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How to Make Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker

Dan Roberts/Taste of HomeIce cream is one of life’s simple pleasures. Its cool, custard-like sweetness and ability to pair with practically any ingredient have made it my longstanding go-to dessert. That’s why I practically flipped when our Test Kitchen created this four-ingredient recipe for making homemade ice cream without an ice cream maker. Best part: There are no crazy tricks or pricey gadgets involved. It just takes your freezer and a few hours of time. Hello, new guilty pleasure.

Follow these simple steps to make vanilla ice cream from scratch:

You’ll Need:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 cups half-and-half cream

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Time: 3.5 hours

Step 1: Prep Your Pan

Freeze an empty freezer-safe shallow bowl or pan. We’re going to use a 13×9-inch pan, but anything stainless steel will work. Avoid glass or any material that might shatter.

Dan Roberts/Taste of Home

Step 2: Mix It Up

In a large bowl, stir all the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved.

Test Kitchen Tip: For the smoothest texture, make sure the sugar is completely dissolved before you freeze.

Dan Roberts/Taste of HomeStep 3: Freeze

Transfer your mixture into the cold pan and stick it back in the freezer, then check back in about 20-30 minutes. Once the edges start to freeze, take out the mixture and beat it using a hand mixer. (You’re fully encouraged to sing Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” at this time.) By breaking up the ice cream, you’ll help make it smooth and creamy. You cannot beat the mixture too much.

Dan Roberts/Taste of Home

Step 4: Back to the Freezer

Return the pan to the freezer. Every 30 minutes or so, take it back out and beat it again. Repeat until it’s firmly frozen, usually after four or five mixing sessions. If at any time the ice cream becomes too hard, place it in the refrigerator until it becomes soft enough to beat, and then continue the process. Once it’s completely frozen, the mixture should be smooth and creamy.

Store the ice cream in a covered freezer container until ready to serve.

Dan Roberts/Taste of Home

Now that you know the basics, try these over-the-top, better-than-store-bought ice cream upgrades:

  • Mix in chunks of your favorite candy bars.
  • Drizzle in toppings like melted caramel, dark chocolate or toffee.
  • Layer the ice cream between two cookies for the ultimate dessert. Take it to the next level with our recipe for Candy Craze Ice Cream Sandwiches.
  • Add in unexpected flavors like chocolate and sriracha or maple syrup and fig.

Have a hankering for more? Find tons of recipes in our collection of 25 Cool Ice Cream Desserts.