How to Make Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker

Ice Cream Step Seven
Molly Watson

Think you need an ice cream maker to make ice cream? Not true! All you need is a freezer, a metal or ceramic bowl, and something to stir it with (a whisk or mixer is best).

  • 01 of 07

    Mix Ice Cream Base

    Ice Cream Step Two
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Make the ice cream mixture according to the recipe instructions (here we're making Buttermilk Ice Cream). If the mixture is cooked or heated at all, chilling it first will speed this process along immeasurably and result in an ice cream with a creamier texture.

    You can do this by putting the mixture in a large metal or ceramic bowl (the same one you're going to freeze it in) and setting that bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice. Stir once in awhile until mixture is cold. Note that the mixture will freeze faster in a metal bowl.

    Put the mixture in the freezer for about half an hour and up to an hour.

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  • 02 of 07

    Freeze 30 Minutes

    Ice Cream Step Three
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    After the mixture has been in the freezer for about 30 minutes, take it out of the freezer. There should be a layer of frozen ice cream along the edge of the bowl. If there isn't, return to the freezer for another 30 minutes.

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  • 03 of 07

    Whisk Ice Cream

    Ice Cream Step Four
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Whisk the frozen bits along the side of the bowl into the rest of the ice cream. Do this as quickly as possible and return the bowl to the freezer.

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  • 04 of 07

    Keep Freezing and Whisking

    Ice Cream Step Five
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Repeat this–whisking the mixture every 20 to 30 minutes it's in the freezer–until the mixture is frozen. It will slowly but surely freeze and thicken. 

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  • 05 of 07

    Freeze and Whisk Until Soft-Serve Texture

    Ice Cream Step Six
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    The mixture will eventually freeze enough to be more or less soft-serve ice cream texture. It will cling to a whisk. At this point, you may need to switch to a spoon or spatula to stir the ice cream unless you have a very strong whisk.

    The mixture is now thick enough to add chocolate chips, crushed cookies, chopped nuts, pureed fruit, or other flavor additions without them simply sinking to the bottom of the mixture again and again. Stir in any additions you want.

    Note: Adding something at this point will un-freeze the mixture slightly. This is to be expected, so don't worry about it, just know that the ice cream will need a little more time in the freezer to firm up.

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  • 06 of 07

    Continue Freezing Until Ice Cream Is Thick

    Ice Cream Step Six
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Continue freezing and stirring the ice cream–at 20 to 30-minute intervals–until the ice cream is firm and becomes difficult to stir.

    Transfer the ice cream to a container you plan to store it in (or simply cover the bowl you've frozen it in) and freeze until hard.

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  • 07 of 07

    Serve Yummy Ice Cream!

    Ice Cream Step Seven
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    If you've really let it the ice cream freeze (left it overnight in the freezer, for example), you may need to allow the ice cream to soften slightly at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. In any case, get ready to scoop and serve homemade ice cream, no ice cream maker required!