Bake It Up a Notch is a column by Resident Baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Each month, she'll help take our baking game to the next level, teaching us all the need-to-know tips and techniques and showing us all the mistakes we might make along the way.
As a baker, I'm not afraid to practice patience to get to the perfect end result. But here's the truth: Some shortcuts are worth shouting about, and no-churn ice cream is definitely one of them. In this month's ice cream episode of Bake it Up A Notch, I spend a lot of time chatting about this exact topic, and all the things you can do with it it. So whether you are looking for an easy summer recipe hack, or you don't have room to store an ice cream maker, nothing should stop you from making homemade ice cream this summer.
While there are many recipes for no-churn ice creams, I prefer the method that starts with a base of sweetened condensed milk + whipped heavy cream. The sweetened condensed milk pulls double duty here, serving as both a concentrated, lower moisture dairy-base and as the primary sweetener. Many homemade ice cream recipes involve heating the base on the stove, and one reason is to help the sugar dissolve. Using a base of sweetened condensed milk means truly no heat required to get started, so you can manage it on even the hottest of summer days.
Flavorings can be added to this base — some examples include things like vanilla or other extracts, spices, citrus zest or juice, coffee, chocolate or cocoa, and so on. Then, whipped cream is folded into the base. The air incorporated into the cream sort of emulates the air incorporation that would typically happen during churning. After this mixture freezes, it has a smooth, creamy texture, just like freshly churned ice cream.
Of course, the best part about no-churn ice creams is that you don't need an ice cream maker to make it. But really, there's a lot more to love:
- The base ingredients are super simple. In fact, you might even already have them on hand!
- It's fast — the base doesn't require chilling or aging after preparing like many standard ice cream recipes, so you can get from zero to cone a lot faster.
- It's ready to riff on: In my recipe for no-churn ice cream, you'll see a few ideas for other flavors, because it's so easy to get creative with no-churn recipes. Think of this recipe as a base you can tweak to your heart's content.
If you're still not convinced, let's dive into some of the ways you can flavor no-churn ice creams, and even ways you can turn them into an entirely new dessert that's meant to impress! I've pulled some of my favorite no-churn recipes for this list to show you that the possibilities are truly endless. From sundaes and floats to ice cream cakes and pies, there's plenty of no-churn ideas and recipes to keep you cool all summer long!
Best no-churn ice cream recipes
Think of this as the simplest base recipe for no-churn ice cream. Of course, it's delicious all on its own - but I love to use it to make customized floats. On Bake it Up A Notch, we made a fruit syrup using rhubarb, then added that and some seltzer to a glass, before topping it off with no churn ice cream for the creamiest, fizziest - totally homemade - float!
Don't forget to check out the variations in this recipe, which include some of my favorite no-churn flavors, and may spark some DIY ideas of your own! Swap out the sweetened condensed milk for sweetened condensed coconut milk for a super-flavorful coconut variation, or add some peppermint extract and hot fudge for a beautiful rippled ice cream twist.
If you're a fan of rolled ice cream, you can try my DIY version at home by pouring your favorite no-churn ice cream base into an even layer on a baking sheet. After it's frozen, use the flat end of a spatula or the edge of a bench knife to start to roll the ice cream. This takes a little practice, but couldn't be more fun to do for family and friends. Serve the rolls stuffed in a bowl, and prepare for "oohs" and "ahhs."
This Genius Recipe courtesy of Nigella Lawson makes this already easy recipe even easier by making it one step only. Instead of whipping the cream separately, she adds all the ingredients — including the espresso powder and liquor used to flavor it — to a single bowl. A whisk not only combines the ingredients, but incorporates the air needed to make this super smooth and creamy after freezing.
Fellow resident Carolina Gelen wants to be sure you consider the liquor cabinet when making no-churn ice cream. Since alcohol doesn't freeze, it's the perfect addition to any no-churn recipe, reducing crystallization and keeping the final product even creamier. And of course, it adds a ton of great flavor, too! I like to add coffee liqueur to this particular recipe to add another dimension of flavor.
I love Ella Quittner's tangy-creamy recipe, which adds mashed strawberries, goat cheese crumbles, and crushed cookie crumbs to the standard base recipe. This is just one example of how you can mix it up and create your own flavors. Choose a favorite flavor combo you love, like s'mores or PB+J, and no-churnify it!
I can't make any sort of ice cream list without including some pie options, and Samantha Seneviratne knows just what I'm talking about. Her hearty pecan pie recipe comes complete with a no-churn ice cream pairing, because no slice deserves to go without an a la mode moment.
Speaking of pies and ice cream, here's another way to look at this classic combo: You can take my recommendation from Bake it Up a Notch, and use your favorite no-churn flavor as a pie filling, scooping it inside a crumb crust for a sliceable summer treat!
Nothing says summer celebration like a towering ice cream cake! Yossy Arefi wants to remind you that store-bought cakes aren't the only option: you can make your own using no-churn ice cream and all your favorite toppings and accompaniments. Her cake here is the stuff of party dreams, with a chewy brownie layer providing the perfect base for two no-churn flavors.
Hello, new Genius graduate. This sweet, bright lemon ice cream comes from Dori Sanders, a now 84-year-old peach farmer, novelist, and cookbook author, and might be one of the best no-churn treats we've tried yet.
If you're looking for a simple, sweet summer treat, go ask Alice Medrich: "Somewhere between ice cream and sherbet, it's neither as creamy-rich as the first nor as icy as the latter. By using sour cream in place of a custard base, you'll get a dessert that's colder and more refreshing in your mouth than classic ice cream, with a cleaner and tangier fruit flavor."
Why just make ice cream when you can have a whole dang sundae? OK, OK — you will need your stove to make the hot fudge sauce, which is a sacrifice I'm willing to make.
Heavily inspired by Nigella's masterpiece, this recipe comes from Izy Hossack, who adds a dash of cinnamon. Again, the sauce needs a stove . . . but the ice cream is so good, it doesn't need the sauce.
What's more impressive than no-churn ice cream? A no-churn ice cream cake (duh). It's easy to make and even easier to eat. But what really impressed the community recipe testers was something else: "The part to shout from the rooftops is the use of cream cheese and crème fraîche. I think all ice cream should include cream cheese!"
This recipe has an ingredient list you can count on one hand, and one step to boot. Single-malt scotch keeps the ice cream creamy as can be, and enhances the caramelly vanilla.
For Thanksgiving. Or for when it's summer and you wish it were Thanksgiving. By ditching the usual pumpkin pie spice, you can appreciate pumpkin's squashy flavor even more.
Tortilla chip! Ice cream! Need we say more? OK, well, we will: This recipe is an excellent way to give stale, sad tortilla chips new life.
A generous pour of booze ensures that this ultra-chocolatey ice cream stays silky and scoopable. The magic chocolate shell is optional but, you know, not really.
Buttery from avocado, rich from coconut milk, sweet from mango, zingy from lime. Where the heck do we sign up?
Double the butter, double the pecans. This Big Little Recipe is just as welcome in summer as it is in fall and winter.
OK, not technically an ice cream. But no-churn, you bet. All you need is mangoes, milk, sugar, and limes. (Psst: Swap out the milk for yogurt if you want something tangy.)