Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is an amazingly flavorful yet simple homemade vanilla ice cream with vanilla beans. Recipe makes 1 pint but can easily be doubled to make 1 quart.

Ice cream scoop holding vanilla bean ice cream

When I was younger I used to play softball, spending most of my summers in the outfield catching fly balls and batting singles (and sometimes doubles).

The team would often beg the coach to take us out for ice cream afterwards. Occasionally he would give in and take us up to the bright pink building on the hill (seriously, you couldn’t miss it).

Chocolate ice cream was always my choice because I remember finding vanilla ice cream so tasteless and boring. Little did I know, that’s not what real vanilla ice cream tastes like at all.

I documented my first time trying Vanilla Bean Ice Cream back in my early blogging years, and I still remember how it made me feel.

I couldn’t believe how GOOD it tasted and that vanilla bean almost became my new favorite flavor (almost – it’ll never replace German chocolate cake ice cream).

I often tell people if you find vanilla ice cream tasteless and boring, then you NEED to try vanilla bean ice cream.

In fact, you’ll notice my vanilla ice cream isn’t even white. That’s because vanilla bean tints the cream a light brown color.

Think about it – what color is vanilla? Brown. What happens when you mix brown and white? Light brown.

That’s how you know you’re getting the real deal homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

It’s perfect to serve on top of mini apple pie, small apple pie, and apple crisp for two.

Or pour thick hot chocolate over a scoop to make a hot chocolate float.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream in pint container with ice cream scoop

Which ice cream maker do you need?

Although an ice cream machine isn’t technically necessary, it does make your life much easier.

I own this red 1.5 quart ice cream maker.

Although you can buy smaller models, I like having the option to scale up. You never know when you might need to make a quart for a peanut butter ice cream cake or for a family party.

Enjoying this vanilla bean ice cream recipe? Check out my other Small Batch Ice Cream Recipes you can make.

Vanilla Beans on a silver tray

Ingredients For Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

To make your vanilla bean ice cream recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Heavy whipping cream: Fat is your friend when making ice cream! Not only does it create the creamy, smooth texture you expect, fat carries flavor better (especially since you’re steeping vanilla beans). It also freezes better with minimal ice crystals.
  • Whole milk: Because using all heavy cream would make the ice cream too rich, you’ll want to balance it with whole milk. Please do not use low fat or skim milk or you’ll end up with an icier, lackluster product.
  • Sugar: Not only does it sweeten your base, sugar lowers the freezing point, which means it’ll remain semi-soft and scoopable instead of hard and icy
  • Salt: Ensures your ice cream isn’t bland
  • Vanilla bean: The star of your vanilla ice cream! I usually buy Madagascar, but you can also choose Mexican or Tahitian.
  • Egg yolks: Yolks are needed to make your custard base creamy. When you’re done, check out what to do with egg whites.
  • Vanilla extract: Even though we’re using vanilla bean, using vanilla extract adds another layer of vanilla flavor

What To Do With Used Vanilla Bean

What’s nice about vanilla bean is you can reuse the pods even after scraping.

Once you are done infusing the vanilla flavor, you can lightly rinse the cream off of the bean, pat dry, and store in a small container of sugar, making homemade vanilla sugar.

Or use it to make homemade vanilla extract to give as Christmas gifts.

Scoop of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream next to pint container

How To Make Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

To make the best vanilla bean ice cream:

  1. Warm up half the cream, milk, sugar, and salt then add the vanilla bean. Steep for 30 minutes.
  2. Temper the egg yolks by whisking in some of the warm milk mixture then add back to the saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  3. Cook until thickened, whisking often so you don’t curdle the egg. Remove from the heat.
  4. Whisk in the remaining cream and vanilla extract then chill in an ice bath until cool.
  5. Refrigerate until cold then churn in your machine. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.

What color is vanilla bean ice cream?

When you buy vanilla ice cream, it’s often white. However, when you make homemade vanilla bean ice cream, it’s brown. Why is that?

It’s mainly the bean that gives the ice cream its color; sometimes if you add a small amount of only vanilla extract in a large pot of milk and cream, usually the brown color doesn’t take over.

However, you do infuse the bean into the cream mixture, giving it the color you see in the photos.

What To Serve With Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Serve your homemade vanilla ice cream on top of some desserts for two such as:

You can also make an ice cream sundae with:

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream FAQ

What is the difference between vanilla bean ice cream and regular vanilla ice cream?

Vanilla bean ice cream is made with vanilla bean pods while regular vanilla ice cream is flavored with vanilla extract. Vanilla bean ice cream has a more intense vanilla flavor.

Where can you buy vanilla beans?

I highly recommend buying vanilla beans online rather than at the store. Not only will you save money, you’ll get a much fresher product. You can buy some online from Amazon (affiliate link).

How do you split and scrape a vanilla bean pod?

Use a sharp paring knife to split the bean lengthwise, then use the back of the knife to scrape out the tiny seeds. Add both the seeds and pod to your milk for steeping.

More Vanilla Recipes

Is vanilla your favorite flavor? Check out these other not-boring vanilla recipes:

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream in pint container with ice cream scoop

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Yield: 1 pint
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Freeze Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is an amazingly flavorful yet simple homemade vanilla ice cream with vanilla beans.


  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (do not substitute)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (do not substitute low fat or skim)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a large saucepan, warm up 1/2 cup heavy cream, milk, sugar, and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk mixture and add the bean as well. Remove from the heat, cover, and steep for 30 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the yolks until lightly beaten. Whisk in some of the warm milk mixture then pour it all back into the saucepan.
  3. Bring to a boil, whisking often, until thickened.
  4. Remove from the heat and pour through a mesh strainer into a large bowl sitting in an ice bath. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream and vanilla extract.
  5. Cool in the ice bath until room temperature then remove from the bath and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until cold.
  6. Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm, roughly 4 hours or overnight.

    Homemade ice cream will last up to 2 weeks when frozen properly.


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Source: Slightly adapted from The Perfect Scoop

First published June 16, 2014