Homemade Ice Cream: Getting Started Guide


Geeking out on Homemade Ice Cream!

Last Christmas I decided to spend some of my gift cards on an ice cream machine. This is an idea that had been bouncing around my head for a while, but I finally justified it by telling myself I could make more healthful ice cream and frozen desserts by controlling the ingredients. And for several months now, I have been doing just that, and having a blast!

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Raspberry Truffle

Decadent Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Raspberry Truffles

Having my own ice cream machine has completely ruined store-bought ice cream for me, and it also relieved the stress of always worrying about the ice cream melting for my 30 minute drive home from the grocery store. I’m so ice cream obsessed that I had to start a Facebook group for other ice cream obsessed folks. Join us at The Scoop on Homemade Ice Cream for recipes, tips, and lots and lots of photos of ice creams and other frozen goodies.

Most of my ice cream starts with one of the Ben & Jerry bases, but with a few of my own twists. I almost always replace some of the sugar with a sugar substitute such as stevia to reduce the calories, and I have experimented with several non-dairy frozen desserts and sorbets. One of the things I love about ice cream is that it is very hard to screw up! It’s so much more fun and easier to experiment with than baking. My worst homemade ice cream has always been better than the store bought stuff, and when we have a batch that doesn’t quite work, I can always transform it into a yummy smoothie.

Mocha Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mocha Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, a favorite of the Geek in the Forest household.

So if you are ready to get started making your own ice cream at home, there are a few things you will need. Obviously, not all of these items are essential, but these are some of the accessories that I find most useful after six months of making ice cream at home.

Ice Cream Machine: Cuisinart ICE-21 Ice Cream Machine

While you can make ice cream at home without a machine, having a machine will give you a better finished product and save you the trouble of having to remember to stir your ice cream frequently as it firms up. Cuisinart makes an affordable ice cream machine which is very popular and easy to use. This is the machine I use. It consists of four parts and a single on/off switch–motorized base, freezer bowl, paddle, and cover. You keep the freezer bowl in your freezer until you are ready to make ice cream, and then the machine can be set up in a matter of seconds. A batch of ice cream takes about 15-25 minutes to churn, and clean up is fairly easy. If you’re frugal, I’ve heard you can often find ice cream makers like this one in second-hand stores for around $10! Perhaps they have been donated by other ice cream addicts who have moved up to a fancier model.

Scraper and Spatula: Joseph Joseph Uni-tool, 5-In-1 Utensil

You will need a sturdy wooden or plastic spatula to scrape the ice cream off the side of the freezer bowl when it is done. The best spatula I have found is the Joseph Joseph Uni-tool, 5-In-1 Utensil. It fits the edge of the freezer bowl perfectly and it doesn’t bend as you are digging into that creamy goodness. I use the large spatula to scrape out the bowl and a smaller rubber spatula to scrape the ice cream from the spatula into my storage tub, and also to scrape everything from between the blades of the paddle.

Storage Tubs: Tovolo Glide-A-Scoop Ice Cream Tub

After breaking several thin plastic storage tubs, I knew I needed something more durable. These Tovolo tubs were designed especially for ice cream, and while they are not perfect, I have not seen anything to beat them. The shape is perfect for scooping and I love how they fit in my freezer. I just wish they sealed a bit better and pulled apart easier for cleaning. Even so, I don’t get ice crystals on my ice cream since using these tubs and I no longer have to lay wax paper over the top of the ice cream.

Scoop: Zeroll Anodized Ice Cream Scoop, 3 Ounce

Homemade ice cream freezes harder than most store-bought which is often as much as 50% air. These Zeroll scoops are the best of the best. They are very well-made and will last for generations as long as you don’t make the mistake of putting it in the dishwasher. Give it a few shakes and then watch it cut through your ice cream like butter. I went with the 3 oz. (blue) size, but if you prefer a daintier scoop, the 2.5 or 2 oz. size is also good for home scooping.

Fun Bowls or Cups

Since you’ll be enjoying delectable frozen treats at home, you’ll likely want to enjoy it in something special. So keep your eyes peeled for some bowls you love. Shop yard sales and second hand stores for something uniquely your own. My favorite ice cream “bowls” are a pair of double-walled tumbler glasses I found on clearance at Teavana. The double-walled insulation keeps my hands from getting cold and prevents my ice cream from melting so fast.

I also think these are adorable!


The web is filled with recipes galore, so you don’t really need a book, but I have found the recipes from Ben & Jerry’s book to be easy and about as close to perfection as you can get. Besides, it’s super cheap for Kindle and makes it easy to look things up on my iPad. Caveat: These recipes call for raw eggs. If that gives you the heebie-jeebies, you can find instructions online for cooking the eggs.

The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz is my second favorite recipe book and it’s a good one to have if you think you’ll want to make sorbets, granitas, sauces, and more.

You can find all the items mentioned in this article on Amazon.

So now, that you are all decked out, don’t forget to join us on Facebook at The Scoop On Homemade Ice Cream, and check back for more of my own recipes and tips!

Related: Moroccan Mango Mojito Sorbet – A Refreshing Summer Treat


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