Jeni Britton Bauer's Ice Cream Base For Home Ice Cream Machines

August 16, 2012
5 Ratings
Photo by Kelsey McClellan/Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
  • Prep time 29 hours
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • Makes 1 quart (2 pints)
Author Notes

In 2008, Food & Wine editor Kristin Donnelly asked me if I could create an ice cream recipe for home cooks. After making more than 75 batches (with a Cuisinart Ice-20 1 & 1/2-quart canister machine), I felt like I'd come up with a base recipe that yielded ice cream that had the same taste, texture, consistency, and finish as the ice cream we made in our professional kitchen. Here is the base recipe, which you can also find (with recipes for lots of flavors) in my book, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

“Excerpted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan Books). Copyright 2011.” —Jeni Britton Bauer

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces cream cheese softened/room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  1. Here’s how to make the base to make any ice cream flavor in my book, or any ice cream flavor you can dream up.
  3. PREP 3 BOWLS In a small bowl, mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to make a smooth slurry. In a medium bowl, add the salt and room-temperature cream cheese and whip all the bumps out. In a large bowl, make an ice bath (heavy on the ice) and set aside.
  4. COOK Pour the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and remaining milk into a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, set a timer for precisely 4 minutes and boil for exactly 4 minutes—the timing is critical. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  5. CHILL Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Do this a little bit at a time so that you can whip out any lumps of cream cheese. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag, seal, and submerge the bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until very cold, about 30 minutes.
  6. FREEZE Cut the corner off the bag, pour the chilled base into the frozen canister of your ice cream machine, press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
  7. HOW TO TELL WHEN YOUR ICE CREAM IS DONE The ice cream is finished at the exact moment when the machine isn’t freezing the ice cream anymore; the ice cream will begin to pull away from the sides (about 25 minutes). If you stop too soon, there will be a thin layer of really dense ice cream on the sides of the canister.
  8. SERVE When you remove the ice cream from the freezer, let it sit and relax for 5 to 10 minutes before you scoop and serve it—it doesn’t need to melt, but it does need to thaw slightly. Ideally, serve and eat it while it’s quite firm but pliable and you are able to easily roll it into a ball. Once you’ve scooped it, return any remaining ice cream to the freezer. If the ice cream has melted too much at room temperature, refreezing it will result in an ice cream that is too icy.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Geoff Stuart
    Geoff Stuart
  • Pia S
    Pia S
  • Joyce Vining Morgan
    Joyce Vining Morgan
  • Deborah G
    Deborah G
  • bunditoast
Jeni Britton Bauer has honed her ice cream-making skills for nearly two decades and is the author of the New York Times best selling Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

32 Reviews

mprien October 18, 2023
I made this recipe yesterday and it was delicious. The texture was perfect!
Monica B. September 30, 2019
Exactly how I think vanilla or sweet cream ice cream should taste. Reminds me of my childhood homemade ice cream.
Mackennea B. August 8, 2018
Oh. My. Goodness. In the ice cream world, this might be blasphemy (Jeni forgive my sins) but al I had was 2% milk, so I subbed it in for all the milk and this recipe stil turned out amazing!! Silky and custard-y with no yolk to strain out or leftover egg white. A chewy, gelato-like texture served just after churning and still as good after a night in the freezer. My new go-to.
denise June 3, 2017
I have to say, I tried this recipe twice and the ice cream that came out of it was honestly disgusting... the cornstarch taste is very noticeable and it coats and sticks to your tongue. Not sure if I did something wrong but I followed the recipe to the letter both times.

I am lucky to live right next to Jeni's and I have their ice cream pretty often. It's absolutely delicious and it doesnt seem like they use cornstarch in any of their recipes, it's usually tapioca starch that is used and no corn syrup. I think I might try tapioca starch instead and see how that goes.
Geoff S. June 22, 2016
Washington cherries are in full swing right now, so I recommend picking up a bag, pitting them, and dehydrating them in a 160-degree oven for a few hours, followed by 110-degrees for 24 hours. Not all ovens can do this, but for the second cycle you can simply use the pilot light.

This is not off-topic because I will be chopping up the cherries with some terrific organic dark chocolate to get DIY Cherry Garcia.
Geoff S. June 22, 2016
Far too sweet for me, but maybe that's because I used Lyle's Golden Syrup instead of Karo (got that tip from Serious Eats). I'll cut the sugar back to 1/3 cup and that should do it.

For those of you who are interested in lactose-free alternatives, I went with half 2% LF milk and half half-and-half (non-LF), Texture is divine, so I'll try next week's batch with full-fat LF milk and no cream or half-and-half.

Also want to experiment with xanthan gum (1/4 tsp) vs. the 4 tsp of cornstarch. The cooking is tedious but it's worth it for an egg yolk-free ice cream.
Tushar May 10, 2016
Semifreddo using same recipe
Pia S. December 23, 2014
I made this ice cream recently (to make dark chocolate ice cream using cocoa powder, coffee and bittersweet chocolate based on a Saveur recipe), and just wanted to comment that it has the best texture of any ice cream recipe I've tried yet - still creamy after fully setting up in the freezer!
Suzanne August 9, 2014
In response to Joyce, there's definitely a mix up in instructions 6 and 7. I have Jeni's book and have made her ice creams many time. #6 is right up to the second comma. After the ice cream base is in your machine, turn it on and process for about 25 minutes. The second half of #6 is misplaced, and belongs in #7. After the ice cream has churned about 25 minutes, when you think it's thick enough, you put it in a container, press parchment onto the surface of the soft ice cream and put that into the freezer to firm up. I don't know how things got messed up with the instructions, but it would confuse anyone.
Joyce V. August 4, 2014
So the instructions 6 and 7 confuse me - you freeze the mix in the Cuisinart container for four hours and then use the machine to stir it against the sides until it pulls away from the sides? Surely not -
Deborah G. May 27, 2013
We just made this for the first time and added 3/4 tsp cinnamon to serve with grilled peaches and a basalmic caramel sauce. Delicious! The texture is perfect, the taste is sumptuous. I can't wait to try new flavors.
taratrullinger November 12, 2012
I have made this before and it's delicious. I want to combine this recipe with the Peanut butter and jelly recipe here:

When should I mix in the peanut butter?
connieminky September 1, 2012
OH MY GOSH!!! This ice cream is fantastic and you should buy her book!!! I have been playing with it all summer!
tallmomrising August 26, 2012
using the Cuisinart frozen cylinder ice cream maker, my ice cream starts to have an icy textural change after 5/7 days in the freezer. My husband thinks this has to do with both the home maker and the adapted recipe. I am on a quest for how to make it and keep it as delicious as right after it is frozen to hard packed. any incite? I have asked the experts at Jeni's splendid creams and am still waiting on a response.
TValentine September 7, 2012
I have found if I place a sheet of wax paper directly on top of the ice cream and push down to get rid of air the homemade ice cream lasts for weeks. otherwise it gets very icy.
bunditoast August 26, 2012
I assume you mean "I make an ice bath in an 8quart bowl . . "
tallmomrising August 26, 2012
yes, that is correct, an ice bath. Only drawback is I use 3/4 of the ice in my ice maker for a double batch.
Mickey0627 August 25, 2012
Great! Thank you for your help!
tallmomrising August 21, 2012
On the ziplock bag: I never use it. instead I have two methods. for fast chilled ice cream base, I make a bath in an 8qt large bowl and nest a 6qt large bowl inside, I pour the base in the 6qt bowl and wisk every couple minutes - it's cool in about 20 min. For bases with ingredients that need to steep longer (in my opinion) like vanilla bean and basil leaves. I pour my base w/ additional ingredients into a wide moth mason jar, and I leave it in the fridge overnight, then pull out the large solids before adding to the machine. On the cream cheese: I microwave it right in the same medium glass pyrex bowl that I whip it in. 30 seconds @ 1/2 power. works wonderfully! Lastly, for black cherry I'd cut them in half & make a sauce using/adapting the fruit sauce recipes in the book, layer in as you pack it, or swirl it in during the last 30 seconds in the machine.
bunditoast August 20, 2012
Not relevant to the above recipe, but I have a friend that loves Black Cherry ice cream. Is there a reason why I rarely see Black Cherry ice cream? My friend said it was popular in the 40s and 50s.
bella S. August 19, 2012
I am curious about the answer regarding the Ziploc freezer bag. Today we put the ice cream in a bowl, and then put that into the frig. It seemed to work. Is there any reason not to do that? Then what would be the reason to put it into a plastic bag?
nutcakes September 14, 2016
Old question, but you shouldn't put hot mixtures in the refrigerator because it will compromise the temp of your fridge and possibly cause other things to spoil. But if you let cool first, sure you can chill in the fridge. The ice bath just speeds things up.
Mickey0627 August 19, 2012
Is there a way to make the ice cream without putting the hot mixture in a zip loc bag? I don't really want to put hot liquids into a plastic bag.