Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream that Isn’t as Hard as a Rock

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Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream that Isn't as Hard as a Rock - Holistic Squid

Maybe you didn’t grow up having a bowl of ice cream each night before bed, but I did.

“Bed-time snack-time, now or never!” My mother would announce. Just as much a part of our bedtime ritual as a bath or teeth brushing.

We always had at least two or three flavors to choose from. Vanilla, mint chocolate chip, Neapolitan, chocolate. And I would fill a large cereal bowl, sometimes drench it in Hershey’s syrup or sugared peaches, and dig in.

As a grown-up, I pretend I don’t still have ‘bed-time, snack-time.’ But if there’s ice cream in the freezer, I’m not likely to pass up an opportunity.

I’ve been working on perfecting my homemade vanilla ice cream recipe – a flavor so versatile you can drizzle it with chocolate, spoon it up with fresh fruit, or eat it right out of the container. One of my qualms about homemade ice cream is that though it is wonderfully delicious in its melty state fresh out of the maker, once you put it in the freezer, it hardens to a solid block. Conventional ice creams are reported to contain potentially toxic ingredients (akin to anti-freeze) to keep your dessert perfectly soft right out of the icebox.

So it got me thinking.  How do you keep frozen dairy firm, but not rock hard?

Well, if you’ve ever put a bottle of vodka in the freezer, you know that it doesn’t freeze – it just gets frosty. That’s because alcohol freezes at a lower temperature than water (which is the liquid in milk). But I wanted a kid-friendly final product, so I didn’t want to use a big slug of booze.

Then I started day dreaming about one of my current favorite flavors – salted caramel. Of course! Back in Pennsylvania, we salted the driveway and roads to melt ice (probably not great for the soil, eh?). A few months ago I made a salted caramel ice cream that stayed soft in the freezer. Salt and sweet do make a dynamic duo.

So, for classic vanilla, the finished recipe has a bit more vanilla extract than you might expect (mine is homemade in a vodka base) and a big pinch of salt. *If your vanilla is not in alcohol, reduce vanilla to 1 tablespoon and add 2 tablespoons of vodka or spirit of your choosing.*

The final dish: decadent, comforting, and just the right amount of ease in scooping right out of the freezer.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Ingredients

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Method

  • In a large bowl, beat egg yolks.
  • Whisk in other ingredients making sure to sprinkle arrowroot gradual to avoid clumps.  Combine well.
  • Score the vanilla bean with a sharp knife down the length, flay open, scrape the tiny black seeds into your batter, and stir.
  • Pour the batter into an ice cream maker (like this one) and process according to the machine’s instructions.
  • When the ice cream is done, serve immediate for soft serve or spoon into a shallow container, lay plastic wrap directly onto ice cream (to avoid freezer burn), and freeze until firm.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream that Isn't as Hard as a Rock  - Holistic Squid

“Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream” can be seen at the following blog carnivals:  Make Your Own! MondayMonday ManiaFat Tuesday, Pennywise PlatterFriday Food Flicks and Freaky Friday. Hop on over to check out some other posts you may enjoy!


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  1. says

    Thank you! I tried making raw milk ice cream yesterday using stevia instead of honey and it didn’t freeze right. I added a tbsp of honey and while it tasted good, it had ice crystals in it. While Elijah licked it up, he said, did you put ice in this, mom? thanks for the recipe.

    • says

      You’re welcome, Sarah! I’ve never tried making ice cream with stevia – I wonder what the trick would be to make it the right consistency… Anyone?

      • George says

        I substitute 1 1/2 tsp of Stevia for 1 cup of sugar. I mix the Stevia with 1 Tbl flour and a little half and half. Because Stevia does not have the same properties as sugar, you will need to add 1 Tbl of Vodka when you add the vanilla. This will keep the ice cream from becoming rock hard when it is done and you place it in the freezer.

        • Susan says

          There is a recipe on youtube using cornflour as an emulsifier. To 3 cups of milk and heavy cream (1-1/2 cups each) she stirs in 2 T of cornstarch that’s been premoistened with some of the milk heating until it thickens. (also 5T sugar, 2 tsp vanilla). I know that cut-rate corn starch is bad for you, but you can get organic and natural varieties. Kudzu powder also might work.

  2. Lynda Blennerhassett says

    Hi can you please send me your recipe for Salted Caramel Ice cream, we don’t have that flavor here in NZ and it sounds delicious. Thanks, Lynda

    • says

      Hi Lynda – I knew as I was writing this post that a salted caramel ice cream post would need to follow soon! My qualms with the recipe that I used (and all the ones that I found) was that the cream/milk needed to be boiled to make the batter, negating the wonderful probiotic benefits of the raw milk. So I promise to work on a raw version and post it asap. :)

    • says

      Hi Lara – Yes, there is some alcohol in the recipe, but it’s a negligible amount per serving and doesn’t alter the taste.
      Just to be sure, I’ve checked the math. This recipe calls for 2 T. of alcohol which is the same as 1 shot of liquor for 4.5 cups of liquid. The usual ratio of a mixed drink is 2oz of alcohol to 5oz mixer (such as juice or soda), so the recipe in this ratio is 2oz alcohol to 36oz of milk, cream, and maple syrup. You’d need to have 7 cups of the icecream to equal an alcohol drink. But if you wanted to avoid alcohol all together, you could experiment with adding a bit extra salt – just check your vanilla extract, because many are in an alcohol base. :)

  3. Donna says

    Since you’re adding alcohol anyway (whether pure vanilla in alcohol or vanilla extrac with additional vodka), why not use 2 tbsp of sambucca for a licorice flavour?

    • says

      Hi Donna – Personally I’m not a big licorice fan, but I’m sure this would work great! While we’re at it, let’s try a Grand Marnier ice cream with bits of orange mixed in. Mmmm.

  4. Debbie D. says

    I really don’t like the flavor of maple syrup. Does the syrup flavor it at all? Is there another sweetener I could us?

    • says

      Hi Debbie – Raw honey would also work great. You will need to dissolve it in some warm cream before adding it to the mixture. Experiment with the amount to achieve your desired sweetness.

  5. .ambre. @mytempleremodeling.com says

    Sharing with the kids is all well and good :) but I would have no objection to you posting a recipe or two containing that “big slug of booze” you mentioned. :)

  6. says

    What a fantastic idea! I look forward to trying it.

    If I were to try a stevia version, I would cut the maple sugar down to 1/2 cup and add 1/2 T of stevia (which, frankly, is a very large amount.) IMO, stevia works best as a blend, since it cuts down or eliminates the bitter aftertaste. Small amounts of stevia work well, so I probably would start at 1 t or less and gradually up the amount needed until it was sweetened to taste.

  7. Beth says

    Hi – Can anyone tell me approximately how much ice cream this makes? I’m just trying to get an idea to determine if it’s worth buying the raw cream. Thanks so much!

  8. Dawn says

    Wow, thanks for the flashback! “Bedtime snack time!” I loved that phrase growing up, and it was always icecream. (savored in front of the tv, laughing to The Muppet Show)
    My favorite was vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s syrup and walnuts (which I hurridly cracked with a hammer before my icecream melted too much). I will be having this as soon as I can gather the ingredients! Thanks so much, honestly. Highlight of my day to remember that!

  9. Bethann says

    Is it possible to make chocolate ice cream by following these same instructions, minus vanilla bean? (Or better yet… NOT minus vanilla bean!) Just wondering if I would need to alter anything if incorporating raw cacao powder. I have my mixture getting extra cold in the fridge at the moment, waiting to dump it in our ice cream maker. I just warmed a half cup raw honey with a half cup raw cream barely enough to melt it together. So excited!

    • says

      Absolutely, Bethann! Just adjust the ice cream batter to taste with the raw cacao powder. If you have chocolate extract you could try that, or not. Yum!

  10. Sue Pace says

    I love to make my own bread, but I’m not a big fan of the bread maker….the texture is kind of “off”. When I try to knead by hand, the taste is great, but the finished product resembles a brick in texture. The KA would be wonderful!

  11. Bug says

    I freeze my ice cream in silicone cupcake cups. No scooping at all, just peel the wrapper off and you have a single scoop. I stack them in the freezer in a bread bag. Great for quick serving at a party.

  12. Shaina says

    Ok this looks awesome but I’m wondering if you could help me figure out an allergy free version? My son can’t do dairy, or eggs :(

    • says

      Hi Shaina, thanks for your comment. You could probably do coconut milk and omit the eggs. Let us know how it turns out if you have a chance to try it.

  13. says

    Thank you for this! We just got a hand-crank ice cream maker off of our local Freecycle list and I’ve made two batches of coconut milk ice cream (lemon- with the juice and zest – and chocolate.) Now I know how to keep them more edible if we don’t finish it up in one shot. Our next experiment is my sons idea – pineapple mint! And I love how yours doesn’t have to be heated. Thanks again for the tip.

  14. michael says

    Did. I miss something but I didn’t see any cooking process in that recipe I don’t know about you but I don’t usually eat raw egg yolks.

  15. says

    Oh. My. GOODNESS!! This is the best icecream EVER! I made it last night and it was good. But honestly, today, after being in the freezer overnight, it is even better!! And no ice crystals and not frozen like a rock. Using organic pastured raw eggs is something I know I should be doing more, but I’m still working to get over the last 30-some years of media telling you about the evils. This should make it easier to conquer those myths! Maybe next week I will add a raw egg yolk to my smoothie!

    Also, I was worried it wouldn’t all fit in my ice cream maker (I have a Hamilton Beach inexpensive one). So I halved the recipe. Turns out it would have fit fine! Based on what I put in the freezer for 1/2 a recipe, I suspect a full recipe would have made between 5-6 cups of ice cream.

    Also, the combo of the maple and honey was almost caramel like!

    Do you think to make a chocolate version with cocoa you should eliminate the arrowroot powder?

    Thanks for this recipe! It is my new go-to ice cream recipe!!!

    • says

      Hi Colleen B,. I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe! I think I’d probably try it with the Arrowroot first, but if you do try it, please let us know how it turns out as I haven’t done a chocolate version yet.

  16. Kara says

    Just made this with 1/2c cocoa powder, subbed coconut sugar for the maple syrup, omitted the honey, arrowroot and vanilla bean, upped the salt to 1/2tsp and added a tbsp of Kahlua. Amazing. Have made the vanilla version several times too with great success. This is my go-to for ice cream recipes. Thank you!!!

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