Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker: The Bag Method

How do you make ice cream without an ice cream maker? Is it possible? We discovered one method that has worked quite well for many cooks, and we decided to try it for ourselves and report back on how well it worked.

We were admittedly skeptical; supposedly easy DIY projects like this don't always work for us. But we were rather shocked by how well it went. The resulting ice cream was creamy and soft — rather like soft-serve, but with much less air.

Read on for step-by-step instructions and an easy, quick way into delicious summer ice cream!

But first, before you read these instructions, check out our more recent (and much more highly recommended!) method for making ice cream without a machine:

How To Make Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Machine: An Easy, Foolproof Method


The Bag Method

This project calls for ice, kosher salt, quart or pint-sized Ziploc bags, and one gallon-sized Ziploc bag. We made a few additions too. We wrapped the gallon-sized Ziploc bag in a couple of plastic grocery store bags, since it had a tendency to leak. You also want a towel to hold the very cold bag as you shake the ice cream.

We really recommend doing this outside - maybe we're just sloppy, but somehow we ended up with shards of melting ice all over our kitchen floor! It's an outside activity, we think.

1. Make and chill the ice cream base - Make sure your ice cream mix is well-chilled - preferably overnight.

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2. Bag up ice cream mix, plus ice and salt - Put no more than 2 cups of the ice cream mix in a quart baggie and seal securely. Fill a gallon-sized bag halfway up with ice, then pour in about 1/2 cup kosher salt. Mix it around, then put in the quart size bag. Make sure the smaller bag is covered with ice.

3. Shake, shake, shake - Seal the larger bag securely and place it in a couple layers of plastic shopping bags. Shake or rotate the bag for at least five minutes - preferably 10.

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4. Open and check - Open carefully to avoid getting salt in the inner bag. The ice cream should be in a soft mass by now - if not, close up again, add some ice and shake some more.

We were so shocked to actually see ice cream in the little bag! Another few minutes of shaking and it would have been quite firm.

Tip: Turn the little bag inside out into a large bowl, carefully, to get all the ice cream out.

Some Favorite Ice Cream Recipes
Thomas Jefferson's Vanilla Ice Cream
Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
Grapefruit Chocolate Chunk
Coffee Chip Ice Cream

Originally posted July 12, 2007.