Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Total Time

Prep: 5 min. Process: 20 min. + freezing


1-1/4 quarts

Updated: Mar. 22, 2024
We don't want to brag, but as far as vanilla ice cream recipes go, this one is the best. And with only four ingredients, it just might be the easiest, too. No ice cream maker? No problem. Just follow the directions below to learn how to make homemade ice cream by hand. It's the perfect base for our best ice cream sundae ideas, too. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen


  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; stir until sugar is dissolved. Fill cylinder of ice cream maker no more than two-thirds full; freeze according to manufacturer's directions. (Refrigerate any remaining mixture until ready to freeze.)
  2. Serve immediately or transfer to freezer containers allowing headspace for expansion. Freeze until firm, 2-4 hours.
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Tips

How do you make homemade ice cream creamy and not icy?

To ensure your homemade ice cream will come out creamy, use heavy cream, half-and-half or milk with a higher percentage milk fat, such as whole milk. If the ice cream is made with a lower percentage milk fat, it has the potential to become icy.

How do you make homemade vanilla ice cream thicker?

Thicker ice creams usually involve the addition of eggs, egg yolks or cornstarch as stabilizers or thickeners. The ice cream "base" is basically a cooked custard that, when chilled very well, spins up into a creamy, but firmer ice cream. Try our vanilla custard ice cream or old-time custard ice cream if you're aiming for ice cream with some thickness to it.

How do you make ice cream without an ice cream maker?

No ice cream maker, no problem! To make ice cream without an ice cream maker, pour the ice cream mixture into a shallow container (glass or metal work best) that you've popped in the freezer previously to get nice and chilled. Store in the coldest part of your freezer until almost firm, but still soft enough to be stirred. For the next 3 hours, check the ice cream every 30 minutes and stir or mix with a hand mixer to keep it aerated and creamy. You can also make ice cream in a coffee can!

How do you store homemade ice cream?

Store homemade ice cream in the freezer in an airtight container with a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper pressed directly onto the surface. This will prevent ice crystals from forming.

What are the best ice cream toppings?

Whether you're going for a simple scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream or building an elaborate ice cream sundae bar, there are so many classic ice cream toppings to choose from, like chocolate syrup, hot fudge, chocolate or rainbow sprinkles, fresh fruit, chopped peanuts, whipped cream and maraschino cherries. If you ask us, crushed Oreos, mini M&M's, chunks of edible cookie dough and a drizzle of salted caramel are also some of the best ice cream toppings.

What do you serve with homemade vanilla ice cream?

A scoop of vanilla ice cream pairs perfectly with a fudgy brownie, a slice of apple pie, a fruit-filled cobbler, and other "a la mode" desserts. Or, use your homemade ice cream to make ice cream sandwiches. Start with chocolate chip cookies or sugar cookies, or try one of these unexpected ways to make an ice cream sandwich.

Homemade ice cream variations

To turn this homemade vanilla ice cream into raspberry or strawberry ice cream, substitute 2 cups fresh or frozen berries for 1 cup of half-and-half. Puree the berries in a blender or food processor, then stir the berries into the other ingredients before freezing.

Mark Neufang, Taste of Home Culinary Assistant, and Lauren Pahmeier, Taste of Home Associate Editor

Nutrition Facts

1/2 cup: 308 calories, 22g fat (14g saturated fat), 78mg cholesterol, 37mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate (23g sugars, 0 fiber), 3g protein.