French Vanilla Ice Cream

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Your first question probably is, “why is this guy making ice cream in the middle of winter”? The second question may be, “what’s the difference between vanilla ice cream and French Vanilla”? Third question, “why bother making my own ice cream when I can buy good ice cream at the market”? All good questions  – all with valid and convincing replies.

My previous post featured an Apple Crumble Pie and I think we’re all in agreement that Apple Pies are best in the cooler months. Apple Pies are also best accompanied  with ice cream – vanilla ice cream for sure. I finally splurged on buying an ice cream machine last year and I’ve been delighted with the results so far. Being a foodie that likes making as much of my food as possible at home, I now proudly make my own ice cream. Homemade Apple Pie is better with homemade ice cream.

When walking down the aisle in the supermarket and perusing the almost endless varieties of ice cream, you’ll usually see both vanilla ice cream and French Vanilla ice cream. What’s the difference? The regular vanilla ice cream tastes okay but it’s dumber, more generic version of it’s rich cousin, French Vanilla ice cream. French Vanilla ice cream contains real vanilla seeds, scraped from pod(s), egg yolks, whole milk and cream and sugar (obviously). When making French Vanilla ice cream, you’ll smell the difference as soon as the milk begins to warm up and the vanilla perfumes your kitchen. Splurge on vanilla beans…they are worth the money!

Making your own ice cream is not more economical that buying ready-made ice cream, rather you make it so that you know exactly what’s in the ice cream, you make the flavours you like and the flavour is far superior than most commercial ice creams. The process hasn’t changed from when only hand-cranked ice cream makers were around – electricity has taken the place of manpower. I like the experimentation that’s allowed with ice cream – it’s usually very forgiving, the flavours are limited only by your imagination and the end result will be tasted each and every time, with each rich and velvety scoop. I now know what real French Vanilla ice cream taste like.

French Vanilla Ice Cream

2 1/2 cups of whole (homogenized milk)

4 egg yolks

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups heavy (whipping cream)

1 vanilla bean

Equipment needed: 2 quart ice cream maker

  1. Pour your milk into a heavy-bottomed medium-sized pot and then carefully cut your vanilla pod in half with a paring knife. Use the back of the knife to scrape and remove the vanilla seeds and drop into your milk. Place the pot on your stove top over medium heat and warm up to just scalding (don’t throw out the leftover pod, add it to your sugar and you’ll have vanilla sugar).
  2. In the meantime, separate the whites (reserve for an egg white omelet) from your eggs and add yolks into a bowl with the sugar and whisk until creamed. As soon as your milk has reached a scalding stage (just before coming to a bowl), use a ladle to slowly add milk into the creamed egg and sugar mixture. While whisking the egg/sugar mixture, very slowly add one ladle at a time of milk to it (add 4 ladles).
  3. Now pour the the contents of the bowl into the pot and while constantly stirring, simmer the custard mixture until it thickens (thick enough to coat a wooden spoon). Allow the custard to cool (place in pot in an ice bath if you want to speed up this process).
  4. Once the custard has cooled, pass through a medium-wired mesh strainer (to remove any lumps but allow the vanilla seeds to still pass through) and add the cream and mix. Cover custard mixture and place in the fridge to chill for at least a couple of hours.
  5. Assuming that you’ve placed the ice cream maker’s freezer bowl in your freezer overnight, you’re now ready to turn your custard mixture into ice cream. Pour the custard mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for 25-30 minutes. You now should have a thick but creamy ice cream. You may serve it immediately or empty into a plastic tub and cover. Place in the freezer for a couple of hours (minimum). If serving your ice cream from the freezer, your ice cream will be firmer. Allow the ice cream to soften at room temperature for about 5 minutes before scooping out.
  6. Serve with your favourite warm apple pie.

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© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis

© 2011,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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24 Comments for “French Vanilla Ice Cream”


Making your own ice cream using good quality ingredients is a path of no return. I am glad you are enjoying your ice cream maker: it’s a very good investment. Neither my husband nor my guests notice the season when there is ice cream on the table.


If I were asking the first question, my second question would be “Why didn’t he share any with me?” Actually, that’s my only question. Ice cream is good any time of year!

Now I want apple pie with ice cream. Thanks, Peter, ya big… guy.


Splurge on vanilla beans…they’re worth the money! Really good advice. How about an ouzo ice cream? Have you done that? Bet it would be delicious.


I’ve made vanilla ice cream only once and it so turned me onto vanilla ice cream which I was never crazy about. And I actually think ice cream is better in winter with sorbet being the hot weather choice. We grew up eating ice cream all year around. And as you say, what is a cool weather apple pie without it? Fabulous, Peter, just perfect!


Peter αυτό το παγωτό θα μοσχοβολάει σίγουρα βανίλια!!!
Φιλιά, καλή βδομάδα!


You just don’t get that gorgeous golden colour in commercial icecream. It looks wonderful and I can only imagine how divine it tastes! An icecream maker is on my wishlist.


I just did a post on vanilla, and it was funny they said that most folks could not taste the difference between real and artificial vanilla in their food, except when it came to vanilla ice cream. Your version looks delicious, nice and simple and not too custardy. Perfect.


Hi Peter! Ooh, your ice cream looks fabulous, love the rich color. I made a chilled soup (in winter!) yesterday too. But then again we ARE having a heat wave here in LA.


Ice cream is good any time of the year, any weather. It is my comfort food. And French Vanilla is the one I would choose every time if the decision was up to me. (It usually isn’t.) Why my kids think this is boring is beyond me.


I can answer both questions.

1. Because it’s ICE CREAM and as long as there is heat on in the house, there is no reason to depriveyourself of deliciousness just because it’s cold outside. I make plenty of ice cream in the middle of winter.

2 Because homemade ice cream tastes better – at least I know mine does. ;-)



I just got an ice cream maker for Christmas and have been looking for a recipe for French vanilla ice cream (I agree — plain vanilla is good, but a poor cousin to the richness of the French vanilla) and here it is!
I left the bowl in the freezer, like the instructions told me to, so all I have to do is stop on the way home and buy some cream and I’m set to try it!
Love your blog — I lived in Buffalo for nearly 20 years (now NYC — actually, Astoria), so was very familiar with Toronto, and Danforth/Pape, etc.