How to make simple homemade ice cream

No ice cream maker? No problem! This simple 3-ingredient homemade ice cream base is the easiest way to make creamy ice cream that isn’t icy, and, it’s made even better with 10 favorite flavor mix-in ideas to make this recipe your own.

How to make simple homemade ice cream

Easy Homemade Ice Cream

Really good, totally indulgent, creamy ice creams can be time consuming at best (don’t forget to freeze that ice cream maker bowl first!) and temperamental at worst (why did my custard base turn into scrambled eggs?). Taking on the task of making your own homemade ice cream can sometimes be enough to throw in the towel and send you to the street corner with the kids to wait for the ice cream man to drive by.

But there’s a way to avoid all of that and still get your licks in. It only takes a hand mixer, a couple of bowls, and three ingredients to make.

Say hello to one of my favorite kitchen hacks, this recipe for homemade, no-churn ice cream.

How to make simple homemade ice cream

What Does No-Churn Mean?

No-churn ice cream means there’s no need for an ice cream machine to make creamy ice cream that’s creamy, homemade vanilla ice cream that’s ready to lick in just a few hours. Most homemade ice creams start with an egg custard base that is cooked and tended to with the same care as your first born child. This one doesn’t.

This no-churn ice cream recipe takes just 3 ingredients folded into one another to make the ice cream base.

What’s in This No-Churn Ice Cream?

Martha Stewart may be the one most popularly credited for this recipe but like many family favorites, the beauty is in how you make it your own.

The homemade ice cream ingredients needed for this recipe are simple:

  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Vanilla extract

This no-churn ice cream base is for vanilla ice cream, but there are so many ways to doctor it up to create various flavor combos. Keep reading to see my suggestions!

How to make simple homemade ice cream

How to Make Homemade Ice Cream Without a Machine

To make homemade ice cream without a machine, simply whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract.

Add flavor mix ins. At this stage, you can fold in any desired flavorings or mix-ins.

Once you’ve made your base, you’ll need containers for freezing. You can use an 8×5-inch bread loaf pan for your container (this one is cool because it has a lid) but know that a metal container will freeze the ice cream faster and better than a glass pan. If you will be making ice cream often, consider investing in an insulated ice cream tub or container, or, I like using paper containers with lids for on-the-go individual servings.

Freeze, then serve! To serve, allow the ice cream to sit for a few minutes at room temperature, wet an ice cream scoop and spoon into dishes, scoop onto cones, or eat straight from the container like I typically do.

This style of ice cream will melt a little quicker than usual custard based ice creams, but that’s okay! More incentive to lick it up fast!

How to make simple homemade ice cream

We Scream for Flavored Ice Cream

I like to make the homemade ice cream base and then let everyone’s individual taste buds take over to invent their own favorite flavor. Plus, if you’re looking to create a DIY ice cream bar that doesn’t take forever to create, this recipe will be the secret to your success.

Here are some of my favorite flavor combos that I hope will inspire you to create your own faves too:

  • Peppered Strawberry Bean: Vanilla bean, frozen strawberries, black pepper, white chocolate chips
  • Key Lime Pie: White chocolate chips, graham cracker pieces, lime juice, lime zest
  • Minty Mini-Chocolate Chip: Fresh minced mint leaves, peppermint extract, green food coloring, mini chocolate chips
  • The Islander: Toasted coconut with pineapple chunks, macadamia nuts and salted caramel
  • German Chocolate Cake: Cocoa powder, chocolate cake pieces, toasted coconut & pecans, caramel drizzle

How to make simple homemade ice cream

  • Gimme Some More S’mores: Mini marshmallows/toasted marshmallow, graham cracker crumbles, chocolate chunks
  • The Kitchen Sink: M&M’s, toasted peanuts, popcorn, pretzels and salted caramel
  • Elvis Thrust:  Peanut butter, bananas, honey (Tip: Mix the peanut butter with a little cream so it stays creamy instead of turning rock hard when it freezes.)
  • Lumberjack: Waffle cone, crumbled bacon, maple syrup
  • Cookie Monster: Chocolate chip cookie dough bits, oreo pieces, chocolate chip cookie pieces

see more: 3-Ingredient Chocolate Sauce

How to make simple homemade ice cream

Can I Make Dairy-Free No-Churn Ice Cream?

Possibly, but I’ve only made this homemade vanilla ice cream recipe as written so I can’t say for sure how to make this a dairy-free recipe.

How Long Does Homemade Ice Cream Last?

This homemade no-churn ice cream will last for months in the freezer. Keep the container tightly sealed to ward off freezer burn.

How to make simple homemade ice cream

Tips for Making No-Churn Ice Cream

Get the right ingredients. Because this homemade ice cream recipe requires so few ingredients, it’s important that you buy exactly what’s listed in the recipe card below. Don’t try to substitute lower fat or lower sugar alternatives otherwise your ice cream won’t turn out right.

If adding additional extracts — like almond or mint — to the vanilla ice cream base, be sure to add only a little bit at a time. Vanilla extract is tough to overdo, but other extracts are much more potent.

Lastly, be sure to chop up your mix-ins. Larger nuts, chocolate chips, M&M’s, and such become rock hard when frozen, so it helps if they’re chopped up first.

More Ice Cream Treats You’ll Love

  • Peach Ice Cream 
  • Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
  • Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Hazelnut and Salted Caramel Ice Cream
  • 4-Ingredient Ice Cream Pie

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a 

How to make simple homemade ice cream
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How to make simple homemade ice cream


4.66 from 215 votes

Easy No-Churn Homemade Ice Cream

This simple way to make homemade ice cream calls for just 3 ingredients plus any mix-ins you desire and is ready to eat in just a few hours.

Course Dessert

Cuisine American

Keyword ice cream

Prep Time 10 minutes

Chill Time 4 hours

Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes

Servings 10

Calories 293kcal


  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or a stand mixer to whip the cream until stiff peaks occur, be careful not to over whip. The cream will be done when you pull the beaters out and the cream stands at attention.

  • In another large bowl, whisk the vanilla into the sweetened condensed milk. Gently fold in the whipped cream with a spatula, slowly incorporating the two mixtures together so it stays light and aerated.

  • If making individual flavors, scoop the cream mixture into smaller bowls and gently fold in your desired mix-ins, or if making just one flavor, mix the ingredients directly into the cream mixture.

  • Transfer the mixture to an insulated tub or paper containers and freeze for 4-6 hours.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 293kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 79mg | Sodium: 69mg | Potassium: 183mg | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 806IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 144mg | Iron: 1mg

How to make simple homemade ice cream

More Easy Summer Desserts

  • Key Lime Pie
  • Berry Tart with Lemon Curd Mascarpone
  • Blueberry Buckle with Lemon Glaze
  • Dreamy Creamy Mango Pops
  • The BEST Peach Cobbler

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How to make ice cream at home step by step?

To make ice cream in a jar, simply add ½ cup chilled heavy cream. ¼ condensed milk tin (chilled), and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to a cold-resistant glass Mason jar. Screw the lid on tightly and shake it for 5 minutes or until the mixture doubles in size. Add mix-ins, put the lid back on, and freeze for about 3 hours.

What are the 3 main ingredients in ice cream?

After all, it's essentially composed of three basic ingredients: milk, cream, and sugar. How complex can the mixing of three ingredients really be? As it turns out, the answer is: very! Simply mixing the ingredients together, then freezing them, isn't enough to make a good ice cream.

What ingredients do we need to make ice cream?

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk..
½ cup cold milk..
1 tablespoon vanilla extract..
⅛ teaspoon salt..
1 pint heavy cream..

What are the 5 main ingredients in ice cream?

Ice cream is a colloidal emulsion made with water, ice, milk fat, milk protein, sugar and air.