Make ice cream at home — you don’t even need fancy equipment

By Evan Kleiman

These no-churn ice creams are tasty and easy to make. Photo by Shutterstock.

What does “no churn” mean? Typically ice cream is a two-part process. First, a base is made of milk, cream, eggs, or other ingredients along with flavoring agents that may be fruit or nut pastes, etc. Next, the base is refrigerated for a while to allow it to “temper.” Then it is poured into an ice cream maker, which churns the mixture with paddles to achieve a smooth and consistent texture with greater or lesser amounts of air. 

The point of no-churn is to be able to make ice cream without an ice cream maker. In order to do this, no-churn ice cream recipes rely on the action of whipping air into the mixture to lighten it before freezing. To achieve smoothness and a rich-mouth feel, most recipes also use higher fat ingredients than one would find in traditional ice creams. The easiest recipes rely on sweetened condensed milk combined with whipped cream. This type of no-churn also doesn’t require any cooking, which during the hot months is a big plus. 

To make no-cook, no-churn ice cream, simply whip sweetened condensed milk with vanilla and a pinch of salt. Then make whipped cream. Fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture, being careful to maintain as much air in the mixture as possible. Pour it into a metal loaf pan (the metal will help with quicker freezing) and put it into the freezer. After about two hours, the mixture should have a soft-serve texture. This is the time to add any mix-ins like crumbled cookies, chopped chocolate, or even a swirl of jarred lemon curd. Here’s a recipe. 

The key to no-churn ice cream is whipping high-fat ingredients together. Photo by Shutterstock.

If you’re willing to do a bit more work to make ice cream, along with turning on the stove, then I recommend turning to Stella Parks’ recipes that can be found on Serious Eats. She uses two different methods. The first, which I find most appealing, uses whole eggs that are first tempered in a bain marie with sugar until a temperature of 160℉ is achieved, after which the mixture is beaten until fluffy and cloudlike. Then it’s scraped into a container and frozen. Her second technique relies on Swiss meringue, which is egg whites and sugar tempered over hot water until it reaches 165℉ then beaten. Once beaten, flavored whipped cream is mixed into the meringue. For fruit flavors, Parks uses freeze dried fruit for its lack of moisture and vivid flavor and color.

Whichever method you choose, making no-churn ice cream at home is often the first step to that slippery slope of purchasing an ice cream maker. Even the simplest machine that you pre-freeze in the freezer gives you many more options for creating innumerable types of ice creams and gelati. Here is a trusted source with ice cream machine opinions. Their favorite is the simplest type where you freeze the bowl.