A Good Vanilla Ice Cream (Custard)

Vanilla Custard in a Quart Container Drizzled with Magic Shell and Caramel

A good vanilla ice cream. A good ice cream. A good custard. All of these are hard to find in a standard grocery store. About 3 years ago, after one-too-many mediocre pints of (over priced) ice cream, I decided it was time to make my own, to my desired specifications.

Besides Haagen-Dazs vanilla, I am personally over the commercial ice cream scene. It’s either full of gums (to purportedly mitigate ice crystal formation and growth – a topic that has been studied and is controversial; personally, I HATE the texture of LBG in ice cream at any usage rate), too salty (Jeni’s, your ice ice cream is splendidly salty – may too salty), full of too much overrun, full of too many mediocre inclusions, or has a poorly executed flavor. What’s a person to do when they just want a quality vanilla ice cream?

As I once told my husband – ice cream should reflect the pure essence of dairy, and then allllll the rest should be supporting players in that quest. The vanilla, salt level, inclusions – they should allow the base to shine first. You cannot have a great ice cream without a solid, delicious base! Other recipes for ice cream on this site rely on a balanced base, full of dairy, especially exhibit a!

So here we are. I’ve arrived at a solid go-to vanilla ice cream (ok it’s really custard) base. I leveraged David Lebovitz’s recipe for inspiration and simplicity in this base – milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, salt and vanilla. Lightly cooked (for flavor development and for food safety), thoroughly chilled, then churned. THAT IS IT.

After establishing a good base, you can add what your heart desires, knowing that your ice cream creation will be quite hard to fuck up. I added in *restrained* drizzles of my homemade salted caramel sauce (I always have a jar of this in the fridge), and chocolate magic shell (Stracciatella vibes – you get this by combining chocolate with coconut oil, the lauric and non-lauric acids create a eutectic effect – their melting points when combined lower than what they are independently….eg: it solidifies quickly, but melts at a temperature lower than your body) when packing into my ice cream container.

I recently bought a dedicated ice cream container, and I am thrilled with it. It’s nothing special – just a thick plastic container with a silicone lid – but it beats a wonky tupperware container or a loaf pan covered in aluminum foil purely because there is less surface area exposed during storage.

I think it is very easy to over-think the simple classics. But most of the time, tried-and-true recipes are the basis for innovation. Give this a whirl and top as you like!

Vanilla Custard in a Quart Container Drizzled with Magic Shell and Caramel

Vanilla Ice Cream (Custard!)

Rich with simple ingredients, vanilla custard is a canvas for any flavor combo!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, French
Servings 8


  • Ice cream maker I have Cuisinart's basic model, and have also used the frozen Kitchen Aid bowl and dasher attachment with great results


  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% or whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  • In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, add the sugar cream, milk and sea salt. Put on medium heat to dissolve sugar and to gently heat the dairy.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they are pale.
  • Once you see small bubbles around the edges of the heating milk/cream/sugar mixture, remove about 1/2 cup portion with a ladle and temper the egg yolks: slowly stream in the hot milk/sugar mixture while constantly whisking the yolks. Repeat this process until you've added 1/3 to 1/2 of the hot milk/sugar mixture.
  • Once tempered, add the yolk mixture to the remaining milk in the pan, while constantly stirring with a rubber spatula. Cook the mixture on medium heat, taking care to scrape the bottom/edges of the pan as you cook. Bring the mixture to 177F.
  • Once the mixture reached 177F, strain through a fine mesh strainer into a medium sized metal bowl. Optionally cool the mixture in an ice bath, stirring occasionally until the custard base is cool to the touch. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
  • Freeze the mixture according to the manufacturer's directions. Add in any sauces or drizzles, such as salted caramel or "magic" shell as you pack the ice cream into a container. Freeze for at least an hour before serving.
  • Store in a container with minimum headspace to reduce rate of freezer burn development. Place in an area of your freezer that is low traffic, such as the back of a bottom shelf (and not the shelves on the door).
Keyword Custard, Egg Yolks, Homemade Ice Cream, Ice cream, Vanilla

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