Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for HOMEMADE ice cream! This sweet treat is rich, creamy, packed with vanilla flavor, and insanely easy to make.

Homemade vanilla ice cream

When was the last time you made homemade ice cream? If it wasn’t this summer, it was wayyy too long ago. Break out your ice cream maker, and make this homemade ice cream recipe stat!

You can buy vanilla ice cream at any grocery store, but it’ll never taste as good as the stuff you make yourself. This homemade ice cream is rich and creamy, with an indulgent vanilla flavor that even chocolate aficionados will love. And the best part? This homemade ice cream recipe is so easy to make. We’re talking 5 ingredients and 15-ish minutes of hands-on prep. Full disclosure, there are a few hands-off parts of this recipe that require some patience, but once you taste this homemade ice cream, I think you’ll agree that every second of waiting was worth it. It really is the best summer treat.

Homemade ice cream recipe ingredients

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe Ingredients

My homemade vanilla ice cream recipe starts with 5 basic ingredients:

  • Heavy cream – It creates the rich ice cream base. For a dairy-free alternative, check out this vegan ice cream recipe!
  • Whole milk – I don’t recommend replacing it with reduced fat or skim. Whole milk’s higher fat content ensures that the homemade ice cream comes out creamy, not icy.
  • Cane sugar – For sweetness.
  • Vanilla extract – For warm vanilla flavor. If you happen to have vanilla bean paste on hand, it’s a fun alternative. It gives the ice cream the same rich vanilla flavor, plus a speckled vanilla bean appearance.
  • And salt – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Q: What about eggs? Some homemade ice cream recipes call for eggs or egg yolks to make the ice cream richer or thicker. I don’t use them here because leaving them out makes this recipe ultra-simple to prepare. And for my money, it’s just as delicious as one with a custard base!

Heavy cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt in saucepan with whisk

How to Make Homemade Ice Cream

So, you have your ingredients! Here’s my simple method for how to make ice cream:

First thing’s first! At least 12 hours before you want to make homemade ice cream, freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker. It needs to be fully chilled in order for the ice cream to firm up.

Next, make the ice cream base. I recommend doing this step anywhere from 2 to 24 hours in advance. If you do it less than 2 hours ahead, the ice cream won’t thicken as nicely when you churn it.

Combine the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Warm for 5 minutes, whisking often, until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture is warmed through.

Then, chill the ice cream base. Transfer it to a heatproof bowl, cover, and chill for 2 hours or overnight.

Homemade ice cream in ice cream maker

Churning Homemade Ice Cream

When you’re ready to make ice cream, churn the ice cream mixture in your ice cream maker according the manufacturer’s instructions.

We have the KitchenAid stand mixer ice cream maker attachment (we’re obsessed!), and we typically churn the ice cream base for 20 to 30 minutes. This Cuisinart Ice Cream maker is also great.

Note: The ice cream will have a soft texture immediately after churning, similar to soft serve. It’s delicious that way, but I like it even better after 2+ hours in the freezer. Then, it’s perfectly scoopable—great in a cone, on summer desserts, or on its own with toppings!

Strawberry ice cream cone

Toppings & Variations

This vanilla ice cream is wonderful plain, but toppings certainly don’t hurt! Here are a few topping ideas to get you started:

  • Try something fruity, like strawberry compote, blueberry compote, or your favorite fresh fruit. Diced bananas, blueberries, and cherries would all be good choices.
  • Go nuts. Drizzle on peanut butter or almond butter, or sprinkle on toasted almonds or peanuts. Shredded coconut is a yummy topping too!
  • Choose chocolate. Chocolate chips are always a great option, but crumbled chocolate chip cookies or brownie chunks make for a next-level sundae.
  • Keep it classic. You can never go wrong with salted caramel sauce, hot fudge, and/or whipped cream.

Not feeling plain old vanilla? To make a different ice cream flavor, fold 2 to 2 1/2 cups of finely diced mix-ins into the ice cream immediately after churning. Adding fresh strawberries makes a wonderful strawberry ice cream, but another fresh fruit, mini chocolate chips, or cookie or brownie crumbles would be great too.

Storage

Use a spatula to transfer the soft ice cream from the ice cream maker into a quart-size airtight container. If you like, press a piece of plastic wrap or foil into the top of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming.

Freeze for at least 2 hours and for up to a month. The ice cream will be easy to scoop on the first day, but after that, you may need to let it sit at room temperature for several minutes before you scoop it. It gets firmer after more time in the freezer.

Homemade ice cream recipe

What to Serve with Homemade Ice Cream

We love this homemade vanilla ice cream on its own, but it’s also great alongside other summer desserts. Add a scoop to any of these recipes to take it over the top:

Enjoy!

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Homemade Ice Cream

rate this recipe:
4.96 from 22 votes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Serves 4 to 8
This homemade vanilla ice cream recipe is the BEST summer treat! With only 5 ingredients, it couldn't be easier to make. Just remember to freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker at least 12 hours before you plan to churn the ice cream. See the post above for mix-in and topping suggestions!

Ingredients

  • cups heavy cream
  • cups whole milk
  • cup cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Warm over medium-low heat, whisking often, for 5 minutes, or until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is warmed through.
  • Pour into a heatproof bowl, cover, and chill for 2 hours or overnight.
  • Remove the chilled ice cream base from the fridge and whisk well. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, typically 20 to 30 minutes. The ice cream will be soft after churning. For firmer ice cream, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for 2 to 4 hours before serving.
  • Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month. If the ice cream is too firm to scoop straight from the freezer, let sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften.

Notes

Makes 1 quart

26 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Shaylee
    02.16.2024

    Hi, I’m wondering if using almond milk instead of whole milk in this recipe would work? I know it probably would alter the texture and might have to churn longer. Just curious if that will completely ruin it? Thank you!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      02.16.2024

      Hi Shaylee, I’m not sure that almond milk would work here. The ice cream would be much icier (not as creamy) with the lower fat content. If you’re looking for a fully dairy-free recipe, I recommend trying this vegan ice cream. It’s delicious!

  2. David Marshall
    01.28.2024

    4 stars
    It was absolutely delicious but I had to churn it twice using a Cuisinart ice cream/frozen yogurt maker and two different buckets for a total of 50+ minutes. I cooled the liquid ingredients for 2 hours in the refrigerator before churning. Any advice on how to get it to form and harden more quickly would be greatly appreciated.

    • Skitts
      02.02.2024

      It won’t be hard straight from then maker. You have to put it in an airtight container and freeze it for a few hours, possibly even overnight. Amazon sells ice cream containers that work very well.

  3. Lauren
    12.30.2023

    5 stars
    I made it today; it’s super yummy, so very creamy. I didn’t have whole milk so used half and half instead. Could this base be used to make ginger ice cream? If so, what is the best way to infuse the ginger flavor?

    • Rebecca
      01.30.2024

      The local grocery stores sells these instant ginger packs, usually for tea. I would try that

  4. made it today just exactly as you described. Added chocolatechips for the last 3 mintues, Serving it to Christmas guests when they come to my healing room for tinctures and preserves. I m also going to make mango icecream with cocoanut milk.
    11.17.2023

    Yummy easy and right on with the ingredients

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      11.17.2023

      I’m so glad you loved the ice cream!

  5. Michelle
    09.11.2023

    5 stars
    I made this yesterday. I had some blueberries and added them wow it was amazing thank you

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.11.2023

      I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Judeen
    08.14.2023

    Delicious ice cream! Have added half the amount of sugar and still the best! Thank you for this recipe – so easy!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.16.2023

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  7. Nicole
    07.14.2023

    Hi, there! I recently purchased the KitchenAid ice cream maker. Help! The instructions say to freeze the bowl for 16 hours with the freezer on the highest setting. Is that just the first time? I have issues already with the fridge side freezing, and the freezer is not on the highest setting. I think my whole fridge might freeze if I alter the setting. In your experience, what should I do with this ice cream maker? I’m eager to start using it but now, also, a little intimidated.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.17.2023

      Hi Nicole, the ice cream bowl needs to be frozen overnight every time you use it (most ice cream makers work this way unless you get the fancy types with their own compressor). I would try freezing it at the setting you have your freezer currently at and just see how that goes – as long as it’s frozen, it should be fine.

      Just a side note – I also once had a fridge where the fridge side froze. I could hardly keep my vegetables from freezing, so I feel for you.

      • Roxanna Pierce
        01.07.2024

        I’ve made ice cream with these same basic instructions but didn’t have time to freeze the bowl first so when I was done cooking the mixture I put it into the churning bowl and placed it into some ice water to cool it down first then I put it into the ice cream churning machine with the ice and salt surrounding the bowl as usual and it worked just fine. It churned for approx 25 minutes then i transfered it to a storage bowl and froze it for an hour and then served it. It was great.

  8. Janeane
    07.06.2023

    5 stars
    We made this for the Fourth of July, and it was amazing! Thanks for the recipe.

  9. Carol A Shannon
    07.04.2023

    Will whipping cream or unflavored kefir work for the cream?

    Thank you.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.06.2023

      Hi Carol, whipping cream should be just fine – I’m not sure about the kefir.

  10. Alice
    07.02.2023

    5 stars
    I tried yesterday into today and it was wonderful! it took FAR longer than 30 min to freeze in my ice cream maker (closer to 60 min) but that could easily be the maker since it’s probably 25 years old. Ice cream came out pretty sweet so I might omit some of the sugar next time. was lovely with spring strawberries in it. Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.03.2023

      I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  11. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com
    06.26.2023

    will have to get my ice cream maker bowl out and refreeze it before I start, but thank you, vanilla is my favorite and I haven’t used my ice cream maker at all this year!

  12. Dawn
    06.26.2023

    Can you suggest any alternatives for the cane sugar?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.26.2023

      Hi Dawn, regular granulated sugar would work or coconut sugar may work (it would change the color).

    • Teresa
      07.18.2023

      I used 1/3 of a cup of maple syrup and omitted the heating up step since the sugar didn’t need to melt down. It was fabulous and plenty sweet enough.

    • Jeffrey
      02.11.2024

      Monk fruit or monk fruit oil

  13. Lei
    06.25.2023

    5 stars
    it appears incredibly simple to make, I will definitely give it a try!

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.