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How to Make Homemade Ice Cream Without a Machine

You don't need fancy equipment to make homemade ice cream — just a few tools and ingredients and you're well on your way to Chowdown Town.

Erica Silverstein · 3 months ago

  • cooking

Craving cookies-n-cream? Don’t break the piggy bank to buy some fancy ice cream maker that hogs a bunch of counter space. We found eight methods for making homemade ice cream without a machine, using ingredients and equipment you probably already have at home. Better yet, some of these recipes are so easy, the kids can churn out dessert all by themselves.

How to Make Homemade Ice Cream in a Plastic Bag

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Using only plastic bags, ice, and ingredients already in your kitchen, this DIY ice cream method is the quickest and most low-tech option we found. It also yields a treat that’s the least like store-bought ice cream, but add enough toppings and no one will complain.

To make this homemade ice cream, take a sandwich-sized plastic zip-top bag, pour in half-n-half, vanilla, and sugar, then seal. Place ice and salt in a larger, gallon-size bag, put the small bag on top, add more ice, and seal. (Double the bags to make your cooking experiment extra leak-proof.) Put on your warmest gloves and some dance party music, and shake that bag for 6 to 10 minutes until the ice cream firms up. Eat immediately; this treat melts fast.

Get the full homemade ice cream recipe at Delish.

How to Make No-Churn Ice Cream

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No eggs, no cooking, no churning, no fuss! The classic three-ingredient recipe for no-churn ice cream requires a hand or stand mixer, and is easy to dress up with fun flavors and mix-ins.

Beat heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, combine vanilla and sweetened condensed milk, then gently fold in the cream, followed by your preferred combination of cookie pieces, candy, fruit, nuts, or drizzles. Transfer to a lidded container and freeze for 4 to 6 hours. 

Pro tips from my own trial-and-error with this homemade ice cream method: Thin Mints were a mix-in hit, the taste was spot-on, and you definitely need the full freeze time to get your ice cream to firm up to the right consistency.

Get the no-churn ice-cream how-to at Foodie Crush.

How to Make Non-Dairy Banana Ice Cream

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Vegans are known for their ingenious kitchen magic, turning cashews into cream, chickpeas into cookie dough, and bananas into ice cream. With this recipe, you can skip the dairy and make homemade “ice cream” simply by whipping frozen banana chunks in a blender or food processor until creamy. You’ll need a strong machine and a bit of patience, but keep pulsing and blending, and watch the banana transform before your very eyes. You can freeze as is, or add in flavors, such as peanut butter (our fave) or blueberries.

Get the vegan non-dairy ice cream recipe at The Kitchn.

How to Make Ice Cream in a Mason Jar

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Much like making ice cream in a plastic bag, mason jar ice cream is both an easy DIY cooking project and a way to keep kitchen-curious kids busy for a while. Add heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a mason jar. (It doesn’t have to be fancy; just hunt around in the glass recycling bin for a tomato sauce jar or any other 16-ounce glass jar with a lid.) Add flavorings. 

Then shake it, baby, yeah, for 3 to 5 minutes until doubled in size. Shake too hard and you’ll end up with whipped cream — which wouldn’t be bad, but perhaps not what you’re going for. Freeze for 3 hours until the ice cream feels like soft-serve. Dig in.

Get the mason jar ice cream recipe at The Spruce Eats.

How to Make Ice Cream in a Blender With Milk

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You might not have an ice cream maker, but most families have a blender and whole or 2% milk on hand, right? That’s pretty much the basics of what you need to make easy ice cream. The one slightly-less-common ingredient in this recipe is nonfat milk powder, which might require a run to the supermarket.

Otherwise, it couldn’t be easier: Just blend up your ingredients, then freeze for 2 to 3 hours. The simplest version is vanilla, but savvy home chefs know that raiding the pantry for sprinkles, hot fudge, nuts, and cookies is a surefire way to add more flavor and sugary goodness to plain Jane ice cream. (You can also make a chocolate version of blender ice cream, but it does involve cream.)

Get the how-to at Wiki How.

How to Make Homemade Ice Cream in a Food Processor

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You’d think the food processor version of homemade ice cream would be a lot like the blender version, but surprise! Now we’re talking full-on egg custard ice cream base, which gives this homemade ice cream method the consistency that’s closest to store-bought. To make this ice cream hack work, make your base with just eggs, cream, and sugar — no flavorings yet. Transfer the custard to a zip-top bag, squeeze the air out, and freeze.

Step two: Once the custard is frozen, break it up and dump the chunks into your food processor. Cream it ‘til it’s smooth, mix in your flavorings, scoop it into your air-tight freezer storage, and chill out for several hours. Once you’ve got the basics down, you can go wild with flavors like pumpkin pie, grasshopper (mint chocolate chip with brownie pieces), and strawberry cheesecake (using cookie butter — swoon!).

Get the recipe for food processor ice cream at Chowhound.

How to Make a DIY Ice Cream Maker With Mixing Bowls

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Got a family full of budding (or full-fledged) engineers? This no-machine ice cream recipe gets all kinds of technical for creamy results. Essentially, you’re creating a low-tech version of an actual ice cream maker, using mixing bowls and a hand mixer. Intrigued?

Take your largest bowl, and fill it with ice and rock salt. (Why? Because salt lowers the freezing temperature of water, allowing the ice cream to get colder and freeze better.) Pour your favorite ice cream base into a smaller bowl, and nestle the small bowl inside the large one. Beat for 10 minutes with your hand mixer.

Then put the whole apparatus in your freezer. This is clearly the trickiest part of the experiment because whose nugget-filled freezer can accommodate two mixing bowls? Freeze for 45 minutes, take the bowls out, mix the proto-ice cream up for another 5, then freeze for a few hours. Eat your frozen treat while debating the specs of the operation and how to build a better ice cream maker.

Get the DIY ice cream maker how-to at The Kitchn.

The Best Way to Make Ice Cream Without a Machine

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We’ve saved the best for last. When you look up how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker, one tried-and-true method turns up more than others: the freeze-and-stir technique. This one will yield truly creamy ice cream if done right — but it will eat up your entire afternoon.

All you need is heavy cream, half-n-half, sugar, and vanilla. Start by freezing an empty stainless steel or Pyrex pan, then make your base while the pan gets frostbite. Pour the ice cream soup into the pan, then place it back in the freezer for 30 minutes (or until the edges start to freeze). Take it out and beat the mixture with a hand mixer until creamy. Refreeze and repeat the process four or five times: freeze for 30, mix for 5, over and over. Once the ice cream is fully frozen yet still creamy, throw on some toppings, and let the sundae party begin.

Get the homemade ice cream how-to at Taste of Home.

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