Top 12 Ice Cream Recipes and Ice Cream Making Tips

Homemade ice cream is delicious and easy to make with or without an ice cream maker. Ice cream makers come in a variety of styles, from inexpensive hand-cranked tubs to more expensive models with compressors. Choose the one that best fits your budget and your need for ice cream.

Choosing an Ice Cream Maker

You'll find a variety of ice cream makers to choose from, and most do the job quite well. The less expensive large quantity ice cream makers do a fine job but require several pounds of ice...MORE and rock salt for each batch. They're also bulky, so storage space might be a consideration. The smaller countertop models like the Cuisinart or La Glaciere do a good job, and you won't have the mess or expense of rock salt and ice. With these makers, you just freeze the 1- to 1 1/2-quart bowl, pour the ice cream mixture in, and turn it on. The bowl is a special canister with a liquid refrigerant sealed between the walls.

See6 Automatic Ice Cream Makers

Non-Electric Freezing

You don't want to buy an ice cream maker? Here are a few good ways to make ice cream with ice, rock salt, and no mechanical help.

  • Still freeze: Prepare an ice cream mixture, place the mixing bowl in the freezer. Take it out a few times during the freezing process and mix with a hand mixer or pulse with a food processor.
  • The rolling can method: Put your ice cream mixture in a 1-pound coffee can, seal well with top and tape, and place it in the center of a 3-pound coffee can. Layer ice and rock salt in the space between the cans. Seal the large can, place it on its side on the ground or floor, then roll back and forth with your feet for about 10 to 15 minutes. Take the small can out, wipe the rock salt and water off, then stir. Reseal the can and repeat the rock salt, ice, and rolling.
  • The plastic bag method: Similar to the rolling can method using rock salt and ice, but use a 1-pint well-sealed plastic freezer bag in a 1-gallon sealed plastic bag. Shake until frozen.

Some of the best and richest ice creams are made with eggs. If your recipe calls for uncooked eggs, consider using the equivalent amount of egg substitute or cook the eggs and milk (to at least 170° F) as in some of the recipes below. You might also find pasteurized eggs in your local market.

Ice Cream Making and Buying Tips

  • When shopping, get the ice cream last and put it away as soon as you get home.
  • To keep opened cartons of ice cream from forming ice crystals, place a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the ice cream, making it as airtight as possible. Close the carton well and return to the freezer.
  • To soften very hard ice cream, microwave on 30% power for 20 to 30 seconds. The time varies with fat content, so check after 20 seconds.
  • When making homemade ice cream in a machine using rock salt and ice, use a ratio of about 1 cup of salt to 6 cups of ice.
  • Serve ice cream from a carton in slices instead of scoops. An electric knife works well.
  • Freeze newly-made ice cream for about 4 hours before serving. This is also known as "ripening."
  • Make sure to carefully wipe the water and salt off the ice cream container lid before opening.
  • Customize your purchased ice cream. Soften the ice cream just enough to enable you to stir in chopped nuts, candy pieces, miniature marshmallows, or brownie or cookie pieces. Return to the freezer until firm.
  • 01 of 12
    Homemade Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
    Diana Rattray

    Fresh cherries and semisweet or bittersweet chocolate are featured in this creamy ice cream. If you like "Cherry Garcia" ice cream, you'll love this one. And it's homemade!

  • 02 of 12
    Chocolate Ice Cream
    Diana Rattray

    This chocolate ice cream is rich, creamy, and loaded with chocolate flavor. The ice cream is made with unsweetened cocoa in a simple cooked custard base. 

  • 03 of 12
    Homemade Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (stracciatella)
    Diana Rattray

    This ice cream is similar to the famous stracciatella gelato. The chocolate flecks are made by drizzling chocolate ganache in near the end of the freezing time. Delicioso!

  • 04 of 12
    Buttermilk Ice Cream
    Diana Rattray

    The tang of the buttermilk gives this amazing ice cream wonderful flavor. It can be made with sour cream as well.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12
    Maple Walnut Ice Cream With Maple Flakes
    Diana Rattray

    Along with the chopped walnuts, We've added some maple flakes, which gave the ice cream a little extra crunch and even more maple flavor. This is a fantastic ice cream to serve with an apple dessert, or enjoy it with a drizzling of maple syrup. 

  • 06 of 12
    Red White and Blue Ice Cream With Raspberry and Blueberry Jam
    Diana Rattray

    This ice cream is the perfect dessert for a Fourth of July cookout! Swirls of vibrant red raspberry sauce and chunky blueberry jam are frozen into a basic homemade vanilla ice cream. don't wait until July— enjoy this fabulous ice cream any time of the year!

  • 07 of 12
    Sweet Potato Ice Cream
    Diana Rattray

    Sweet potato puree turns this ice cream into Southern bliss. This creamy ice cream will impress your friends and family.

  • 08 of 12
    Blackberry Ice Cream
    Blackberry Ice Cream. Diana Rattray

    This fabulous blackberry ice cream includes some sour cream, which adds a subtle tang to the blackberry flavor. And look at the color!

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12
    Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream
    Diana Rattray

    Homemade peanut butter sauce is swirled into this awesome ice cream. It's made with a basic vanilla custard base. We're imagining chocolate sauce on this one.

  • 10 of 12
    ice cream with pecans or walnuts
    Iain Bagwell/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    The brown sugar custard base is combined with chopped pecans, but feel free to use walnuts or toasted hazelnuts in the ice cream. This brown sugar praline sauce would make the perfect topping.

  • 11 of 12
    Blueberry ice cream
    Samantha Wesselhoft Photography / Getty Images

     This is a great way to use fresh blueberries. Top this yummy ice cream with this fresh blueberry sauce.

  • 12 of 12
    Rhubarb ice cream in tub
    Lisa Barber / Getty Images

    If you're lucky enough to have a rhubarb plant in your garden, you likely have plenty of rhubarb to make this ice cream. This is an excellent way to enjoy it!