How to Make Vanilla Ice Cream

In his American Classics series, cooking guru Scott Peacock offers the inside scoop on making a simply perfect bowl of homemade vanilla ice cream.

By Nancy Wall Hopkins and Scott Peacock


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Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
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American Classics: Vanilla Ice Cream

    Wholesome, rich, and delightfully creamy, ice cream is a classic summertime favorite. Each bowl that you make can be your best with help from Scott Peacock.

    Click through the following slides for Scott's insider tips on working with the simple, high-quality ingredients that he uses to make his ice cream recipe: eggs, milk, cream, and vanilla.

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Twist to release flavor

    Twisting the vanilla bean helps it release its flavorful oils. "Some people slit the vanilla bean and stir the seeds into the ice cream base, but I don't like speckly ice cream," says Scott.

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Temper the egg yolks

    "Adding hot milk slowly to the egg yolks keeps the yolks from curdling and helps ensure smooth and creamy texture," says Scott.

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Cook the custard

    "Never allow custard to simmer or boil," says Scott. "Stir constantly until surface bubbles dissipate and the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula."

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Strain for silky texture

    "Remove any small bits of cooked egg and the vanilla bean by straining the custard through a fine-mesh sieve," says Scott.

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Taste and balance

    "After straining, it's important to taste the custard," says Scott. "The flavor should be rich with egg yolks and cream, yet full of vanilla goodness from both the vanilla bean and the vanilla extract."

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Add kosher (or rock) salt to freezer canister

    Rock salt combined with ice lowers the temperature in the freezer. Having the right ratio of salt to ice is important to maintaining the right temp for a smooth, creamy result, so follow the manufacturer's directions.

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Slow-churn by hand

    "Hand churning is best and incorporates less air in the ice cream for denser texture and richer flavor," says Scott. "Aim for one even turn every two seconds. "

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The dasher's important purpose

    The paddle that stirs the ice cream is called a dasher. As it churns, it incorporates tiny bubbles of air into the ice cream making the frozen mixture soft and scoopable. The dasher's other role is to ensure the mixture freezes evenly.

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Ripen and serve

    Fresh-churned ice cream is generally a soft-serve consistency. "For more scoopable ice cream, transfer it to a shallow glass dish, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze until ice cream is firmly set, about 4 hours," says Scott.

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