Irresistible Homemade Vanilla Ice Milk Recipe

Easy Homemade Vanilla Ice Milk Recipe - Refreshing Dessert

Craving a cool, creamy treat that’s lighter than ice cream? Our classic vanilla ice milk is the perfect solution! This refreshing dessert offers the smooth texture you love with a fraction of the fat. Get ready to indulge guilt-free!

Remember those tiny cardboard tubs of ice cream from elementary school? The ones with paper lids that magically transformed into spoons? That nostalgic treat wasn’t ice cream at all – it was ice milk! While those mass-produced versions may have been overly sweetened and artificially flavored, our homemade recipe elevates ice milk to gourmet status.

What Makes Ice Milk Special?

Ice milk is a delightful frozen confection that traditionally contains less than 8% milkfat. It’s stabilized with powdered milk and a touch of cornstarch instead of eggs, resulting in a lighter consistency that’s incredibly refreshing on a hot day. Think of it as the perfect middle ground between sorbet and ice cream – cool, crisp, and just creamy enough to satisfy your dessert cravings.

While some may dismiss ice milk as a lower-quality alternative to ice cream, we’re here to change your mind! With high-quality ingredients and the right technique, ice milk can be a sophisticated frozen treat in its own right. It’s the ideal companion to rich desserts like warm brownies or as a light palate cleanser after a heavy meal.

Crafting the Perfect Ice Milk at Home

Our recipe strikes the perfect balance between simplicity and indulgence. We use a combination of whole milk, powdered milk, and cornstarch to create a smooth, scoopable texture without the need for heavy cream. A touch of lightly toasted sugar adds depth and complexity without overwhelming sweetness.

The secret to incredible ice milk lies in the churning process. Don’t rush it! A generous churn time ensures silky smoothness and proper aeration, resulting in a dessert that’s slow to melt and absolutely delightful to eat.

Let’s Make Some Ice Milk Magic!


  • 9 1/4 ounces plain or very lightly toasted sugar (about 1 1/3 cups; 262g)
  • 1 1/4 ounces cornstarch (about 1/4 cup; 35g)
  • 1 3/4 ounces powdered milk (about 1/4 cup; 50g)
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt (plus more if desired); for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
  • 28 ounces whole milk (about 3 1/2 cups; 795g), divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a 3-quart saucier, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, powdered milk, and salt until no lumps remain. Add exactly 14 ounces of milk (about 1 2/3 cups; 396g) and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly but gently, until the mixture begins to simmer (about 6 minutes). Once it boils, set a timer and continue cooking and whisking for precisely 1 minute to fully hydrate the cornstarch.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and whisk in the remaining milk and vanilla extract. Taste and add a pinch more salt if desired, keeping in mind that the ice milk will taste less sweet once frozen. Cover and refrigerate until cold and thick, reaching a temperature no higher than 40°F (4°C), about 3 hours. For faster cooling, use an ice bath.
  3. Churn the chilled base in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While churning, place a quart-sized container and flexible spatula in the freezer. Once the ice milk looks fluffy and thick, transfer it to the chilled container using the cold spatula. Enjoy immediately as soft-serve or freeze until firm enough to scoop, about 4 hours, with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface.

Pro Tips for Ice Milk Success

Get creative with flavors! Try substituting the vanilla with your favorite extracts, or experiment with freeze-dried coffee powder, matcha, or warming spices. For a more intense flavor, steep the milk with vanilla beans, tea leaves, or whole spices before mixing with the other ingredients.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
182 Calories
3g Fat
36g Carbs
4g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 182
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 3%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 9mg 3%
Sodium 217mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 33g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 152mg 12%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 191mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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