Vanilla bean ice cream is easily made at home — three ingredients are all you need! No ice cream machine required. Summer just got much easier.
Why you’ll love it: It’s creamy and delicious, and so easy to make!
How long it takes: 15 minutes to whip up, 6 hours in the freezer
Equipment you’ll need: electric mixer, refrigerator/freezer
Homemade vanilla ice cream is creamy, sweet and delicious, with flecks of vanilla bean dispersed throughout. It takes only minutes to make and that’s just the way I like things (and I bet you do too!).
What I really like about this ice cream is that you don’t need any special equipment other than a mixer. You don’t need to buy an expensive ice cream maker, or rock salt, or ice, or any of that stuff. There’s no churning involved.
Another good thing about this ice cream is that it takes literally only minutes to make and then it has to spend six hours in the freezer. You may ask, what’s good about waiting six hours? Well, you have six hours to think about toppings. You can probably handle it, but if you need ideas, I’m here for you.
Ben’s favorite ice cream topping is chocolate chips. Me, I’ll take ice cream without the chocolate chips. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate. I just don’t like hard chunks of chocolate on my ice cream.
Or by the handful.
But on ice cream? Nah.
I prefer chocolate syrup, or even better, homemade hot fudge (it’s THE BEST). Warm caramel sauce, especially when it’s made with a bit of bourbon, runs a close second. Add a few spiced pecans to that and I’m in ice cream heaven.
But hey! To each their own. I won’t stop Ben from doing his thing and he doesn’t give me the side eye when I put granola on my vanilla ice cream (it’s so good!). Or this 3-ingredient crunchy oat topping.
I’ll leave it up to you to choose how you want to top this vanilla bean ice cream. Although, if you need suggestions, I’d be happy to throw a few (hundred) ideas your way.
About This Recipe
You’ll need only three ingredients to make this no-churn ice cream. It’s really a shortcut ice cream recipe. Churned ice cream usually requires making a custard and then it’s churned to incorporate air into the mixture as it freezes so it doesn’t end up rock hard.
To make no-churn ice cream, you whip heavy cream and fold it into sweetened condensed milk. The air is already in the mixture before it’s frozen so it stays soft and scoopable. The texture is creamy, smooth, and perfect.
I’ll get you started on this easy recipe and give you extra helpful tips. As always, look for a printable recipe card near the end of the post. It has complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Sweetened Condensed Milk: Make sure you look for sweetened condensed milk, not evaporated milk. You’ll need one 14 ounce can. Look for brands such as Carnation or Eagle Brand (store brands are fine, too); it’s usually found in the baking aisle.
- Heavy Cream (or heavy whipping cream): It should have at least 36% milk fat. Some whipping creams are lighter, with less milk fat, and won’t work as well. Make sure your cream is well chilled. It will whip up more easily.
- Vanilla Bean Paste: If you’re unfamiliar with vanilla bean paste, it’s sweetened vanilla extract which has been thickened with ground up vanilla beans. There are visible bits of seeds which add both flavor and visual appeal. It’s available in most grocery stores or on Amazon. It has all the punch of vanilla extract and vanilla beans smushed into one ingredient. Pantry staple, as far as I’m concerned.
How To Make No Churn Ice Cream
You’ll need two large bowls and an electric mixer, either a stand mixer or hand mixer. To freeze the ice cream, a loaf pan works best, either metal or glass.
Begin by emptying the can of sweetened condensed milk into one of the bowls. Blend in the vanilla bean paste. Set that bowl aside for a minute.
Next, pour the chilled heavy cream into the other bowl. Beat the cream on medium high speed until it holds stiff peaks, about three minutes, slightly less with a stand mixer.
Scoop up a large dollop of the whipped cream and mix it gently into the condensed milk/vanilla mixture. Add the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold it in. It should be quite silky and smooth but you don’t want to over mix it or the whipped cream will deflate. If you want to stir in any add-ins (see the suggestions below), now’s the time to do that.
Pour the cream mixture into a loaf pan and cover it tightly with foil. Put the pan into the freezer. It will need about six hours to firm up. It’s okay to make it the day before you plan on eating it.
Serve vanilla bean ice cream with your favorite toppings or serve it as a topping for warm coffee cake with streusel, Kahlua brownies, or banana cake. You just have to have vanilla ice cream to top warm strawberry rhubarb crisp or apple crisp with ginger.
Most homemade ice cream recipes are churned with an ice cream maker of some sort. These recipes usually start with making an egg custard. Churning is necessary to incorporate air into the mixture as it freezes so the ice cream isn’t rock hard.
No churn ice cream is just that: no churning is required. Air is incorporated into the cream before it is frozen, using an electric mixer. It’s soft, scoopable, and delicious (and so, so easy!).
Well, it’s frozen and it’s made from sweetened cream. I guess that would qualify it as ice cream. Try it and see for yourself! I think you’ll love it.
Sweetened condensed milk is essential to this recipe. It adds sweetness and it softens the ice cream, giving it a creamy rich texture.
Why? Since sweetened condensed milk is evaporated milk (milk that has 60 percent of the water removed), there is very little water in the mixture which means that ice crystals don’t form as it freezes.
If you’d like to make your own sweetened condensed milk, Spruce Eats has an easy recipe with dry milk powder, sugar, butter, and boiling water.
Make It Your Own (Add-Ins)
It’s easy to stir in added ingredients for your own special ice cream creation. Here’s a few ideas to get you thinking:
- Mini chocolate chips
- Toffee bits
- Andes mints, chopped
- Toasted coconut
- Cereal such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Fruit Loops, Cocoa Krispies, etc.
- Graham crackers, crushed
- Oreo cookies, crushed
- Chocolate chip cookies, crumbled
- Gingersnaps, crumbled
- Butter cookies, crumbled
Wondering how to store homemade ice cream? It will keep in the freezer for a couple of months if you transfer it to a freezer safe container that seals well.
More No Churn Ice Cream Flavors
- Double Cinnamon Ice Cream
- Chocolate Ice Cream (Double chocolate!)
- Coconut Hot Fudge Ice Cream
- Fudge Swirl Ice Cream
- 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- 2 cups heavy cream, cold (36% milkfat is best)
- Pour heavy cream into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer on medium-high speed to whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks (3 minutes – less if you’re using a stand mixer).
- Add sweetened condensed milk and vanilla bean paste to whipped cream. Fold together until just combined and silky and smooth. A few small lumps may remain; it’s important not to over mix as that will deflate the mixture.
- Spread into a 8 or 9-inch loaf pan. Freeze for at least 6 hours or until firm (I cover with foil to prevent freezer burn).
- If desired, lightly fold in flavor variations before freezing. Some ideas: mini chocolate chips or M&Ms, toasted coconut, lightly crushed cereal or graham crackers, crushed Oreos, chocolate chip cookies, gingersnaps, or butter cookies.
- To store, transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container that has a good resealable lid. It will keep for up to 3 months.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.