Making your own ice cream at home is a lot simpler than you think. There are a few different methods out there, traditional, and no-churn that will help get that frozen treat made. I like to think that my ice cream base is the best homemade ice cream recipe out there because it’s super creamy, eggy, and delicious. Read on to learn how ice cream is made and how to make ice cream step by step.
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July, to me, seems to be the hottest month of the year. And what better way to cool you down than to enjoy some refreshing ice cream! It’s the epitome of summertime eatery and just about every restaurant has it. Now, I do like a good ice cream from Haagen Das or Ben & Jerry’s but there is nothing more delicious than homemade ice cream. The best part of making your own ice cream is that you can make it the way YOU want it (I’m still waiting for someone to sell chocolate and peanut butter cookie dough ice cream, delicious, right?!).
My darling hubby bought me an ice cream attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer a few years ago and oh my, has it changed my world! What I love about this attachment is that it doesn’t require ice or salt. You just dump your mix into the bowl, let it spin and bam! You’ve got soft serve ice cream! The only downside is that you do need to plan ahead and freeze the bowl about 14 hours before you want to make ice cream, which can take up space in a tiny freezer, but, it does the trick and I love it so much!
Before I teach you how to make your own ice cream, we need to talk about something important first.
Ice Cream vs Gelato vs Frozen Custard
When researching this topic, I realized that I have had this comparison asked of me when it came to frozen treats “Are gelato and ice cream the same thing?” What’s the difference between frozen custard and ice cream?” Well… I turned to none other than my trusty Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion to help me solve these mysteries.
Seriously, if you don’t have this book in your library of reference books, you need it! Also, be sure to check out this post for more book recommendations that I can’t function without.
Ice cream is a frozen dessert that varies in flavors Homemade ice cream ingredients often include:
- Dairy (usually cream and milk)
- A sweetening agent (sugar, honey etc)
- Flavor add-in
It’s usually airy, because of the way that it’s churned (even no churn methods incorporate air) and creamy. If you’ve ever had icy ice cream and it wasn’t creamy, it’s because there wasn’t enough dairy fat in the base to counteract the ice crystals that form during freezing.
When it comes to the “is homemade healthier than store bought???” I would venture to say that, calorie-wise, mine is not. Mine has more calories than store-bought ice cream but that’s because I don’t skimp on the dairy fat needed to make incredibly smooth and creamy ice cream. If you wanted to make a lower calorie ice cream, you can use lower calorie milk but be prepared for an icy ice cream.
Sometimes when we get ice cream from the store, we might wonder why it takes a long time to melt and that’s because manufacturers have to add in some kind of stabilizer to the ice cream that allows it to stay “fresh” for longer periods of time. Homemade ice cream melts fast because no stabilizers are added.
Gelato has the same ingredients as homemade ice cream but it doesn’t have as much air. This results in a denser texture. Which is still fantastic! I love gelato. Be sure to check out this Boozy Stracciatella and Raspberry Gelato from The Speckled Palate if you’re in the mood.
Hopefully, I don’t lose you on this one. The only difference between ice cream and frozen custard is the amount of egg yolks in the base by weight
. Technically, by FDA standards if I were to sell my own ice cream and used this base, I would have to label this as a frozen custard. Frozen custards have about 1.4% of egg yolk solids in their base and mine as 4.5%.
However, there is a huge difference between my ice cream base recipe and frozen custard. Mine is light and airy. Frozen custard is quite dense, like gelato. So I’m still, technically, giving you an ice cream base recipe.
How is Ice Cream Made
As far as I’m concerned, there are two basic schools of method when it comes to making ice cream.
- No Churn
Each one has their merits and I’m going to give you the skinny on both of them.
Homemade Ice Cream With An Ice Cream Maker
I love homemade ice cream recipes that include egg yolks because they help to thicken the ice cream base a lot more, in my opinion. They also help give more of a “homemade” taste to ice cream than one that excludes egg yolks. The traditional method has you create a custard base. A custard base is a bit finicky because you are working with egg yolks and those tend to scramble at high temperatures. The method used to cook our custard is called a stirred custard because we cook the custard on the stove top. This is very similar to making lemon curd.
However, I don’t use a double boiler.
I do it slightly differently. Let me give you some pointers as far as my technique is concerned; we don’t want scrambled eggs in our ice cream. Ew.
- Temper your eggs.
I bring my dairy and sweeteners to a boil first and then I add them to my egg yolks. Egg yolks begin to coagulate at 140 degrees. Milk begins to boil at 212 degrees. Your milk and cream mixture is already 70 degrees hotter than what it takes to scramble eggs; you must slowly bring your eggs up while cooling down the cream mixture.
Do this by slowly adding the cream mixture to the egg yolks while whisking. This simultaneously cools down the cream and warms up the eggs. You only need to add maybe two ladles of warmed cream to the eggs before adding it to all of the cream and milk waiting in the sauce pot.
- Strain your base.
So remember that eggs coagulate at 140 degrees. When bringing your eggy cream mixture up to help set the proteins in the eggs, there is bound to be some curdling going on. We don’t want any of that scrambled mess in our deliciously smooth ice cream. Once the eggs and cream start to thicken and bubble, pull from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.
- Have an ice bath ready before straining.
Having an ice bath is crucial to the integrity of your ice cream base. Well, first off, what is an ice bath??? An ice bath is simply a container filled with ice and water. The purpose of an ice bath is to rapidly cool a hot liquid housed in another container.
We do this with the ice cream base by straining the base into a bowl and place that bowl on top of an ice bath in a slightly bigger bowl. The ice bath should surround the smaller bowls sides equally to ensure that the liquid gets as much exposure to the ice waters’ surface as possible. This helps stop the cooking of the eggs and helps cool the base evenly to stop the development of foodborne germs. Those don’t taste good in ice cream either.
You’ll know when your ice cream base has thickened enough, after cooling, if it coats the back of the spoon (what is known as nape).
Once you have created your ice cream base, whatever flavor suits your fancy, you are ready to spin (churn) the ice cream. Now I’m a huge fan of the ice cream attachment for the KitchenAid mixer, for the reasons mentioned up above. However, if you don’t have this attachment, there are fantastic stand-alone ice cream machines that you can use that do the job well!
Most manufacturers will have you somehow cool the machine (KitchenAid has you freeze it overnight), before adding the homemade ice cream base. Though, you’ll have to churn the ice cream for about 20 minutes before it’s ready to go into the freezer.
If you would like to have soft serve ice cream, it’s best to have the ice cream right as it is done churning in the machine. However, if you want more of the “hardened” ice cream, place it in an airtight container and allow the ice cream to “ripen,” or harden, in the freezer for at least 3-4 hours. Then you’re ready to scoop!
Here are more Traditional Method Ice Cream Recipes to give you inspiration
Mint N Chip- I Just Make Sandwiches
Dulce de Leche Ice Cream– The Crumby Kitchen
Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream– Inside the Rustic Kitchen
Tiramisu Ice Cream– Inside the Rustic Kitchen
Toasted Almond Ice Cream– House of Nash Eats
Chocolate Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Cookie Dough– I Just Make Sandwiches
Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream– House of Nash Eats
Old Fashioned Fresh Peach Ice Cream– House of Nash Eats
Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream-Away from the Box
Honey Blueberry Lavander Ice Cream– Away from the Box
No-Churn Ice Cream Method
Now, if you don’t want to invest in an ice cream attachment because you don’t have a KitchenAid or you just don’t make ice cream too often at home and don’t want to invest in a stand-alone ice cream machine, no worries! You can still make delicious and flavorful ice cream.
The no churn method of making ice cream is quite simple. You just combine your dairy, a sweetening agent, and flavorings differently. Most of the no-churn ice cream recipes I came across, always had their base of heavy whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk. The sweetened condensed milk is the perfect way to sweeten an ice cream base without trying to dissolve sugar in the cream and milk.
You can either use a mixer (either hand-held or standing) or a blender, to create enough air volume in your cream to get that delicious airy texture that we love in our ice cream.
Again, once your base has come together, carefully put your ice cream in an airtight container and allow to a freezer for at least 4-6 hours before scooping.
Here are some fantastic recipes to check out that use the no-churn method to get your wheels turning:
No-churn Mocha Toffee Cheese Cake Ice Cream– The Crumby Kitchen
No-churn Gunniess Brownie Ice Cream– The Speckled Palate
Kefir Ice Cream (blender method)– Champagne Tastes
Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream– Sprinkles and Sprouts
No-churn Black Sesame Ice Cream– Contemplating Sweets
A tip about your ice cream base no matter which method you use:
The key and a very important thing to remember when developing your own recipes, to making great ice cream is that you must “over season” your ice cream base. When a food freezes, the intensity of flavor changes. My close-to-genius husband explained to me that there are more atoms coming into contact with a surface at a liquid stage rather than a solid stage. Little chemistry lesson for ya, there.
So, your base is going to have a lot more sugar in it than you think ought to be in there when it’s at a liquid stage but once it freezes, the intensity of the sugar and chosen flavorings will mellow out quite a bit. If you think your base tastes too much like vanilla or mint or chocolate, your base is perfectly seasoned. Besides, it’s your ice cream.
Tools You Need To Make Your Own Ice Cream
Whether you are making ice cream via the traditional method or the no-churn method, you are going to need some “special” equipment.
For the traditional method, you need some mixing bowls, like these glass Pyrex bowls, that can fit within each other to create an ice bath. You also need a whisk, for tempering; a rubber spatula to stir the custard; and an ice cream machine.
For the non-churn method, you’re going to want a mixer (whether a hand or stand) or a blender, to incorporate as much air as you can into the heavy cream or base. You’ll also need a mixing bowl if using a hand mixer; I still love these glass Pyrex bowls for this purpose. And a good rubber spatula to move things around.
Storing Your Homemade Ice Cream Recipe
Once your delicious ice cream has been made (whether churned or no-churn), you need to take special care of your ice cream. Ice cream is very absorbent of flavors in the freezer, so I like to store my ice cream in these glass Pyrex storage containers. They’re airtight and the glass prevents from freezer odors creeping into my ice cream and ruining it.
Ice cream is made from perishable ingredients, so it will eventually go bad. I would keep my ice cream in the freezer for no longer than 6 months (if it honestly lasts that long…) before it’s run its course.
As far as hard vs soft ice cream is concerned, it really depends on where in your freezer you store your homemade ice cream. If you store your ice cream right next to the condensing unit (the thing that makes your freezer, freeze) then your ice cream will be hard. If you want softer ice cream, store your ice cream closer to the door of the freezer; those items closest to the door experience a lot of temperature fluctuation when the door opens and closes.
If your ice cream happens to harden because of where it was stored, you can easily soften it to scoop by letting it sit on your counter for about 5 minutes and then store the ice cream in a different, warmer spot in the freezer.
With these easy tips in mind and this recipe, you are set to making amazing ice cream! I hope that I have answered every question you’ve had about making your own homemade ice cream recipe and that you go out and create your own flavors!
If you enjoyed my ice cream base recipe and found this article super helpful, feel free to leave a comment down below, along with a 5-star rating.
Happy ice cream making!
Making ice cream at home couldn't be any easier than with this simple steps. Homemade ice cream is the best because you can make it the way YOU like!
- 20 ounces whole milk
- 14 ounces Heavy Cream
- 6 each egg yolks
- 7 ounces Sugar
- 1 ounce corn syrup
- 1 each vanilla bean if no bean available, use 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
In a medium saucepot, bring everything, except egg yolks, to a boil.
Separate eggs. Place yolks in a medium bowl.
Carefully ladle some of the cream mixture into egg yolks, making sure to whisk quickly. Add two ladles of cream mixture to egg yolks. Add yolks to the rest of the cream mixture in sauce pot.
Over medium heat, bring egg yolks and cream to a bubble, whisking continuously.
Once medium size bubbles are achieved, strain mixture into a bowl sitting on an ice bath. Discard any scrambled eggs.
Stir base with a spatula until base cools down, about 15 minutes.
Let base cool completely in the fridge. About 3-4 hours.
Take ice cream making attachment out of the freezer and set up with Kitchen Aid mixer. Add ice cream base to bowl and turn Kitchen Aid on to lowest setting, Stir.
Let ice cream spin for 20 minutes total. If adding anything to the base, add it at the last 2 minutes of spinning.
Once 20 minutes are up, put ice cream into containers and allow to fully freeze for another 3-4 hours.
Scoop and serve.