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Homemade Honey-Sweetened Vanilla Ice Cream

September 6, 2012

I used to be able to buy Alta Dena’s honey-sweetened vanilla ice cream in Seattle, but the store stopped carrying it years ago. I had to learn to make my own.

This recipe does require special equipment. If you have an ice cream maker, this is the easiest ice cream recipe ever! If you don’t have an ice cream maker, maybe you need one. I have to admit, I got mine just to make this recipe.

My Cuisinart ice cream maker came with a little booklet of recipes. The one that appealed to me most was the vanilla ice cream with just four ingredients – milk, sugar, cream, and pure vanilla extract. I loved the fact that I didn’t have to make an egg custard.

So the first ice cream I made was this basic Vanilla Ice Cream, but I substituted ½ cup of honey for the original ¾ cup of sugar. It turned out great, and I’ve been making it ever since!  

To get a firm consistency, make the ice cream several hours before you plan to serve it. Put it in an airtight container in the freezer for at least two hours, and it will be perfect.

Honey-Sweetened Vanilla Ice Cream is delicious on its own or with some of the great fruits that are still available. We love it with peaches or berries!


Homemade Honey-Sweetened Vanilla Ice Cream

(Adapted from a recipe from Cuisinart)


For best results, leave the freezer bowl in the freezer until you’re ready to pour in the ice cream mixture.


(print the recipe)


Makes 1½ quarts


1 cup whole milk, well chilled

½ cup honey

2 cups heavy cream, well chilled

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


1. Mix the milk and honey together in a medium bowl until the honey is fully mixed in. (If the honey is very thick, it may help to heat it just a bit so it is a little more liquid.)

2. Stir in the cream and the vanilla. (Stir it in gently; do not whip the cream.)

3. Cover the mixture and put it in the refrigerator until it is really cold (especially if you had to heat the honey).

4. Take the freezer bowl out of the freezer; put it in the ice cream maker. Stir the cream mixture to make sure it is blended well and pour it into the ice cream maker bowl.

5. Turn the machine on and mix until thickened, about 30 minutes.


6. Put the ice cream in an airtight container and freeze until you’re ready to serve. (2 or more hours in the freezer will give the ice cream a firmer consistency.)

35 Comments leave one →
  1. September 6, 2012 8:58 am

    wow.. looking beautiful

  2. September 6, 2012 9:14 am

    This looks so lovely! Vanilla is ALL I would eat when I was younger.

    • September 6, 2012 10:08 am

      My favorite was always Butter Pecan. Maybe I’ll have to try making that! Thanks for your comment!

  3. September 8, 2012 1:08 pm

    this is such a lovely ice cream! love it!

  4. Connie Fay permalink
    August 27, 2013 3:33 pm

    I used 3 cups of raw cream from my cow and 1/2 cup honey from my bees and 2 teaspoon of vanilla and it was to die for!!!!!!

    • August 27, 2013 6:17 pm

      WOW! That just sounds amazing! We’re thinking about getting a beehive next year, but I don’t think we’ll be getting a cow in Seattle. 😉

  5. February 28, 2014 6:47 pm

    I’m making this right now, but I added some vanilla beans. I snuck a taste from the ice cream maker and it is DELICIOUS!!! Thanks for the recipe!

    • February 28, 2014 7:31 pm

      I’m sure vanilla beans make it even better! Thanks for your comment. We love it and I’m glad you do, too!

    • Leta libby permalink
      January 27, 2020 4:21 pm

      How many pods did you use?

  6. steph permalink
    October 12, 2014 12:36 pm

    This is SO delicious, but I’m getting a waxy fat residue (like little lumps of butter) in the final product. is there anything I can do differently to get a smoother consistency?

    • October 15, 2014 1:46 pm

      Hi Steph,
      You really had me puzzling about that. Initially I thought maybe the honey wasn’t blended in well enough but your description of a “little lumps of butter” made me think it must be something else.

      I did an Internet search and found a thread that discussed this very problem. The woman said she “whipped the cream until firm”. The people who commented thought the whipping had started to turn the cream to butter and then the churning in the ice cream maker made bits of butter.

      You may not have whipped the cream until it was firm, but maybe you whisked it a bit too vigorously. When you add the cream and vanilla to the milk and honey mixture, stir it very gently until it is just blended.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

  7. June 19, 2015 2:27 pm

    without a ice cream maker, can this be put in the freezer?

    • June 19, 2015 3:31 pm

      I’ve never tried it, Leta, but I’ve seen recipes that put it in the freezer. All the ones I’ve seen involve stirring the ice cream periodically until it freezes into the right consistency. It’s more work but doable. That said, I’m not sure how well this particular recipe would work. David Lebovitz (author of an ice cream cookbook, The Perfect Scoop) wrote a blog post about it. He said it works best with a custard-based recipe. (Custard-based recipes include eggs.)

      If you try it with this recipe, I’d love to hear how it works for you! 🙂

      • June 19, 2015 4:29 pm

        I love the idea ,of using honey as I can’t have regular sugar but was wondering if you have recipe for the ice cream with the honey and also using eggs??

        • June 19, 2015 4:42 pm

          This recipe looks like it would be good, but I haven’t tried it. It uses vanilla beans which would make it extra-delicious, but it would be good without them if you used a good vanilla extract.

      • Leta Libby permalink
        January 1, 2017 3:09 pm

        Hi, it’s me again, made this ice cream a few times now,  Was noticing, I like the consistency when it’s more of a soft serve, like a vanilla milkshake, was noticing when it get firmer it’s less creamy. Is there a way to make it more creamy when it’s frozen firmer?? Still haven’t found anything like it out there. 🙂

        • January 1, 2017 3:36 pm

          Hi Leta,
          I use 1 cup whole milk and 2 cups of heavy cream. Once hardened in the freezer, I’d say it’s about the same hardness as Haagen Dazs. It’s not soft serve.
          If you try to use all milk instead of cream, it will be even harder. Fat doesn’t freeze.
          Expert David Lebovitz addresses this in the following blog post:
          He suggests adding up to 3 tablespoons of vodka to every quart of ice cream. Alcohol doesn’t freeze, so I guess that keeps it softer. Alcohol, he says, will not add flavor.
          I don’t know if it’s possible to make soft serve that will keep in the freezer at home.
          Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. Thanks for your question, and Happy New Year!

        • Sarah permalink
          July 28, 2017 11:00 am

          I like to double or triple the vanilla. The alcohol keeps it smooth and I LOVE the taste.

        • July 28, 2017 11:24 am

          That’s a great suggestion, Sarah! I’ll have to try it. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

        • Leta libby permalink
          September 25, 2020 9:36 am

          Regarding your honey vanilla ice cream recipe, someone suggested doubling the vanilla to keep it creamier, I wondered if you tried it Kath??

  8. June 19, 2015 6:25 pm

    It’s firming up great in the freezer, stirring every 30 min works until Ican get a ice cream maker. Question, how long does it stay fresh in the freezer? P.S. it taste’s yummy!!

    • June 19, 2015 8:22 pm

      I put it in a Tupperware-like freezer container and it keeps well, but I must say we eat it pretty quickly.

  9. August 1, 2015 3:28 am

    This was great! If I didn’t use vanilla, could I add two teaspoons of an alternate extract and make all different flavors? Sounds like it would work !

  10. Leta libby permalink
    May 5, 2016 9:22 am

    Was wondering if anyone has tried using vanilla stevia drops instead of the honey??

    • June 3, 2017 11:51 am

      I just noticed your question, Leta libby. I haven’t tried it but would also love to hear if anyone else has.

  11. Michele permalink
    June 3, 2017 10:53 am

    Can you make this into chocolate ice cream by just adding some cocoa powder? If yes, how much?

    • June 3, 2017 11:47 am

      I haven’t tried it, Michele, but I’m sure you could do that. I’d try 1/2 cup of cocoa flour and I would sift it through a mesh strainer to remove any lumps. I’d stir the cocoa in with the milk and honey in the first step. Sifting cocoa Keep the vanilla in the recipe. I’ve noticed it’s included in most chocolate recipes. I believe it acts to enhance the other flavors. I’d love to hear how it works for you if you try it! 🙂

      • Michele permalink
        June 3, 2017 9:10 pm

        Thank you! I’ll make sure to post back when we try it out.

        • Michèle permalink
          January 25, 2020 10:27 pm

          I forgot to post back but we’ve been following your suggestion and it is perfect! We love it with the chocolate!

  12. January 26, 2020 7:34 am

    Thanks so much for your comment, Michele! I’m glad to hear that it worked well. 🙂

  13. August 3, 2020 2:40 pm

    I found this recipe while looking for an ice cream recipe with honey and not refined sugar. As we are living in temporary housing I am unable to find my ice cream maker, I made this in a metal loaf pan in the freezer, I broke it up and refroze it several times. This exceeded my hopes for delicious home made ice cream. There is a pan of it in the freezer now for a birthday celebration tonight. Thank you so much for this recipe!

    • August 3, 2020 3:01 pm

      I’m so glad you like it! And thanks for your comment about how you successfully made it without an ice cream maker. That’s good info to know.


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