Made my own ice cream today using one of the Cuisnart ice cream machines. Followed the recipe down to a T and after trying out the ice cream it had this disgusting sandy, gritty texture to it.


1½ cups whole milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch table salt
3 cups heavy cream
1½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine the milk, sugar and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.

Turn the Cuisinart® Ice Cream Maker on; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 30 to 35 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Did I do something wrong?

2 Answers 2


It sounds very much like you didn't manage to completely dissolve the sugar. It's also possible to get a bad texture from ice crystals in your ice cream, but I don't think you'd describe it as gritty or sandy, just icy.

It can be rather difficult to dissolve that much sugar in liquid, especially if it's cold straight from the fridge. You might want to try heating it gently and stirring, and being careful to go until there's no undissolved sugar hiding at the bottom. That does make the chilling take a bit longer, probably more like 4-8 hours or overnight, not just 1-2 hours. But in my experience heating to dissolve is pretty much standard in ice cream recipes, presumably because it's about the only way to do it easily.

Note that if you do heat it, using only part of the liquid (say one cup out of a total of three cups) is probably best. That way there's still plenty of liquid for it to dissolve quickly, but you aren't heating it all, so you can add in two more cups of cold liquid and cool it back off so it'll be chilled enough to freeze sooner.

  • 5
    I'm suspicious about these instructions, trying to dissolve sugar into cold milk is unlikely to work well at the quantities specified.
    – GdD
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 14:13
  • 2
    Heating to dissolve the sugar then chilling before churning would speed things up a bit and save using the limited cooling capacity of the ice cream maker. Even starting with UHT milk at room temperature would be better than fresh from the fridge.
    – Chris H
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 7:22
  • If you don't want to have to chill your base after heating the milk to dissolve your sugar, you could consider replacing the sugar with invert sugar or corn syrup, which are liquid in form.
    – Josh
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 16:47
  • Any reason to not put milk and cream together before adding the sugar? I suspect the higher liquid volume should make dissolving easier.
    – MaxD
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 15:46
  • 1
    @MaxD Temperature matters a lot more than quantity of liquid. Dissolving into cold milk/cream is difficult, whether it's 1 cup or 3 cups; heating gently will make it easy even if it's only 1 cup. I added a note to the answer.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 18:29

This sounds like the sandiness/grittiness that you sometimes find in commercially produced ice cream. Some people think it's ice crystals, but it's not because they don't melt on your tongue (If you can locate a real big particle, you can tell). Some people think it's sugar (you know, sucrose?) crystals, but they aren't sweet.

I've heard various explanations for what causes this "sandiness", like melting and re-freezing, or too long storage. Personally I don't know.

But according to University of Calif at Davis "Sandiness in Ice Cream" http://drinc.ucdavis.edu/dfoods10_new.htm '....it soon became apparent that hard, gritty particles developed in this ice cream that seemed as though there was sand in the product; thus "sandy" became the term to describe the defect. Lactose crystals were suggested as the causative agent in 1920, and definitely proven to be the cause in 1921. Since that time many investigators have contributed to our knowledge on the subject, but even today we have no adequate explanation as to why certain ice creams became sandy while others do not.'

So it's not much of an answer because I can't tell you why, but it was too long for a comment.

  • 2
    This is interesting, and maybe it could be lactose crystals, but I do think sugar is perfectly plausible given the question. The OP didn't say the grittiness wasn't sweet (and it's really hard to tell if it's mixed into sweet ice cream) and the recipe has you dissolve at room temperature, which can be pretty unreliable. And I've made ice cream with a similar ratio of ingredients in a Cuisinart ice cream maker without it being sandy.
    – Cascabel
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 6:10
  • Sorry to clarify -- I let the ice cream melt to test it out and even though the end result was liquid, it still felt like liquid with grittiness still withinit. The melted ice cream was sweet but the grittiness remained the same -- almost dry and tasteless compared to whatever melted.
    – yuritsuki
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 16:51
  • Typically lactose crystallization only happens at abnormally high concentrations of milk solids non-fat (MSNF). For instance, when you artificially raise the MSNF composition by adding powdered milk. Lactose crystallization is unlikely to happen for a standard at-home ice cream recipe like this one.
    – Josh
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 16:45

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