Ice cream recipe: How to make homemade ice cream

There are few things more refreshing than a cold ice cream on a hot summer's day, and it's even better when you make it yourself. Here's how to make easy homemade ice cream that'll keep the whole family happy.

Ice cream is remarkably delicious and refreshing, especially if you make it at home.
Ice cream is remarkably delicious and refreshing, especially if you make it at home.  © IMAGO/Shotshop

People get endlessly excited about ice cream, so much so that it has become famous for that excitement. In 1927, Howard Johnson, Billy Moll, and Robert A. King penned the novelty song Ice Cream from which the famous adage originated: "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream." That's the power of this silky substance - it was famous for being delicious even a century ago.

It's unlikely that anyone anywhere will ever have something bad to say about good ol' fashioned ice cream, even if it's not necessarily their food of choice. There's nothing worse than running out of it, though, so we thought it'd be best to provide you with an easy ice cream recipe. Ready for the scoop?

Why should you make ice cream at home?

Homemade ice cream might sound a little formidable, like something you'd do if you were rich or just had a ton of time on your hands - but it's really not. Ultimately, there isn't actually any truly "required" equipment in ice cream making. Sure, you can buy a designated ice cream maker, but if you can't afford one, then a bowl, a whisk, a spoon, and a freezer will suffice.

We wouldn't be surprised to hear you say, "But, hey, it's still time-consuming. What's the point?" and to that, we would say, "Well, don't you want an infinite supply of ice cream that has been tailor-made for your palate?" Homemade ice cream allows you to experiment and have fun with the process, leading to more interesting flavors and a world of different options.

It's worth making ice cream just for the fun, too. If you've got a weekend afternoon to spare, this is a great activity to undertake with your kids, friends, or significant other. In other words: Making ice cream is not expensive, gives you more variety, and is a lot of fun! What's not to love?

How to make ice cream: Recipe

Making ice cream isn't hard, even if you don't have an ice cream maker! It's a pretty straightforward process, to be fair: Make the cream, freeze it while churning. You don't need much equipment, and you don't need to worry about any difficult or complicated techniques or ingredients, but you do need plenty of time (you're freezing it, after all).

Here's what you need to make homemade ice cream:

  • An ice cream maker (optional)
  • Large pot
  • Measuring devices
  • Wooden spoon
  • Whisk
  • Metal bowl
  • Freezer
  • Scoops
  • Plastic heat-proof container
  • Blender

If you have an ice cream maker, you won't really need a wooden spoon or metal bowl. It would still be good to have measuring devices, though, and the freezer is of course a necessity.

Standard vanilla ice cream is, without a doubt, the best flavor.
Standard vanilla ice cream is, without a doubt, the best flavor.  © Imago/Blickwinkel

Keep in mind: We are going to start this recipe off with some basic vanilla ice cream. This is the easiest in terms of ingredients, but all the following flavors will use more or less the exact method we describe for vanilla ice cream.

Vanilla ice cream recipe | Ingredients

Vanilla ice cream is both the most simple in flavor and in ingredients. It is delicious, sweet, refreshing, and endlessly flavorful despite this fact. What's important to note, however, is that the ingredients we will list should be exactly the same, with the exception of the vanilla flavoring, for every ice cream type.

Here are the ingredients you need to make vanilla ice cream:

  • Heavy whipping cream, 3 cups
  • Half-and-half cream, 2 cups
  • White caster sugar, 1/2 cup
  • Three egg yolks
  • Two vanilla pods

On the proportions: The amounts we list here are designed to make about a tub of ice cream. If you want to increase or decrease this amount then change the quantities accordingly and proportionally.

Vanilla ice cream recipe | Instructions

The facts are simple: Vanilla ice cream is objectively the best ice cream. There is no other reality that exists on this great green globe of ours, and none that can even come close. With that in mind, don't be afraid to dive into this recipe. Sure, it's a bit daunting, but once you learn the process, it'll all be worth it!

Here's how to make homemade vanilla ice cream

Step 1: Add your egg yolks and the sugar to the pot and whisk it until it is well combined and a light yellow color. Remove this mixture from the pot.

Step 2: Heating up the pot again slowly, add the half-and-half cream, and stir constantly until it starts to simmer.

Step 3: Once the cream is simmering, add the egg and sugar mixture and continue to whisk briskly so that it melts down and combines into a custard-like consistency. Make sure that at no point does the mixture heat to more than just a light simmer. You don't want to cook the eggs.

Step 4: Pour the mixture into your plastic container. Put this into the fridge for about 3–4 hours, longer if possible (overnight would be awesome). While it's resting, prepare the vanilla following the method described in the next step.

Step 5: Take the vanilla pods and rest them on your chopping board. Make an incision along the length of each of them, and then use the flat of the knife to remove all the vanilla seeds inside.

Step 6: Once the custard has been removed from the fridge, stir in the heavy cream as well as the vanilla seeds. Now, you have your ice cream mix fully prepared.

Ice cream maker: If you own an ice cream maker, the steps from here are extremely simple. All you need to do is read the instructions on your machine and follow them as precisely as possible. Done!

Step 7: Put your mixture into a stainless steel bowl (or an oven tray/baking dish) and put it into the freezer for around 30–40 minutes, or until the edges have started to harden.

Step 8: Remove from the freezer and stir/whisk it repeatedly and vigorously. Once fully mixed, place it back into the freezer.

Step 9: Repeat this process every 20–30 minutes until it has reached the desired consistency. What you're basically doing is beating air into it (to make it fluffy) and breaking it up constantly so that it doesn't form one hard block of frozen cream.

Step 10: Serve it up in a cone or bowl with toppings of your choice!

As you can see, while the process involved in making ice cream is long and tedious, when you don't have an ice cream maker, it's not actually all that hard.

How to make different types of homemade ice cream

There are many different variations on the humble ice cream.
There are many different variations on the humble ice cream.  © Unsplash/Courtney Cook

There are many, many different kinds of ice cream, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

We are going to bring you a selection of different flavors now, but there's no way that we could actually list every single one - there are literally hundreds. Instead, use these as a guide for other flavors, and feel free to experiment!

With all of these recipes, we will provide a very basic guide to how the process will differentiate from vanilla ice cream, as described above. The instructions will be almost identical and will simply feature different ingredients.

Mango ice cream recipe

Mango ice cream is every kid's favorite go-to. It's sweet, it's fruity, it's tropical, and it's just unbelievably refreshing. Especially served in a bowl alongside some fresh mango or even some sticky rice, this is a treat to behold. Trust us, if you make mango ice cream for your family, they'll love you forever!

Mango ice cream recipe | Additional Ingredients

  • Two large mangoes
  • Heavy whipping cream, 3 cups
  • Half-and-half cream, 2 cups
  • White caster sugar, 1/2 cup
  • Three egg yolks

Mango ice cream recipe | Instructions

To make mango ice cream, simply dice up the mangoes into manageable cubes and then puree them in your blender. You then want to chuck that mango into a pot and heat it up to a light simmer - reduce it by around a quarter to a half, just to get rid of as much water as possible. Cool it down to room temperature, and then repeat the steps explained in the ice cream recipe above.

There's nothing better than a good mango ice cream, as long as you go by the golden rule: Always make a puree, never use a mango-flavored syrup!

Strawberry ice cream is sweet, fresh, fruity, and delightful.
Strawberry ice cream is sweet, fresh, fruity, and delightful.  © Unsplash/Micheile Henderson

Strawberry ice cream recipe

Strawberry ice cream would be considered one of the original ice cream flavors, and we're not complaining. When made properly (with actual strawberries instead of syrup), it is one of the best ice cream flavors around. Feel free to experiment with this one - adding mint, for example, is an absolute killer!

Strawberry ice cream recipe | Ingredients

  • Strawberries, 2–3 cups
  • Honey, 1 tbsp
  • Lemon juice, 1 tbsp
  • Heavy whipping cream, 3 cups
  • Half-and-half cream, 2 cups
  • White caster sugar, 1/2 cup
  • Three egg yolks

Strawberry ice cream recipe | Instructions

Having chopped and diced the strawberries, add them to your pot as usual, along with the honey and lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar. Cook on low heat until well-combined and a little bit caramelized. Allow it to cool, and then add the mix to your blender. You don't need to make it smooth puree this time- it's okay for it to be a bit chunky. Follow the rest of the steps as usual.

With a little bit of lemon juice, you'll add a zing to the flavor. This is super important because strawberry ice cream can easily become way too sweet.

How to make chocolate ice cream

Chocolate ice cream is one of the best flavors out there.
Chocolate ice cream is one of the best flavors out there.  © IMAGO/Zoonar

To many people, chocolate ice cream is simply the king of all ice cream. While I personally disagree (pistachio for the win!), there's no denying that this is one of those classic treats that are hard to turn down. A good scoop of choco ice cream, especially when served with a pudding or another ice cream that complements its flavor, can rarely be beaten.

Chocolate ice cream recipe | Ingredients

  • Cocoa powder, 1/2 cup
  • Chocolate bar (milk or dark, depending on preference), standard size
  • Heavy whipping cream, 3 cups
  • Half-and-half cream, 2 cups
  • White caster sugar, 1/2 cup
  • Three egg yolks

Chocolate ice cream recipe | Instructions

This one is a tad different. You want to follow our original instructions, but during the process, when you are heating up the half-and-half - as well as the egg/sugar mixture - add the chocolate and the cocoa. To make matters easier, you should break the chocolate into small pieces beforehand. Melt it all down so that it is a thick chocolate mixture. Follow all other steps the same.

Let's be real: it's unlikely anyone's going to turn down mango, strawberry, vanilla, or chocolate ice cream. If they do, though, feel free to experiment with whatever flavor you want!

Make ice cream at home this summer, it's worth it!

While a spoonful of sugar may make the medicine go down, a mouthful of ice cream literally is the medicine. We all need a nice cold snack to chow down on every now and again, especially during summer months, and ice cream will always scratch that itch. Homemade ice cream, however, guarantees that the spot will be hit whenever needed.

Making your own ice cream at home is an entertaining and fun process. It's cheaper in the long run, and it's endlessly more delicious once you get the mix right. Do you scream? Will we scream? Everyone screams for ice cream!

Cover photo: IMAGO/Shotshop

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