This ice cream reads a bit like a 1980s infomercial, doesn't it? "No ice cream maker? No problem! Just try our fancy-shmancy gimmicky gadget!" Cue jazz hands. To be honest, if I hadn't tried this one for myself – and sampled the result – I'm not sure I would believe it either.
This ice cream really is made with only two ingredients, requires no stovetop cooking, and can be made with just a hand mixer — or even, if you're very industrious, a whisk and some upper-arm strength. No ice cream machine needed. And it tastes just as decadent and silky-smooth as any ice cream I've ever tried, homemade or otherwise. This step-by-step recipe is simply your fastest, easiest-ever ticket to amazing ice cream at home.
Two Ingredients: Whipped Cream and Sweetened Condensed Milk
All you need to make this ice cream is a few cups of heavy cream and a can of sweetened condensed milk (not to be confused with evaporated milk). Whip the cream, fold it into the sweetened condensed milk, freeze for a few hours, and sweet ice cream bliss is yours. Sure, you can argue that sweetened condensed milk is itself two ingredients — milk and sugar — but if I only have to pour one thing in my bowl, then it counts as one ingredient in my kitchen.
Why This Ice Cream Works
Think of no-churn ice cream like taking a shortcut. With traditional ice cream, first you have to make a sweetened base – usually a cooked mixture of heavy cream and sugar with eggs or cornstarch to help thicken it into a rich custard – which needs to be cooled, then churned in an ice cream maker before freezing. Churning incorporates air and breaks up ice crystals as they form, making the finished ice cream creamy and smooth rather than one icy block.
With no-churn ice cream, a can of sweetened condensed milk takes the place of the base and the whipped cream brings the airy, creamy texture. Fold the two together until they're just barely combined and you get the exact flavor and texture of vanilla ice cream after freezing. It's creamy, it's scoopable, it melts on your tongue, and it's fantastic in a sundae with a cherry on top.
Making Other Flavors with No-Churn Ice Cream
Plain vanilla is fine and dandy, but by all means, let's not stop there. This no-churn method can really be adapted to just about any ice cream flavor or recipe that you've fallen in love with over the years.
Add mix-ins like nuts, fruit, caramel, or chocolate chips by layering them into the ice cream as you pour it into the freezer container. You can also flavor the ice cream itself by warming the cream and then steeping ingredients like fresh mint, coffee beans, and fresh ginger for a few minutes, or make chocolate ice cream by stirring some chopped chocolate in the warm cream until it melts. Just be sure to completely chill the cream in the fridge before whipping it.
What Will You Do with Your New Ice Cream Power?
Since stumbling across this no-churn method on Martha Stewart and then Nigella Lawson, I feel like my ice cream game has been completely revolutionized. I went from skeptic to fanatic overnight. I like that it only requires two ingredients – both of which I usually have in my kitchen – and that it's so easy that even my lazy cat could probably do it. But I really like that it doesn't require an ice cream maker. I don't have to remember to freeze the base a day ahead, or cloister the machine in the pantry to dull the noise while it churns, or even dig the machine out of whichever deep, dark cupboard I last stashed it.
Yes, this no-churn technique makes ice cream dangerously easy. Knowledge is power – use it wisely. What ice cream will you be making this week?
How To Make No-Churn Ice Cream
Makes about 1 pint
What You Need
(14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
vanilla extract, almond extract, mint extract, or other flavoring, optional
heavy cream, cold
Measuring cups and spoon
large mixing bowls
Hand mixer, stand mixer, or immersion blender
8-inch loaf pan, 8x8-inch pan, pint containers, or other freezer container
Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a large bowl.
Mix the vanilla extract, or other flavoring extract, into the condensed milk, if using. (See Recipe Notes for other flavoring ideas.)
Whip the heavy cream: Pour the heavy cream into a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Use a hand mixer, stand mixer, or immersion blender to whip the cream until it holds stiff, billowy peaks, about 3 minutes.
Lighten the condensed milk: Gently mix a scoop of the whipped cream into the condensed milk. This lightens the condensed milk and makes it easier to fold into the rest of the whipped cream.
Fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk: Transfer the rest of the whipped cream to the bowl with the condensed milk. Gently begin folding the whipped cream into the condensed milk. At first, it will look very lumpy. As you continue to fold, the mixture will smooth out and become soft and silky. Stop when you see just a few small lumps here and there — be careful not to deflate the mixture too much or over-mix.
Transfer the ice cream base to a freezer container: Use a spatula to scrape all the ice cream base into your freezer container. Smooth the top, then press a piece of wax paper against the surface to prevent ice crystals from forming.
Freeze for at least six hours, or up to 2 weeks: The ice cream will become more firm the longer you let it freeze. For best texture and flavor, eat within two weeks.
Make Flavored Ice Cream: To infuse your ice cream with flavor, warm the cream in a saucepan until you just start to see a few wisps of steam. Remove the pan from heat and add your flavoring ingredient. Let the milk infuse until it tastes good to you or until it's room temperature. Strain out the solids and refrigerate the cream until it's completely chilled again. Make the recipe as usual. Favorite flavorings: cinnamon sticks, whole vanilla beans, lavender buds, coffee beans, cacao nibs, whole spices, fresh mint
Adding a Mix-in to Your Ice Cream: Lighter mix-ins, like chopped chocolate, can be gently folded into the base before being transferred to the freezer container. For heavier mix-ins, like caramel swirls, fruit mixtures, and candied nuts, transfer half of the prepared ice cream into the freezer container, sprinkle the mix-in over top, and then top with the remaining ice cream. Use a knife to swirl the mix-in into the ice cream.