This $1 Ingredient Is the Secret to Fast and Easy Homemade Ice Cream

published Aug 20, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

I don’t want you to panic, but summer is almost over: Have you made ice cream yet? If worries about time or complexity have kept you from this singular August pleasure, then dust off that ice cream maker because you’re in luck — I’ve got a secret shortcut to making homemade ice cream that you’re going to love.

Making a base liquid for your ice cream is the biggest hurdle to churning up the good stuff at home. You have to have a little know-how to warm up the milk, temper the eggs into the milk, and then chill the whole thing overnight before you can even bust out your ice cream maker. But there is a sweet grocery-store shortcut that can take you from craving to churning with a lot less fuss — and it’s cheap and comes in tons of flavors. Here’s my favorite ice cream-making secret!

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Instant Pudding Mix Makes Almost-Instant Ice Cream

Lots of ice creams are built on basic custard principles, so it seems obvious that instant pudding mix would make an (almost) instant ice cream base! Combined with a little more sugar, cream, and milk, pudding mix can be whisked up and poured directly into your ice cream maker — no chilling required.

Besides being available in over a dozen different flavors (from chocolate to pumpkin spice), instant pudding mix makes a rich ice cream with a slow melt and chewy texture (characteristics championed by artisan ice cream makers, by the way). Plus, kids can mix this up themselves and make ice cream with minimal supervision.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Here’s How to Make Easy Ice Cream with Pudding Mix

Whisk together a box of pudding mix (flavor of your choice, the almost-six-ounce box makes two quarts of ice cream) with 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Add 4 cups of whole milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream and whisk until smooth. Immediately pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions (about 25 minutes on the “gelato” setting for most machines will do it). 

Enjoy it sightly soft straight from the machine, or move it to an airtight container and freeze for at least an hour for hard-scoop. This pudding ice cream will scoop, serve, and taste like a custardy ice cream — so get your cones ready.