Easy Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Of all the foods that make me feel most nostalgic of childhood summers, homemade ice cream has to be #1.  When I was a kid we had one of those big hand-cranked machines that you packed with rock salt.  Anyone else have one of those?  There is nothing quite like the taste of freshly made vanilla ice cream with summer fruit swirled in; it’s seriously one of my favorite things in the whole world.  If you’ve never made your own, you need to get on this party train right now.  Kate and I both love to make homemade ice cream and we have some fancy ones and some easy ones, but this is ice cream in it’s most basic form.  Plain and simple.  Three ingredients.  No cooking.  Of all the amazing ice cream recipes I love to make, this is the one I make the most.  It takes less than 60 seconds to prepare and you can add in absolutely anything to customize it.  

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

You only need 3 main ingredients to make this:  cream, whole milk, and sugar.  Also vanilla extract because, duh, vanilla.  The proportions are 2 parts cream to 1 part milk, plus sugar to taste.  I do more or less sugar depending on what I’m adding into my ice cream.  If I’m going to swirl in caramel or candy for example, I’ll make the base a little less sweet.  If I’m adding in tart fruit or leaving it plain, I do a little more.  I’ll tell you more about the ice cream maker I use, but any ice cream machine will do.  Give it a quick freeze and it’s the perfect thick milkshake consistency. 

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

At this stage you can mix in any add-ins at the very end of churning, but I prefer to mix in by hand.  Usually as I transfer my ice cream from the machine to a freezer container, I layer in add-ins like this caramel sauce below:  a layer of ice cream, then swirl in some caramel, then another layer of ice cream, more caramel, repeat.  I feel like everything gets evenly distributed that way and instead of getting mashed into the ice cream and kind of pulverized, you get gorgeous, white, ice cream with pockets and ribbons of flavor. 

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Our favorite thing to do is add in fresh fruit that we grow in our garden.  I take fresh raspberries and give them a quick mash with a spoonful of sugar and often a spoonful of raspberry jam (which gives them a nice smooth consistency when frozen).

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Layer it in the same style I described with the caramel and then let it firm up in the freezer.  
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

This is the most perfectly flavored, rich, creamy, sweet cream ice cream.  You guys, I honestly don’t know if there’s anything better than homemade ice cream with fresh fruit.  Actually, there is.  Homemade ice cream in a buttery homemade waffle cone.  You can get my recipe and tutorial for waffle cones by clicking here!  

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Cone

Ice cream is obviously associated with summertime but it’s definitely a year-round regular at our house.  As we move into fall, this unadorned vanilla is the perfect thing to serve with warm fruit crisps and autumn pies.  

When it comes to ice cream makers, don’t think this recipe is out of reach if you don’t have one!  There are so many great options for affordable machines.  Here’s our three favorites, priced low to high. 

  1.  Cuisinart Basic Ice Cream Maker
    This is a terrific moderately-priced machine that churns out 1 1/2 quarts of great ice cream. You freeze the insulated bowl and no ice is required.  I used this machine for years until I upgraded and passed this beauty, on.  It comes in a few fun colors, too. ice cream maker

2. Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker
This is the next step up in Cuisinart’s line.  With a little bit larger 2 quart capacity and sleek stainless steel body, this machine is a nice step up and works great.  As with the previous machine, you just freeze the inner bowl.  Both Kate and I have one of these and love them!

ice cream maker

3. Breville Ice Cream Compressor 

The machine I currently use is this Breville.  It’s a machine that carries a price tag for the serious ice cream connoisseur.  It’s actually a compressor, which means you never have to freeze a bowl, you just turn it on and it instantly cools the machine to -40 degrees and you can crank out batch after batch.  It has 12 hardness settings, fully automatic or manual settings, the ability to keep your ice cream frozen for 3 hours and more.  It even plays music when your ice cream is done.  Cuisinart also makes a compressor version, but I’ve only used my Breville.  

ice cream compressor

 

4.  Kitchenaid
I thought I would include this one even though I don’t have one nor have ever used it.  If you own a KitchenAid mixer, you can buy this ice cream bowl attachment that just pops right on your mixer.  Does anyone have this one? I’ve heard good things!

   kitchenaid ice cream mixer

If you don’t have an ice cream machine and have always wanted one, there’s a few to put on your wish-lish.  In the mean time, you could try this no-churn ice cream (no machine required!)  If you do have one, definitely make this vanilla and tell me how you like it!

Easy Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
An incredibly quick and easy homemade ice cream with very few ingredients!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups heavy cream (or regular cream)
  2. 1 cup whole milk
  3. 1/2-3/4 cups sugar (see note)
  4. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  5. Add-in options of your choice
Instructions
  1. Whisk all ingredients together and process according to your ice cream machine directions. If desired, add toppings or add-ins in the last minute of churning, mix in by hand, or layer in by hand. Freeze in freezer until firm.
Notes
  1. Adjust sugar content to your liking. I add more or less sugar depending on what I'm adding in.
  2. -Hand mix in crushed cookies, sprinkles, nuts, cheesecake crumbles, fruits, etc.
  3. -Mash fresh fruit in a bowl with a little sugar or a spoonful of coordinating fruit jam and then layer in swirls in the freezer container.
  4. -Layer in swirls of caramel, chocolate, or fruit sauce in freezer container.
  5. - Add extracts to your liking.
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18 comments

  1. I have the kitchen aid ice cream maker and love it! It lives in the chest freezer so it’s always available!

    I’ve made a recipe similar to this one and it is quick, easy, and delicious! I love the ideas for mix ins!

  2. I have the kitchenaid ice cream bowl attachment and love it! I am definitely a minimalist when it comes to kitchen equipment- mostly by necessity since my husband is in medical school and we still move from small place to small place. Its definitely not big, but it gets the job done and I love not having the extra machine base to store like I would otherwise.

  3. I got a new ice cream maker for Mother’s Day then had a lactose sensitive baby in June! I am definitely going to try this one when I’m done nursing. The cooked vanilla bases are a little too eggy for me when I want pure vanilla. Yum!

  4. I am embarrassed to admit I have NEVER made homemade of cream. I have an ice cream make that I got for my wedding 13 years ago (tomorrow)–it has been through more than a dozen moves, 3 kids and now a divorce and has never even been out of the box. You’ve convinced me that maybe I need to try to make some homemade ice cream.

    Also, just wondering if substitutes like Splenda work? Although it doesn’t look like you’re adding much sugar anyway (sorry I’m being that girl….)

    1. Oh my gosh, get that baby out!! I’ve never used sugar subs because I figure I’m throwing straight-up cream in, may as well go for broke, ya know? haha. But you could definitely try it. I’d probably use the Truvia baking blend. It might change the texture just a bit, but I think it would actually work just fine. If you try it let me know!

  5. We have the Kitchenaid bowl and love it – definitely put it in the coldest freezer, or part of your freezer, that your have. After much experimentation (hard work, that ; ), our favorite base is 4 cups half and half, 2 cups heavy cream, 3/4 – 1 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons vanilla – and a good dash of salt. We love to mix in cut-up reeses, or chocolate sauce, or seedless blackberry fruit spread at the end… YUM! I’ll try your base next time, Sara. = )

  6. I bought the Krups Ice cream maker over the weekend and it worked very well, much easier on the pocket! 😉
    I’m trying to wrap my head around egg vs no egg ice cream, but this seems like a lot less hassle and stress, definitely giving it a whirl. Thank you for an awesome blog, I’m a long-time reader and have some all-time favourite recipes I found here.

    1. Good to hear, Tania! I love both custard (egg) based, and non-custard. Egg definitely adds a richness you just can’t get any other way, but there is also something quite glorious about just cream, milk, and sugar!

  7. I love my Kitchen Aide mixer. I do exclusively non-dairy ice creams because my husband and I are both lactose intolerant and it works great every time. This recipe looks tasty and easy enough to temp trying though.

      1. Would also love to know best products for the nondairy homemade ice creams. My father in law loves ice creamaker but can’t tolerate milk anymore. Would love to surprise him this weekend with homemade ice cream he could eat!

  8. Inherited an old school White Mountain, 6 qt. ice cream freezer (electric, thankfully) from Grandma and Grandpa. Nothing better than apricot or peach puree (1 qt./batch) as the add-in. So delicious and this baby will feed the multitudes!

  9. What kind of container do you store your ice cream in? I find that normal Tupperware cracks after being in the freezer for too long.

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