5 Ingredients or Fewer

Foolproof Ice Cream

August  4, 2009
4 Ratings
  • Serves about 1 1/4 quarts
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. - Tammy —Tammy

Test Kitchen Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 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.
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13 Reviews

Mindy S. September 16, 2020
This is the best recipe I've found yet. By following the thermometer, the ice cream texture came out perfectly. I used goat's milk and instead of sugar I used Lakanto golden sweetener (ground it into fine powder) and added flakes of chocolate with two drops of essential Peppermint oil (food grade). Delicious!
Robyn July 31, 2018
I have not tried your recipe as yet but I have tried and failed so many times but will try it this week - we have a ice cream churner that freezes the ice cream while churning it so one thing how do you stop it from going icy as this is my problem - I saw where you add 1 tbsp of vodka and helps it from going icy and this does work as I tried it not sure whether to add it to your recipe
booglix August 14, 2015
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).
procrastibaker October 8, 2013
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!
Mara H. August 25, 2013
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!
jkohn July 1, 2013
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?
Debbie L. November 12, 2011
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.
My P. June 16, 2011
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!
saltandpeppersf June 1, 2011
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.
Spork February 11, 2011
made this last night, added miniature chocolate chips, was delicious! thanks so much for posting =)
Kelsey B. August 5, 2009
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!)
Tammy August 11, 2009
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.
Merrill S. August 4, 2009
Tammy, this looks like such a great recipe! I love your precision, which is so important when making custard.