Philadelphia-Style Strawberry Ice Cream

published Jun 12, 2023
Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe

Here’s how to make creamy, Philadelphia-style (egg-free!) strawberry ice cream in the comfort of your home kitchen.

Serves4 to 6

Makesabout 5 cups

Prep15 minutes

Cook5 minutes

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strawberry ice cream in loaf pan
Credit: Kayla Hoang

This eggless, American-style (aka Philadelphia-style) strawberry ice cream made with ripe strawberries, lemon zest, and vanilla. It’s super creamy yet light, bright and refreshing, and naturally tinted a Barbie-approved pink! 

I know making strawberry ice cream can often be a daunting, icy task that delivers less-than-spectacular results, but in this recipe I’ve taken all the guesswork out by adding in every tip and trick I have to ensure the creamiest results every single time. And it’s much easier than it sounds. With just a little time, a cold freezer, a quick stint in the microwave (so long, stovetop!), and a twirl through the ice cream maker, you can make the dreamiest strawberry ice cream. 

Ingredients You Need for Strawberry Ice Cream

  • Fresh strawberries 
  • Granulated sugar
  • Lemon zest
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cornstarch
  • Heavy cream 
  • Whole milk
  • Kosher salt
Credit: Kayla Hoang

How to Make Strawberry Ice Cream

  • Macerate the strawberries with sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.
  • Blend the berries and juices until smooth, then thicken it with cornstarch quickly in the microwave.
  • Whisk together heavy cream, whole milk, and salt.
  • Combine the dairy mixture and purée to create the ice cream base and chill.
  • Churn until thick and creamy.
  • Freeze until firm and perfectly scoopable.

If You’re Making Strawberry Ice Cream, a Few Tips 

These tips are essential for making an ultra-creamy, non-icy ice cream that packs a strawberry-flavored punch. 

  • Use the best strawberries you can find. The better your strawberries, the better the flavor of your strawberry ice cream. This recipe really benefits from sourcing ripe, in-season berries.
  • Use heavy cream instead of heavy whipping cream. Heavy cream contains a bit more fat than heavy whipping cream and this extra bit of fat makes for a creamy ice cream that churns beautifully. 
  • Really incorporate the lemon zest into the sugar. Doing this permeates the sugar with lemony goodness that, in turn, brings out the flavor of the strawberries. 
  • Don’t skip out on macerating the strawberries. It’s the easiest way to intensify and bring out their flavor. It also provides extra insurance in case your berries aren’t the best.
  • Thicken the strawberry mixture with cornstarch. This is really key to keeping the strawberry ice cream from getting icy. In short, the starch granules absorb the free water in the strawberry purée, thickening it and ensuring there isn’t excess water in the base.
  • The microwave is key to thickening the strawberry purée. Thickening the purée quickly in the microwave, rather than for a longer time on the stove, allows the purée to retain most of its fresh berry flavor and yields the brightest ice cream possible. 
  • Age your ice cream base. Although more common with egg-based ice creams, allowing the base to age in the fridge for a few hours until it’s well-chilled and thickened yields a creamier result once churned. 

Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe

Here’s how to make creamy, Philadelphia-style (egg-free!) strawberry ice cream in the comfort of your home kitchen.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 5 minutes

Makes about 5 cups

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1 1/4 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1 pound

    fresh strawberries

  • 1 tablespoon

    vanilla extract

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons


  • 1 1/2 cups

    cold heavy cream

  • 2/3 cup

    cold whole milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt


  1. If your ice cream machine has a bowl that needs to be frozen before churning, put it in the freezer the night before you plan to make ice cream. (If you forget, you can make the base and refrigerate it overnight while the bowl is freezing, and churn the ice cream the next day.)

  2. Place 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar in a microwave-safe, medium bowl. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon over the sugar. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar until fragrant and well combined. Save the zested lemon for another use.

  3. Trim 1 pound fresh strawberries and cut into eighths or quarters if they’re tiny (you should have about 3 cups). Add the strawberries and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract to the lemon sugar and toss until well combined. The sugar will not be fully dissolved, look gloopy, and cling to the berries.

  4. Cover the bowl and let the berries macerate in the refrigerator until they have released some of their juices and become syrupy, about 1 hour and up to 24 hours, giving the strawberries a good stir after about 30 minutes.

  5. Scrape the strawberry mixture and juices into a blender or food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend or process until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Return the purée to the bowl. Microwave until warm to the touch, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. (Alternatively, heat on the stovetop over low heat until warm to the touch.)

  6. Add 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch and whisk until combined. Microwave until bubbling to activate the cornstarch (there will be a thin layer of foam on the surface), about 3 minutes more. (Alternatively, see Recipe Notes if heating on the stovetop.)

  7. Whisk to break up the foam. (If desired, pour through a fine-mesh strainer set over another bowl to remove the seeds.) Measure the purée: If you have more than 2 cups, save the extra to serve as a strawberry sauce. Let cool slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream, 2/3 cup cold whole milk, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl or 8-cup liquid measuring cup and whisk to combine.

  8. While whisking continuously, add the strawberry purée to the cream mixture and whisk until combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the base until very cold, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

  9. Transfer the ice cream base to the bowl of your ice cream machine. Churn until it has thickened to a soft-serve consistency. This typically takes about 20 to 30 minutes—check the instructions for your ice cream machine. Eat immediately if you prefer a soft-serve texture. Otherwise, transfer to an airtight container or loaf pan and press a sheet of parchment or wax paper directly onto the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming. Freeze until solid, at least 2 hours. If frozen overnight, let soften a few minutes on the counter before scooping.

Recipe Notes

Stovetop: The purée can be thickened in a medium saucepan over medium-low to medium heat, but note that it will take on more of a cooked strawberry flavor rather than maintaining most of its fresh flavor when done in the microwave. Follow the visual cues described in the recipe.

Storage: The ice cream can be stored in the freezer in a freezer-safe, airtight container for up to 2 weeks.