Want to know how to make the creamiest, silkiest ice cream? A foolproof method for making a rich, vanilla-infused custard, and a secret ingredient that keeps everything unbelievably smooth, will ensure you nail this classic summer treat, every time. We’ve also thrown in an optional velvety chocolate sauce to drizzle over, for an extra touch of indulgence.

5 simple steps to the perfect vanilla ice cream

1. Use an ice-cream machine

Why use an ice-cream machine? It constantly churns the mixture as it freezes, preventing large ice crystals forming and ensuring a smooth end result. Prices start from around £10.

2. Infuse with vanilla

Infusing the cream with vanilla pods will ensure a flavour-packed ice cream. Don’t throw away the pods afterwards – rinse, dry, then mix them into a bag of sugar and they will perfume the grains, ready for bakes or a seasonal bowl of strawberries.

3. Take your time

Pour the hot cream over the eggs in stages, while whisking constantly. This will cool the milk to ensure the eggs don’t scramble, while remaining hot enough for the custard to thicken quickly once back in the pan.

4. Stir the custard

Constantly stir the custard throughout cooking to stop it from scrambling (use a spatula). It may catch at the bottom of the pan as this is the hottest point, so keep scraping the bottom to keep the temperature of the mixture even. If the custard starts to scramble, stop stirring, strain through a sieve into a clean pan and continue cooking.

5. The best custard consistency

The custard is ready when it thickly coats the back of a spoon. Dip the spoon into the custard, then run a finger across the back of it – it should leave a thick, clean trail.

6. The secret ingredient

Adding alcohol stops water particles from clumping during churning – ensuring the ice cream is smooth, without lumps of ice and producing a softer set so you’ll get a good scoop straight from the freezer.


  • 200ml whole milk
  • 400ml double cream
  • 2 vanilla pods, split and seeds scraped out
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp vodka
  • to serve ice-cream cones


  • 50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped or broken into pieces
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 100ml double cream


  • STEP 1

    Put the whole milk, double cream and vanilla pods and seeds into a pan over a low heat and bring very gently to just below simmering. Remove from the heat and cover for 1 hour to infuse.

  • STEP 2

    Remove the vanilla pods, then bring the cream mixture gently back to a simmer. Meanwhile, put the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl, and whisk until lightly fluffy. Once the milk has just reached simmering point, pour a little over the egg mixture while whisking. Pour over the rest of the milk and cream gradually, whisking all the time. Clean the pan, then pour everything back in. Put over a low heat and cook gently, constantly stirring, until the custard thickly coats the back of a spoon. Pour into a bowl, stir in the vodka, cover the surface with clingfilm and leave to cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 1 hour. Pour into an ice-cream machine and churn until thick, then scrape into a tub and freeze completely.

  • STEP 3

    Put the chocolate, butter and cream into a small pan and heat gently until fully melted. Leave to cool until just warm.

  • STEP 4

    Scoop the ice cream into balls and serve in cones, with plenty of the warm chocolate sauce poured over the top.

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Adam Bush Chef Portrait
Adam BushDeputy food editor

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