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Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Homemade vanilla ice cream is so delicious and easy to make. No cooking is required because there are no egg yolks. Farm-fresh or store-bought ingredients can be used to make this ice cream recipe.

A boy looking at finished homemade vanilla ice cream coming out of the hand crank machine.

Read on to learn how to customize this easy recipe with your favorite add-ins to satisfy your ice cream cravings any time of year.

Why I Love This Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Our dairy cow, Tilly, produces plenty of fresh milk for our family. We make homemade dairy practical by using our raw milk to churn homemade butter, easy Instant Pot yogurt, whipped cream, our favorite cultured soft cheese aka (“dream” cheese) and, of course, this delicious vanilla ice cream recipe.

This recipe is delicious on its own or as a base for fresh fruit, chocolate syrup, jam, or scooped over warm quick and easy cobbler, Apple Brown Betty, or the best fudgy sourdough brownies. We even freeze dry ice cream to make a delicious novelty treat.

The fresh heavy cream skimmed off the top of the raw milk makes the most delicious, velvety, smooth vanilla ice cream. That being said, not everyone can have a milk cow, so purchasing raw or whole milk and heavy cream at most grocery stores works just fine in this recipe.

This is not a custard-based recipe, so no eggs are added. As a result, it doesn’t require the added step of being cooked on a stovetop, and it’s allergy friendly for those with an egg allergy.

Cream being poured into an ice cream machine.

The Secret to Creamy Ice Cream

You can make thick, creamy ice cream by whisking softened cream cheese into the base mix.

The flavor of the cream cheese does not come through, but the smooth, creamy texture does make a difference. Omitting the cream cheese won’t harm the recipe; it will still be delicious!

Can You Use Milk Instead of Heavy Cream

Heavy cream and whole milk make the best thick, creamy textured ice cream. This recipe uses both, but whole milk can be substituted for heavy cream. The ice cream will have a thinner, icier texture vs. a silky, thickened texture. 

Kids licking the churner of an ice cream machine.

Tips for a Perfect Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Here are a few tips to ensure your final product is always perfect.

  • Cream Cheese – Cream cheese makes the ice cream thicker and smoother. The cream cheese is optional and can easily be omitted without harming the recipe. 
  • Whisking – This ice cream base is whisked instead of heated to preserve the nutritional value of raw milk. If you are using pasteurized milk and cream or don’t mind heating your milk, you can heat the milk and cream in step 2 to dissolve the sugar. This will be easier to incorporate the sugar, but your ice cream base will take longer to chill.
  • Chill Mix-ins – Be sure all mix-ins are cold! Adding warm or even room-temperature ingredients to your churned ice cream can cause it to melt in spots. To prevent ice crystals from forming, chill mix-ins thoroughly before adding.
  • Container and Beaters – Thoroughly chill the container and beaters you will churn the ice cream in so the ice cream mixture has the coldest start possible. It will help it set up and harden faster.
Peaches getting poured into an ice cream machine.

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe Variations

Vanilla ice cream is the perfect recipe to have on hand because it can be customized in so many ways to fit every taste preference and occasion.

Ice Cream Mix-Ins

The options for mix-ins are endless, but here are a few favorites to try:

  • Cookie Pieces – Cookies of all kinds can be crushed up and added to vanilla ice cream. Homesteading Hack: Any cookies or brownies that become day old can be crumbled up and placed in a container in your freezer to use as a quick mix-in for your next batch of ice cream. 
  • Candy – All sorts of crushed candy or baking chips (peanut butter, butterscotch or chocolate chip) taste wonderful in this recipe.
  • Extracts – Beyond vanilla, you can use almond, mint, rum, or maple extract in this versatile recipe. 
  • Nuts – Walnuts, almonds, and pecans chopped into small pieces and added to this recipe add a nice flavorful crunch.
  • Syrups – Syrups such as chocolate, caramel, strawberry, raspberry, or butterscotch all taste great, either swirled into the ice cream after it’s churned (but still soft) or topped after it’s hardened.
  • Jam and Preserves – Strawberry rhubarb jam, strawberry jam, plum jelly, peach jam, or other preserves can be stirred into this recipe.
  • Fresh, Freeze Dried or Frozen Fruit – Fruit options are endless whether you add it after it’s churned or before; make sure it’s been chilled and prepared the way you like it. Pureed, sliced, in chunks or mashed, it all tastes good.
A young girl churning a hand-crank ice cream machine.

Flavor Modifications

The best part of this ice cream recipe is its easy adaptation to other flavors.

  • Chocolate – You’ll have to heat this one on the stovetop. In step 2, put your cream, milk, sugar and 6 Tablespoons of cocoa powder into a saucepan. Whisk this combination over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in 6 ounces of chopped unsweetened chocolate along with the vanilla and cream cheese mixture until the chocolate has completely melted. Then continue with step 4!
  • Coffee – Dissolve 4 Tablespoons of instant coffee in 2 Tablespoons of boiling water. Cool and add to the milk mixture in Step 2.
  • Lemon – Eliminate the vanilla and instead add 1⁄4 cup finely grated lemon zest and 1⁄2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons lemon juice with the cream cheese in step 3.
  • Strawberry – After step 3, combine two-thirds of a pound of strawberries, 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 Tablespoons of sugar in a blender or food processor and blend together until smooth. Pour the pureed strawberries into your ice cream base. Then, pulse one-third of a pound of strawberries into coarse pieces and stir into the softened ice cream before hardening.
A man pouring rock salt into a hand-crank ice cream machine.

Supplies Needed

  • Mixing Bowls – A large mixing bowl and a small mixing bowl to hold the ingredients, and yet enough room to use a whisk is helpful.
  • Whisk – A whisk with a good sturdy handle makes whisking these ingredients easy.
  • Large Spoon – A large spoon is helpful when stirring mix-ins into the softened ice cream.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons – Various sizes will work well to measure all the ingredients for this recipe.
  • Ice Cream Maker – You can use an electric ice cream machine or a hand-churned maker. Just make sure to churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. No two ice cream makers are alike.
  • Storage Bowl with Lid – The mixture must be placed in a bowl with a lid or tightly covered in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight before churning.
A woman with twelve half-gallon jars of milk on the counter in front of her.

Ingredients Needed

Owning a dairy cow, there are times that we end up with much more milk than our family can drink fresh. This is a great time to skim off the heavy cream and make homemade ice cream!

  • Heavy Whipping Cream – Farm fresh skimmed off the top of whole milk or store-bought without any additives works well in this recipe.
  • Whole Milk – Once again, farm, fresh or store-bought whole milk is best in this recipe. 
  • Cream Cheese – Leave it out at room temperature so it becomes soft, therefore, easier to incorporate.
  • Sugar – A good quality sugar works well. We don’t use a substitute for this recipe but feel free to if desire a sugar alternative. 
  • Salt – A good quality fine salt without any additives; Redmond’s Real Salt is what I prefer. (Using that link for Redmond Salt will automatically give you 15% off your order!)
  • Vanilla Extract – Pure vanilla extract, vanilla bean, or vanilla paste gives the best vanilla flavor.
A father and kids making homemade vanilla ice cream.

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe Instructions

  1. Place the cream cheese, salt, and 1/4 cup of whole milk in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.
  2. In a larger bowl, stir together the cream and remaining milk. Add the sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved (3-4 minutes). Taste the mixture to ensure there is no graininess – it should feel smooth and creamy on the tongue, and no sugar should be visible on the bottom of the bowl. Continue whisking as needed until all the sugar is dissolved completely.
  3. Whisk in the vanilla and the cream cheese mixture to incorporate thoroughly.
  4. Chill your ice cream mixture, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight for a deeper flavor.
  5. Once your ice cream base is completely chilled, prepare your ice cream maker according to what the manufacturer suggests. 
  6. Pour your ice cream base into the machine and let it churn! Homesteading Hack: Chill the ice cream containers and beaters overnight in your freezer before adding the ice cream mixture for the best results.
  7. When churning the ice cream, this is your chance to add any “mix-ins.” See our list above for good options. Homesteading Hack: Note that adding a mix-in while the machine is churning will incorporate it evenly throughout your ice cream. If you prefer to add something more delicate, like a swirl of sauce or whole pieces of fruit, folding those in by hand works well.
  8. Scrape your completed ice cream into a freezer-safe container with a lid or plastic wrap.
  9. Freeze the ice cream for a few hours before serving. This hardening method allows the ice cream to firm up and the flavors to blend.
  10. Store the tightly covered ice cream in your freezer for up to a week if it lasts that long!
In the Homestead Kitchen magazine cover for the milk edition.

In the Homestead Kitchen

This recipe was featured in issue No. 9 of In the Homestead Kitchen Magazine. You can subscribe here if you’d like access to more recipes like this.

With your subscription, you will receive a beautiful monthly digital magazine with delicious recipes and proven resources to help you start thriving in your homestead.

As a bonus, you will get access to an entire library of Homesteading Family’s in-depth instructional videos that provide inspiration and helpful resources as you grow your homestead.

Subscribe today, and follow along with each month’s magazine to start making delicious, healthy homemade meals for your family and find new ways to preserve food. 

Various dairy products sitting on a wooden countertop.
A boy looking at finished homemade vanilla ice cream coming out of the hand crank machine.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

You can make this easy egg-free, homemade vanilla ice cream recipe using farm-fresh or store-bought ingredients. Read on to learn how.
3.75 from 83 votes
Print Pin
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Freezing Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 430kcal
Author: Josh Thomas

Equipment

  • Ice Cream Maker either electric or hand-crank

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Place the cream cheese, salt, and 1/4 cup of whole milk in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.
  • In a larger bowl, stir together the cream and remaining milk. Add the sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved (3-4 minutes). Taste the mixture to ensure there is no graininess – it should feel smooth and creamy on the tongue, and no sugar should be visible on the bottom of the bowl. Continue whisking as needed until all the sugar is dissolved completely.
  • Whisk in the vanilla and the cream cheese mixture to incorporate thoroughly.
  • Chill your ice cream mixture, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight for a deeper flavor.
  • Once your ice cream base is completely chilled, prepare your ice cream maker according to what the manufacturer suggests.
  • Pour your ice cream base into the machine and let it churn! Homesteading Hack: Chill the ice cream containers and beaters overnight in your freezer before adding the ice cream mixture for the best results.
  • When churning the ice cream, this is your chance to add any “mix-ins.” See our list above for good options. Homesteading Hack: Note that adding a mix-in while the machine is churning will incorporate it evenly throughout your ice cream. If you prefer to add something more delicate, like a swirl of sauce or whole pieces of fruit, folding those in by hand works well.
  • Scrape your completed ice cream into a freezer-safe container with a lid or plastic wrap.
  • Freeze the ice cream for a few hours before serving. This hardening method allows the ice cream to firm up and the flavors to blend.
  • Store the tightly covered ice cream in your freezer for up to a week if it lasts that long!

Notes

Ice Cream Mix-Ins

The options for mix-ins are endless, but here are a few favorites to try:
  • Cookie Pieces – Cookies of all kinds can be crushed up and added to vanilla ice cream. Homesteading Hack: Any cookies or brownies that become day old can be crumbled up and placed in a container in your freezer to use as a quick mix-in for your next batch of ice cream. 
  • Candy – All sorts of crushed candy or baking chips (peanut butter, butterscotch or chocolate chip) taste wonderful in this recipe.
  • Extracts – Beyond vanilla, you can use almond, mint, rum, or maple extract in this versatile recipe. 
  • Nuts – Walnuts, almonds, and pecans chopped into small pieces and added to this recipe add a nice flavorful crunch.
  • Syrups – Syrups such as chocolate, caramel, strawberry, raspberry, or butterscotch all taste great, either swirled into the ice cream after it’s churned (but still soft) or topped after it’s hardened.
  • Jam and Preserves – Strawberry, huckleberry, peach jams or preserves, and more can be stirred into this recipe.
  • Fresh, Freeze Dried or Frozen Fruit – Fruit options are endless whether you add it after it’s churned or before; make sure it’s been chilled and prepared the way you like it. Pureed, sliced, in chunks or mashed, it all tastes good.

Nutrition

Calories: 430kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 164mg | Potassium: 153mg | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 1359IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Tried this recipe?We want to see! Tag @homesteadingfamily on Instagram.
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