Homemade Vanilla Bean Gelato is simple and delicious. A thick and creamy frozen dessert that’s great all on its own or drowned in espresso. This recipe yields roughly a pint of gelato and will serve 4.
Gelato is loved for its thick and creamy texture and many great flavors.
Plus for me, it holds great memories. I first fell in love with gelato when my girls were little and we’d stop at Lik Gelato Bar after a day of shopping in the mall. Behind its glass, this place had trays upon trays of fun and colorful flavors and each one would be topped with pieces of candy or chocolate or some quirky inedible figurines just as a fun way to describe the flavor. I’d spend a small fortune so us three could sample a bunch of different flavors.
I decided to kickoff my gelato endeavor by playing it safe with a simple vanilla bean. Only because I wanted to get the base recipe down and then go from there, trying out new flavors in the future. Fyi chocolate gelato is a love that runs deep. However, this vanilla bean gelato is SO ridiculously good and I can’t wait to show you what I did with it in tomorrow’s post.
Let ‘s make gelato! But first…
What is the Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream?
Gelato (which is Italian for ice cream) tends to use more milk than cream, whereas ice cream calls for heavy cream and has higher amount of fat. Gelato also churns at a slower speed, so less air is incorporated which some say makes gelato denser or thicker than traditional ice cream.
Not all gelato recipes call for eggs in the recipe either. However, I based this vanilla bean gelato recipe from the Egg Custard Gelato recipe in Marcella Hazan’s cookbook: Essential of Classic Italian Cooking.
To Make Vanilla Bean Gelato You Will Need:
- egg yolks
- granulated sugar
- whole milk
- a vanilla bean
- vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl (preferably with a spout) add the sugar and egg yolks.
Until pale yellow and soft ribbons form.
Pour 2 cups whole milk into a medium sauce pan.
Split the vanilla bean in half…
…and drop it into the milk.
Heat on medium, and bring to a slow simmer. (do not boil.)
Once hot, slowly pour while stirring, a little of the hot milk into the egg mixture. This tempers the eggs (bringing them up in temperature slowly) so they don’t cook or scramble.
Now you can safely and slowly pour in the rest, still whisking to combine.
Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the pot.
Heat on low, stirring occasionally, until the gelato base has thickened. (do not boil.)
It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and when you drag your finger through it, it should not fill back in.
Pour this mixture into a fine mesh sieve, that’s set over a clean bowl, to catch any impurities.
Lastly, measure and add in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Look at all those flecks of vanilla bean!
Cool completely before covering and refrigerate over night.
Once the vanilla chai ice cream base has chilled completely, following the manufacturers instructions, pour the ice cream base into your chilled ice cream maker.
Churn until thick.
Pour the thickened ice cream into a freezer-safe container and freeze for 4 hours or overnight.
Once frozen, I set the vanilla bean gelato out on the counter for a few before scooping.
SO incredibly thick and creamy and the vanilla flavor is perfect.
Enjoy! And if you give this Vanilla Bean Gelato recipe a try, let me know! Snap a photo and tag me on twitter or instagram!
Homemade Vanilla Bean Gelato
- 6 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- In a large mixing bowl add egg yolks and sugar. Using a whisk, beat until pale yellow in color and the mixture forms soft ribbons. Set a side.
- Pour milk into a large saucepan.
- Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and drop it into the milk. Heat on medium, bringing to a slow simmer, stirring often. Do not boil.
- Once hot, slowly pour while stirring, a little of the hot milk into the egg mixture. When combined slowly pour in the rest. This tempers the eggs (bringing them up in temperature slowly) so they don't cook or scramble.
- Pour this mixture back into the sauce pan and heat on low until thickened slightly. About 2 to 5 minutes. Test by running a finger down the spatula, when the line doesn't fill back in, you're good to go. Again, do not boil.
- When the gelato base has thickened, pour through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. This will catch any egg impurities. Scrape the bottom of the sieve.
- Lastly, measure and add in the vanilla extract.
- Allow the gelato base to cool completely before refrigerating over night.
- Once the vanilla bean gelato base has chilled completely, following the manufacturers instructions, pour the ice cream base into the ice cream maker and churn until thick.
- Transfer the thickened ice cream into a freezer-safe container and freeze for 4 hours or overnight.
- Serve scoops in ice cream cones or into bowls and pour hot espresso over top.
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This recipe looks awesome! Is there a way to add different flavors? Like strawberry, lemon or chocolate?
Hi Katie! I bet you could. I haven’t tried, but maybe by using a strawberry puree, lemon curd or melted chocolate in the base. All sound great, I’ll have to start working on this asap.
I’ve made this recipe to the T, not sure what I did wrong therefore, I feel it did not thicken as much as it should of had. Once cooled over night and put into my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker it did not get thicker at all :-(. Also there is nothing in the Directions on when to add the Vanilla Extract in the Directions itself, now when I’ve looked back it talks about it in your pictures, but it would be good to add to the Directions so there are no Confusions. Also there is no Rating on this recipe turned on, it would be nice to see what others Rate this one at, before trying it out. Anyway what did I do wrong? Most Recipes I’ve seen uses a combination of Milk and Heavy Cream, is this maybe the Problem?
Same here! I added the vanilla before putting it through the sieve but my gelato never thickened after I put it in my Cuisinart ice cream maker. Should I heat it up again and start over? I’m so disapointed.