French Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

This French vanilla ice cream recipe makes the most incredible ice cream we have ever had. Better than anything we had found in Paris. And it’s a quick and easy method.


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Christmas came early and Santa just left me a Whynter ice cream maker. Wow! We made one batch of ice cream with it and immediately got rid of all the previous ice cream makers we had hanging out in the garage that we never use. No messing with ice and rock salt or freezing the inner container. The Whynter ice cream maker does an incredible job of churning the ice cream and freezing it quickly. But best of all, it made the most incredible French vanilla ice cream we have ever had. Even better than the ice cream we had in France.


TRAVELING IN FRANCE

Paris, Lyon, Aix… the ice cream in France is incredible. It is creamy, smooth and dense, not like the fluffy, airy ice cream we are used to. The flavors are intense and elegant. And we were determined to make something similar.

ICE CREAM IN AIX EN PROVENCE
ICE CREAM IN AIX EN PROVENCE

We researched the science and techniques behind the recipe and used tips from exceptional chefs. Then we used the best ingredients we could find to create this recipe. For more ideas, see our other posts about recipes inspired by travel.

ICE CREAM IN LYON
ICE CREAM IN LYON

French Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe
French Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

THE BEST INGREDIENTS FOR FRENCH VANILLA ICE CREAM

The most important thing is to start with the best ingredients. That makes a big difference. Brands vary in quality, so we have listed what we used.

HORIZON ORGANIC CREAM

We think Horizon products taste better than any other dairy products we have tried. This is probably because the products are organic and from family farming partners. Just as important, Horizon is a certified B corporation that has committed to becoming carbon positive across their entire supply chain by 2025. We save money by buying this by the half gallon at a big box store.

HOMEMADE CREME FRAICHE FROM HORIZON CREAM

The taste is milder and better when we make it ourselves. It’s made from the highest quality cream and nothing else, except the culture. It is also real creme fraiche, with active culture, which is important. We save money as well, by making it ourselves, since it can be expensive and hard to find.

WHOLESOME ORGANIC CANE SUGAR

Produced from organic sugar cane fields that are green cut and are not burned or treated with herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. Burning sugar cane fields contributes to air pollution and climate change. It is also a major cause of the destruction of the rain forest. Buying sugar from fields that are green cut helps prevent this destruction. The sugar also has a better taste. We save money by buying this in bulk direct from the company.

VANILLA

Alcohol lowers the freezing point, making the ice crystals small and keeping the ice cream smooth as it hardens. Too much, however, and the ice cream won’t freeze. Use one tablespoon of an 80 proof alcohol. In this recipe we substitute two tablespoons of vanilla instead because commercial vanilla contains alcohol, but most contain water as well. If it’s homemade vanilla made from only 80 proof alcohol, just use one tablespoon. Use a vanilla bean, as well, if you have it.


French Vanilla Ice Cream with scoop on grey background

KEEPING THE FRENCH VANILLA ICE CREAM SMOOTH AND CREAMY


THE SCIENCE OF ICE CREAM

We fell in love with European ice cream – dense and creamy, with elegant flavors. It was like nothing we could get back home. So, we researched the science and technique for making ice cream and learned how to make it ourselves. The key to the best flavor was to use the best quality, most flavorful ingredients. But the secret to keeping it smooth and creamy was a combination of ingredients and technique.

There is more to ice cream than just freezing quality ingredients. The key is making it smooth and creamy. This is actually more difficult than it seems. Ice cream stays smooth while it is being churned, but then it is put in the freezer in order to harden, and that’s when ice crystals form, ruining the smoothness.

There is a lot of science to keeping it smooth. Making ice cream requires a method and ingredients that prevent large ice crystals from forming. The method is accomplished with a properly designed ice cream maker that keeps all of the mixture moving, and freezes it quickly. The other key is using certain ingredients that keep the ice crystals small. Cultured cream, eggs, invert sugar and alcohol are the keys to keeping the ice crystals small and the mixture creamy.


INGREDIENTS

Creme fraiche is cultured cream, like sour cream, but with a much milder taste. The culture in it prevents ice crystals from forming once the ice cream has been churned and is hardening. We make creme fraiche in an Instant Pot from Horizon cream, which makes this an eco-friendly swap as well, since Horizon is taking action on climate change.

CREME FRAICHE
Check out this recipe

Eggs increase the fat and protein in the mixture. The eggs are raw when whipped with the sugar, but are cooked when the hot cream is slowly added. It is important to bring the mixture to a safe temperature (160 degrees F., according to the USDA). This method will do that without having to go through the added steps of making a custard and risking over cooking the eggs. French ice cream is made with a custard, which requires cooking and tempering, so this method is much easier. Heating the eggs will also denature the protein in the eggs and prohibit ice growth.

Invert sugar, like corn syrup lowers the freezing point of water, making the ice crystals smaller and the ice cream smoother. Corn syrup is NOT the same as high-fructose corn syrup. Honey, and some syrups are partially invert sugars and will do the same thing, to some extent, so we use these for certain flavors. However, honey and syrup will add a lot of flavor.

Sugar lowers the freezing point. The sugar molecules interfere with the water molecules becoming organized into a solid as it freezes.

Alcohol lowers the freezing point, making the ice crystals small. It also keeps ice crystals from forming as the ice cream hardens. Too much, however, and the ice cream won’t freeze. Use one tablespoon of an 80 proof alcohol, and adjust the amount for liqueur that contain more or less alcohol.

Air softens the ice cream and provides insulation allowing the flavors to be tasted even though the ice cream is cold. The air is added continuously as the ice cream is churned.


THE ICE CREAM MAKER

Making ice cream also requires a method that prevents the cream from freezing solid. The mixture must be constantly churned in an ice cream maker to add air and to keep the ice crystals small, so the ice cream stays creamy. When selecting an ice cream maker, the important thing is that it keeps all of the mixture moving, and freezes it quickly. There should be very little space between the paddle and the walls of the container, and the paddle should be designed to turn over the mixture as it rotates. If there is a gap allowing too much ice cream to build up on the container walls it will cause ice formation. The temperature must be cold enough to freeze the mixture quickly, before ice forms.

We use a Whynter Ice Cream maker (model ICM-200LS) which does an excellent job of freezing it quickly. It doesn’t require ice and rock salt or freezing the insert, so it is really easy and convenient. It has a capacity of 2 Quarts, but we found the ice cream is better when we make 1 Quart, so our recipe makes 1 Quart.

Whynter ice cream maker
Whynter ice cream maker

TIPS: It also helps if everything is cold. Make the mixture and thoroughly chill it down to 45 degrees F. Before putting it in the ice cream maker. Making it the day before will ensure that it is thoroughly chilled and it also improves the flavor. Let the ice cream maker run for five minutes before putting the mixture in, so it freezes as fast as possible. Freeze a glass container to store the ice cream. And work quickly when the ice cream has finished churning. Allow it to harden overnight.


FOOD SAFETY

Ice cream is made from dairy products and eggs, so it is very important to take steps to ensure food safety. Follow the instructions in the recipe carefully.

  • Start with everything washed in hot soap water, including knives and cutting boards.
  • Use pasteurized cream.
  • Simmer the cream and fruit mixture for two minutes to bring it to a safe temperature.
  • Add the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture, which will bring the eggs up to 160 degrees F., the safe temperature for eggs.
  • Fresh fruit can not be added after this, because it is not cooked and could contaminate the ice cream.
  • Some recipes call for adding things after the ice cream is churned, such as nuts, preserves or chocolate. These should all be fresh, clean, and handled in a manner to keep them clean. Nuts should be toasted and cooled just prior to adding. Anything chopped should be done on a clean cutting board with a clean knife. Preserves should be a newly opened jar.
  • The ice cream should be consumed within a week.

No Affiliates Statement

We call this our “no affiliates” statement because we accept no advertising, have no affiliates and accept no payment. We are not paid to mention brands – we just love buying the best, sharing that information and saving the planet at the same time. The effort put into writing and photographing the blog is solely based on our dedication to the cause.


French Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

FRENCH VANILLA ICE CREAM

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Freezing time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: French Vanilla Ice Cream
Servings: 8
Calories: 297kcal
Author: Lisa LeCoump

Ingredients

Instructions

PREPARE THE STORAGE CONTAINER

  • Put a glass storage container in the freezer.

MEASURE THE INGREDIENTS

  • Use a scale to measure the ingredients – zeroing the scale between measurements.
    Into a small saucepan, measure the cream, corn syrup and vanilla bean (if using).
    Into the mixing bowl of the stand mixer, measure the egg, egg yolk, sugar and salt.
    Into a small bowl, measure the creme fraiche, and vanilla.
    French Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

MIX THE INGREDIENTS

  • In the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, sugar and salt for at least 2 minutes on medium speed.
  • While the stand mixer is whisking the eggs and sugar, put the saucepan on the stove and bring the cream, corn syrup and vanilla bean (if you are using one) to a simmer and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring to combine.
  • Remove the vanilla bean from the cream. Switch the mixer to low speed and very slowly add the cream and corn syrup mixture.
    French Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe
  • Continue whisking on low and add the creme fraiche and vanilla. Whisk just until combined.
    French Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe
  • Split the vanilla bean with a knife and scrape the paste off, adding the paste into the mixture and whisk on low to combine.
  • Refrigerate overnight, or you can use an ice bath to bring it down to 45° F, if you are in a hurry.

FREEZE THE MIXTURE

  • Pre-chill the ice cream maker by letting it run for 5 minutes before adding the mixture.
  • Pour into the ice cream maker and freeze according to the directions.
    Whynter ice cream maker
  • When the ice cream maker is finished, quickly transfer the ice cream into the glass container that has been in the freezer, cover, and put the container back in the freezer overnight to harden.
  • Store in the freezer for up to a week (yeah, right – like it’s really going to last that long).

Nutrition

Calories: 297kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.004g | Cholesterol: 112mg | Sodium: 76mg | Potassium: 77mg | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 978IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Nutrition Facts
FRENCH VANILLA ICE CREAM
Amount per Serving
Calories
297
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
24
g
37
%
Saturated Fat
 
15
g
94
%
Trans Fat
 
0.004
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
6
g
Cholesterol
 
112
mg
37
%
Sodium
 
76
mg
3
%
Potassium
 
77
mg
2
%
Carbohydrates
 
19
g
6
%
Sugar
 
19
g
21
%
Protein
 
3
g
6
%
Vitamin A
 
978
IU
20
%
Vitamin C
 
0.4
mg
0
%
Calcium
 
49
mg
5
%
Iron
 
0.3
mg
2
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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