How to Make Ice Cream Without a Machine

Want to make ice cream at home with the kids, but don’t have a machine? In celebration of National Ice Cream Month, here's a fun way that kids can make the dessert with no cooking, no special equipment and very little supervision. It’s also a great way to use cooking to teach your children about STEM subjects.


  • 2 large Ziploc bags
  • 1 small Ziploc bags
  • 1 oven mitt or towel
  • measuring/weighing cups
  • spoons (for tasting)


  • 1/3 cup heavy cream*
  • ½ cup whole milk*
  • 4 teaspoons sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (or other flavor of your choice)
  • ice
  • 13.5 tablespoons salt

*You can substitute soy, almond or rice milk for a non-dairy version.  

1. Fill a large Ziploc bag to about 1/3 full of ice. Add the salt to the ice.

2. In a separate small Ziploc bag, add heavy cream, milk, sugar and vanilla extract (or other flavor). Seal well to prevent leaks.

3. Place the small bag with the ice cream ingredients inside the large bag with ice. Place the entire package into a second large Ziploc bag in case of leaking.

4. Gently mix the bag around until the ice cream becomes solid. If possible, try to do this on a cold surface so the ice doesn’t melt. You should use oven mitts, gloves or hand towels to keep your hands from getting too cold! Constant mixing is key to getting a good texture.

5. Remove the small bag with ice cream from the large bag with ice. If your ice cream isn’t solid, enough add more salt to the ice and repeat step 4. If it’s the consistency you like, scoop into a bowl and enjoy!

Amy Ettinger is the author of Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America.

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags