Gelato is one of my absolute favorite desserts when it’s warm outside. This Vanilla Milk Gelato is a perfect treat, with a creamy, dense texture and intense vanilla flavor. Vanilla gelato is similar to vanilla bean ice cream, but with milk instead of heavy cream. If you’ve been wanting to experiment with homemade gelato, now is the time to get started! Learn how to make this easy vanilla gelato recipe in no time.
I’m not sure what it is about the word milk, but whenever I see it in a dessert title, I want it.
Maybe it has something to do with the implications of milky, at least in my mind: creamy, smooth, a pleasant mouthfeel, and slightly sweet but far from cloying.
Like cream, but without the heaviness. I feel the same way about my milk panna cotta. Does that make sense?
Awhile back, I was browsing through the food section of a used bookstore and I came across several Donna Hay cookbooks. Jackpot! I have been a fan of Donna’s for years. Her recipes and food photography are a huge inspiration to me.
This Vanilla Milk Gelato recipe is adapted from Flavours, and I highly recommend making it and picking up a copy of the book. Each section is divided into ingredients such as vanilla, cinnamon and chili.
The photos are beautiful. Also, I am a bit obsessed with her vanilla chapter.
Gelato vs Ice Cream
While ice cream and gelato are very similar, gelato has a lower fat content. Ice cream typically has a fat content of 10 percent or more, while gelato uses more milk, and often less egg yolks (sometimes none).
Where to Buy Vanilla Beans
Don’t purchase vanilla beans from the grocery store; they’re a huge rip off! Aren’t they some insane price like $7-$10 for 3 beans in a spice bottle? Don’t do that.
I buy vanilla beans in bulk online. There are plenty of online stores. I’ve purchased several times from Vanilla Products USA, and am happy with the quality. (Note: it appears they’ve gone up in price since my last order, so you may want to shop around. Still much cheaper than the grocery store).
How to Scrape a Vanilla Bean
Place the bean on a cutting board. Use the tip of a paring knife to cut the bean in half lengthwise. Use the dull edge of the blade to scrape the seeds from the pod.
How to Substitute Vanilla Paste
Another option is to use vanilla bean paste. One teaspoon of vanilla paste equals one vanilla bean or one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
Looking for more frozen desserts?
Check out my Passion Fruit Sorbet, Baileys Ice Cream, and Cookies and Mascarpone Ice Cream!
Vanilla Milk Gelato Recipe
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Heat the milk and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan set over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally with a heat-proof spatula. Meanwhile, vigorously whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl until the yolks lighten in color slightly.
- Remove the milk from the heat and pour slowly into the egg yolks while whisking. Pour everything back into the saucepan, scraping the bowl.
- Return the saucepan to the heat and, using a heat-proof spatula, stir until the mixture thickens slightly, approximately 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the vanilla bean. Stir in the cream and vanilla extract. Allow to cool (I let it cool overnight).
- Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and prepare the gelato according to the manufacturer's instructions, until it's frozen and scoopable. Alternatively, place the mixture in a metal container and freeze, beating at 1-hour intervals, until the gelato is scoopable.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
For immediate help troubleshooting a recipe, please email me using the form on my contact page. I’ll try to respond to urgent questions as quickly as possible! For all general questions, please leave a comment here :)
Natasha @ Salt and Lavender says
This is right up my alley! I so love vanilla… it’s a classic that never goes out of style!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says
Love that you used the vanilla bean! Bet this tastes delicious!
Jennifer Blake says
I know so many people consider vanilla boring but when it is done right, it is the best!
Matt Robinson says
When it’s hot out, nothing sounds better to me. Love this!
I love all of your homemade recipes, especially this!
Oooh, speaking of beautiful photos, yours are extraordinary. I like gelato even more than ice cream and yours is the best!
This was absolutely delicious! Our family does a family night every week and once a month our family night is a culinary trip to a different country. Last week our tastebuds went to Italy. My husband prepared lasagna, spinach and tomato salad, and buttery garlic bread. I prepared the deserts, Tiramisu and this gelato. The only thing I did different on the gelato recipe was I didn’t use an ice cream maker. I pre-chilled a 3-4 inch deep metal pan in the freezer and poured the hot gelato into the pan, put it back in the freezer for 45 minutes. After the 45 minutes I stirred it and put it back in the freezer. I repeated this 4 times and then left it for 1 1/2 hours and stirred again. It was easy and delicious!
That was suppose to have been “5” STARS!!!!! How do I fix it???
Jennifer Farley says
I was able to fix it :) Thank you for the kind comment!
It was great! I loved the flavour but I had a problem. I think that I didn’t make my milk hot enough so my eggs did not temper quite right. So when I put the pot back on the stove, it separated and formed eggy lumps. I was able to fix it a little when I passed it through a sieve, so it was okay. Definitely a keeper! (the only bad thing was my own doing)
Great recipe! Was a bit too sweet for my taste so I now only use 1/2 cup sugar. I use Queen brand vanilla bean paste instead of the 2 types of vanilla in the recipe and feel it only needs 1 tsp but I generally like my gelato very ‘milky’. The texture is perfect, so have been playing around with flavours. So far, steeping 1 tbsp T2 Gorgeous Geisha tea in the milk when heating has been my fave for a subtle, floral green tea flavour.