Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla ice cream Vanilla ice cream is one of the most popular but at the same time most under-appreciated flavours. In our shops, people often order it apologetically, half expecting criticism at being unadventurous. However, if I visit an ice cream shop, I will almost always sample their vanilla. When you are making a strong flavour, perhaps you can cover up any inadequacies. With vanilla, however, it is either good or it is not, and you get the full flavour of the base ice cream. There’s no hiding.

Fanaile Good vanilla ice cream is not only hard to make, it can also be very expensive if you use the real thing. We use four different natural vanillas in our ice cream to get the right balance – two types of bean, and two types of essence. Both of the essences are over 100 euro a litre – one is 160 a litre. It’s the most expensive ingredient we use.

When making vanilla at home, it’s not necessary to use four vanillas. The following recipe calls for a single vanilla bean. Sometimes it’s better not to over-complicate!

Murphys Single Bean Vanilla Ice Cream


1 cup Sugar 
5 Egg Yolk 
1 3/8 Cups Cream
1 1/8 Cups Milk 
1 Vanilla bean

What to do:

  1. Beat the sugar and egg yolks together until thick and pale yellow. 
  2. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and put in a saucepan with the milk.
  3. Bring the milk to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
  4. Remove the vanilla bean.
  5. Beat the milk into the eggs and sugar in a slow stream.
  6. Pour the mixture back into pan, add the vanilla bean, and place over low heat. 
  7. Stir until the custard thickens (around 60C).
  8. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds from it with a spoon or blunt knife. Stir the seeds into the custard, using a whisk to disperse them evenly.
  9. Allow the custard to cool.
  10. Mix in the cream, beating for one minute.
  11. Freeze using a domestic ice cream machine, or cover and place in the freezer.

Vanilla ice cream melting6 Servings

Notes: 1. If you don’t have a vanilla bean, you can substitute with vanilla essence. It’s hard to say how much, since the essences vary so much. Mix it into the cool custard in small amounts until you have the right amount of flavour.

2. To pasteurise the eggs, heat the custard to 73C and keep at that temperature for three minutes. Use a cooking thermometer, though, and keep stirring! If the custard goes any higher than 76C, the eggs will scramble. Immediately cover and place in the freezer until cool.

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26 thoughts on “Vanilla Ice Cream

  1. Vanilla icecream is the one I’m most likely to order, but I did always feel like you suggested. I was surprised the other day when reading the label on my vanilla extract to see how little vanilla was in it and also to see how much thickener there was.

  2. He,

    I bought a home ice cream maker a few weaks ago and it’s great. Using good ingredients and good recipes from this site makes excellent ice!

    I got a question about vanilla ice and other ‘light coloured’ ice creams. I wisk the yolks until they are pale and when freezing the mixture gets even lighter, but I always get light yellow vanilla ice cream. How can you counter the colour of the egg yolks?

    One little note, when you scrape the seeds of the bean I always scrape some stuff from the actual bean besides the seed, so I favour using a sieve to remove those bits (the seeds will go right through).

    All this stuff on the site looks great and can’t wait to taste some of them, but Ireland is a bit far for ice cream.

  3. Good point about the sieve! Once there are egg yolks in the ice cream, the ice cream will be a bit yellow. It is a custard after all, and that is it’s natural look. If the mix is homogenised, it will be lighter, but I don’t know of anyone who has a homogeniser in their kitchen! There are “Philadelphia style” ice creams that don’t use eggs, and they would be white…

  4. Hey, I followed your ice cream recipe and although the custard base was divine after it was cool it turned gritty and didn’t have a nice feel in the mouth.

    I had no idea what was going on, I put it in the ice cream maker but it just got worse so didn’t end up letting it finish.

    I was making a honey and pistachio ice cream using your vanilla ice cream I added the honey while it was still warm but off the heat and the custard was smooth as silk when I put it in the fridge to cool.

    Did I over cook the custard?

  5. Hi Ben! I’m so sorry to hear it! Yes, the most likely thing by far was that the custard was too hot. If at all possible, use a cooking thermometer and keep stirring all the time because the temperature otherwise will vary in the pot…

  6. Hi Kieran,

    I just wanted to let you know that I tried your recipe the other day and it turned out pretty good. It was a tad sweet for me, but I will definitely be using this as the base for all my other ice-cream experiments.

    Thanks for posting the recipe. :)

    ps. I love vanilla ice cream and your site! Will definitely be trying some of your other recipes and I’ll make sure I get myself to a Murphys if I ever visit Ireland. :)

  7. You can always reduce the sugar a bit. Small changes can yield big results, and the amount of sugar is important for consistency, but try reducing it by 5% if you find it too sweet…

  8. Hi Kieran,
    Its the same one who asked about the gritty custard.

    Just had to let you know, I had given up trying to make ice cream after that, I’d made about two dozen attempts and none of them had worked (either not frozen correctly or something had gone wrong)

    Anyway, on a whim and a sale I brought another ice cream maker.
    But this one is one of them electric ones by sunbeam.

    I made my first ice cream today, just a basic vanilla out of the book that came with it.
    It turned out perfect, actually, better then perfect.
    Its the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted.

    So, I’m going to set about making lots of the great recipes you have on the site and I might start with the hokey pokey one first :)

    This time, I used a thermometer, its not a great one, but, I didn’t have many concerns about pasteurizing the eggs (they come from my own chickens) I used just plain milk and king island cream. Absolutely fantastic!

  9. In most of your other recipes, you whip the cream before adding to the custard. Why not for this recipe? What does the whipping achieve in other recipes?
    Many thanks for your fabulous blog! I made your banana ice cream with chocolate shavings last night — it turned out amazingly well. I’m now hoping to make try out vanilla. 😉

  10. I love vanilla ice cream, it’s my childhood favorite flavor. I tried this recipe and I found out its better to use good quality vanilla beans. I came across with myvanillashop (click my name for link) which offers premium vanilla beans straight from Madagascar at a bargain value. My children just love my vanilla ice cream, its smell good and they love it too.

  11. Made vanilla ice cream today with Splenda with hopes of lowering the calorie content and it turned out bitter and the ice cream crystalised. Do not try this at home as you’ll ruin your batch!

  12. Just a question on measurements here. I’m comfortable with either US or EU measurements, but I notice this one is still US and your more recent recipes are in ml/g. 1 cup of sugar seemed to me a bit more than say your cookie ice-cream which seems to be a vanilla base. I also notice that you don’t advocate whipping the cream like you do in more recent recipes. So I guess I’m wondering if this recipe has been fine tuned or if you still use this version. Thanks! =)

  13. Hi there, Mary!

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    One of the reasons we switched to mls is that there are two cup measures – UK and US. A US cup is 8 oz, and a UK cup is 10 oz. Because of this, there was always confusion. I suppose I should update all the old recipes to metric! Using the cookies recipe should work just fine (naturally without the cookies)

    As for whipping the cream, I like this vanilla ice cream dense, but if you want a lighter version, whip the cream by all means!

    Thanks again for your comment.

  14. Made this ice cream last weekend. It was a lovely consistency but far too sweet for me.

    I noticed in the previous comment you mentioned reducing the amount of sugar by about 5% but I was thinking of reducing it by about a third (I really did find it far too sweet for my taste).

    I used the recipe from your ice cream book (great book by the way, really love the layout and “storybook” format) and have to say that I found just 1/2 a vanilla pod too weak. Next time, I think I’ll use a full vanilla pod. Though, I’m aware that this can be dependent on the quality of the vanilla pod. I used a pod that I got in Tesco that was vacuum packed so there can’t have been too much dissipation of the flavour.

  15. Hi there, Sarah! Thanks for your comments! We have found that there is so much variation in terms of ingredients, that all I can really say is go with your judgement. That’s the beauty of making ice cream at home! If you find the vanilla too weak, by all means add more. In terms of the sweetness, I would make gradual changes – small changes can sometimes have a big difference in the final taste…

  16. Thanks Kieran, great to get the feedback and I’ll bow to the master craftsman’s advice and take it easy on the sugar reduction!

    Will post again with the results (hopefully successful) of how the recipe tweaking went fort those, who like me, like a slightly less sweet ice cream.

    For those who haven’t made it, I would put the sweetness level on par with say, hb vanilla ice cream. It’s not so sweet that it makes your fillings hurt (didn’t want to give that impression) but still sweet none the less.

  17. Hi, Kieran! I’ve been stalking your website for some time now, and love it! Question, I notice your vanilla base is more like a “French Vanilla” base…would you say? Just wondering, what is your reasoning for using the higher egg quantity.

    Simply curious; I’ve made at least 3 or 4 of your ice creams, and they’ve all turned out divine! Thank you for your recipe generosity!

    (DFW Area, TX)

  18. I think that’s right. I suppose it’s just preference – I like the custard taste that using more eggs brings. I’d delighted the recipes turned out well!

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