When the weather gets hot-I mean fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot-there are a few surefire ways to cool off. Seek shade, drink plenty of water, and perhaps run through a neighbor’s sprinkler, to name a few. Personally, I’m a fan of this scientifically-proven method:
Step 1: Run indoors
Step 2: Open up the nearest freezer
Step 3: Stick head inside
C’mon, I know you’ve done it, too. While you’re there, why not dig into summer’s most refreshing frozen dessert, popsicles? Most of us are guilty of buying the artificially flavored, sugar-packed kind that comes in hundred-counts at the store, but I challenge you to get a little bit more creative with your cool treat. Here’s a helpful guide to get you started.
How to Make Any Flavor Popsicle With or Without a Mold
Choosing Your Ingredients
The wonderful thing about homemade popsicles is that you can use virtually any ingredient to make them. (We would know; you’ve sent us hundreds of amazing popsicle recipes!) In its most basic form, a popsicle is a frozen liquid. In short, if you can freeze it, you can make it into a popsicle-no recipe required! Equipped with this knowledge, experiment by mixing and matching flavors. We recommend starting with a liquid like juice, soda, or thickened liquids like yogurt, fruit puree or pudding as a base. Add mix-ins like small berries, cut kiwi, chocolate chips, or sprinkles for that Funfetti look.
Our Volunteer Field Editors Share Their Favorite Flavor Combinations
- Puree pineapples, strawberries, vanilla yogurt, and carrots. Picky eaters hardly notice the hidden veggies. –Christina Addison, Blanchester, OH
- Blend softened cream cheese, almond milk, strawberries, yogurt, and a little sweetener of your choice until smooth. The result? Strawberry cream cheese pops! –Lisa Allen, Joppa, AL
- Swirl together prepared chocolate pudding with butterscotch. Mix in a few toasted nuts and dark chocolate chips for added texture. –Ruth R. Hartunian-Alumbaugh, Willimantic, CT
Choose Your Mold
Have a specialty popsicle mold you got from the store? Great! You’re on your way to becoming a popsicle pro.
No kit? Don’t sweat it. It’s easy to form and freeze popsicles using everyday items for molds. Ice cube trays, small disposable cups and muffin tins lined with foil cupcake wrappers can be used in lieu of a popsicle mold. Your pop may just be a little more plump in circumference.
Simply pour the ingredients into your DIY mold, cover with aluminum foil and spear a wooden popsicle stick through the foil into the center of the mold. The foil will help the stick stay upright.
Clear some space in your freezer and place your pops inside. Depending on the temperature, it should take about 2 hours for your treats to fully set. Check to see if your pops are firm before attempting to remove them from the mold. Serve immediately or save for a hot summer day-perhaps after a filling, no-cook summer dinner?
Now that we’ve got the basics covered, follow along as Test Kitchen experts teach you how to make our favorite homemade fruit popsicle recipe. Beware: they won’t stay in the back of the freezer for long!
2 cups water
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 cups unsweetened apple juice
1 cup unsweetened pineapple or orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
12 freezer pop molds or 12 paper cups (3 ounces each) and wooden pop sticks
Step 1: Prepare ingredients
Combine the water and sugar in a large saucepan, then bring to a boil. Once the water begins to fervently bubble, reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer. Stir occasionally until the sugar is entirely dissolved. This should take 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the fruit juices of your choice.
Step 2. Pour into molds
Fill your popsicle molds or paper cups with 1/4 cup juice mixture. Then top molds with holders or, if using cups, top with foil and poke the sticks through.
Step 3: Freeze
Stick your treats in the freezer until firm. This’ll take about 2-3 hours-but many popsicle pros prefer to leave them overnight. While you’re waiting, check out some of the other foods you should be freezing.
Step 4: Enjoy
Ready to serve? Volunteer Field Editor Angela Lively clued us in on the best way to remove a popsicle from the mold. After pulling your frozen treats from the freezer, give them a quick dip in hot water. They’ll fall right out of the mold.
Pro tip: To avoid sticky fingers, skewer a cupcake liner through the end of the popsicle stick. It’ll help collect any drippings. Plus, colorful liners can help give your pops extra flair at a holiday party.
Make It Your Own
Personalize this recipe with a few of our favorite substitutions.
Make it creamy: Create a cream pop by mixing yogurt or cream with the fruit juice. Dairy-free options like almond, soy or coconut milk work well, too.
Control sweetness: Feel free to add more sugar, less sugar or no sugar at all. A sugar substitute like the honey found in our Berry White Ice Pops helps give your frozen treats natural sweetness.
Get boozy: Grown-up popsicles are our new favorite adult treat this summer. You can turn just about any cocktail into a frozen treat. Just remember that spirits like gin, vodka and whiskey don’t freeze easily–so add sparingly.