Creamy, soft serve, scoopable homemade ice cream… the stuff of summer dreams! Here’s how to make perfect ice cream that ISN’T icy or soupy!
“I hate the heat. When it gets above 65° F, I get cranky,” says my friend Jessica.
No doubt about it. When summer hits, a big ole’ need to stay cool tops the list of dietary concerns!
And if you or your kiddos, like Jessica, get cranky in the heat and need to eat cold foods a lot during the summer to keep your cool…
… then you’ll find lots of reasons to make your own homemade ice cream, like: you can work around allergies, you can save money over buying it, and you’ll create healthier homemade ice cream (and other frozen desserts).
Jessica, author of the new eBook, The Splendid Scoop, joins me on today’s podcast (print transcript, audio, and video below) to share tips and tricks for healthy homemade ice cream. Enjoy!
Table Of Contents
How to Make Homemade Ice Cream
Why Make Homemade Ice Cream?
Jessica shares her top three reasons for making homemade ice cream…
1. It’s healthier.
“The number one thing for me has always been that it is healthier. I get to control my ingredients. I get to make sure there’s no refined sugars, artificial colors, or artificial flavors.
Castoreum is a natural flavor found in ice cream that comes from a beaver’s castor sacs which are near its anal glands. Yes, that’s in our ice cream. It’s pretty disgusting.
‘Natural flavors’ can be a catch-all way to put questionable things on ingredient labels. Even some of the natural colors come from bugs.
I feel weird about stuff like that. Now, there are a lot of great brands that have cleaned up their ingredients, but they tend to be expensive. Which leads me to my next point…”
2. It’s cheaper.
“At my local health food store, a little pint of high-quality specialty ice cream can run anywhere from $5.50 to $10.50 for a pint. If I’m going to spend $10.50 on something, it’s not going to be one pint of ice cream!
So, it’s a lot cheaper to make it yourself.”
3. It’s more fun.
“I love being able to customize my flavors. If I want to combine two of my favorite flavors into one, I can. I am in complete control and can make whatever concoction I would like!”
9 Ice Cream-Making Tips
I’ve made my fair share of mediocre ice cream, either too soupy or too icy. In fact, I was an under-achiever with my ice cream maker for a year and a half before I finally mastered a scoopable, soft serve ice cream.
Here are my and Jessica’s best tips for perfect ice cream at home!
A few of these tips apply to the kind of ice cream maker with an insulated freezer bowl — not the old-fashioned kind. I love my Cuisinart!
1. Start with a good base recipe (pssst…we have one for you, below!).
Truly good ice cream consists of three things:
- tiny ice crystals for solidity and smooth texture
- liquid cream, milk and sugar mixture for creaminess and to stick everything together
- air to provide light, fluffy volume
To achieve this, you need the right ratio of cream, milk and sugar. Not enough cream, it’ll be icy. Too little air, it’ll be dense. And so on.
You can find my and my daughter Haniya’s super simple, 5-ingredient ice cream recipe below. Once you have a really good basic recipe, you can tweak it however you want. Endless flavor variations!
2. Don’t fear the fat!
Ice cream without enough cream (in proportion to milk) will turn rock-hard in the freezer. More fat in your ice cream means less water and less ice crystals for a smoother, less icy end result.
Jessica is dairy-free and loves the coconut cream from Aroy-D for its super rich, super thick fat. If you can tolerate dairy, use heavy cream instead of straight milk or half-n-half in your ice cream.
3. Use a solid sweetener.
Whereas a liquid sweetener such as honey will increase iciness with its water content, a crystalline sweetener such as Rapadura or Sucanat, evaporated cane juice, coconut sugar, etc. will not.
Powder your coarse solid sweetener in a food processor or blender. This yields a fine and creamy, instead of grainy, ice cream texture.
4. Add vanilla extract to your ice cream base.
In addition to its lovely background flavor, vanilla extract helps with scoop-ability of leftovers. Its alcohol base lowers the freezing temperature. This provides an ice cream that isn’t super hard when pulled from the freezer the next day.
If you plan to eat all of your ice cream, feel free to reduce the amount of vanilla. (Source.)
5. If you’re dairy-free…
Dairy-free folks can make creamy ice cream too with dairy-free milks! They naturally have less fat and a higher water content (=icier ice cream) than dairy milk, but here are some ways to compensate for that.
Coconut milk is the creamiest of the dairy-free free milks, and so results in the creamiest ice cream. Here’s how to choose the best coconut milk for your needs.
If you don’t tolerate coconut milk, cashew milk (here’s how to make cashew milk) tends to be the next best option as it is a little thicker and creamier than other dairy-free milks like almond milk or hazelnut milk.
You can also melt coconut oil or use a liquid oil such as macadamia nut oil or avocado oil to increase the fat content in dairy-free ice cream. Simply drizzle it into your ice cream while churning. It’s especially easy to do if you’re making blender ice cream.
Just make sure whatever oil you add is liquid (or melted), and drizzle it in while the ice cream is churning, or you’ll end up with congealed fat clumps.
Finally, dairy-free ice cream is best served immediately or popped in the freezer for about an hour first, then served. It will freeze solid if you leave it in the freezer for too long.
Here are our favorite dairy-free ice cream recipes!
- 40 Deliciously Dairy-Free Ice Cream Recipes (THM options!)
- Dark Chocolate Crunch Ice Cream (recipe from Jessica)
- Quick Dairy-Free Ice Cream (just 5 minutes & no machine!)
- Dairy-Free Almond Joy Coconut Ice Cream (Paleo)
- No-Churn Mango Turmeric Ice Cream (Dairy-Free, Paleo)
- Dairy-Free No-Churn Blackberry Ice Cream (Paleo, GAPS)
- Dairy-Free Chocolate Mint Ice Cream With Essential Oils
6. Freeze the freezing container for 24 hours before making ice cream.
It needs to be frozen solid or it won’t have enough freezing power to turn cream into ice cream!
7. Fill your ice cream maker 1/2 to 2/3 full.
The frozen tub in which the filling gets churned has only so much freeze to give before it is no longer cold. If there’s too much filling, there’s not enough chilling.
8. Chill the filling and any utensils (bowl, spoon) thoroughly.
This also maximizes the freezing power of your ice cream maker.
9. Choose a cool place in the house to churn.
Don’t set the ice cream maker next to a wood stove, slow cooker, or working oven. Conserve the freezing power.
Chocolate or Vanilla Ice Cream
A homemade ice cream recipe that yields soft, scoopable, creamy ice cream... every time!
Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend on medium-low until smooth, but not too much to whip the cream.
Pour into a 1/2-gallon glass jar and chill in the back of the fridge until cold (at least 3 to 4 hours).
When ready to churn, put large bowl (I use my 6-cup glass Pyrex) and wooden spoon in the freezer to chill. This ensures that your ice cream doesn’t melt when you transfer it from the ice cream maker to a storage container!
Proceed with churning ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. I use a Cuisinart ice cream maker; it takes about 20 to 25 minutes to churn.
Add any add-ins during the last few minutes of churning, which is when the ice cream is almost firm.
Once ice cream is thick, use chilled spoon to transfer ice cream into chilled bowl.
*Grind the Rapadura or Sucanat in a food processor or blender to a more fine consistency.
Feel free to add up to 3 egg yolks for extra creaminess.
You can also adjust the cream to milk ratio depending on how thick your heavy cream is. If your cream is very thick (more of a solid, like a sour cream consistency), you can get away with using a little more than half cream and a little less than half milk. The more liquid-y your cream is, the more you should use. You might even be able to get away with 100 percent cream!
Variations: Looking for a creative twist on good old chocolate or vanilla? Try adding 1/4 to 1/3 cup natural, instant coffee alternative such as Dandy Blend for mocha ice cream.
Homemade Ice Cream FAQs
How long does it take to make homemade ice cream?
It depends. My Cuisinart ice cream maker takes about 20-25 minutes to churn a batch of ice cream.
How to store homemade ice cream?
Store in an air-tight container in the freezer. Eat within a day or two for best results. The longer it stays in the freezer, the harder it will get.
Dairy-free ice cream is best eaten immediately, or frozen for just an hour or two.
Best ice cream machine?
I love my Cuisinart!
Do I need an ice cream machine to make homemade ice cream?
No, you can make no churn ice cream using your blender, food processor, or simply a few Ziploc bags instead.
Here are a few recipes for you to try:
- No-Churn Mango Turmeric Ice Cream (Dairy-Free, Paleo)
- Dairy-Free No-Churn Blackberry Ice Cream (Paleo, GAPS)
- Instant Strawberry Ice Cream
- Off-Grid Lime Kefir Ice Cream With Fermented Blueberry Syrup
Do the ingredients need to be cold?
I do recommend chilling your ingredients for best results, yes. If you aren’t using a machine, you’ll need to chill the ingredients individually. If you are using a machine, make your filling and then chill it before churning.
About The Book: The Splendid Scoop
The Splendid Scoop and Other Frozen Treats contains 11 delicious and easy dairy-free recipes plus tips and tricks for homemade ice cream perfection… even if you don’t have an ice cream maker!
You will learn:
- Why making your own ice cream and frozen treats at home is better than buying them at the store (even the organic ones!).
- Tips and tricks for homemade ice cream success.
- How to make ice cream without an ice cream maker (it’s easier than you think!).
- Delicious dairy-free recipes the whole family will love (recipes are also gluten-free and can easily be adapted for the autoimmune protocol as well).
- Extensive resource suggestions for real food, wellness, and beyond.
Here are the recipes:
- Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream
- Dark Chocolate Crunch Ice Cream
- Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
- Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream
- Bananas Foster Ice Cream
- Summer Berry “Ice Cream” Pie
- Frozen Hot Chocolate
- Lemon Banana Coconut Shake
- Strawberry Mint Watermelon Slush
- Red Raspberry Limeade
- Refreshing Water Kefir (or Kombucha) Ice Cream Float
If you’re ready to beat the heat with some tasty treats, look no further than The Splendid Scoop!
- The Splendid Scoop — Jessica’s eBook
- Dark Chocolate Crunch Ice Cream — free recipe!
- Coconut sugar
- Evaporated cane juice
- DIY Herbal Coffee — Jessica’s other eBook
- KYF #125 DIY Herbal Coffee — previous podcast with Jessica
- Free Traditional Cooking Video Series
I would love to hear from you! Do you have questions for me or comments about anything shared in this episode?
This post is a combination of two posts originally published and written by Wardee Harmon. The posts were combined, updated, and republished on 7/27/22.
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