Recipe: Vanilla Bean Frozen Custard

The weather has been incredibly beautiful in Northern California for the last month – cool mornings, warm afternoons and breezy evenings.  It truly is the stuff that inspires people to write stories and poems.  As for myself, it inspires me to make ice cream…but not any run of the mill ice cream.  Such special weather demands an equally special frozen treat – frozen custard.

I love frozen custard and struggled for the last year to perfect a recipe that rivaled my childhood memories.  The frozen custard of my youth was rich, eggy and dense …heavy in vanilla and silky on the tongue.  I was in Manhattan visiting family and was served this heaven on a cone.  It wasn’t ice cream — it was magic.  It would also prove to be one of the toughest things I have tried to recreate in my kitchen.

The problem with frozen custard is that you can easily end up with a mixture that  is either too thin and separates as it freezes, so you get ice milk on top and frozen egg on the bottom.  If you cook th e mixture too long, you end up with scrambled eggs.  If you don’t cook it enough, the flavors don’t meld and the custard doesn’t cook making for an inconsistent and chunky product.

Let’s just say that we ended up with everything from crème glace to scrambled eggs on my various attempts.  But persistence is key and I think I have finally  figured out the right ratio.  My version is thick, dense and vanilla infused thanks to the use of vanilla beans The Partner picked up in Bali.  This custard makes me smile the same way I did the first time I tasted it years ago!

Vanilla Bean Frozen Custard

Total Servings: 12-14


2 1/3 cups whole milk

 2 1/3 cups heavy cream

1 whole vanilla bean

3 large eggs (room temperature)

4 large egg yolks (room temperature)

1 1/8 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)


– Combine milk and cream into a medium sauce pan.  Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds with blunt edge of knife.  Stir seeds and bean pod into the milk/cream mixture.  Bring mixture to a slow boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally.

– Combine eggs, egg yolks and sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon in a medium bowl.   Use a hand mixer on medium speed to beat until mixture is thick,smooth and pale yellow – about 2-3 minutes.

– Remove vanilla bean pod from milk/cream mixture and discard.  Measure out 1 cup of hot liquid and add to egg mixture with mixer on low-speed in a steady stream.  Once combined, pour the egg mixture into the sauce pan with the remainder of the milk/cream mixture and stir to combine. 

– Cook mixture over medium-low heat until mixture is thick enough to coat back of spoon.  Stir constantly as to avoid scrambling the mixture.  Once thick, pour mixture through a sieve to ensure a smooth consistency,  transfer to a bowl and stir in vanilla extract.  Cover the mixture with plastic wrap placed directly on the custard and chill completely.

– Once chilled, pour custard mixture into an ice cream maker and let mix until thickened.  The custard will have a soft consistency and is ready to eat!  If you prefer a firmer consistency, place in freezer for 2 hours.


1) I tried using skim milk for this recipe and thought the final texture of the custard suffered.

2) Placing the plastic wrap on the surface of the custard  mixture prevents it from forming a skin.

3) As much as I stirred I still ended up with a few particles of scrambled eggs, so I would error on straining the mixture before chilling to the on the safe side.

4) I use this recipe for the basis for a variety of other frozen treats ranging from ice cream sandwiches to sundaes.  Feel free to add in chopped candies, nuts or fruit.

3 thoughts on “Recipe: Vanilla Bean Frozen Custard

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