How to Make Ice Cream

Summer is here, and that means it’s time to break out the one useful unitasker in the kitchen: the ice cream maker. Why do even avowed anti-unitaskers like Mark Bittman and Alton Brown own ice cream makers? Because ice cream is incredibly easy to make, and even the simplest homemade vanilla ice cream tastes miles better than the most expensive premium ice cream from the store. If you don’t believe me, try it.

Quick tip: The ice cream bowl that you keep in the freezer can do double duty. If you need to cool foods quickly — such as when an ice bath is called for — fill it with water. No ice required. (I picked this tip up from a comment on this post on Unclutterer that is actually trying to get you to ditch your ice cream maker, but you must resist. Resist.)

Cuisinart Ice Cream MakerFirst, the ice cream maker. I own this one by Cuisinart, and I completely recommend it. It freezes ice cream or sorbet to soft-serve consistency in about half an hour. That means you can start the thing running before sitting down to dinner and have ice cream for dessert. (If you like your ice cream to be firmer, make it a little more ahead of time and let it set for 2-3 hours in the freezer in an airtight container.) The days of cranking the ice cream maker and pouring in the rock salt to keep the ice from melting on Grandma’s back porch are long gone. Welcome, modern technology.

Our go-to recipe for ice cream is Philadelphia-style ice cream. Philadelphia-style is not cooked, so you don’t have to take the time to cool it before churning. The alternative is French-style, which starts with a custard made from hot milk, cream and eggs; I’ve made it, and it’s definitely a dinner party kind of ice cream. But if you get a hankering for ice cream tonight and it’s only a couple of hours before dinner, Philadelphia-style is the way to go.

One long weekend not too long ago, we actually made two batches of ice cream: strawberry for me and chocolate chip for my husband. Of course we couldn’t finish it — homemade ice cream only keeps for 2-3 days in the freezer — but it was worth it. Sure, these are simple flavors and simple recipes, but they taste incredible, and they are infinitely variable, so throw in whatever you like. Hey, it’s your ice cream — you can make it with avocado and bacon for all I care.

Two Kinds of Ice Cream!

Vanilla Ice Cream (With Add-Ins)


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • the seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg (optional for those averse to eating raw eggs)

Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Freeze in an ice cream maker. Just before freezing is complete, add any of the following:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips or M&Ms
  • ½ cup crushed candy or crumbled cookies
  • 1/3 cup chocolate sauce (for chocolate swirl)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Notes: I highly recommend sacrificing a more expensive vanilla bean for your homemade ice cream. The taste difference is worth it. Slit the bean down its length and scrape out the seeds with a sharp knife.

You can use different combinations of the dairy. I like a less rich ice cream. If you like it richer, omit the milk and use half-and-half or heavy cream instead.

Fruit Ice Cream

Sprinkle 3 cups chopped fruit — such as any berries, peaches, apples or whatever you like — with sugar. Saute over medium-low until the fruit is just tender. This won’t take more than a couple of minutes for soft fruits, up to 10 minutes for firmer fruits like apples. Taste and add more sugar if too tart or a little lemon juice if too sweet. Chill the fruit until it reaches a temperature of 40 degrees.


  • the fruit
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg (optional for those averse to eating raw eggs)

Freeze in the ice cream maker.

Notes: If you’d like to keep the fruit chunky, hold it back until the ice cream is almost frozen.

When you’re ready to graduate to advanced ice cream making, check out the recipes on David Lebovitz’s blog. I don’t think I’m going to make it through the summer without acquiring his new book, The Perfect Scoop, which is getting rave reviews everywhere I look.


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9 thoughts on “How to Make Ice Cream

  1. cookingfor5 11 June 2007 at 9:39 am

    Yum! I love homemade ice cream, but have never made it myself.

  2. Shannon 11 June 2007 at 10:10 am

    Try it as soon as you can. If you really are cooking for 5, ice cream will be an easy way to make dessert for all of them at once.

    My husband brought home a watermelon yesterday, so 1/2 hour before dinner I made watermelon sorbet before dessert. It took me all of 15 minutes active cooking time. Recipe coming soon!

  3. […] Filed under: Kitchen, Cooking, Tools — Shannon @ 10:59 am When I was waxing rhapsodic about my ice cream maker the other day, it got me thinking about my favorite kitchen tools, the ones I absolutely could not […]

  4. How to Make Sorbet « Simply Cooking 22 June 2007 at 7:30 am

    […] but fruit sorbet is the best way to go. Because sorbet has no dairy, it is lower in fat than ice cream, although there are still plenty of calories from the added sugar. But the flavors of sorbet are so […]

  5. faisal 19 September 2007 at 8:01 am

    is it good

  6. faisal 20 September 2007 at 9:16 am

    9i dont ghave an icecream maker

  7. […] vanilla and raspberry sherbet. The vanilla, while delicious, was very similar to a recipe I already make, but you can’t try too many vanilla ice cream recipes; like the little black […]

  8. The Master Recipes « Simply Cooking 16 July 2010 at 2:27 pm

    […] Ice Cream […]

  9. Don’t buy it, cook it! | Blog, by Shannon 11 October 2011 at 3:21 pm

    […] Ice cream […]

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