Mr. Softee-Style Vanilla Bean Soft-Serve Recipe

Photograph: Max Falkowitz

Let your ice cream thaw to the point of melting before serving; the gelatin will keep it from turning into soup.

Tahitian vanilla beans are especially light and fragrant—perfect for this ice cream. But you'll still get great flavor and texture with another vanilla bean variety or vanilla extract.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 5 hrs
Serves: 6 to 8 servings
Makes: 1 quart

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  • 3 1/2 cups half-and-half, divided

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

  • 1 Tahitian vanilla bean, split and scraped (see note)

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon Scotch whisky


  1. Pour about 1/4 cup half-and-half in one small bowl and 2 tablespoons in another. Use a fork to whisk cornstarch into the first bowl until no lumps remain, and sprinkle gelatin in second bowl. Add remaining half and half to a saucepan along with vanilla bean, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat, cover, and let steep for one hour.

  2. Remove vanilla bean (reserving for another use) and whisk in cornstarch slurry. Heat dairy on medium heat, whisking frequently, until a custard forms and a swiped finger leaves a clean line. Turn off heat, taste for seasoning, then stir in Scotch and gelatin mixture. Whisk until gelatin fully dissolves. Transfer to an airtight container to chill, four hours to overnight. The custard will set into a wobbly gel.

  3. Churn in an ice cream maker until ice cream has the texture of soft serve and is not at all runny. Eat immediately, or chill in freezer in an airtight container. To regain soft serve texture, let ice cream thaw to the verge of melting after freezing.

Special Equipment

Ice cream machine

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
220 Calories
11g Fat
27g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 220
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 7g 37%
Cholesterol 37mg 12%
Sodium 184mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 23g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 1mg 5%
Calcium 114mg 9%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 140mg 3%
*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.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)