How to Make Ice Cream

By TBSP Angela
Created March 10, 2017
Tired of paying the high price of store-bought ice cream? Here are some tips on how to make your own in the comfort of your own home. MORE+ LESS-

I remember as a child, my dad would haul out a huge old-timey wash tub along with a large bag of rock salt to make our favorite family treat, homemade ice cream. The process was slow, messy and sooooo loooong! It would take several hours before any ice cream was actually seen, much less eaten. Drove a kid crazy!

Things sure changed since then. Now instead of using large tubs filled with rock salt and needing to wait several hours, you’ve got options for making ice cream in as little as 20 minutes.

Some Basics

Before we dive into gadgets and the method of making ice cream, let’s cover ingredients first.

What is ice cream? Pretty simple – iced cream. At the most basic level, you really only need two ingredients – cream and sugar – to make ice cream. Mix them up, freeze it and you’ve made some pretty bland ice cream. Most recipes add in flavoring like vanilla or chocolate to make the ice cream a bit more interesting. Getting the ingredients to freeze and creating the perfect texture is the tricky part. That’s where ice cream makers come into play.

Ice Cream Makers

If you are into gadgets, there are a plethora of options out there. Basic ice cream makers run about $50 and typically involve pre-freezing an insulated bowl. Add in ingredients like cream, sugar and flavoring, and the machine will slowly mix the ingredients until the mixture has the consistency of ice cream. These smaller units typically only make 1-2 quarts, so if you’re planning on feeding more than a few people this may not be a good option.

To feed larger groups, you can invest in an old school tub that uses ice and rock salt to freeze the ingredients. These typically make 4-6 quarts and are still relatively inexpensive.

For a fully automatic ice cream maker, plan to spend about $200 or more. These automated devices have a built in compressor to freeze the ingredients without the need to pre-freeze a mixing bowl. Some of these devices also allow for continuous batches of ice cream so it’s a bit less work.

If you want to go a bit lower tech, you have a few options. One easy way to make ice cream is using ice, salt and bags to freeze the cream and sugar mixture. For more details, see how to make ice cream in a bag.

For a fun winter activity (assuming you have access to snow), there’s a great alternative to using an ice cream maker. You can get some heavy whipping cream, sugar, vanilla and start mixing in snow to make great tasting ice cream. You can easily scale up the quantity you make, just make sure you have some nice fluffy clean snow.


Old standbys for ice cream toppings are standbys for a reason – they taste great. Chocolate syrup, crushed peanuts and whipped cream is a great combo. If you are more into fruit toppings, use pie fillings for an easy fix. Strawberry, apple or blueberry taste great on top of ice cream. Crushed candies such as Butterfinger, Heath bars or M&Ms are also delicious options.

Cereal can also be either a great topping or added flavor; Boo Berry “Cereal Milk” Ice Cream and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Ice Cream are great examples of this.

For something surprising, try crushing pretzels and adding them to the top, followed by a drizzle of hot fudge and caramel. Top it off with some whipped cream and you’ve got the ultimate sweet and salty dessert.

Another easy option is to make an upside down cone. Add ice cream to your bowl, top with your favorite items and then crush an ice cream cone up and sprinkle over the top. You’ve got the great taste of an ice cream cone without all the mess.

Sweet Treats

If you're looking for more sweet, frosty treats, you'll find some great frozen dessert ideas in this Frozen Dessert Collection on Tablespoon!

Have a favorite ice cream flavor or topping? Share it!