Mr. Jefferson’s Vanilla Ice Cream

Kitchen Tested
  • Yield 20 servings
  • Prep 10 mins
  • Cook 10 mins

Here is a historical recipe for a very rich and homemade vanilla ice cream.

Vanilla Ice Cream
Mark Boughton/styling by: Teresa Blackburn

Ice creams today are a lot sweeter and a lot less rich than they were in Jefferson's day. To work this indulgence into today's healthier eating style, pile berries on this super-rich dessert. For a lighter version, replace the cream with half-and-half.


2 quarts heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed
6 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar


  1. Bring cream and vanilla bean (seeds and bean) to a simmer in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Whisk egg yolks in a bowl until smooth and whisk in sugar. It will be quite thick.
  2. Slowly beat about 1 cup hot cream into yolks and then gradually stir this mixture back into the rest of cream. Cook, stirring constantly, until it thickly coats the back of the spoon, about 5 minutes. Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth or a fine strainer and remove vanilla bean; cool. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Freeze custard in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions until set but still a little soft.

Recipe adapted from Dining at Monticello: In Good Taste and Abundance, edited by Damon Lee Fowler and published by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., 2005. Distributed by the University of North Carolina Press.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 262 other followers