How to Make Homemade Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker

Updated: Dec. 21, 2021

No ice cream maker? No problem. Learn how to make homemade ice cream with just four ingredients and a little time.

Ice cream is one of life’s simple pleasures. Its cool, custard-like sweetness and ability to pair with practically any topping. That’s why we practically flipped when our Test Kitchen created this four-ingredient recipe for making homemade ice cream without an ice cream maker.

You may already know how to make ice cream in a bag or how to make ice cream in a coffee can. But there are no crazy tricks or pricey gadgets involved with this method. It just takes your freezer and a few hours of time. Read on to learn how to make homemade ice cream without an ice cream maker.

But first, check out some more of our other homemade ice cream recipes.

How to Make Homemade Ice Cream

This homemade ice cream recipe is courtesy of Taste of Home’s Test Kitchen. The best part is you only need four ingredients to whip it up!


  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 13×9-inch Pyrex pan
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • Hand mixer

Yield: 1-1/4 quarts


Step 1: Prep Your Pan

Freeze an empty freezer-safe shallow bowl or pan. Our Test Kitchen prefers to use a 13×9-inch Pyrex pan, but anything stainless steel works well here, too.

Step 2: Mix It Up

person stirring ingredients together in a large glass bowlTaste of Home

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.

Step 3: Freeze

person using a hand mixture that has thickened on mixture in a glass 13x9 panTaste of Home

Transfer your mixture into the cold pan and stick it back in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes. Around that time, check the ice cream. Once the edges start to freeze, take out the mixture and beat it using a hand mixer. By breaking up the ice cream, you’ll help make it smooth and creamy. You cannot beat the mixture too much.

Step 4: Back to the Freezer

Return the pan to the freezer. Every 30 minutes or so, take it back out and beat the ice cream again. Repeat until it is firmly frozen, usually around four or five mixing sessions. Once it’s frozen, the mixture should be smooth and creamy. 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.

Store the ice cream in a covered freezer container until ready to serve. That’s it! Try using it as a base for our best ice cream sundae ideas.

How to Make Homemade Ice Cream Your Own

scattered assortment of waffle cones, sprinkles and raspberries beside a pan of ice creamTaste of Home

Now that you know how to make ice cream at home, 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. Here are our favorite ice cream sandwich combos.
  • Add in unexpected flavors like chocolate and sriracha or maple syrup and fig.

Or, add some to one of these desserts that are even better with a scoop of ice cream.

How do you make ice cream smooth?

The best way to get your ice cream silky smooth is to not skip on the beating. Though you’ll have to remain vigilant for a few hours, beating the ice cream every 30 minutes, rather than 45 minutes, makes all the difference.

Can you use milk instead of heavy whipping cream?

Technically, yes, you can use regular milk instead of heavy whipping cream. But, the texture and consistency of your ice cream will definitely change. The high-fat levels of heavy whipping cream help to not only make your ice cream nice and smooth, but it also helps stabilize the texture. So, the less fat your dairy has, the less rich and creamy it will be.

Why is my homemade ice cream icy?

There are a few main reasons why your ice cream would be icy. The first is using a milk that’s low in fat. As mentioned above, fat helps ice cream stay smooth while it freezes. If there isn’t enough fat in the ice cream mixture, ice crystals will form during the freezing process, leaving you with an icy finished product.

Speaking of ice crystals, not beating your ice cream frequently and thoroughly enough can make your ice cream icy. Beating your ice cream properly will break up any ice crystals that have started to form and keep them from getting any larger.

Another reason that your ice cream could be icy is that it’s been sitting in the freezer for too long. Just think about ice cream you get from the store: after it’s been in the freezer for a few weeks, the lid and ice cream are covered in a layer of icy crystals. Prevent this from happening to your homemade batch by storing it in a shallow dish and covering the ice cream with a piece of plastic wrap. For more tips and tricks, discover our ultimate ice cream guide.

The Best Homemade Ice Cream Makers to Buy

If you’re making ice cream regularly, it’ll be worth it to pick up an ice cream maker. These machines were recommended by our Test Kitchen experts, so you know they’re worth their price tag. Here are some more ice cream products and tools you’ll want to add to your cart, too.

  • The Cuisinart ICE-70 ice cream maker comes with three pre-programmed settings that will perfectly spin ice cream, gelato and sorbet. If you prefer your ice cream a bit more solid, or softer, the spin times can be adjusted with the push of a button.
  • For those who own a KitchenAid mixer, this ice cream maker attachment is a great option. The paddle will stir the ice cream mixture to the perfect consistency while the bowl freezes it. Just double-check that you purchase the correct size for your stand mixer.
  • This Breville Smart Scoop ice cream maker makes it so easy to customize the texture and consistency of your ice cream or gelato with its twelve automatic settings. Plus, the Smart Scoop comes with a “hold” setting, which will keep the ice cream at the perfect consistency for up to three hours.
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Research contributed by Caroline Stanko, Taste of Home Associate Digital Editor and Peggy Woodward, RDN, Taste of Home Food Editor.