Foolproof Ice Cream

By • August 4, 2009 11 Comments

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Author Notes: After making a number of ice cream recipes that did not turn out well, I dug into the "science" of making ice cream at home. Eventually I happened upon a PDF of the introduction to "How to Make Ice Cream," an out-of-print book published by The Cook's Illustrated Library, and put together this recipe from what it taught me. The recipe below is for vanilla, but you can adapt it to make lots of different flavors. - TammyTammy

Food52 Review: When we first read Tammy’s recipe, we were slightly intimidated by the use of temperatures, as we tend to rely on sight and feel when it comes to making ice cream. When the method worked perfectly, we realized that these details are really helpful for people who don’t have much experience with custards. Tammy’s recipe makes a perfect, fragrant and not-too-sweet vanilla ice cream, and she gives you the option to add your own flavors in the last step. After tasting the vanilla, we decided to play around, by folding in 1/ 3 teaspoon strong peppermint extract (we used Boyajian), 10 finely chopped spearmint leaves and 6 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate. It was some of the best mint chocolate chip ice cream we’ve ever had. - A&M

The Editors

Serves about 1 1/4 quarts

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  1. Heat milk and cream in a small saucepan with some sugar to 175 degrees. (Use a candy thermometer!)
  2. Meanwhile, beat the yolks with the remaining sugar at least 2 min. with an electric mixer or 4 min. with a whisk until pale yellow.
  3. Slowly pour a small amount of the heated milk-cream-sugar mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly as you pour.
  4. Whisk the thinned egg yolks back into the saucepan containing the remaining milk-cream-sugar.
  5. Scrape the insides of the vanilla bean into the saucepan.
  6. Heat to 180 degrees.
  7. Pour the cooked custard through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
  8. Chill custard to 40 degrees or lower. (I usually make the custard right before I go to sleep so it can chill in my refrigerator overnight.)
  9. Churn for 30 mins. If you have any add-ins, add to the ice cream for the last 30 seconds.
  10. Put in the freezer in an air-tight container for 2-4 hours to harden completely.
  11. 30 mins. before serving, transfer from the freezer to the fridge.
  • This recipe is a Wildcard Contest Winner!

More Great Recipes: Eggs|Desserts|Ice Cream & Frozen Desserts|Ice Cream

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Comments (11) Questions (2)


20 days ago booglix

This is the best ice cream recipe I've tried! Creamy, fluffy perfection. I steeped fresh mint leaves in it and added chopped Callebaut 54% chocolate. I plan to use this as my base from now on; much better and more consistent than other recipes (including David Leibovitz's, as much as I love him).


almost 2 years ago procrastibaker

I received an ice cream maker as a gift from my mother and finally got around to trying it out this week. My first test-run was this recipe, which was perfect for a first-timer like me! Having such precise temperatures and times took a lot of the guesswork and uncertainty out, and we're now enjoying our first delicious batch. I chilled it in an ice bath to speed things up (I'm very impatient), and cooled it to 45F (see? So impatient), and after 30 minutes of churning I had perfect, delicious vanilla ice cream. Next up: testing different flavor combinations!


about 2 years ago Mara Humphreys

thank you for posting such a precise recipe - just returned from Cape May, NJ where I was able to be treated to the delicious flavors at Bliss's homemade organic ice cream (chicory, lavendar vanillia, licorice, etc.) and have been dying to make ice cream at home - so far I have had nothing but flops!


about 2 years ago jkohn

this sounds a-maz-ing. is there anyway to lighten it up with substitutions for those days that you just want something but dont want to over do it too?


almost 4 years ago Debbie Lawson

Great basic ice cream recipe. Another one I've tried uses 2 cups cream and 1 cup whole milk. I made it yesterday afternoon. It was great to use a little less cream in this one. I added chocolate nibs to some of the ice cream and used the bulk of the recipe for serving with a raspberry pie. Although the ice cream was delicious last night, it was much better in the morning (yes, for breakfast) than last night, as the flavors had more time to intensify and the texture was firmer.


about 4 years ago My Pantry Shelf

I made this ice cream last week, it was delicious. Definitely creamy. I served it with a cherry rhubarb sauce that was just slightly sweetened. Absolutely a keeper. Thank you!


over 4 years ago saltandpeppersf

I've never made ice cream before so I definitely appreciate the temperatures included in the instructions... plus, now I want to go out and buy gelato dishes and spoons! Great recipe.


over 4 years ago Spork

made this last night, added miniature chocolate chips, was delicious! thanks so much for posting =)


about 6 years ago Kelsey Banfield

I LOVE making ice cream and this recipe is spot-on. It would be great on it's own, or as a base for other flavors. My current favorites are peach ice-cream and peppermint bark (2 v. different flavors!)


about 6 years ago Tammy

Peppermint bark! So much better than mint choc. chip everyone's used to!

How do you make your peach? I find whenever I add fruit to this base, the end result is disappointingly icy.


about 6 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Tammy, this looks like such a great recipe! I love your precision, which is so important when making custard.