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The Magic Of No-Churn Ice Cream (And Why It Works)

No-Churn Ice Cream: How does it work? How can 2 ingredients lead to incredible homemade ice cream without needing an ice cream machine? Find out!
A tub of ice cream next to empty ice cream cones

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Hi Bold Bakers!

IN THIS ARTICLE: 2-Ingredient Ice Cream is one of our most popular recipes around here — and it uses no machine, no churning, and only 2 ingredients. How does it work exactly? Dee from OneSarcasticBaker.com is part of our growing Bold Baking Network and she’s here to explain the delicious science behind the best homemade ice cream recipe, ever.

I think I can speak for all of us and say that our lives had changed by 180 degrees for the best when we discovered no-churn ice cream.

The idea that we can make endless flavors and combinations of ice cream in the comfort of our kitchens and with no ice cream machine is just a baker’s dream come true.

However, now and then, I still get the imposter syndrome feeling and wonder: is it real ice cream?

Today we will take a quick dive into the makeup and science of no-churn ice cream, remove any doubts from our heads and hopefully, feel our tummies with some of it!

What Is Ice Cream?

Ice cream is a sweet frozen dessert. It comes in many flavors and, most importantly, textures. The ingredients used to make gelato differ from those used to make custard ice cream. Different components will yield different textures and flavors.

However, all ice cream is made by churning, spinning the ingredients, and incorporating air into the mixture while lowering the temperature.

Understanding the ingredients is key to understanding no-churn ice cream.

The Ingredients

Air

Air is a crucial ingredient in ice cream and many other baked goods. When we take a bite of a pound cake, it is the air that gives us a tender and pleasant feeling. Same with ice cream.

When making no-churn ice cream, we incorporate the air by whipping the heavy cream. To do that, we only need a hand or a stand mixer and to ensure our bowl and ice are as cold as possible.

Whipping cold cream for no churn ice cream

Temperature

It is unusual to list temperature as an ingredient, but there is a reason why the first step in every recipe is to set the oven’s temperature. Different chemical reactions and physical transformations occur at different temperatures, which is true when we increase and decrease the temperature. Water will freeze at 32F, 0C, turning into ice, a solid, hard-to-chew substance. 

The rest of our ingredients do not freeze so quickly. Sugar and some fat freeze at a temperature of -20F, -6C, or lower. Incorporating sugar and cream means that some ingredients will not freeze completely; if they do, they quickly melt in our mouths. So the lower the freezing temperature, the smoother and creamier the ice cream.

Fat

The fat is the reason our cream can whip and incorporate air. It also provides flavor, contributes to the creamy texture, lowers the freezing point,  and reduces the water content in the ice cream. 

Sugar

Sugar loves moisture. It dissolves in water and creates a strong bond. When sugar is dissolved in water, it is inverted sugar, and it sweetens, lowers the freezing point, provides a smooth and creamy texture, and enhances flavors.

When making no-churn ice cream, we use sweetened condensed milk (including dulce-de Leche). Sweetened condensed milk is milk in which 60% of its liquids have been evaporated and double (about) its weight in sugar is added.

The fascinating part is that when mixing it with the whipped cream, the sugar in the condensed milk will bond with the water in the heavy whipping cream. This bond, as mentioned earlier, will lower the freezing point and will contribute to the smooth and creamy texture.

Adding condensed milk to whipped cream

The Method

Most no-churn ice cream will instruct first to whip the whipped cream and then fold in the sweetened condensed milk, followed by the flavors. 

We now know the importance of air, but that will not change the fact that you will end up will ice cream even if you skip this part or whip the cream with the condensed milk. 

Just know that the volume and texture will change, and you might end with thicker ice cream.

Whipped cream and condensed milk folded together

Flavoring

Flavoring is the best part of making no-churn ice cream, and the possibilities are endless. The only question you need to ask yourself is how will it freeze, and will it lower or increase the freezing point?

Fresh fruits will freeze quickly and do not affect our ice cream’s freezing point or texture. But fruits are mostly water, so they will not keep their juicy texture so much.

Alcohol is an excellent option since it will lower the freezing point and comes in many flavors. 

Nowadays, it is widespread to find flavored sweetened condensed milk like chocolate, hazelnuts, and even pumpkin spice.

Dulce de leche is browned sweetened condensed milk, and the water content has been reduced even more so, and it is an excellent option for the caramel lovers among us. (note that it is not caramel but has a deep rich caramel-like flavor).

No Machine Ice Cream Ingredients

Balance 

Like life, balance is important. Too much-inverted sugar and you’ll need to drink your ice cream, not enough and you’ll end up with brittle popsicles instead of creamy ice cream.

I like to keep the ratio of 3:2 heavy cream to sweetened condensed milk. For example, use 1 ½ (360ml/12 fl oz) cups of heavy cream for every 1cup (240ml/8fl oz) of sweetened condensed milk. 

Now that we have taken a closer look at the makeup and the process of making no-churn ice cream, I feel confident when I say that it is undoubtedly real ice cream!

FAQ

Can I use milk instead of whipped cream?

Yes, but it will not be as creamy and rich in flavor, and closer to a popsicle.

How Can I make vegan no-churn ice cream?

Use vegan whipping cream and coconut condensed milk.

Can I make my own sweetened condensed milk?

Yes, here is the recipe for homemade sweetened condensed milk.

No churn ice cream in a bowl, frozen and scooped

Connect With Dee Everywhere

You can find Dee in all kinds of places on the internet. Give her a visit, a follow, and some online love!

The Bold Baking Network

Bigger Bolder Baking is thrilled to introduce you to the Bold Baking Network, a team of talented chefs, creators, and experts looking to teach, entertain and help you on your baking journey. Here are more articles from our amazing collaborators.

Buy Dee’s Cookbook

Baking Science Book Cover

If you’re into baking science, look no further than Dee’s brand new cookbook that’s all about the why’s and how’s of baking — it’s literally called Baking Science. You can buy it right here.

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Kristen Foster
Kristen Foster
4 months ago

I’m wanting to make maple flavored using real maple syrup is that possible or will it be adding to much liquid?

Heather
Heather
4 months ago

My ice cream came out a bit waxy with a film of cream coating my tongue. Is there a solution for this? I used condensed milk and heavy whipping cream as suggested.

Babz
Babz
4 months ago

I’ve made this no churn ice cream twice now and both times it’s been incredibly easy and delicious! It’s brilliant for adding to ice cream cones with the addition of a chocolate flake, sprinkles, chopped nuts and/or sauce of your choice. Kids love it!

terry wilson
terry wilson
4 months ago

What happening if an ice cream churn is used?

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

Weeknight Family Favorites Chapter from the Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day Cookbook