When I was a kid, I would search the dark corners of our freezer with the hope of finding a hidden pint of rocky road or mint chip, or at the very least chocolate ice cream. But if my dad had done the shopping, all I’d find was plain old, boring vanilla. His favorite. As far as I was concerned, vanilla was the un-flavor.
It wasn’t until much later, after I’d moved out of my parents’ house with its seemingly endless supply of free ice cream, that I began to appreciate the rich flavor of vanilla. It happened when my friend served me a scoop of homemade ice cream made with real vanilla beans. Instead of being the flavorless frozen milk that I had expected, my friend’s ice cream had a vivid, complex, almost floral flavor that didn’t need to be covered up with any sugary toppings. In that moment, I became a convert. I hated to admit it, but my father was right.
If you’ve ever thought of vanilla as boring, I urge you to try this recipe. If you’re already on Team Vanilla, then you’re in luck. The bold vanilla flavor of this frozen yogurt is anything but plain. We swapped out the high-fat heavy cream used in traditional ice cream recipes for thick, creamy Greek yogurt sweetened with a touch of honey. Real vanilla seeds, not extract, are the secret behind its rich, authentic flavor.
Look for whole vanilla beans in the baking aisle of your supermarket. Individual beans are sold in small glass bottles or vials, just like other spices. A fresh vanilla bean should be aromatic, plump, and even a little bit sticky. Use a paring knife to slice it lengthwise down the center, and scrape out the tiny seeds. Those are what will become the magical elixir of this frozen yogurt recipe.
Don’t toss that vanilla bean pod — it was expensive! It’s got lots of flavor, too. Save the pod to stir your coffee, or grind it with your coffee beans for even more flavor. If you drink tea, try steeping the pod with your favorite blend of tea leaves.
The creamy vanilla flavor of this homemade frozen yogurt is delicious all by itself, but if you want to add toppings, try fresh berries or sliced banana, chopped raw nuts, or a sprinkle of cinnamon. For a delightful nutty flavor and crunch, gently toast unsweetened coconut flakes in a small pan before adding them to your dessert.
Homemade Vanilla Frozen Yogurt
Make your own high-protein frozen yogurt at home with this recipe!
- 2 cups reduced-fat (2%) plain Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp raw honey
- ½ vanilla bean cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed (or ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract)
- 2 Tbsp reduced-fat (2%) milk
Combine yogurt, honey, and vanilla bean seeds in a medium bowl; mix well.
Place mixture in a re-sealable gallon-sized plastic bag. Lay bag flat. Spread mixture into an even layer. Press to eliminate air pockets; seal tightly.
Lay flat in freezer. Freeze for 3 to 4 hours, or until almost firm.
Break mixture into small pieces. Place in food processor (or blender). Add milk. Process until very smooth.
Pour mixture into 8 x 4–inch loaf pan; cover surface with plastic wrap. Freeze for 1 to 2 hours, or until mixture is firm but can be scooped. Serve immediately.
- Substitute cold, brewed espresso for milk and add 2 teaspoons cacao nibs.
- Substitute unsweetened chocolate almond milk for milk and add ¼ cup coarsely chopped unsweetened dried cherries.
- Substitute ½ tsp. pure coconut extract for vanilla bean seeds and add ¼ cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut.
- Add ¼ cup chopped raw pistachios.
The Nutrition Facts box below provides estimated nutritional information for this recipe.