Friday, July 26, 2013

Old Fashioned Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

Homemade, old-fashioned vanilla custard ice cream, made with a combination of whole milk, heavy cream, half and half, eggs and vanilla.

Old Fashioned Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

I don't treat myself to homemade ice cream as much as I would like to, and when I do, often it's a basic version made in my Cuisinart ice cream freezer, the kind that has the bucket you keep in the freezer and makes a soft serve ice cream in under 30 minutes. That's not counting chilling times and freezing times of course, but it's pretty handy for when you want to make ice cream without all the ice and salt and such... so long as you have the freezer space to keep the bucket frozen.

For those holidays, big picnics, parties and reunions, you'll still need the big batch 4-quart or larger machines, like that pictured below, and you'll need that size for this recipe, although I usually do a half recipe very successfully in my smaller Cuisinart freezer too.

Remember when you had to hand crank these? Often a job delegated to the children, it was pretty neat seeing the end result!
I'm pretty basic with my ice cream flavors, butter pecan and strawberry being my top two favorites. I sure won't turn down an offer of some fresh peach or chocolate or, well, pretty much any other flavor of ice cream either... but good ole vanilla is always the reliable standby. It stands on its own of course, but it's also versatile enough that it goes well paired with everything from chocolate and fruit sauces to cakes and cobblers.

While I do enjoy the easy "cheater" versions of ice creams, often made using condensed milk and pudding mix as the binder, every once in awhile I find an excuse to make a good, old-fashioned, rich and decadent, cooked custard ice cream - and when I do, this is the one.

There isn't much to making a custard ice cream really. You simply make an egg custard, just as you would with a homemade banana pudding, then you chill the custard, preferably overnight. When you are ready to make the ice cream, you simply add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and make according to the directions on your brand. This will give you a wonderful soft serve ice cream if you can't stand to wait a minute longer. For a firmer ice cream, you just need to transfer it to a covered container and freeze it until firm. My husband loves it soft but I like it firm and it really is worth all the effort... and the wait.

Of course, the best vanilla ice cream is made with a whole vanilla bean. When you see those little specks in ice cream, you know you've got some great vanilla flavor.

Whole vanilla beans are not a pantry staple for me, however, so unless I buy them with purposeful intent for things like this, I just use good ole pure vanilla extract which is always in my pantry. I wrote the recipe for vanilla extract, but included the directions for vanilla bean in the recipe notes. If you can fit vanilla bean in your budget, use it; if not, vanilla extract makes for a mighty fine ice cream too.

While I'm on the subject of extracts, my preference is to always use natural, pure vanilla extract over imitation, especially where the flavor is so central, such as here. Yes, it does cost a bit more, but if I'm gonna spend time making something homemade and from scratch, I want to use quality ingredients. Like my feelings about butter vs. margarine, there are very valid reasons for this!

{Southern Style Hissy Fit Soapbox Moment Warning}

Imitation vanilla is a cheap product made from artificial flavorings, almost all of which come from wood product run-off from paper pulp factories... and almost always contains the associated chemicals from that process.

Have you ever smelled a paper factory? There used to be a paper mill somewhere in the vicinity of Mobile, Alabama and on certain days you could smell the stench in the air all the way over to my hometown Biloxi on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Imitation vanilla also has an off putting and bitter taste to me and frankly, like anything artificial, you usually need to use more, often twice as much, to get the true flavor you want. I'm not gonna tell you what to do in your kitchen, so, of course the choice is up to you, but given that, I think I'll pay a little more and stick with the pure version of extract myself, or even make it myself.

{tucking away the soapbox}
Homemade vanilla custard ice cream with sliced bananas, chocolate sauce and chopped walnuts. The only thing missing is whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. It's one of my favorite ways to eat homemade ice cream!
Here's how to make my old fashioned, vanilla custard ice cream.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Inactive time: 12 hours | Yield: About 3-1/2 quarts

  • 4 cups of whole milk
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups of heavy cream
  • 2 cups of half and half
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract

Whisk together the milk, sugar and eggs in the top of a double boiler, cooking until mixture thickens and custard coats the back of a spoon, (about 170 degrees F), about 20 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, several hours or overnight.

Stir in the cream, half and half, salt and vanilla until well blended; add mixture to the tub of a 4 quart ice cream maker, freezing according to manufacturer's directions. Transfer to a freezer safe container, cover and freeze for several hours, or overnight, until firm.

Cook's Notes: Makes about 3-1/2 quarts, but can be halved for a smaller 1-1/2 to 2 quart freezer. If you find any lumps in the custard after cooking, press through a strainer before refrigerating. For vanilla bean ice cream, add 2 whole vanilla beans and reduce the extract to 3 teaspoons. Slice the pods in half lengthwise and use a knife to scrape out the seeds, adding both the seeds and the pods to the custard mixture. Cook as directed, let the custard cool for 30 minutes before removing the pods; cover and refrigerate.

Chocolate Syrup: Combine 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of light corn syrup. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring regularly until syrup reaches 235 degrees. Remove from heat and add in 3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, stirring until chocolate is completely melted. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and slowly stir in 1 cup of evaporated milk. Let cool completely, then store in refrigerator until needed. Makes about 2 cups.


Requires Adobe Reader - download it free!
©Deep South Dish
Are you on Facebook? If you haven't already, come and join the party! We have a lot of fun & there's always room for one more at the table.

Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

Homemade Peach Ice Cream
Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet
Chocolate "Frosty" Ice Cream

Posted by on July 26, 2013
Images and Full Post Content including Recipe ©Deep South Dish. Pinning and sharing links is welcomed and encouraged, but please do not repost or republish elsewhere such as other Facebook pages, blogs, websites, or forums without explicit prior permission. All rights reserved.

Material Disclosure: Unless otherwise noted, you should assume that post links to the providers of goods and services mentioned, establish an affiliate relationship and/or other material connection and that I may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You are never under any obligation to purchase anything when using my recipes and you should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Bookmark and Share


  1. Oh my goodness this brings back so many memories of my Grandmother's wonderful ice cream...I am Pinning this one so I can remember where to find it...thanks for sharing this recipe.
    Love, Mona

    1. Thanks Mona - have a great weekend!

    2. This recipe inspired my recipe.
      I use 4 cans of evaporated milk, 7 cups whole milk, 2 cups of half and half , 9 eggs, 4 cups of sugar. Beat eggs and sugar until like light yellow, put pot on stove and pour the rest of ingredients. Then add egg mixture and whisk until egg mixture is dissolved. This recipe makes two batches. I

  2. Making custard ice cream takes longer but the end result is so worth it!

  3. Oh Mary, this is really making me nostalgic...amma (my mom) used to make her version often....and as a child my job was to keep stirring and not to let it I am doing the same with my kids...cant wait to make your ice cream recipe for my kids!!!

    1. I think kids are missing something these days with that old crank ice cream maker aren't they?!

  4. Homemade vanilla is my favorite!

  5. Homemade vanilla is my favorite!

  6. i have a question about the heavy cream and half and half - how does lowering the cream ratio and raising the half and half ratio effect the recipe? Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Tee! I don't quite understand the question, sorry. Do you mean that you want to lower the cream further by using more half and half? Or do you just want to know what would be the difference if you used all cream and no half and half?

  7. I have a question, is their a variation with this recipe for banana icecream?

    1. Hi Pat! Not on this recipe. This is a basic egg custard homemade vanilla ice cream. I'm sure that you could include banana, but I'd have to test ratios for a whole new recipe. Now, that said, you can actually make a pretty good banana ice cream without having to make a custard at all! All you need to do is freeze bananas and then process them in some manner. There are some pretty cool machines you can buy that make a super easy job of it (and they even have recipe books
      too), or you can also use a food processor for a pretty good result with a little bit more effort. You can even experiment with other additions for different flavors - like strawberries, chocolate syrup, peanut butter even and add in about 1/4 cup of cream, milk, or sweetened condensed milk to enhance the creaminess!

  8. Please tell me how to make it so it is creamy after deep freeze, so as to not have ice crystals and grainy. Have read to use condensed milk instead of whole milk as well as adding pudding mix, commercial ice cream manufacturers use different types of binders to maintain creamy textures.
    Please advise if can....

    1. Hey Keith! Well, condensed milk and pudding will make a delicious ice cream, but those are what are called "cheater" recipes. Very good, but this recipe is for the old fashioned, from scratch ice cream that is made by cooking whole milk with sugar and adding eggs to create a custard like you do with homemade banana pudding. Once that is formed, heavy cream and half and half are added for richness and creaminess before chilling. This is also a big batch recipe so you'll need the big ice cream maker rather than the smaller 1-1/2 quart ones that are popular these days. You can pick up some of the smaller batch recipes that I use with my Cuisinart here.

      I do have an excellent peach ice cream here that uses some of those shortcut elements and it is very very good.

      Generally you will get ice crystals by trying to substitute a lower fat milk, especially 1% or skim. You really need the fat from those milks for a creamy and smooth ice cream. The creaminess comes from fat in a scratch ice cream. Absent the fat, using sweetened condensed milk and pudding act as stabilizers to stand in for the missing fat.

      The grainy texture you have experienced was likely the result of uncooked granulated sugar that was not correctly dissolved before processing in the ice cream machine.

      Hope that helps & be sure to check out those other recipes too!

  9. Thanks for the info, will try your recipe. Been doing this off and on for 40+ yrs, and ain't worried bout fat, so using whole milk has always been in the mix. I usually get the crystal when I freeze long term. I use a 6qt freezer and like to make enough to fill the gallon ice cream containers from Walmart ice cream.

  10. do you use hole egg are just the yolk thank you

    1. Whole large eggs! Unless I specify "eggs, separated" "egg whites" or "egg yolks," when one of my recipe calls for eggs, it's always a whole egg.

  11. Well I've noticed it's been a while since the last commenter so here's my two cents worth. I'm from northern AL. and as far as southern cooking goes it's right in the heart of Dixie so it really doesn't get any more southern than that. Growing up fed on mom's southern cooking and going to family reunions and sampling all my aunts cooking as well I consider my self a aficionado of sorts in southern eats. But since moving to Florida I haven't been to the tables in Alabama as much as I like to, so I;m gonna try your recipe my self, 'cause I love home made from scratch banana pudding and vanilla ice cream are just a few of my favorite things.....will let ya know how it went...."If heaven ain't a lot like Dixie I don't want to go... I'd soon just stay home"....

    1. Ain't it the truth?! I hope you enjoy the ice cream - just like custard for pudding, just be patient with the process!!

  12. I made it! It is the exact recipe my father had and he was from Biloxi! Have to admit, I teared up a little!! Great recipe thanks for sharing

  13. Fantastic! Made the custard last night and the ice cream today. Everyone from my 81 year old mother to my grandchildren loved it. Thank you for sharing. This will be our new family favorite.

    1. Aw, now that makes my heart happy. Thanks for letting me know!!

  14. I made this a few weeks ago and now my husband complains that store bought ice creme just doesn't taste as good. Spoiled after one batch!

    Thank you for sharing your recipe with us all.

    1. You're very welcome & thanks so much for coming back by to let me know he's enjoying it!!

  15. I made this recipe for my mother,she's a diabetic. I used a sugar substitute in place of sugar and instead of vanilla extract I used lemon extract. Mother said it was the best lemon ice cream she has ever had and I would have to agree. Thank you.

  16. Hi Mary, l need a recipe with all of the milk products cooked due to an allergy to it if it is not cooked! Cooked custards do not cause a reaction. Could all of your recipe be included in the cooking then put into a churn and churned?


Thanks for taking the time to comment - I love hearing from readers and I read every single comment and try to respond to them right here on the site, so stop back by!

From time to time, anonymous restrictions and/or comment moderation may be activated due to comment spam. I also reserve the right to edit, delete or otherwise exercise total editorial discretion over any comments left on this blog. If your comment serves only to be snarky, mean-spirited or argumentative, it will be deleted. Please mind your manners.

Related Posts with Thumbnails