The Ultimate Guide to Making Ice Cream

From professional tips to the sweetest recipes on the block, get ready to scream for ice cream! We cover everything you need to know about making this indulgent treat.

Say hello to the coolest treat around. Sweet and creamy ice cream is beloved by all ages—and there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy it. Read on to learn everything (yes, everything!) you need to know about ice cream; including recipes, products and tips for mastering it at home.

How to Make Ice Cream: Methods

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Making homemade ice cream is not as complicated as it sounds. And, while you definitely can invest in gear and gadgets to streamline the process, it’s not necessary. We’ll show you how to make ice cream a myriad of ways—you just pick the one that works best for your family.

How to Make Ice Cream without an Ice Cream Maker

To make ice cream without an ice cream maker, you’ll need a handful of common kitchen tools, including a mixing bowl, 13×9 pan and a spatula. Time and patience are other key ingredients, since this method relies on a slow, meticulous churning process.

How to Make Ice Cream with an Ice Cream Maker

If you plan on making a lot of frozen treats, it’s worth it to invest in an ice cream maker. These sleek machines yield professional-quality results and less hands-on time. You’ll still need to prep your ice cream base and, in some machines, the maker’s canister before reaching for the scoop.

How to Make Ice Cream in a Bag

Do memories of summer camp come flooding back at the mere mention of making ice cream in a bag? You’re not alone. This kid-friendly, hands-on approach uses salt and muscle power to create silky smooth ice cream.

How to Make Ice Cream in a Coffee Can

Similar to the bagged method, coffee can ice cream relies on rock salt and movement to yield a frozen treat. Except instead of mixing with your hands, you can roll or even (gently!) kick the can around. This method is great if you want to get a little exercise in before indulging!

Tips for Making Homemade Ice Cream

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Just like any skill, practice makes perfect. But we have a few ice cream-making tips to get you started, including:

  • Reach for quality ingredients. A basic ice cream base has very few ingredients, so make sure you’re including top-notch items, like fresh cream and pure vanilla extract. Trust us—you’ll be able to taste the difference!
  • Ward off ice crystals. One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when making homemade ice cream is ice crystal formation. These mini ice pieces can ruin the texture of your ice cream and affect the flavor. Keep them at bay by sticking to your recipe’s sweetener amounts and taking steps to store the ice cream in an airtight container. Our Test Kitchen has plenty of ice cream tips to ensure success to check out before you start churning.
  • Experiment with flavors. Pink Peppercorn and Sake Ice Cream? Coming right up. How about London Fog or Dark Chocolate with Paprika & Agave? Feel free to go wild with your ice cream flavor choices. You might just create a new favorite!

Ice Cream Recipes

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Now that you know the basics of how to make ice cream, put your skills to the test with these homemade ice cream recipes! We have tons of ideas for every type of sweet tooth.

Classic Ice Cream Recipes

You can’t go wrong with these tried-and-true flavors:

Unique Ice Cream Recipes

Craving something a little less traditional? We’ve got you covered:

And for even more ideas, consult our collection of unique ice cream flavors. Trust us—you haven’t tried these yet!

Ice Cream-Based Desserts

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A scoop tastes delicious on its own (or packed into a cone), but you can also use ice cream to make next-level desserts.

Milkshakes

The 1950s called—and they said this sweet sipper is never going out of style. A classic milkshake blends milk, ice cream and your favorite mix-ins until smooth, then is topped with whipped cream.

Sundaes and Splits

Another classic treat, ice cream sundaes are laden with sauces, fresh fruit, nuts and other tasty toppings. We love an old-fashioned banana split, as well as this decadent turtle sauce that blends smooth chocolate and sweet caramel. And, to make your sundae even sweeter, serve it in a homemade ice cream bowl.

Ice Cream Cakes

For a show-stopping dessert, you can’t go wrong with an ice cream cake. These novelties combine all of the good stuff—ice cream, cake, cookies, whipped cream, sprinkles and more—into an easy-to-slice dessert. Try this pretty birthday ice cream cake or our DQ ice cream cake copycat recipe.

Ice Cream Novelties

Growing up, there was no sound more exciting than that of the ice cream truck. And these eat-with-your-hands options will take you right back to childhood:

Ice Cream Products and Tools

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If making ice cream is your new favorite hobby, we won’t judge! In fact, we rounded up the best ice cream products and tools for dessert lovers. Here are some of our essential picks:

  • Ice cream makers. These helpful machines take the guesswork out of homemade ice cream and guarantee smooth results every time. Find picks for the countertop, a KitchenAid and more.
  • Ice cream scoops. Raise your hand if you’ve ever hurt your wrist trying to scoop too-hard ice cream. These top-rated scoops cut through even the densest dessert and will last you way longer than your favorite pint.
  • Ice cream cookbooks. Once you’ve mastered vanilla, try something new with these ice cream cookbooks. You’ll find recipes from chefs and industry pros alike, including Salt & Straw and Ben & Jerry’s.

The Best Ice Cream Brands

When an ice cream craving hits, there’s not always time to make it from scratch. That’s why we recommend these top-notch ice cream brands you can buy online or at a specialty grocer, including Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. For a less indulgent (and more cost-conscious) treat, check out the winners of our vanilla and chocolate ice cream brand taste tests.

Up Next: Desserts That Get Better with Ice Cream
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Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Associate Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.