Rediscovering & Elevating No-Churn Ice Cream (+ 5 Recipes!)

Rediscovering & Elevating No-Churn Ice Cream (+ 5 Recipes!)

Although I have an ice cream maker (somewhere), I tried out “no-churn ice cream” when it first invaded Pinterest with a vengeance.

I think my first go-round was good, but I felt obliged to use my ice cream maker since I had it. Then I lost the parts, and the bowl is a freezer tetris nightmare. But also, it’s not a compressor and requires both expensive ingredients, cooking, and a fine-mesh strainer. It is an op-er-ation.

For some reason, I decided to give no-churn ice cream another go after noticing it on some more food-oriented blogs I like. In those cases, it was not presented as a shortcut. I also tried to figure out the origins of this now-ubiquitous “so EASY!” dessert, basically to determine whether it was credible.

In my search, I noticed that both Martha Stewart and Nigella Lawson had been credited with haute versions of no-churn ice cream — from my recall, Martha’s version had coconut oil to make scooping easy. Nigella’s used liquer in a coffee-based riff, also for easy of scooping. Both additions are likely to work.

Additionally, I discovered that many food bloggers had pointed toward an ingredient in common between Indian kulfi and the no churn phenomenon — sweetened condensed milk. (This can also be used by itself, opened and de-labeled in an Instant Pot, to make caramel.) As such, no-churn ice cream may very well be the Columbusing of kulfi, which solves the whole “who invented it” conundrum.

Pinterest being Pinterest, it’s populated with colorful and sugary no-churn ice cream “flavors” appealing to the middle of the road and the middle of the country. I recently made my first-second batch, omitting the alcohol or oil and adding roughly-chopped semi-sweet chocolate for an old-fashioned vanilla chocolate chip. And as such, I resolved to make far more of this cost-effective, little fuss ice cream … and I started looking for flavors beyond “blue dyed with Chips Ahoy crumbs.”

A few things that I used in my no-churn endeavors thus far:

There are a few things that you either definitely need or ought to have to make no-churn ice cream, but most are probably hanging around your house. (Recommendations above.) They are:

♥ 2 cups of heavy cream (aka a pint);
♥ A 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk;
♥ Something to store it (I use red-top Rubbermaid containers, above, and it fits);
♥ Wax paper to prevent ice crystals (not expressly necessary);
♥ A way to whip the cream to peaks (I use a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, but any method will do);
♥ Alcohol or coconut oil (optional, to make scooping easy);
♥ Vanilla extract, selected flavors (also optional)

The Basic Technique

Before you make no-churn ice cream, you must first create the universe. Oh, wait, that’s only for apple pie a la mode.

Whip the cream to peaks (soft? hard? don’t think it matters). I add the vanilla to the cream as it whips. Fold the condensed milk in to the whipped cream, being careful not to de-aerate it. Add any ancillary ingredients, scrape into a container, and press wax paper on top to prevent ice crystals from forming. Freeze 4-6 hours for standard texture.

Fancier No-Churn Ice Cream

I really think my first foray was biased by all the super sugary, kid-centric versions on Pinterest. To be clear, there are good and grown-up versions of no-churn ice cream out there — many of which use the alcohol both to add depth and for its inability to freeze.

On my to-do list of more refined no-churn ice cream recipes, there is:

Brown Butter No-Churn Ice Cream. Courtesy Land O’ Lakes. I frequently sing the praises of it, but my husband despised the smell. Nevertheless, it makes boring vanilla just a bit tastier and is the secret ingredient in my super-easy cobbler.
Mexican Chocolate No-Churn Ice Cream. Lots of interesting spices here.
Jeni’s Style Savannah Buttermint No-Churn Ice Cream. I have yet to adapt this specific recipe for a no-churn endeavor, but I plan to. I’ve craved Jeni’s Buttermint (and White Chocolate) Ice Cream for years — odd because I’ve never tried it or any buttermint ice cream and generally dislike mint. Nevertheless, Buttermint No-Churn Ice Cream is imminent, and I’ll update.
Serious Eats’ Vanilla No-Churn Ice Cream. If Serious Eats tinkered with it, it’s likely very good.
Irish Vanilla No-Churn Ice Cream. This is more involved and just looks great.

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