How To Make Creamy Ice Cream with Just One Ingredient

updated Nov 14, 2023
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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? That ingredient is banana; whiz solid frozen bananas up in a blender or food processor and it becomes creamy and a little gooey, just like custard ice cream.

Credit: Leela Cyd

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 puréeing them into ice cream.

Credit: Leela Cyd

“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.

Credit: Leela Cyd

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

Prep time 2 hours

Makes about 1 cup

Serves 2

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    large ripe banana


  • Knife

  • Cutting board

  • Airtight, freezer-safe container

  • Small food processor

  • Spatula


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  1. Start with a ripe banana. Make sure the banana is ripe, it should be sweet and soft.

  2. Peel the banana and chop. Peel the banana and chop into somewhat small pieces. It doesn't matter what shape or size the pieces are in, as long as they are evenly sized.

  3. Put the bananas in an airtight container. Place in a freezer-safe glass bowl or freezer bag.

  4. Freeze the banana pieces for at least 2 hours. Freeze until solid, at least 2 hours but ideally overnight.

  5. Pulse the frozen banana pieces in a small food processor or powerful blender. Transfer the frozen banana pieces into a small food processor or high-speed blender. (We've found that a small food processor or chopper works best.) Pulse to break up.

  6. Keep pulsing — the banana will look crumbly. Keep pulsing. At first the banana pieces will look crumbled or smashed. Scrape down the food processor.

  7. Keep blending — the banana will look gooey. Switch to blending. t will look gooey, like banana mush. Scrape down the food processor.

  8. Keep blending — the banana will look like oatmeal. Keep blending. 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