Frozen Vanilla Custard


American-style ice cream uses no eggs, but this is the French style--with eggs! It's rich and creamy and, although traditionally served soft in cones, I prefer to freeze it firm then scoop it.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
5 mins
Additional Time:
3 hrs 20 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 40 mins
1 quart


  • 5 large egg yolks

  • cup white sugar

  • 1 pinch salt

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, and salt together until mixture changes from dark golden to pale yellow becomes fluffy.

  2. Heat milk and cream in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom. Cook just until mixture starts to simmer when little bubbles begin to appear on the surface, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

  3. Whisk a ladleful of milk-cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Add another ladleful and whisk thoroughly before adding the next (this will keep the eggs from cooking). Gradually add the remaining milk-cream mixture and whisk thoroughly. Whisk in vanilla. Cool completely (you can place the bowl in a larger bowl with ice water to cool it faster).

  4. Pour cooled mixture into a pitcher; cover. Refrigerate until ice cold or overnight.

  5. Pour custard mixture into ice cream maker and process (according to manufacturer's instructions) until custard reaches the consistency of soft ice cream, about 20 minutes. Quickly transfer to a plastic container. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the custard. Cover container and freeze until custard is firm enough to scoop, at least 3 hours.

    close up view of Frozen Vanilla Custard in a glass ice cream bowl with a spoon
    Chef John

Chef's Notes:

You can substitute 1 split and scraped whole vanilla bean for 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

To cool the custard mixture, I float the mixing bowl in a larger bowl with some ice water.

If you want to make ice cream cones with the leftover egg whites, here's a great recipe from Chef John.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

650 Calories
52g Fat
41g Carbs
8g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 650
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 52g 66%
Saturated Fat 31g 153%
Cholesterol 425mg 142%
Sodium 119mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 41g 15%
Total Sugars 37g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 174mg 13%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 204mg 4%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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