I recently made a poor-man's ice cream by making an egg custard and freezing it in the freezer in a metal bowl, stiring about every half hour. I was expecting it to freeze it 2 hours, but three hours later, it was too late, still not frozen solid and I went to bed.

The resulting ice cream was edible, but had more crystals than one might want.

What other techniques are there for freezing the ice cream short of buying an ice cream machine? Or can this recipe be improved?

This was the general recipe I was using.

  • 7
    Faster freezing == smaller crystals. So use liquid nitrogen...
    – Shog9
    Jul 16, 2010 at 20:44
  • I still think the hand crank wooden freezer from the garage sale works best...harder to come by these days though. Sep 7, 2010 at 19:10

7 Answers 7


This is what we figured out at Serious Eats: How to Make Ice Cream without an Ice Cream Maker

In sum, use more sugar, whip the cream, freeze in icecube trays and run through a Cuisinart at the end.

  • 3
    In sum, use more sugar, whip the cream, freeze in icecube trays and run through a Cuisinart at the end, thanks for the research! Jul 16, 2010 at 21:15

My cub scouts love to make camp out ice cream. You will need two cans, one significantly larger than the other both with lids (we use a #10 coffee can and a small coffee can). Make sure the small, inner can is clean and fill 2/3 of the way with an ice cream or custard mix (it will expand with churning as air is added). Place small can inside of larger can and surround with ice and a sprinkle of rock salt (or kosher salt). Roll cans back and forth for 30 minutes or so to get to soft serve consistency (more ice may need to be added half way through) you can place small can in freezer after it has reached soft serve for more solid consistency without the crystals.


Similar to the technique Janelle outlines you can do the same thing with zip-loc bags.

Fill a smaller one with the ice cream mixture and a larger one with ice and rock salt. Put the smaller inside the larger and then 'massage' the bags until ice cream is made. you can do this with your feet whilst you watch TV.


Also look at McGee.

The basic method is to put sweetened cream and milk, or any other ice cream mix, into a plastic freezer bag, and the bag into another bag containing salted ice.

Thirty minutes and a few vigorous shakes later, the mixes were firm enough to serve.


This raspberry "gelato" is excellent if you have a food processor, cream, and some frozen raspberries. You can also use other fruit.

I saw the Cub Scout method mentioned in this question written up in at least two publications this summer, so it's apparently the hot cooking trend.


If you can get hold of enough dry ice to surround a metal mixing bowl, it should be possible to make ice cream by whipping whole milk in the bowl. This wouldn't work with dry ice blocks. With chips or shavings it ought to.

  • Do not forget a bit of elbow grease!
    – Chris
    Sep 7, 2010 at 12:33

I make ice cream without a machine all the time at my restaurant. The base is 300 ml whipping cream + 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz) + whatever fruits, nuts or flavor I want.

Here is my recipe for Cherry-Lime Ice cream-

300 ml whipping cream, chilled

1 Can sweetened condensed milk

1 jar maraschino cherries, 10 oz

3 tablespoons lime juice

pinch of salt

Slice maraschino cherries into 1/4's.

Combine 1/4'd cherries, juice from the cherries, lime juice, salt & sweetened condensed milk in bowl, set aside.

Beat whipping cream to stiff peaks.

Fold cherry mixture into whipped cream.

Pour mixture into 9 x 5 loaf pan, cover with cling film & place in freezer.

It usually takes about 12 hours to freeze solid, no stirring required. This ice cream is smooth, scoop able, does not melt fast & is delicious!

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