This infinitely adaptable summer favorite is at its best when it’s fresh and homemade.
Gather the family or a group of friends for the fun and creativity of a homemade ice cream-making party. These recipes require an ice cream maker—see our favorite models below. Choose any of the tasty variations we recommend, or create your own. Once you’re comfortable with decadent Vanilla Bean, you can make your own slew of fresh flavor combinations.
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart
This rich and creamy recipe is a perfect base for layering on your favorite flavors.
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped (or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fine raw sugar
1. Place ice cream cylinder in the freezer. In a bowl, mix together milk and cream. Drop in vanilla bean and scraped seeds. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. In a saucepan set over medium-low heat, bring refrigerated liquid mixture and salt just to a boil. Meanwhile, beat yolks and sugar until thick.
3. When milk mixture comes to a low boil, remove from heat. Pour a third of the hot liquid into the egg yolk mixture and incorporate it with a whisk. Whisk in another third of the liquid, then pour all of it back into the saucepan, and heat over low heat.
4. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the cream thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon (about 170 degrees). This will take a few minutes; do not let it boil or the yolks will begin to cook.
5. Remove from heat, remove vanilla bean, and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
6. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container, and freeze for at least an hour before serving.
Inspiration for Ice Cream Preparation
As if ice cream isn’t fun enough already, you’ll have the best time making and eating it if you play around with your favorite flavors. Create your own blend, or start with one of these creamy concoctions.
Take Me Away to Paradise
Substitute coconut cream for the heavy cream. Before refrigerating the custard (step 6), stir in toasted coconut flakes, chopped macadamia nuts and chunks of juicy pineapple.
When you need a boost of sweetness and caffeine, try green tea in your afternoon cup—of ice cream! Stir a tablespoon or two of matcha (green tea powder) into a couple tablespoons of warm water, then add it to the egg yolk-sugar mixture in step 2.
Frozen Girl Scout
When you add the vanilla bean in step 1, also add a handful of finely chopped fresh mint leaves. Just before pouring the custard into the ice cream maker, stir in chunks of dark chocolate. Serve between chocolate cookies as an ice cream sandwich.
Because Jamie Oliver Says So
“The Naked Chef” Jamie Oliver swears by this unusual sundae topping: extra virgin olive oil and coarse sea salt. If you share his salty-sweet tooth, give it a whirl. You won’t be disappointed. When choosing an olive oil for this purpose, opt for superfruity varieties with bright flavor.
The fruitiness of your homemade ice cream is limited only by your imagination. Use whatever’s in season and whatever you like. Just chop up fresh fruit and stir it in before pouring the custard into the ice cream maker. For extra fruity flavor, add some of the juice to the mixture, too.
Ice Creamy Ingredients
Milk and eggs: If you can find farm-fresh eggs and milk from grass-fed animals, your ice cream will be the hit of the summer. For extra-creamy texture and fabulous flavor, try unhomogenized whole milk if you can find it.
Vanilla: When you’re finished with the vanilla bean in this recipe, wipe off the custard and let it dry for an hour or so. Then you can pop the used bean into your sugar jar for delicious vanilla-scented sugar.
Fairly traded goods: Look for the Fair Trade label on chocolate, vanilla, coffee and tea products to ensure they were produced responsibly and that the farmers were paid a fair price.
Ice Cream Makers
If you enjoy making foods by hand—and getting a bit of a workout before stuffing your face with the best ice cream you’ve ever had—you’ll want to find a high-quality, hand-crank ice cream maker such as those from Lehman’s.
If you’re in the market for a snazzy, electric version, opt for the ice cream bowl and paddle attachments for your KitchenAid stand mixer, or the compact and supereasy Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker from Cuisinart.
If you’d rather have someone else do the work for you, check for these yummy and responsibly produced varieties in your grocery store freezer.
Ben & Jerry’s latest creation features addiction-inducing chocolate-covered potato chips and a salted caramel swirl. The sweetest part is it’s Fair Trade-certified, as well as hormone- and antibiotic-free. $4 a pint.
The rich, creamy, certified organic pint from Three Twins wowed our editorial offices. $5 a pint.
The dairy-free delights of So Delicious can be enjoyed by all, and you’ve never had pomegranate like this. $5 a pint.
Organic strawberries and cream combine for the freshest-tasting strawberry ice cream you’ve ever had. $5 a pint; Organicville.
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