How to Make Homemade Ice Cream and Easy-to-Try Recipes

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The homemade ice cream is a treat! It’s a lot easier than it looks to make ice cream from scratch, and it’s obviously delicious. Only a few simple ingredients are needed to make homemade ice cream, and there are no fillers, thickeners, emulsifiers, preservatives or stabilizers in sight. The best part is the variety of mixes you can add to the ice cream base. You’re no longer limited to flavors only available in the ice cream aisle; of course, there are hundreds of them, but the fun is in creating your own and playing around with different combinations.

The homemade ice cream experience starts with the ice cream base, and that base then turns into the frozen dessert we all know and love. Whether the ice cream is milk or water based, the base will be milk, cream, sugar and whole eggs or egg yolks. There are different bases to experiment with, and they range from simple to those requiring more attention to detail, but they’re always incredibly simple. Keep reading to learn how to make homemade ice cream!


Types of ice cream

Custard-based ice cream is French-style ice cream and is the most common. It is usually egg custard with a fair amount of heavy cream, and the technique is the same as custard, the rich cream sauce that is served hot or cold over a variety of desserts. This base requires a bit of nurturing and caution to make sure the eggs don’t scramble. Pro Tip: Even if there is a slight egg curd appearance, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl for smooth results.


A method that requires less attention to the delicate structure of eggs is Philadelphia-style ice cream, sometimes known as American-style ice cream. The base is made of milk, cream or a mixture of the two, but it does not contain eggs. It is frozen like custard-based ice cream, but the texture can be grainy due to the lack of a luscious ice cream. The Easy Cookies ‘n’ Cream Ice Cream Recipe below is a great example of this method.


How to make homemade ice cream

To make traditional ice cream, including any of the methods described above, you need an ice cream maker. Churning ice cream prevents large ice crystals from forming and clumping together, so smaller ice crystals promote a smoother texture in the finished product. Ice cream makers vary in price and quality, but it’s easy to find fairly inexpensive options at around $20. But here’s a little good news, you can still make ice cream without a machine! These churn-free options range from heavy cream, sugar and mixes in a mason jar to making a base of sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream with fruit, you can take your pick.

The basic ice cream recipe below will become your go-to base and a blank canvas. Enjoy it as is or experiment with flavors and blends and make it your own creation. You will need an ice cream maker to make this pastry cream based ice cream. Most ice cream makers call for freezing the bowl at least a day ahead, so plan ahead.

  1. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and place a clean bowl over it. (This helps cool the base later.) Place a fine-mesh sieve over the bowl; put aside.
  2. Combine milk, cream, half the sugar and vanilla in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Watch carefully to make sure the milk does not boil. Remove from fire.
  3. Beat the egg yolks with a pinch of salt and the remaining sugar in a large bowl until well blended and the mixture whitens.
  4. Gradually stir half of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture to slightly warm the eggs and help prevent the eggs from curdling in the next step. Return the egg yolk mixture to the pan with the rest of the milk mixture.
  5. Cook custard over medium heat, stirring, until thickened and custard coats the back of a wooden spoon, 4 to 6 minutes. The custard should be thick enough to leave a trail and not clump together when you run your finger over it on the spoon.
  6. Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve into the prepared bowl over ice. Discard the vanilla pod, if using. Let cool, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. The custard can be made up to a day in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  7. Process the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions until the base has thickened. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm for at least 4 hours and up to 1 week. Makes 1 pint.

  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, or 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt


There are endless possibilities for flavoring homemade ice cream. Just before transferring to the freezer, stir in a handful of chopped fresh fruit or chopped mixes like pretzels, marshmallows, nuts, chocolate chips, or candies; a generous drizzle of syrups, nut butters, melted chocolate or a little (or more!) instant espresso powder or freeze-dried fruit pulsed in a food processor to powder. Feel free to skip the vanilla in the base and swap it out for another extract depending on the flavor profile you fancy.


Homemade Ice Cream Recipes

Now that you know how to make ice cream at home, feel free to experiment with the ice cream recipes below.


Easy Cookies ‘n’ Cream Ice Cream

realsimple.com


With just five ingredients, this crowd-favorite flavor omits eggs in the ice cream base. You’ll need an ice cream maker to make this ice cream recipe, but the easy base is foolproof and comes together in a snap.



Churn-Free Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream

Samantha Seneviratne


For an ice cream recipe that doesn’t require an ice cream maker, try this treat. Although similar to traditional strawberry ice cream, roasting the berries gives this dessert a complexity of flavors you won’t find in store-bought stuff. Not a strawberry fan? Substitute peaches or plums instead.



homemade rolled ice cream

Getty Images


Rolled ice cream is a frozen dessert originating from Thailand, often called Thai rolled ice cream or stir-fried ice cream. The base is just two (!) ingredients, heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk, and no ice cream maker is needed – all you really need is a small rimmed baking sheet and a spatula for scraping and rolling the base of the ice cream. The hardest part will be choosing your favorite mix-ins.



Chocolate chip ice cream

realsimple.com


Break out the ice cream maker for this five-ingredient ice cream sprinkled with chocolate chunks. It’s a no-fuss ice cream base that only calls for heavy cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and chopped semi-sweet chocolate. Experiment with different flavors and mix together equal parts chocolate and peanut butter chips, or chocolate and mini marshmallows.

RELATED: This trick is the secret to making delicious ice cream at home



Churn-Free Papaya Ice Cream

Victor Protasio


No need for an ice cream maker for this tropical dessert made with heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk and pieces of fresh papaya. Turn an ordinary bowl of this ice cream into a sundae by adding roasted pineapple, toasted coconut flakes and a pinch of flaky sea salt.


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