How to make ice cream at home: tips, recipes & equipment
Now that the sun has finally started to peep out from behind the clouds and the warmer days are becoming more frequent, there’s only one thing on our mind: ice cream! It’s the food that evokes memories of holidays in the sun, parties in the garden and the sound of the ice cream van jingling in the distance. And if you’ve ever wondered how to make ice cream at home, you may be surprised to find that it’s a lot easier than most people think.
We’ll take you through how to use an ice cream maker; how to make the best homemade ice cream; how to make vegan ice cream; common problems you might face when making ice cream, and so much more. So, stick with us and before you know it, you’ll be making the best ice cream in town from the comfort of your kitchen. But first, let’s break it down and look at some of the fundamentals of ice cream making.
The 4 main ingredients you need to make ice cream
For those who aren’t in the know, making ice cream probably seems like a bit of a mystery – it usually just gets handed to us on a cone, after all. But you’ll be pleased to know it’s not actually that complex at all, and there are only a few ingredients needed to make great ice cream from home (although, despite its name, there are a few more ingredients needed than simply ice and cream – but not many more.).
All ice cream recipes start with a base, and to make it you only need four ingredients: cream, milk, egg yolks and sugar – these are all things you can get from your local shop, or even straight from the cupboard. Once the base is made, that’s when you start to add all the yummy flavourings that make your ice cream taste the way you want it to.
So, now you know some of the basic facts, we can start to look at what equipment you’ll need, how to use your ice cream maker and most importantly, how to make great ice cream from home.
How to make ice cream at home: a step-by-step guide
Making ice cream can be broken down into a few simple steps, none of which are particularly difficult. But there are a few things you’ll need to know in order to get started, including which ice cream maker will best meet your needs – otherwise your hopes of making great ice cream will melt fairly quickly…
Step 1: make sure you have the right ice-cream-making equipment
One thing to bear in mind is that in order to make ice cream you need to freeze it as you churn, otherwise, your ice cream won’t end up being the right texture. But in order to freeze as you churn, you need to have the right equipment – enter: the ice cream maker.
There’s no best or worst when it comes to ice cream makers – they all make ice cream, after all – it all depends on which one is right for you. You might want one that can make enough ice cream to feed the family; or one that can make two flavours at the same time; or even one with a compressor that doesn’t require any pre-freezing. Whatever kind you’re after, when it comes to making the process as simple and enjoyable as possible, we’ve got plenty to choose from.
If you’re looking for a straightforward, easy-to-use machine that makes up to 500ml of ice cream without breaking the bank, then the Lakeland Digital Ice Cream Maker is a great option for you. After pre-freezing the bowl overnight, you can enjoy delicious ice cream for two in as little as 30 minutes and with very little hassle.
However, if pre-freezing the bowl overnight sounds like too long to wait for your ice cream, you might be more tempted by the automatic Cuisinart Gelato and Ice Cream Maker, which whips up your favourite chilled desserts in just 30 minutes, without the need to pre-freeze the bowl beforehand. And if conversation at the dinner table has run on longer than expected, it has a handy ‘Keep Cool’ function to keep your ice cream cool for an extra 10 minutes.
Sometimes, less is more, but we’re not convinced this is the case when ice cream is involved – especially when you have the option to make two different flavours at the same time. The Lakeland Double Pot Ice Cream Maker is exactly what it you’d expect from its name. Simply pre-freeze the two pots for 8-12 hours and then in half an hour you can enjoy two pots of differently flavoured ice cream – perfect for couples who can never agree on a flavour.
Step 2: choose your favourite ice cream recipe
It’s the age-old argument that will never, ever be solved: what’s the best flavour of ice cream? It’s the question that crops up on every family holiday and has been the subject of many dinner table discussions, but after all is said and done, it’s a question that simply doesn’t have an answer – but we think that’s a good thing. The world would be a boring place if we all had the same preferences, and luckily, we’ve gathered together some of our favourite recipes to meet everyone’s ice cream needs.
Chocolate, cookies, ice cream… some would consider these to be three separate desserts. But why keep them separate when you can mix them all into one delicious ice cream recipe? Double chocolate chip cookie dough is mixed with ice cream and finished off with little chocolate chip cookies to create a mouth-watering concoction you won’t forget in a hurry.
- 150g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 50g cocoa powder
- 50g soft light brown sugar
- 50g caster sugar¼ tsp almond extract
- 115g softened butter
- 3 tbsp milk
- 50g dark chocolate chips
For the vanilla ice cream:
- 230ml double cream
- 150ml whole or semi-skimmed milk
- 1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste or extract
- 70g caster sugar
To find the instructions, click here.
Coconut Milk & Banana Vegan Ice Cream
Perfect for anyone enjoying a vegan diet, the tropical island taste of this refreshing dairy-free ice cream is enough to chill anyone out.
- 400ml canned coconut milk (preferably not reduced fat)
- 250ml carton coconut cream
- 1 tsp Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste
- 80g caster sugar
- 3 medium bananas
- Toasted coconut flakes, to serve
To find full instructions, click here.
Almond & Peanut Butter Crunch Vegan Ice Cream
Another vegan favourite of ours is this easy-to-make, deliciously nutty ice cream, made in our Digital Ice Cream Maker. Whether you’re enjoying a dairy-free diet or not, the nutty crunch this recipe has to offer might prove hard to refuse.
- 25g whole almonds, roughly chopped
- 25g unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 5 tbsp maple syrup
- 400ml almond milk, chilled
- 5 tbsp peanut butter powder
- 1 tsp Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste
To find full instructions, click here.
Eton Mess Ice Cream
We Brits have invented some truly delicious desserts in our time, and Eton mess has to be up there with some of the best. But why leave it there? Made in the Cuisinart Gelato and Ice Cream Maker, this recipe combines two of the finest desserts to make one deliciously sweet and creamy one.
- 350ml double cream
- 400ml milk
- 1 vanilla pod
- 4 egg yolks
- 125g sugar
- 400g strawberries
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 50g meringue, crushed into small bite-sized pieces
To find full instructions, click here.
Step 3: make your ice cream
Each recipe is different, of course, so it’s important to follow your chosen recipe carefully, but you’ll notice with every one you choose to follow, there are some common methods that crop up time and time again. For example, when using an ice cream maker that requires you to pre-freeze the bowl, it’s important to chill your base for at least two hours before adding it to the bowl. But this isn’t too painful, given that you’ll be pre-freezing the bowl for 8-12 hours anyway.
You may have also noticed that most ice cream makers only take 30 minutes to make delicious ice cream after adding the ingredients to the bowl – or as little as 25 minutes in the case of our Stainless Steel Digital Ice Cream Maker – which we think is pretty good going.
One thing to bear in mind is that, once formed, ice crystals are at their smallest after churning, and will only grow the longer they stay frozen, so it’s important not to freeze your ice cream for too long to avoid the texture becoming too grainy or icy.
Step 4: enjoy your delicious ice cream!
Now you’ve don’t the ‘hard’ work, it’s time for the fun part: eating your home-made ice cream. There are plenty of ways to enjoy ice cream, and not all of them involve scooping it into a bowl and going at it with a spoon. It can also be used to complement other desserts to give them the sweet, cool and creamy flavour they might otherwise be missing. Sticky toffee pudding and chocolate fudge cake just aren’t the same without a big dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side. And if you’re wanting to make everything from scratch, we recommend using our No Mess Waffle Maker to make your own waffles, before topping with your home-made ice cream.
Here are a couple of our favourite recipes where ice cream acts as a sweet side-kick:
- Apple and Sultana Samosas with Stem Ginger & Cinnamon Ice Cream
- Cinnamon Waffle Stack with Crunchy Peanut Brittle Ice Cream
And if you’re looking for some delicious flavours to add to your ice cream, why not head over to our website where you’ll find a range of mixes, including Vanilla, Salted Caramel and Mint Choc Chip, as well as a whole host of Nielsen Massey extracts to really get their mouths watering.
Not happy with your ice cream? Here are some common problems and how to fix them
Even though making ice cream from home is a fairly straightforward process, you may find it takes a couple of tries to get it perfect. Here are a few pitfalls you could run in to when making ice cream for the first time.
If you’ve found that your ice cream is turning out a bit grainy, fear not – there are a few ways to fix this common problem. It could be that your sugar hasn’t completely dissolved when making the base, which can cause a grainy texture in your finished ice cream. To avoid this from happening, allow a few more minutes when mixing your ingredients to give the sugar a chance to dissolve completely.
Remember to follow the recipe exactly as it’s written – it’s been written that way for a reason. If the recipe says to pre-freeze the bowl for 8-12 hours, then don’t try to get away with freezing it for 4 or 5 – we know it’s tempting, but the colder the bowl, the quicker the ice cream is made, and the quicker it’s made, the creamier will be – so don’t try to skip steps. It’ll be worth it in the end.
It’s important not to try and re-freeze ice cream after it’s started to melt, as it can cause bacteria to build up, which, as we all know, isn’t great for us. Even if your ice cream has only melted slightly, we still don’t recommend trying to refreeze it, as it will only end up with the undesirable grainy texture we’re trying to avoid. Best to get it eaten before it melts.
Too soft or hard
When we think of the perfect ice cream, we don’t just think of the taste – we also think of the consistency; how soft, hard or creamy it is. Again, this comes down to following your chosen recipe carefully and not skipping steps. As long as you follow the recipe exactly as it’s written, you shouldn’t have any problems with it being too hard or too soft. As we’ve already mentioned, if you freeze it for too long, ice crystals will grow, causing your ice cream to go hard.
One of the main reasons why your ice cream might not be freezing properly is that you haven’t let the bowl pre-freeze for long enough. We know you’re keen to eat your delicious homemade ice cream, but if you don’t follow the steps properly, it won’t turn out as well as it could. Make sure you always pre-freeze the bowl according to the instructions and you chill the base before adding it to the bowl.
Turned icy or has crystallised
You don’t want ice crystals mixed in with your creamy home-made ice cream. Again, it comes back to following the recipe as carefully as possible. Make sure your ingredients are nicely chilled before adding them to the bowl – the cooler the better – and make sure your bowl is properly frozen so your ingredients will churn quicker, helping your ice cream to turn out soft and creamy.
You’re all set
So, now you know the basics of how to use an ice cream maker, it’s time to put it to the test. As long as you read the instructions that come with your ice cream maker and follow your chosen recipe, there’s no reason why you can’t become an ice-cream-making pro in no time.
To recap, here are the main takeaways you’ll need to remember: There’s no best or worst when it comes to ice cream makers – it’s all about which one works for you; every recipe is different, so make sure you follow the instructions carefully; make sure the bowl is properly frozen before adding the base; chill your base before adding it to the bowl; and don’t refreeze ice cream once it’s started to melt – it’s a great excuse to get it eaten and make some more.