Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

vanilla bean ice cream

When I bought an ice cream maker, I envisioned an endless supply of homemade vanilla bean ice cream, on the ready for topping warm homemade desserts. My fairy tale became much more feasible this week when I discovered that I could adapt my fresh mint ice cream recipe into a light vanilla bean ice cream. Now that I know how to make it, I hope to have a pint in stock at all times. I’m in ice cream heaven!

This ice cream perfectly scoopable straight from the freezer, and whether savored on its own or topping an oven-warmed dessert, it’s a perfect scoop indeed. Lighter than most, it calls for 2% milk and half and half rather than whole milk and heavy cream. It’s more like an ice cream/gelato hybrid than an intensely creamy, heavy ice cream. Homemade ice cream recipes generally call for 5 to 6 eggs, but this one only requires 2, which makes it less expensive, too. That said, organic milk and eggs go a long way in making this ice cream so tasty. They’re worth it!

light vanilla bean ice cream
homemade vanilla bean ice cream
scoop of vanilla ice cream

Light Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • ¾ cups turbinado (raw) sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1½ teaspoons real vanilla extract
  1. Combine milk and half-and-half in a medium sized, heavy sauce pan or Dutch oven.
  2. Use a small paring knife to slice open the vanilla bean (lengthwise from top to bottom). Use a spoon to scrape out the insides. Add the insides and the rest of the vanilla bean to the pan.
  3. Over medium-high heat, heat the mixture until tiny bubbles form around the edge (which should be about 180 degrees). Do not let it boil!
  4. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for ten minutes.
  5. In a new bowl, combine sugar, salt and egg yolks. Whisk the mixture until it is pale.
  6. Temper the milk mixture by gradually adding half of the milk mixture to the egg mixture, while stirring constantly with a whisk.
  7. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the pan with the rest of the milk.
  8. Cook over medium-low heat for about two minutes (or to 160 degrees), stirring constantly.
  9. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  10. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to speed the process. Place the bowl in the fridge overnight. That way the mixture will have time to cool completely, and more time to soak up the flavor from the vanilla bean. If you don’t have time to let it sit overnight, be sure that it is at least thoroughly and completely chilled before proceeding to the next step. The colder it is, the creamier it will be.
  11. Use a spoon to scoop out the solid vanilla bean, and discard it.
  12. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. In the meantime, chill your freezer-safe ice cream container in the freezer so the ice cream won’t melt when you transfer it.
  13. Transfer the ice cream to your container and freeze it for a few hours. Enjoy perfectly scoopable, delicious vanilla bean ice cream!

Since today is officially the first day of fall, let’s hear it for fall desserts! What’s your favorite? Be sure to comment below or on my new Facebook page!


  1. says

    I’m all about homemade ice cream, but my lighter versions usually freeze hard as a rock – the fact that your vanilla ice cream is scoop-able straight from the freezer speaks volumes :). Once I tire of pumpkin desserts, I will definitely be making this!

  2. says

    Yum! Vanilla bean is my favorite flavor for ice cream. This summer I did an experiment trying out all the different types of vanilla beans and comparing their flavors. I found Mexican vanilla bean too rich for summer (but perfect for winter). In the end I loved the Madagascar vanilla bean for it’s balanced rich, sweet, and delicate flavor.

  3. says

    I’m swooning just looking at this! Can’t wait till I;m home for the holidays and have access to an ice cream maker; I;m totally trying this! I totally recommend making ice cream with Greek yogurt, too. It’s a lot lighter, but super delicious (it works well with anise and lemon!)!

  4. says

    Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing! I love having a few little tastes of ice cream when it’s just finished churning, all soft serve-like. So yummy :)

  5. says

    OOHH… I must try this. I just got an ice cream maker and this seems like such a healthy option. The first (and only) one I made was a fresh corn ice cream that was divine. Hopefully, I will get around to posting about it soon :)

  6. simone says

    Hi there…have just ordered an ice cream maker and cant wait to start making my own..this looks deliciously simple; just wondering, I am planning on using raw milk from my local farmer to make all my ice cream, so would I need to make any adjustments with other ingredients, or just substitute 3 cups raw milk for the above recipe? thanks alot…

    • says

      Hi Simone, that is a really good question and I’m not entirely sure I know the answer. Three cups of raw whole milk will produce a different fat content than the recipe given above, and I’m not sure what the resulting texture would be like. In Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at Home, Jeni says, “If you are using nonhomogenized milk and cream, you will need to take an extra step to fully homogenize the mixture. Otherwise, the butterfat will clump together in the churning process and your ice cream will be buttery and grainy.” She goes on to say that after the mixture has been heated, “pour the mixture into a food processor, process for 2 minutes, and then chill it in an ice bath (I think you could probably chill it as described in the recipe above). Just before you pour the base into the ice cream machine, return the base to the food processor for another 2 minutes.” Hope this information helps!

  7. Katherine says

    I was wondering, is it bad if there is still egg/sugar clumps that are uncooked in the mixture when you put it in the fridge? Is it un-healthy?

    • says

      Hmm, I’m not quite sure what you’re describing. The egg and sugar should be mixed in well with the rest, so there shouldn’t be any difference in texture from those ingredients. If you overcook the mixture, the egg will start to scramble, or in other words clump up. If that happened, I would just scoop out the scrambled bits and proceed with the rest of the recipe. If you can still see sugar granules, I don’t think that will be a problem. Hopefully they will dissolve by the time you’re ready to pour the mixture into the machine. Hope that answers your question!

  8. Angie says

    I have an old fashioned 6 qt ice cream maker. I’m wondering how to adapt this recipe for this type quantity.

    • says

      Sorry Angie, I’m not sure. This recipe yields about a quart or less, so you could perhaps multiply it to make a larger batch in your ice cream maker.

  9. Katie Capuano says

    I know this is an older posting but I needed a great, lighter ice cream for my heavier brownie dinner party contribution on Sunday and KNEW to look here. It was so delicious. Only tricky part was how soft it was, melted super fast, but 100% rave reviews. Happen to have left over ingredients (along w some extra chocolate chips) so I guess I should make a batch for home.

    • says

      Thanks, Katie! Glad the ice cream was a hit! If you like fresh mint, I also have a mint ice cream recipe that based on this one. I bet that would be pretty good with chocolate chips!

  10. Randi says

    I have made this ice cream twice and it came out perfectly both times. I added vegan chocolate chips and walnuts at the at the last 5 minutes of time in the ice cream maker.

Leave a comment below:

Your comments make my day. Thank you!

Note: Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: