How to make homemade vanilla ice cream without special equipment? – Tricks and Tips

How to make homemade vanilla ice cream without special equipment?

For seasoned chefs and kitchen novices, cookbook author and nutritionist Robin Miller goes back to basics with great, family-friendly recipes worth making again and again.

Creamy, smooth and scented with pure vanilla, this no churn ice cream will change your life in a way only ice cream can. This recipe is sure to bring back memories of your beloved childhood scoop, with each silky spoon covering your palate and delivering nuances of sweet cream. Best of all, made with just three ingredients, this heavenly dessert is quick, easy, and doesn’t require an ice cream maker.

How, you may ask. Let’s start with a brief explanation of the two types of ice cream – Philadelphia and French. Philadelphia-style ice cream (also known as American or New York-style) is made by churning (agitating or mixing) milk, cream, and sugar. Flavors and mix-ins vary, but that’s how you make the standard base. French ice cream starts with an egg-based custard, which yields a creamier texture and yellow-tinged cream. Philadelphia ice cream is generally faster and easier to make because there is no custard to prepare.

The recipe below is reminiscent of Philadelphia-style ice cream in color and consistency, but it doesn’t require any actual churning, meaning no ice cream maker is needed.

To ensure great results, make sure you use the right three ingredients.

Use heavy cream. This recipe involves whipping heavy cream until stiff peaks form, which is a firm texture that you can’t achieve with half-and-half or milk.

Use sweetened condensed milk. This recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk instead of granulated or powdered sugar for two reasons. First, using sweetened condensed milk eliminates the possibility of grainy ice cream, which can happen with granulated sugar. Second, sweetened condensed milk adds the perfect amount of sweetness, while using powdered sugar can make your ice cream too sweet.

Use pure vanilla extract. Because there are only three ingredients in this ice cream, quality is important. For the best vanilla flavor, use pure vanilla extract.

How to make different flavors of ice cream

This vanilla ice cream is fantastic on its own, but it’s also the perfect base for other flavors. The vanilla flavor pairs well with just about any ice cream variety, so I recommend leaving it in or replacing it with other flavorings like almond extract or mint.

When it comes to add-ons, your options are endless. Choose candy, nuts, fruit, jam, Nutella, pretzels, or whatever you like.

When it comes to packing your pints, I’ve bought pint-sized containers to hold my ice cream in, but they’re not required. Any airtight container will do. But the classic paper containers make for a fun and more traditional presentation.

Recipe: No Churn Vanilla Ice Cream

Make sure your whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk are chilled before using. This way you get the most volume in your whipped cream. To make sure your whipping cream is perfect, you can also cool and whip your mixing bowl.

Makes: About 2½ pints, more with mix-ins


  • 3 cups whipping cream, chilled
  • 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, refrigerated
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Optional: Mix-ins


Place the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the sweetened condensed milk. Add the vanilla extract and mix until just blended. Do not add any additional ingredients at this time.

Transfer the mixture to a large zip-top freezer bag, squeeze out the air and seal. Place the bag in the freezer, lying flat, and freeze until firm, about three hours.

Remove the ice cream from the freezer and break it into cubes. Working in batches to avoid overfilling, transfer the chunks to the bowl of your food processor or power blender and pulse until smooth.

If adding mix-ins, fold by hand or add to food processor or blender and pulse until desired consistency is reached.

Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

How to make ice cream variations

The measurements below are for a full batch of ice cream, i.e. the amount needed if you are transforming the entire vanilla ice cream recipe above. If you want to make different flavors, adjust the dimensions accordingly. For example, if you want half vanilla ice cream and half chocolate ice cream, use half of the chocolate ice cream ingredients below to mix with half of the vanilla ice cream recipe above.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Add ½ cup plain or mini semisweet chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon peppermint extract, and 2 to 3 drops of green food coloring (food coloring is optional).

Strawberry icecream

Combine 2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the strawberries are very soft. Cool before mixing it into your ice cream, rather than mixing them completely into the ice cream. You can use any fresh or frozen fruit you like, such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, or peaches.

Chocolate icecream

Add ¾ cup sifted cocoa powder and 4 ounces melted (chilled) chocolate.

Rocky Road Ice Cream

Prepare the chocolate ice cream above and add 1 cup of mini marshmallows and ½ cup of chopped almonds or peanuts.

S’Mores ice cream

Add 10 crushed graham cracker squares, 1 chopped chocolate bar, and ½ cup marshmallow fluff.

mocha ice cream

Add ½ cup sifted cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Add ¼ cup molasses, 2 tablespoons browned butter, and ½ cup chopped pecans. To make brown butter, place 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the butter gives off a nutty smell and you see small brown bits in the pan. Place the butter in a shallow dish and let it cool before adding it to the ice cream.

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