French Style Vanilla ice Cream

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| Servings: Makes 1 liter

Everyone needs a terrific vanilla ice cream recipe in their repertoire, and here it is. Keeping a tub of homemade vanilla ice cream in my freezer is standard policy, since I can’t think of any dessert that isn’t made better with a soft scoop of vanilla ice cream melting alongside.


  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
  • ¾ cup (150 g) sugar
  • 2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Warm the milk, 1 cup (250 ml) of the cream, and salt in a medium saucepan. If you are using some corn syrup it should be added here and not to the whisking of the egg yolks. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk and add the bean as well. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Pour the remaining 1 cup (250 ml) cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks together with the sugar.
  4. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  5. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. The temperature of the custard mix should be at 170°F/76.7°C.  Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Put the vanilla bean into the custard, add the vanilla extract, and stir until cool over an ice bath.
  6. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.
  7. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving it for another use, and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


This is my go to recipe for a good custard base which I then use to make alternative flavors, as well as just to enjoy as a great French vanilla ice cream. However here are some thoughts and comments that you may want to consider when making this ice cream.

  1. Before you churn the ice cream base, make sure it is properly cooled. I always (well almost always) let it chill in the refrigerator over night, but for the ice cream to properly churn without lots of ice crystals make sure the temperature is below 40°F.
  2. Basic chemistry plays here also. The higher the butterfat percentage the creamier the ice cream. You may want to consider increasing the mix of heavy cream compared to whole milk (never ever use skim). Also the inclusion of sugar is not just to sweeten the ice cream, the sugar lowers the point that the ice cream base turns into a crunchy ice. Thus the more sugar you add, the softer and less icy your batch will be. But also the kind of sugar you add also matters. High-viscosity liquid sweeteners like honey, glucose syrup, and yes, good ‘ol corn syrup make for a more viscous base, which translates into chewy richness in churned ice cream. Substituting a small portion of the plain table sugar in your recipe with one of these high-viscosity sweeteners can have a big impact on the final texture. However be careful with the percentages used. Honey can result in the ice cream becoming too sweet and turn it cloying. Consider using corn syrup which is only a third as sweet as table sugar, adds chewy viscosity, and allows me to boost the sugar level of a recipe for better texture without overwhelming the ice cream with sweetness. If you are going to swap out some of the sugar for corn syrup please consider these rules.
    1. Replace only half of the amount of sugar called for with corn syrup.
    2. Add 1 ½ units of corn syrup for every unit of sugar your are converting.
    3. Reduce the liquid volume you are adding to the recipe, by ¼ unit for every unit of sugar you replaced. The corn syrup’s liquid form will make up this difference.
    4. Thus if you want to use the maximum percentage of corn syrup you would use around ½ cup of corn syrup and around ½ cup of sugar (need to get to at least ¾ of a cup of sweetness in total). You would also then reduce the amount of milk used in the recipe by around ⅛ of a cup.
  3. To ensure that the ice cream has a little “icy crunch” texture, you need to add a stabilizer to your ice cream. A good resource to read on this topic is the book “Hello My Name is Ice Cream” by Dana Cree. One of the easiest stabilizers to use is cream cheese with incorporates a number of high quality stabilizers. Use a concentration of 5% (50g or ¼ cup per batch of ice cream) replacing 5% of the cream (12.5ml or 5% of a cup) in your recipe. Whisk softened cream cheese (just let it sit out at room temperature for an hour or so) with the chilled ice cream base to prevent the acidic cheese from curdling the base as it cooks.
  4. Another way to reduce the taste of iciness is to reduce the amount of milk by using some powered milk. You can add 20g or 3 tablespoons of powered milk and reduce the amount of milk by 25%. If you use milk power you add it to the sugar before mixing the sugar/milk powder to the ice cream.

Perfect Pairing: Make Chocolate Chip Ice Cream by drizzling in one recipe of dark chocolate Stracciatella (Page 210 of The Perfect Scoop).

Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz