Let me guess, you’re craving homemade ice cream, but never got around to getting that all important machine…no problem! I’m sharing the 3 best methods for making amazing no churn ice cream; all you have to do is dream up the flavors!
Ice cream is great, but homemade ice cream is epic
And I don’t want any of you to miss out just because you don’t have an ice cream machine. I’ve made a lot of no-churn ice creams over the years, so I’m sharing the three main methods for making ice cream without a machine, along with the pros and cons of each so you can find the perfect homemade ice cream technique for you this summer.
What does an ice cream machine do, anyway?
Any successful no-churn ice cream recipe will need to mimic the effects of an ice cream machine. But what exactly does it do? When an ice cream machine churns ice cream, it’s achieving three main things…
- It speeds up the process of freezing ice cream, and that’s important because there is less time for ice crystals to form.
- It breaks up ice crystals as the mixture freezes because they are in constant motion (aka churning,) and when the crystals are small, you’ll get that smooth creaminess we all crave. It’s what gives my Chocolate Frozen Custard and my Maple Walnut Ice Cream their incredible mouthfeel.
- It incorporates air into the mixture to achieve that “fluffiness” that you associate with a fabulous ice cream.
Method #1 ~ Sweetened Condensed Milk Base
This is probably the most common method you’ll run into for making no churn ice cream. It’s easy, fast, adaptable to lots of flavors, and requires minimal equipment. All you need is some cream, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and whatever flavorings or add-ins you want to bring to the party! Below is my classic No Churn Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.
Why it works ~
Sweetened condensed milk is essentially milk that has had the water (about 60%) removed from it. This results in a thick viscous milk that helps to keep the ice cream soft and scoop-able because you’ve cut down on ice crystals. Whipping the cream portion of the recipe before folding in the rest of the ingredients adds that all-important aeration to the ice cream.
- Ice creams made with sweetened condensed milk are usually super easy and quick to put together, often you simply whip the cream, then whisk together the the rest of ingredients and combine them together before freezing. It’s a great method to start with.
- No eggs (and no cooking!) needed here for a nice smooth ice cream.
- Plus you’ve probably got the condensed milk in the pantry.
- You may or may not like the distinctive mouthfeel that comes along with sweetened condensed milk.
- Some people don’t love the background flavor of condensed milk.
- Sweetened condensed milk is sweet, so you can’t really play around with other sweet ingredients for flavor, like, say, maple syrup, or honey, without making an overly-sweet ice cream.
Method #2 ~ Whipped Cream Base (without condensed milk)
This interesting method for creating a vanilla no churn ice cream comes from Darina Allen, and includes all the ingredients in a classic ice cream ~ cream, eggs, sugar, but put together in an innovative way in order to skip the need for churning. I think this vanilla ice cream has great flavor and can stand up to the best of them.
Why it works ~
Whipping the cream as well as the eggs adds a lot of air into the mixture to mimic the churning process, and eggs help to keep the mixture smooth and creamy, almost like a frozen mousse.
- This recipe uses traditional ice cream ingredients (i.e., no sweetened condensed milk), so the taste will be closer to the real thing. It does not have the heaviness that condensed milk can give to ice creams.
- An ice cream made with so much heavy cream may not be for everyone ~ calorie-wise, or taste wise! I find that ice creams made only with heavy cream can have a coat-your-tongue thing going on, which I’m not always into.
- This technique is slightly fussy, you’ll need a stand mixer or electric beaters, along with a candy thermometer, to make this recipe successfully.
- You use raw eggs in this recipe, so if you’re concerned, you’ll need to source pasteurized eggs. They can usually be found next to the regular eggs in larger supermarkets.
Method #3 ~ Food Processor
If you have a food processor, this is an easy method. You can make any regular ice cream base, freeze it in ice cube trays, and then blend the frozen cubes in a food processor until smooth. Simply spoon your soft ice cream into a freezable container, freeze until scoopable, and you’re set! If you don’t have enough ice cube trays, you can also freeze the ice cream mixture flat in freezer safe plastic bags, then break it up into chunks and process it, like I did in my No Churn Blackberry Ice Cream.
Why it works ~
Blending your ice cream mixture in a food processor breaks up the ice crystals that formed during freezing and helps add air to the mixture, just like churning. It’s not as perfect a system as breaking up those crystals as they form, but it’s a close second.
- You can use any ice cream recipe you want here, you don’t need to find a “no churn” recipe.
- You’ll still need a machine for this recipe, but food processors are a lot more common, and are endlessly useful in the kitchen.
- The transferring, blending, and re-freezing can getting a little messy and time consuming.