Vanilla Ice Cream

Or, the best ice cream base ever.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? I’m sure we can make it work…

May is ice cream season! Of course, that means that summer is around the corner and baby and I will be frequenting the Lighthouse for soft-serve strawberry ice cream. But it also means that I can serve ice cream for dessert whenever I have company. And although I love going out for ice cream (even though Zeke doesn’t, despite his love for cake batter ice cream), homemade ice cream often tastes better, especially when you use as many egg yolks as I did in this recipe. Plus, I know exactly what the ingredients are. That’s always a plus for me.

I know, I know. You think I’m boring for posting a vanilla ice cream recipe. I mean, it’s just vanilla. And we have so many more interesting flavors on here. But you’re wrong. I’m not boring. This is really one of the greatest, richest, and custard-ish ice creams I have ever made. And I don’t only eat it plain, though it is amazing in its natural state. I combine it with the orange sherbet I posted a while back, for a delicious creamsicle dessert. Or I add chopped candies, like peanut butter cups. Or add some cinnamon to the mix and cookie dough during the last minute of freezing, and voila! Cookie dough ice cream. The possibilities are endless. Alton wins again

This recipe is different than Alton’s other vanilla ice cream recipe from the episode Churn, Baby, Churn. This is from Churn, Baby, Churn II, and can be found in Good Eats 2 and here.

Just make sure you have something to do with 9 egg whites. That’s right, you will have 9 leftover egg whites after making this ice cream. Of course, you can make some angel food cake, meringues, or just a lot of omelets. But that requires a lot of people to want to eat your awesome desserts.

Vanilla Ice Cream, adapted from Alton Brown:


  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream) –> instead of the heavy cream/half and half mixture you can use 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream and 1 1/2 cups of whole milk. Don’t try to go all low fat on me and substitute with skim milk or anything. This is ice cream, it’s supposed to be rich and fattening.
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (I used half a bean from inside my vanilla extract bottle. You can also omit this and just add an extra teaspoon of vanilla at the end. Or you can use vanilla sugar instead of regular sugar)
  • 9 egg yolks (the origincal recipe calls for 8, but I made it EXTRA luscious)
  • 9 ounces sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Combine the half and half, cream, and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Small bubbles should form around the edges, but make sure the mixture doesn’t boil.

2. Whisk the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl until they lighten in color. Add the sugar gradually and whisk until even lighter and smooth.

3. Temper the yolks: Slowly ladle one third of the hot cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly. Return everyting to the pot.

4. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the custard reaches 170-175 degrees, or coats the back of a wooden spoon.

5. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the custard into a large bowl (wash the original mixing bowl and use that). Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then add the vanilla and transfer to the fridge until the temperature drops below 40 degrees (or overnight).

6. Freeze in ice cream maker for 25-30 minutes.. If you want to add mix-ins, do this after 20 minutes. Then transfer to freezer to harden for 3-4 hours. Enjoy!