philadelphia style vanilla ice cream

vanilla ice cream, philadelphia style

A couple of weeks ago at the store I needed to buy some more vanilla extract and noticed that the same size jar of a more expensive brand was on sale and therefore cheaper than the brand I usually buy.  And while I don’t exactly go cheap on the vanilla, when I got home I opened this more expensive brand, took a whiff of it, and immediately thought, “Oh my goodness.  I have to make some vanilla ice cream.”  Literally.  I could smell the difference.

vanilla ice cream base with beans

vanilla ice cream base with vanilla extract

The only problem with wanting to make some vanilla ice cream, is that I also needed to get some vanilla beans.  So next time I was at the grocery store, at the beginning of last week, I picked some up and put them in my cart, gulping at the price.  I went to the next aisle to get some spaghetti, then went back to the baking aisle and put the vanilla beans back on the shelf, deciding that I would just make-do with vanilla extract.  They were just too expensive.  But then as I finished my shopping I decided that if I was going to make vanilla ice cream, then I was going to make vanilla ice cream right.  So back into my cart the vanilla beans went.

ice cream, churning

This was my first experience with vanilla beans.  When I was scraping out the seeds I said they smelled like coffee.  Gerrit thought they smelled like a sweet tobacco.  One thing we can agree on is that vanilla ice cream with just the extract would pale in comparison to the ice cream made with the beans.  This ice cream had the most pure and rich flavor.  And while vanilla is usually never my first choice when it comes to ice cream flavors, if homemade philadelphia style vanilla ice cream with real vanilla beans is an option, chocolate might have some steep competition.

philadelphia style vanilla ice cream

philadelphia style vanilla ice cream

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 1 quart


  • 3 cups heavy cream (or 2 cups heavy cream + 1 cup milk)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Pour 1 cup heavy cream into a medium-sized saucepan. Add the sugar and salt and stir to combine.
  2. With a small paring knife, cut down the length of the vanilla bean to cut it in half lengthwise. Using the tip of the knife, scrape the tiny seeds out from each half. Add both the seeds and the pods to the pot, and whisk together to make sure the seeds don’t clump together.
  3. Heat the pot over over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring often. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 2 cups of cream (or the 1 cup of cream + 1 cup of milk) and the vanilla extract.
  4. Place the pot in the fridge and chill thoroughly, about 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the mixture from the fridge and take the vanilla beans out (rinse the vanilla beans off and let them dry and save them to use in something else in the future). Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then pour into a container with a lid and freeze until you are ready to serve it.


3 Responses

  1. Jenny @ BAKE May 1, 2013 at 9:23 am |

    this ice cream looks amazing! I loved your story about shopping, I’m the same, having to rationalise price versus quality. Have you tried vanilla bean paste? I’ve found to be a good compromise

  2. Kathryn May 1, 2013 at 9:51 am |

    A good proper vanilla ice cream is so hard to beat. And I would echo Jenny’s comment about vanilla bean paste, so much cheaper and easier than using whole beans!


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