How to make vanilla ice cream without any special equipment

For seasoned chefs and newbies in the kitchen, cookbook author and nutrition expert Robin Miller takes it back to basics with great, family-friendly recipes that are worth preparing again and again.

Creamy, smooth and scented with pure vanilla, this uncured ice cream will change your life in a way that only ice cream can. This recipe will surely evoke memories of your beloved childhood scoop, each silky spoon covering your taste and offering the nuances of sweet cream. Best of all, made with just three ingredients, this sweet dessert is quick and easy and doesn’t require an ice cream maker.

How might you ask. Well, let’s start with a quick explanation of the two types of ice cream – Philadelphia and French. Philadelphia style ice cream (also known as American style or New York style) is made by mixing (stirring or mixing) milk, cream, and sugar. Flavors and blends vary, but that’s how the standard base is made. French ice cream starts with an egg custard, which yields a creamy texture and a yellowish-brown cream. Philadelphia ice cream is usually quicker and easier to make because there is no custard to prepare.

The recipe below is reminiscent of Philadelphia-style ice cream in color and texture, but no actual stirring is required, which means no ice cream maker is required.

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

Use heavy cream. This recipe involves whisking 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, the use of sweetened condensed milk eliminates the possibility of granulated 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 extra sweet.

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

How to make different flavors of ice cream

Vanilla ice cream is great on its own, but it also makes the perfect base for other flavors. The taste of vanilla pairs well with almost every type of ice cream, so I suggest you leave it out or replace it with other flavors like almond extract or mint.

When it comes to add-ons, your options are endless. Choose candy, nuts, fruits, jam, Nutella, pastries or whatever else you want.

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

The Recipe: Uncooked Vanilla Ice Cream

Make sure the heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk have cooled down before use. This ensures that you get the most volume in the whipped cream. To make sure the cream whips perfectly, you can also refrigerate the mixing bowl and whisk.

Make: About 2½ pints, more with mixes


  • 3 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk, cooled
  • 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 mixer on medium speed, gradually add sweetened condensed milk. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined. Do not add additional ingredients at this point.

Transfer mixture to a large zip-top freezer bag, squeeze and seal. Put the bag in the freezer, and put it in the refrigerator for about three hours to firm up.

Remove the ice cream from the freezer and break it into pieces. Working in batches to prevent overfilling, transfer the pieces to the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender and blend until smooth.

If adding mixtures, fold by hand or add to a food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency.

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

How to make different shapes of ice cream

The measurements below are for a full batch of ice cream, which means the amount needed if you’re converting the entire vanilla ice cream recipe above. If you want to make various flavors, adjust the measurements 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 half of the vanilla ice cream recipe above.

Chocolate mint ice cream

Add 1/2 cup of regular or mini chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract and 2 to 3 drops of green food coloring (food colors are optional).

strawberry ice cream

Combine 2 cups of fresh or frozen strawberries with 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar in a small saucepan and set the skillet over medium heat. Cook until the strawberries are very soft. Cool before mixing with ice cream, rather than completely mixing with ice cream. You can use any fresh or frozen fruit you like, including blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, or peaches.

Chocolate ice cream

Add 1/2 cup of sifted cocoa powder and 4 ounces of melted (cooled) chocolate.

Rocky Road Ice Cream

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

S’mores Ice Cream

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

mocha ice cream

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

Pecan Butter Ice Cream

Add ½ cup molasses, 2 tablespoons of browned butter, and ½ cup chopped pecans. To prepare the brown butter, put 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan and set the skillet over medium heat. Cook until the butter smells nutty and you will see little brown bits in the pan. Transfer the butter to a shallow dish and let it cool before adding it to the ice cream.

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