Serious Vanilla Ice Cream

Serious Vanilla Ice Cream

When I first developed this recipe, more than a few folks thought the peach preserves were a crazy addition. But consider this: Jams and preserves contain pectins, which are gigantic molecules that have considerable gelling power. Including just a wee bit not only smoothes out the texture and elevates the subtler flavor of the vanilla; it can also actually delay melting a bit.

And as you know by now, salt, in small amounts, can turn up the volume on almost any flavor. I include a pinch in most dessert applications.

Serious Vanilla Ice Cream

  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup heavy cream*
  • 5 1/2 ounces sugar
  • 2 ounces peach preserves or jam (not jelly)
  • 1 vanilla bean (split and scraped)
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  1. Combine the half-and-half and heavy cream in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer and bring the mixture to 175 degrees F, stirring occasionally.** Remove from heat.
  2. Add the sugar, preserves, vanilla bean and salt, and keep stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved, then cover and steep 20 minutes.
  3. Fish out the vanilla pod and transfer the mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.
  4. Assemble your ice cream churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’re using an electric machine, turn it on, then pour in the ice cream mixture. (This will prevent seizing.)
  5. Churn the ice cream until it reaches soft-serve consistency and almost doubles in volume.
  6. Move to an airtight container and harden in the freezer for at least 2 hours before serving.

* Heavy cream is often labeled “heavy whipping cream” or “whipping cream” and has a fat content of 36 to 40 percent.
** Why the heat? Well, for one thing, we need to dissolve the sugar, but just as important, we need to shut down certain chemical structures in the dairy that could be an impediment to the smoothness we so desire.

Alton Brown's Serious Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Alton Brown’s Serious Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe


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  1. 1

    So…just a little thinking involved when converting weight to measure…a pound is a pound the world around…
    1 pound = 16 oz… = 2 Cups
    1/2 pound = 8oz…= 1 Cup = 16 T
    1/4 pound = 4 oz = 1/2 Cup = 8 T
    1/6 pound = 2.66 oz =1/3 Cup= 5 1/3 T
    1/8 pound = 2 oz =1/4 Cup= 4 T
    1 oz =1/8 Cup= 2 T
    1/2 oz =1/16 Cup= 1 T = 3 tsp
    1/3 T = 1 tsp
    You should be able to figure nearly any measurement using this table. I considered including quarts & gallons but not many recipes involve that kind of volume unless you are canning or work in a restaurant.

    • 2

      Sharon, it’s not that easy. Fluid ounces and avoirdupois (weight) ounces are not the same. A cup of flour, a cup of butter, and a cup of sugar are all different weights, as they have different densities.

  2. 3

    If you’re serious about cooking get a scale. And guess what, using the metric system is a lot easier. I have the weight in grams on a chart for my most commonly used ingredients (water, sugar, flour, etc). Put mixing bowl on scale and start adding ingredients. Seriously, go buy a scale.

  3. 4
    Linda Youens

    I love and use a lot of your recipes and have converted some from volume to weight. It would be wonderful if you gave both ways to measure in all of your recipes. I like your science and your brand of humor! L. Youens

  4. 5
    Jason harris

    I know others have stated this, but its true and needs repeating. Please post recipes without weight. Its like you are using metric where 99.99% of Americans don’t. Love your show but most recipes i have to passover or find someone else’s that uses measurements that most Americans use. The scale is a uni-tasker space waster since those of us who love to cook have traditional measurement tools already. We are not professional chefs cooking in bulk, but for our families using tools mostly handed down. No worries, I won’t stop watching and will continue to watch you then search the nets to find a similar recipe so I can do it at home, I just wish that you at least help us your fans out.

    • 6

      I’m no professional and use a scale daily. They’re cheap, and far less a unitasker than a measuring cup. The show is called Serious Eats and anyone even semi-serious about making decent food should own one. Even my grandma does. And often they’re necessary, particularly in baking. My measuring cup collecting dust won’t be the same amount as your measuring cup, I’ve seen things online where brands can differ by 15-20%.

  5. 9

    Love you tons, AB. I’m sure you’re aware that not everyone keeps a scale around their kitchen, but your recipes use ounces rather than cups, for example. It would undoubtedly be better to weigh my ingredients, but that just ain’t happening in my world. It’s a serious pain to try to figure out how many cups etc equal the ounces that you use, so I look at your recipes, sigh, and move on. Any chance you could also include even approximate measurements for folks like me?

    • 10

      AB has noted (and as a scientist I have to agree) that a scale– measuring by mass– is without fail more precise and accurate than trying to use volume to measure most ingredients. It would be a disservice to the recipe and the effort spent crafting it to use volume and end up with sub-par results.

      • 11

        Actually, you’re measuring weight, not mass, unless you’ve got some outrageously expensive equipment there. Personally, I don’t understand those who are scale-phobic. It would be like refusing to use a thermometer. If I want to cook, certain procedures dictate the measuring device required for success and/or consistency. That’s not really any different than a specialized new technique. You want the results, learn and use the tools.

    • 12

      Scales are relatively inexpensive (found some for less than $10) and can be a great tool in the kitchen. A great investment for the kitchen that is very practical and helpful. It would probably be easier for you to purchase one than for Alton and all other cooks who measure ingredients this way to change their method. Good luck!

  6. 14

    I like making ice cream filled strawberries and never made my own vice cream for it. I have also done a liquor soaked strawberries for Jell-O shot alternatives, I would love to combine the two, but often soaking the strawberries makes them hard to swallow or they simply fall apart. Anyone have any ideas how to add the alcohol to the ice cream?

  7. 15

    Excellent ice cream. I followed the recipe as warriors. Strained the mix to catch preserve solids. Then strained the mixture, pressing the few remaining bits of peach through.

  8. 16
    Lance M

    I’ve always wondered:
    1- Why peach? Apple has more pectin, if my research is correct
    2- Why not jelly? The solid chunks that don’t dissolve get in the way.

  9. 18
    Joan L

    Is the jam supposed to dissolve/melt? I ended up with little peach jam lumps. Otherwise, the ice cream was very smooth and had a lovely flavour.

  10. 19

    Would adding fruit pectin instead of the peach preserves/jam produce the same result? If so, how much pectin should be used and when would it be incorporated?

    • 21

      Equal parts milk and cream, most commonly used for doctoring coffee – butterfat is about 12.5%. I believe Brits would call it “half cream”.

  11. 22

    Awesome recipe… I won the ice cream competition tonight with it! I used Trader Joe”s Vanilla Bourbon instead of a vanilla bean, strawberry preserves, and I doubled the recipe. But it was tasty, smooth and very vanilla-ee. Personally it was my favorite tonight as well. AB rocks!

  12. 23

    This looks like a great ice cream to go with the blueberry pies that I am making this weekend for my daughter’s birthday. Would the recipe work just as well without the peach preserves? While I would love to use the peach flavoring, Those People I Live With (aka mi familia) are vanilla ice cream with blueberry pie purists. What say you?

  13. 24

    Mr. B – For those of us whose wallets won’t allow the use of the vanilla bean, how much vanilla extract would you recommend in place of the bean, and added at what point in the recipe? Thank you!

  14. 27

    AB, I just started experimenting with making ice cream but have stuck to full fat so far. Because you are so chemistry-oriented in your recipes, I was wondering if you have a any awesome lower fat/calorie recipes I can use– maybe even some non-dairy? Maybe with almond/rice/coconut milk, stevia or agave, etc? (I use a cuisinart 1.5q ice cream maker.) I want the best with lowest calorie and as natural as possible. I also want world peace, but I will ask someone else for that. 🙂 Thanks for any help!!

  15. 28

    I am one of the Ice cream makers at Red Wagon. And I was super bummed that I missed meeting AB. That being said I love how AB preaches the Philadelphia style ice creams.

  16. 29

    Red Wagon Creamery makes wonderful ice cream as well. I am glad you got a chance to visit them in Eugene, OR during your tour! It really mattered to RWC that you enjoyed their Oregon Mint Chip. They’d love to see you again!

  17. 33

    I just tried this recipe last week (super late new superfan of Good Eats) and found this to be the best philadelphia-style (which I prefer) ice cream I’ve ever made! Don’t doubt the power of pectin! I made ice cream sandwiches using this ice cream with cookies made from your ‘chewy’ recipe. Best thing yet…

    My next experiment will be to use a pineapple/apricot preserves in a coconut flavored ice cream. Thanks Alton Brown!

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