford – it will make all the difference.

When you use vanilla beans, let them infuse in hot milk for at least 30 minutes to get the full flavor, but when using vanilla essence, add it to your base just before you chill it.

Since vanilla is so popular, it stands to reason that homemade vanilla ice cream recipes abound, so we won't limit you to just one. The first three recipes are custard-based, while the last three are no-cook ice cream recipes.

You'll notice some call for heavy cream, others for whipping cream and still another for half-and-half. Remember that more butter fat will result in a richer ice cream, but it won't keep as long in the freezer. (Of course, that shouldn't be much of a problem. We doubt you'll have many leftovers.)

We can't say there's just one best homemade vanilla ice cream; there's a whole range of different kinds of vanilla ice creams and we hope you enjoy them all!

Click here for even more vanilla ice cream recipes and tips on how to make ice cream.

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