How to Make Ice Cream in an Ice Cream Machine

  • 01 of 09

    Homemade Ice Cream

    how to make ice cream

    You can enjoy homemade ice cream quickly and easily with an automatic ice cream maker. This tutorial demonstrates how to make vanilla ice cream with a custard base —it uses eggs and is cooked to thicken the mixture.

    Once you master this technique, you can try other flavors. Explore the list of interesting ice cream flavors for ideas or check out the recipes below.

    Ice Cream Makers

    Many ice cream machines come with a freezer bowl and a paddle that operated by an electric motor.

    Other models to look...MORE for that have a similar design include these you can purchase on

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  • 02 of 09

    Assemble Your Ingredients

    How to make ice cream 1
    Jessica Harlan

    Before you begin, make sure that your freezer bowl is completely frozen. It's a good idea to put it in the freezer a full 24 hours before you plan to make the ice cream. Some people even store their freezer bowl in the freezer so that it's always ready to go when you're craving ice cream. Also, allow enough time for the custard to chill before you plan to make the ice cream, which could take several hours.

    First, assemble the ingredients for this basic vanilla custard recipe.

    Equipment...MORE You'll Need: mixing bowl, whisk, measuring cups, measuring spoons, liquid measuring cup, saucepan, colander, spoon, automatic ice cream maker, freezer-safe container.

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  • 03 of 09

    Make the Custard Base

    Homemade Ice Cream 2
    Jessica Harlan

    Break the eggs into a medium mixing bowl and whisk in the sugar and the pinch of salt. Continue whisking until it is frothy and lemony yellow.

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  • 04 of 09

    Cook and Temper the Custard

    Homemade ice cream 3
    Jessica Harlan

    In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the milk and cream over medium heat until it just starts to simmer.

    Gradually add the milk, a little at a time, to the eggs in the bowl, whisking constantly. A tip is to put the mixing bowl on a dish towel to hold it in place while you whisk.

    This process is called tempering. By adding the hot milk to the cooler eggs gradually, it prevents the eggs from getting scrambled.

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  • 05 of 09

    Cook the Custard

    Homemade Ice Cream 4
    Jessica Harlan

    When all the milk has been added, pour the milk-egg mixture back into the pan and cook it over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

    When you run your finger across the back of the spoon, the uncovered stripe will remain. This will take about 5 to 8 minutes.

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  • 06 of 09

    Strain and Cool the Custard

    Homemade Ice Cream 5
    Jessica Harlan

    Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a fine mesh colander into a bowl to remove any scrambled egg bits. This part is optional if you're in a hurry and don't see a lot of little particles in your mixture, but it does make a smoother ice cream.

    Cool the mixture slightly, then stir in the cream and vanilla.

    Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, several hours or overnight.

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  • 07 of 09

    Freeze the Ice Cream

    Homemade Ice Cream 6
    Jessica Harlan

    When you're ready to make your ice cream, remove the freezer bowl from the freezer and assemble your machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Turn the machine on first, then pour in the ice cream base.

    If you're using an ice cream maker that uses ice and rock salt, such as the Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Ice Cream Maker, follow the manufacturer's instructions to layer ice and salt in the barrel.

    Then add your chilled custard to the canister, attach the dasher, and turn it...MORE on (or, if you're using one that is hand-crank, start cranking!).

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  • 08 of 09

    Monitor the Ice Cream's Progress

    Homemade Ice Cream 7.5
    Jessica Harlan

    As your ice cream maker churns the custard, you'll gradually see it thickening. The custard that's in contact with the sides of the bowl freezes, while the paddle continuously scrapes it back into the middle.

    Depending on your machine and how chilled the custard was, to begin with, the ice cream should take 15 to 20 minutes to thicken up. Start checking it after 10 to 12 minutes.

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  • 09 of 09

    Checking Ice Cream for Firmness

    Homemade Ice Cream 8
    Jessica Harlan

    When it's finished, the ice cream should hold its shape when scooped with a spoon, but you can freeze it to the firmness you want.

    Adding Mix-Ins to Your Ice Cream

    If you want to add ingredients such as nuts, fruit, or candy bits, add them after about 12 to 15 minutes when the ice cream is starting to solidify, but before it gets to your desired consistency. Your mix-in pieces should not be larger than the size of a chocolate chip.

    Enjoying Your Ice Cream

    When the ice cream is done, use a rubber...MORE spatula to immediately scoop it out of the freezer bowl—if you wait too long it'll freeze to the sides.

    Transfer it to a freezer-safe container and put it in the freezer or serve yourself a scoop or two!

    By the way, many homemade ice creams get very hard when they're frozen for any length of time. This is because most recipes don't contain the ingredients that are in commercial ice creams to prevent them from becoming rock-hard. If you are making your ice cream to serve at a later time, take it out of the freezer about 15 to 20 minutes before you plan to serve it so that it'll be scoopable.