I love vanilla ice cream.  So one of the first things I did when getting my ice cream machine was to make vanilla ice cream.  I used extract and it was not the best.  So bad, that I never posted about it.  However a couple of weeks ago I got my hands on some Madagascar vanilla beans.  They are not the cheapest ingredient around, but they pack a ton of flavor.  Further once you use them for the ice cream you can use the pods to flavor sugar or other ingredients.

This recipe takes a while to make, however it is worth every second.  The ice cream is rich and creamy and totally delicious.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream – Adapted from David Lebovitz

  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium sauce pan, heat the milk, salt, and sugar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

Let the mixture get infused with the vanilla flavor

In another medium bowl, stir together the egg yolks.  Then temper the eggs with the milk mixture.  To do this, gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Then place the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.  I checked this temperature-wise and figured out it was around 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook to 170

Once thickened, strain the mixture into a chilled bowl.  To do this, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

Once chilled, remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  For mine it is a quick spin in the machine for about 25-30 minutes.

Quick Spin

You can eat it in a soft served consistency right from the ice cream maker or freeze it in a covered container and get a harder consistency.

Scoop into a covered container to freeze

Overall this ice cream is rich, creamy and full of vanilla flavor.  Vanilla beans are the only way to go when making ice cream.

My Favorite Part

You thought licking the frosting bowl was fun.  Scooping out the remainder from the ice cream tub is the best.

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.


  1. Isn't that Cuisinart the BEST ice cream machine? When you eat homemade vanilla bean ice cream, it makes you wonder why there is any other flavor. Until you put Heath crumbled toffee into your ice cream.

    • @Chris – The Cuisinart is the best machine around. I will have to mix in some heath bars next time I make some. Thanks for the idea.

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