How to make homemade ice cream
Making ice cream from scratch might sound like a fun activity for kids, but not exactly something to do on a regular basis. Between an endless crank and a fluffy result that’s not what you imagined, the process can leave you less than satisfied. But we’re here to report that it’s totally possible to make ice cream as delicious as it is easy. We spoke with two food blogger couples, the duos behind Two peas and their pod and A couple cooking, to learn the secrets of preparing delicious dishes – neither soup nor fondant! — ice cream at home.
There are two easy ways to get silky smooth ice cream at home: with an ice cream maker or by making ice cream without a churn. Sonja Overhiser, half of A Couple Cooks, prefers the former, and she and her husband use the Cuisinart Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker.
“A quality ice cream maker is important to us,” she explains. “We got burned by a shoddy maker that made melty ice cream, so we made sure to get a new one that would hold up.” This Cuisinart machine is really all you need – no rock salt or extra supplies. The device can brew ice cream in about 15 minutes, although you should plan ahead because the bowl, which comes out of the machine, needs to be frozen overnight. The ice cream can be eaten immediately for a soft texture or frozen in a bread pan for a more scoopable consistency.
A good ice cream scoop can always come in handy too. The Overhisers favorite scoop is available on Amazon, although this similar to Oxowith a pointed tip and a comfortable rubber grip, can be shipped faster at the moment.
If you don’t want to buy an ice cream maker yet, or don’t have room for one, consider no-churn ice cream, where whipped cream is folded with condensed milk and flavorings, then frozen. Maria Lichty of Two Peas & Their Pod uses a KitchenAid mixer with the whip attachment. However, you can also use a hand blender. The ice cream can then be frozen in a loaf pan until hard enough to scoop.
Cuisinart Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker ($73.99; bedbathhandbeyond.com)
The Overhisers invested in this after being burned by a budget model and haven’t looked back.
Balci Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop ($12.95; amazon.com)
It’s the favorite scoop of Overhisers because the pointed end helps you dig into frozen ice cream more easily.
Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop ($14.99; bedbathhandbeyond.com)
Similar to the Balci scoop, but potentially more readily available for shipping, it also has a non-slip grip so your hand won’t get too tired or cold.
KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Stand Mixer ($279.99; amazon.com)
This machine is a favorite of our editors for many reasons, one being that using the whisk and whipping cream for churn-free ice cream is virtually effortless.
Cuisinart 7-Speed Electric Hand Mixer ($59.99; bedbathhandbeyond.com)
The Cuisinart Hand Blender is a space-saving way to whip delicate creams for folding into ice cream or for whipping foam, tackling tough doughs, and blending batters.
American loaf pan ($15; surlatable.com)
Lichty recommends this nonstick loaf pan for freezing her churn-free ice cream.
Make ice cream with a machine
The most important thing to consider when making ice cream is time: it can take over 24 hours from start to finish, although most of it is hands-off, like freezing the bowl of cream frozen overnight. Many recipes will also call for combining the ingredients over high heat to thoroughly combine them, then letting them cool before adding them to the machine. Then, once the ice cream has been churned, it returns to the freezer to take on a hard consistency. You can start with a basic vanilla recipe and use it as an entry point to play with blends and flavors. The popular of the Overhisers vegan chocolate ice cream is also an easy, dairy-free first recipe to tackle.
“Alex and I don’t eat 100% vegan, but we like vegan ice cream because it’s a bit lighter and just as creamy,” says Sonja Overhiser. Another benefit of vegan ice cream? The ingredients are all stable, meaning you can stock up and make ice cream whenever the mood strikes.
The Overhisers played to make their vegan ice cream as creamy as regular dairy and learned a few tricks. First use whole coconut milk as a basis. Add cornstarch helps to thicken it, and agave syrup in addition to the granulated sugar, it remains soft but not gritty. Once the ingredients are mixed and warmed up in a small saucepan, then cooled, they go straight through the machine for 15 minutes.
Vegan chocolate ice cream is also easy to experiment with. If you want to make this a vegan vanilla ice cream, the Overhisers suggest skipping the cocoa powder and chocolate and adding more vanilla. Add peppermint extract and chocolate chips to make peppermint chips, or mix in peanut butter to make chocolate peanut butter ice cream. You can check out more variations at their website, but that’s just the beginning: start experimenting with your own favorite flavors, spices and blends too! The Overhisers recommend freezing their vegan ice cream for at least four hours for those who prefer a harder consistency.
Make ice cream without churning
Look mom, no machine! You can also make ice cream without the machine. One of the benefits of Lichtys No-Churn Ice Cream is that it requires less pre-planning, as there is no need to chill or cook the ingredients ahead of time. Start by whipping the cream until high peaks form (about three minutes). Then the sweetened condensed milk is incorporated with a rubber spatula, then the mixtures are added. Finally, the mixture is poured into a loaf pan and frozen for at least six hours. You don’t need to add sugar because condensed milk is already sweet. You can even make the basic chocolate by mixing cocoa powder with the cream before whipping it.
To get started, check out a pair of recipes for the popular no-churn ice cream from Two Peas & Their Pod: Salted Caramel Pretzel and Cinnamon Snickerdoodle. With both, you can buy premade ingredients or make your own caramel sauce or snickerdoodles to experiment more.
The hardest part of making homemade ice cream is the wait. The easiest part? Definitely eat it. We’ve rounded up some of our personal favorites and top-rated supplies to serve up your own ice cream party any day of the week.
Otis Classic Whipped Cream Dispenser ($59.99; amazon.com)
Homemade whipped cream is much tastier than canned. You can whip it up on a hand or stand mixer, or make it “on demand” with a handy whipped cream dispenser.
Waffle bowls, 10 pieces (prices vary by location; target.com)
Waffle cones are great, but opting for one usually means no toppings. That is, unless you pour them into a waffle bowl and get the best of both worlds. (You’re welcome.)
Wilton Rainbow Sprinkles (prices vary by location; target.com)
Rainbow glitter brightens up everything. If you need more inspiration for sprinkling them beyond using them to top cupcakes and sundaes, check out Two Peas & Their Pod’s recipe for Funfetti Cookies.
Libbey 12-ounce fountain glasses, set of 6 ($19.99; bedbathhandbeyond.com)
Homemade ice cream is also a great base for other desserts, like ice cream pie or milkshakes. These glasses from Libbey are perfect for a dose of nostalgia while enjoying an old fashioned milkshake or even an oversized sundae.
“The perfect spoon: ice cream, sorbets, granitas and sweet accompaniments” ($10.26; amazon.com)
If you’re looking for recipe inspiration in book form, try this beloved bestselling collection that has over 800 positive reviews on Amazon. Explore all kinds of flavors and combinations with expert tips along the way.
“Dairy-Free Ice Cream: 75 Recipes Made with Eggs, Gluten, Soy, or Refined Sugar” ($29.95; barnesandnoble.com)
If you have dietary restrictions for health, personal reasons, or any other reason, this book offers recipes that help you avoid ingredients that might traditionally exclude ice cream from your menu. It has over 200 positive reviews on Amazon and is available now from Barnes & Noble.
However you make your own ice cream, the real fun is finding new favorite flavor combinations or discovering how to create your all-time favorite flavor at home.
“Go with your gut!” insists Overhiser. “There really is no wrong answer.”
The prices above reflect the listed retailer price as of the date of publication of this article.