3-Ingredient Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: A Lighter Option That’s Creamy and Flavorful

You don’t have to worry about getting that rich vanilla bean flavor from store bought ice cream anymore, my friends.

This is the kind of frozen dessert that’s not only easy to make at home, but it only requires three ingredients total.

Vertical image of a red and white ceramic ramekin of vanilla ice cream with more in another identical dish and a metal baking pan in the background, on a blue surface with a white kitchen towel, printed with red and white text at the midpoint and bottom of the frame.

Pull out that wonderful ice cream machine you love and trust, and just like that, celebrating summer just got a whole lot easier.

Vanilla bean is one of my favorite types of ice cream. I know it might sound kind of basic, especially compared to other flavor-packed recipes I’ve made like summery peach and rum raisin, but it’s one of those flavors that reminds me of so many happy dessert memories.

I mean, it’s basically the best kind of frozen goodness to serve on top of a warm fruit dessert, or decadent chocolate brownies.

Vertical overhead image of two red and white ceramic ramekins and a metal loaf pan of vanilla ice cream, with a white plastic and metal scoop and a metal spoon, on a blue surface with scattered whole bean pods and an off-white terrycloth kitchen towel.

The first time I made this recipe, I declared it my favorite version of all time. I stand by that today.

It’s so simple to make. It takes just three ingredients, and each of them shines in the final product. Using high quality ingredients is the key to getting the best results.

Vertical oblique overhead image of two white and red ceramic ramekins and a metal loaf pan of vanilla ice cream, with a spoon and a white kitchen towel and one whole pod, on a dark and light blue surface.

We used raw goat’s milk, but raw cow’s milk would be the next best thing, followed by pasteurized whole milk, and then perhaps coconut milk for a dairy-free version. Whatever type you choose to use, be sure to select one with a high fat content for a creamy texture.

Technically an ice milk, it’s a lower fat option than its heavy cream-containing counterparts. And it’s egg-free as well, an added bonus in other recipes like our pomegranate orange ice cream, so you don’t need to spend any time hovering over the stove while you wait for your custard to thicken.

Vertical closely cropped image of a glass bowl of maple syrup and several whole vanilla bean pods in the foreground, and a stainless steel bowl of milk in the background, on a gray surface with white flecks.

Whole vanilla beans are packed with seeds that bring a big wallop of flavor, and every scoop has those little flecks throughout to let you know this homemade treat was made with the real deal. I know that buying them at the store can get pretty expensive, so I like to purchase these in bulk.

If you store them correctly, then they will last for a good amount of time, upwards of a year.

Keep them in a cool, dark place in an airtight container, or in a plastic bag that’s been zipped up tight with your vacuum sealer. You can make so many different recipes with them, and if you keep a few extras in your pantry, you can make this dessert over and over again all summer long.

Vertical oblique overhead image of a metal loaf pan of vanilla ice cream with a white plastic and metal scooper on top being used to dish it out, on a blue and white speckled surface.

The maple syrup adds sweetness, and just a touch of earthy, rich flavor that pairs so well with the vanilla.

This simple recipe takes just minutes to pull together before you put the base in your ice cream machine to churn. Then all you have to do is freeze it until it is set. In just a few hours, you will be in vanilla heaven.

Vertical image of chocolate syrup being drizzled on top of three scoops of vanilla ice cream in a red and white ceramic ramekin, with more of the frozen dessert in a metal loaf pan in the background topped with a white plastic and metal scooper being used to dish it out, on a white kitchen towel with a black background on a blue surface.

I love a drizzle of chocolate syrup on top, but you can top it with fruit preserves, sprinkles, whipped cream, chopped nuts, and so much more.

Grab your favorite ice cream scoop and a few bowls or cones, and dig in!

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Horizontal overhead image of a white dish of vanilla ice cream with a spoon sticking out of it, with more to the left in a metal loaf pan, and a white kitchen towel topped with a whole pod at the bottom of the frame, on a blue surface with white speckles.

3-Ingredient Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 quart 1x


Simple homemade frozen treats aren’t easy to come by, but this 3-ingredient vanilla ice cream is a cinch to prepare. Try coconut milk for a dairy-free version!


  • 3 1/2 cups raw goat’s, whole cow’s, or coconut milk, divided
  • 4 whole vanilla beans
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup (Grade A dark recommended)


  1. Freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker for at least 24 hours before you start the recipe, or according to manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Put ½ cup milk in your Vitamix or other high-speed blender.
  3. Cut vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the blender. Add the maple syrup.
  4. Blend on high until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Add the remaining milk. Blend until well-combined and frothy. Process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Transfer to an airtight container with a lid and chill in the freezer until set, about 4 hours.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Ice Cream
  • Method: No-Cook, Freezer
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: vanilla, vanilla bean, vanilla ice cream, dairy-free

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep

Place the bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer for at least 24 hours before you start this recipe.

Different models will have different directions, so be sure to follow them and plan ahead. If you are using a hand churn ice cream maker, set it up now.

Step 2 – Measure Ingredients

Measure out the ingredients listed on the ingredients list.

Horizontal overhead image of a stainless steel bowl of milk, a smaller glass bowl of maple syrup, and four whole vanilla beans with a bend in the middle, on a gray and white mottled surface.

Place 1/2 cup of your desired milk in a high-speed blender.

Step 3 – Add Vanilla

Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise.

Horizontal image of a knife that has been used to scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean pod resting on a white plastic cutting board with several more pods, on a gray surface.

Use a small knife to scrape the seeds out.

Milk and vanilla bean seeds in a plastic blender pitcher, on a gray surface.

Add the seeds to the blender.

Step 4 – Make Base

Blend on high until well combined.

Overhead horizontal image of a frothy milk mixture in a plastic pitcher container, on a gray and white surface.

Add the rest of the milk. Continue to blend until frothy and well combined.

Step 5 – Freeze

Add the mixture to your ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Overhead horizontal image of vanilla bean ice cream being churned in a clear and white plastic machine.

Transfer the semi-frozen mixture to an airtight container with a lid. Freeze until set, for at least 4 hours.

Allow to defrost for a few minutes on the counter before scooping and serving.

Go Dairy-Free for a New Twist

Besides choosing pure, high-quality ingredients to make this recipe, selecting a full fat milk option is the most important factor to creating this homemade treat. But you can easily make this frozen dessert dairy-free by using full fat coconut milk.

It’s a nice twist because it adds a touch of coconut flavor to the party, and all of your lactose-free friends can join in the fun.

Horizontal overhead closely cropped image of two white dishes of vanilla ice cream with more in a metal loaf pan with a white plastic and metal scoop, and scattered vanilla beans with a white kitchen towel on a speckled blue and white surface.

Want to make more frozen treats for dessert this summer? Check out these recipes:

And for the fall season, check out our pumpkin spice ice cream to make all autumn long!

What will you top yours with? Bowl or cone? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe after you try it!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on November 14, 2013. Last updated: July 27, 2021 at 19:15 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

16 thoughts on “3-Ingredient Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: A Lighter Option That’s Creamy and Flavorful”

  1. I had a long relationship with someone who just could not be happy for me, no matter what it was. Any time I would share good news, this person would immediately follow with a negative comment or found a way to “one-up” my good news by making the conversation about her. Eventually, I realized that this was toxic and I had to leave. It was difficult, broke my heart, really, but this person was constantly bringing me down. I focused on keeping close and fostering those relationships with those people who were truly happy to be around me and for me, and vice-verse. I’m truly grateful for each one of them.

    About the ice cream – I have never tried goat’s milk ice cream but would love to. I can see where the tang would be a lovely addition to ice cream. And honestly, how happy does it make you to see vanilla bean flecks in that pure white cream? I know it makes me very happy! It is the simple things, right?

    • Heather, Yes! Flecks of vanilla beans are such a beautiful feature in ice cream, and I love hearing someone else love them, too!

  2. This makes me think of the ice cream in plastic bags we used to make with the kids at summer camp. I think it was basically just milk sugar and vanilla, but on a hot summer day it was perfect and it would occupy the kids for a good half hour!

  3. Raw goat milk ice cream… I think Tim and I must float on the same dream wave length. Obviously I’m going to be making this. <3

    • Yes, you can! Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to chill the mixture before adding it to your ice cream maker, and make adjustments as needed to fit the volume of your machine.


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