How To Make Creamy Ice Cream with Just One Ingredient!

Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

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A few years ago I shared my favorite magic trick in the kitchen: creamy ice cream made with just one ingredient. Yes, that's right: just one ingredient — and no ice cream maker needed!

What is this one magic ingredient that can be whipped into rich and silky ice cream, with no additional dairy, sweeteners, or ingredients needed whatsoever?

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The Magic of Bananas

If you guessed BANANA, congratulations! You're right! What? You didn't know that bananas can make pretty fabulous ice cream, all by themselves? Well, I didn't either until my sister mentioned that she had been freezing bananas and pureeing them into ice cream.

"That's the sort of thing you discover," she sighed, "when all your friends are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-allergic, and you're on a no-added-sugar diet."

Her discovery, it turned out, was one that has been known for a long time in health food circles (although still magically new to us). It turns out that frozen bananas are good for more than just dipping in chocolate. If you freeze a banana until solid, then whiz it up in a blender or food processor, it gets creamy and a little gooey, just like custard ice cream.

I was surprised at this bit of kitchen wizardry; I assumed that a blended banana would be flaky or icy like other frozen fruit. But no — it makes creamy, rich ice cream, thanks to its high pectin content.

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And That Was Only the Beginning.

My sister has been experimenting with adding in another ingredient or two, like a tablespoon of peanut butter and another of honey, and since we first published this most basic of recipes, I've also played around with versions of banana ice cream that include Nutella, cocoa powder, and strawberry. (My favorite, though, has a touch of sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon.)

Have You Tried It Yet?

Have you ever tried frozen-banana ice cream? Has it entered your easy dessert repertoire since we first published it a few years ago? It's an easy way to stay cool and use up overripe bananas at the same time.

In case you're new to this really marvelous treat, here are step-by-step instructions to get you in on the banana ice cream secret. Isn't it time you gave it a try?

One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream

Makes 2 servings, about 1 cup

What You Need

Ingredients
1 large ripe banana

Equipment
Knife
Cutting board
Airtight, freezer-safe container
Small food processor
Spatula

Instructions

  1. Start with ripe bananas: They should be sweet and soft.
  2. Peel the bananas and cut them into coins: It doesn't matter what shape or size the pieces are in, as long as they are chopped up into evenly-sized and somewhat small pieces.
  3. Put the bananas in an airtight container: A freezer-safe glass bowl like this one is fine, or you can use a freezer bag.
  4. Freeze the banana pieces for at least 2 hours: Freeze for at least 2 hours, but ideally overnight.
  5. Blend the frozen banana pieces in a small food processor or powerful blender: Pulse the frozen banana pieces. We've found that a small food processor or chopper works best.
  6. Keep blending — the banana will look crumbly: At first the banana pieces will look crumbled or smashed. Scrape down the food processor.
  7. Keep blending — the banana will look gooey: Then it will look gooey, like banana mush. Scrape down the food processor.
  8. Keep blending — the banana will look like oatmeal: It will get smoother but still have chunks of banana in it. Scrape down the food processor.
  9. Watch the magic happen! Suddenly, as the last bits of banana smooth out, you'll see the mixture shift from blended banana to creamy, soft-serve ice cream texture. Blend for a few more seconds to aerate the ice cream. (If adding any mix-ins, like peanut butter or chocolate chips, this is the moment to do it.)
  10. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until solid: You can eat the ice cream immediately, but it will be quite soft. You can also transfer it back into the airtight container and freeze it until solid, like traditional ice cream.

Recipe Notes

  • Food processor vs. blender: We've found that a food processor works best for this, with enough room for the banana to get fully creamy and a little bit aerated. Some people do make it in a blender, but be careful; make sure your blender is powerful enough to process the frozen bananas.
  • Making a bigger batch: Yes, you can make a bigger batch with more than one banana! Just make sure your food processor is big enough (and powerful enough).

Mix-In Ideas

While the one-ingredient aspect of this ice cream is a big part of its charm, we don't think that loses much when it becomes two or even three ingredient ice cream. Here are a few favorite mix-ins to make it even more awesome.

  • Spoonful of peanut butter
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Handful of chocolate chips
  • A few almonds
  • Dollop of Nutella
  • Scoop of cookie butter
  • Tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • Half a teaspoon of cinnamon, cardamom, or ginger

Share your favorite below, too!

Edited and updated from post originally published May 2011.

Per serving, based on 2 servings. (% daily value)
Calories
60
Fat
0.2 g (0.3%)
Saturated
0.1 g (0.4%)
Carbs
15.5 g (5.2%)
Fiber
1.8 g (7.1%)
Sugars
8.3 g
Protein
0.7 g (1.5%)
Sodium
0.7 mg (0%)

(Image credits: Leela Cyd; Faith Durand)

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