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Thomas Jefferson's Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Thomas Jefferson's Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

The third U.S. president is credited with jotting down the first American recipe for this treat. No vanilla bean on hand? Substitute 1 tablespoon vanilla extract for the vanilla bean. Just stir the extract into the cream mixture after the ice-water bath. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 15 min. + chilling Process: 20 min./batch + freezing YIELD:18 servings


  • 2 quarts heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 6 egg yolks


  • 1. In a large heavy saucepan, combine cream and sugar. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise. With a sharp knife, scrape seeds into pan; add bean. Heat cream mixture over medium heat until bubbles form around side of pan, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  • 2. In a small bowl, whisk a small amount of the hot mixture into the egg yolks; return all to the pan, whisking constantly.
  • 3. Cook over low heat until mixture is just thick enough to coat a metal spoon and temperature reaches 160°, stirring constantly. Do not allow to boil. Immediately transfer to a bowl.
  • 4. Place bowl in a pan of ice water. Stir gently and occasionally for 2 minutes; discard vanilla bean. Press waxed paper onto surface of custard. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
  • 5. Fill cylinder of ice cream freezer two-thirds full; freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Refrigerate remaining mixture until ready to freeze.) Transfer ice cream to a freezer container; freeze for 4-6 hours or until firm. Repeat with remaining mixture. Yield: 2-1/4 quarts.

Reviews for Thomas Jefferson's Vanilla Ice Cream

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Reviewed Dec. 30, 2014

"I cut the recipe down to 1/4 based on the size of my ice cream freezer and the amount of cream I had on hand. I used two full egg yolks. Recipe came out great. It looks like there are a lot of steps but they are really not that much work."

Reviewed Jul. 22, 2014

"Great recipe! Very rich and creamy...and surprisingly easy. This is a keeper."

Reviewed Jun. 21, 2012

"Great rich flavor for such an easy recipe. It has little black specks and rolls when dipped just like the expensive store ice creams. Be sure you seive the custard before you put it in the ice cream freezer as you don't want little egg bits in your ice cream. This ice cream kept well, too (nearly 2 weeks) in the freezer."

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