Recipes: The full scoop on no-churn ice cream

You can enjoy no-churn ice cream in flavors such as (from left) Coconut and Lime, Vanilla, Roasted Strawberry, Double Chocolate and Cookies 'N' Cream. Styling by Susan Puckett / Chris Hunt for the AJC
Caption
You can enjoy no-churn ice cream in flavors such as (from left) Coconut and Lime, Vanilla, Roasted Strawberry, Double Chocolate and Cookies 'N' Cream. Styling by Susan Puckett / Chris Hunt for the AJC

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

Before you haul out the ice cream maker, give these recipes a whirl.

A few years ago, I took the elevator down to my condo storage unit to retrieve my ancient Donvier ice cream maker from its dusty hiding place behind the Christmas ornament boxes. Company was coming for dinner, and I thought it would be fun to end the meal with ice cream I’d churned myself, rather than scooped from the predictable Häagen-Dazs carton.

I gave myself a two-day start to allow time to clear the freezer for the canister that required freezing overnight. I watched a YouTube video to refresh my memory of how to assemble it — I can never seem to snap that rubber ring that locks the parts together in place without an expletive-laced struggle.

But once I got past those hurdles, my fancy ginger-infused ice cream came together just as the recipe promised. The adulation that followed prompted me to place my ice cream maker in a visible spot on top of the washer-dryer to remind me to make another batch soon. It hasn’t budged since.

That’s because I’ve learned I can make ice cream without a churn — and the hassle that comes with it.

Recipes for no-churn ice cream have populated the internet for years. The basic formula calls for only a can of sweetened condensed milk (subbing for cooked custard), a bowl of full-fat heavy cream whipped to stiff peaks (aerating the mixture as churning does), and whatever other flavoring stirs your imagination. Scrape it into a metal loaf pan or other container, stick it in the freezer for half a day or up to several weeks, then let it soften a bit on the counter before scooping into bowls or cones. That’s it!

I remained skeptical until I tried the no-churn Coconut and Lime Ice Cream recipe while reviewing Lara Lee’s “Coconut and Sambal: Recipes From My Indonesian Kitchen” (Bloomsbury, $35). It was the perfect scoopable finish to a tropical-spiced menu — and the start of a new obsession that has turned my kitchen into a mini ice cream factory.

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Let no-churn ice cream become your obsession this summer. Starting at top center going clockwise: Double Chocolate, Cookies 'N' Cream, Roasted Strawberry, Coconut and Lime and Salted Caramel Bourbon Ice Cream (far left lower). Metal loaf pans or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids will work. Styling by Susan Puckett / Chris Hunt for the AJC
Caption
Let no-churn ice cream become your obsession this summer. Starting at top center going clockwise: Double Chocolate, Cookies 'N' Cream, Roasted Strawberry, Coconut and Lime and Salted Caramel Bourbon Ice Cream (far left lower). Metal loaf pans or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids will work. Styling by Susan Puckett / Chris Hunt for the AJC

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

My experiments using tips scrolling around the internet have taught me a few things:

— Metal loaf pans (ideally chilled first) facilitate freezing and are the perfect size and shape for easy scooping. But any plastic container with a tight-fitting lid will work.

— Full-fat, heavy whipping cream is needed to re-create the satiny mouthfeel of churned ice cream.

— A pinch of salt helps sharpen flavors.

— A splash of vanilla, vodka or other spirit reduces ice crystal formation for a smoother texture.

— Mix-ins will be better distributed if swirled in after the mixture thickens up for a few hours in the freezer.

Once you discover how easy it is to make any ice cream flavor you’re craving with a few ordinary ingredients and kitchen tools, you may bypass that freezer case at the supermarket from now on.

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Variations on the No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream recipe include (from left) Roasted Strawberry, Cookies 'N' Cream and Double Chocolate. Styling by Susan Puckett / Chris Hunt for the AJC
Caption
Variations on the No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream recipe include (from left) Roasted Strawberry, Cookies 'N' Cream and Double Chocolate. Styling by Susan Puckett / Chris Hunt for the AJC

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream (with variations)

This recipe, adapted from one from the Food Network website, is delicious as is, but it can also serve as a starting point for your own creation. Fresh or frozen, thawed berries or peaches can be chopped or pureed and folded directly into the mixture. To intensify and concentrate their flavor, try roasting them first with a little sugar, as I did with strawberries. The result was amazing.

No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream (with variations)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 cups well-chilled heavy whipping cream
  • Optional mix-ins: crushed cookies, crushed cereal, candied nuts, peanut butter, cubed cake, chocolate chips, chopped candy, diced or pureed fruit, jams or other preserves
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whip the cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.
  • Fold about 1 cup of the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture with a rubber spatula, then fold the lightened mixture into the remaining whipped cream until well-blended. (You can add any desired mix-ins at this point, or allow the mixture to set up in the freezer for a few hours before swirling them in with a spoon for better suspension.)
  • Pour into a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan (ideally chilled first) and place plastic wrap, parchment, or wax paper directly over the surface to prevent freezer burn. (Or transfer to deep plastic containers with tight lids.) Freeze for at least 5 hours, or overnight. Remove from the freezer about 10 minutes to soften before scooping. Cover and freeze leftovers and eat within 2 weeks or so. Serves 12.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 243 calories (percent of calories from fat, 63), 4 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, no fiber, 17 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 56 milligrams cholesterol, 63 milligrams sodium.
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The goodness of fresh strawberries helps transform the recipe for No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream into Roasted Strawberry. (Styling by Susan Puckett / Chris Hunt for the AJC)
Caption
The goodness of fresh strawberries helps transform the recipe for No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream into Roasted Strawberry. (Styling by Susan Puckett / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

VARIATIONS

Double-Chocolate: Follow instructions for No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream, whisking 1/3 cup cocoa powder into the sweetened condensed milk with a teaspoon of vanilla and pinch of salt. Stir in a chopped 3.5-ounce bittersweet chocolate bar (if desired) and proceed as directed.

Roasted Strawberry: Hull and halve 1 pound of fresh strawberries, spread out on a rimmed sheet pan and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Roast in a 400-degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until berries release their juices. Remove from the oven, let cool, and transfer to a food processor along with the sweetened condensed milk, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Pulse until well combined but still a little chunky. Whip the cream and proceed as directed for No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream.

Cookies ‘N’ Cream: Follow instructions for No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream, cover and freeze for about 2 hours until the consistency of soft-serve, then swirl in about 1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate sandwich cookies with a spoon. Continue to freeze, covered, for several more hours until hardened.

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No-Churn Coconut and Lime Ice Cream, adapted from a recipe in “Coconut and Sambal: Recipes From My Indonesian Kitchen” by Lara Lee (Bloomsbury, $35). (Styling by Susan Puckett / Chris Hunt for the AJC)
Caption
No-Churn Coconut and Lime Ice Cream, adapted from a recipe in “Coconut and Sambal: Recipes From My Indonesian Kitchen” by Lara Lee (Bloomsbury, $35). (Styling by Susan Puckett / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

No-Churn Coconut and Lime Ice Cream

This recipe is adapted from “Coconut and Sambal: Recipes From My Indonesian Kitchen” by Lara Lee (Bloomsbury, $35). It’s a refreshing, tropical-tasting finish to any spicy meal.

No-Churn Coconut and Lime Ice Cream
  • 5 tablespoons lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 2-3 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups well-chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened grated coconut, toasted
  • 1 whole lime, to add lime zest for serving
  • Place the lime juice and zest in a saucepan with the sugar over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, then raise the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until syrupy. Pour the syrup through a heatproof sieve set over a bowl and set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk and cooled lime syrup. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whip the cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.
  • Fold about 1 cup of the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture with a rubber spatula until combined, then fold the lightened mixture into the remaining whipped cream. Stir in the toasted coconut.
  • Pour into a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan (ideally chilled first) and place plastic wrap, parchment, or wax paper directly over the surface to prevent freezer burn. (Or transfer to deep plastic containers with tight lids.) Freeze for at least 5 hours, or overnight. Remove from the freezer about 10 minutes to soften before scooping. Finely grate a little lime zest over each serving.
  • Cover and freeze leftovers and eat within 2 weeks or so. Serves 12.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 283 calories (percent of calories from fat, 58), 4 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 19 grams total fat (13 grams saturated), 45 milligrams cholesterol, 64 milligrams sodium.
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This recipe for No-Churn Salted Caramel Bourbon Ice Cream is adapted from one popularized by Nigella Lawson. (Styling by Susan Puckett / Chris Hunt for the AJC)
Caption
This recipe for No-Churn Salted Caramel Bourbon Ice Cream is adapted from one popularized by Nigella Lawson. (Styling by Susan Puckett / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

No-Churn Salted Caramel Bourbon Ice Cream

Dulce de leche, the caramelized version of sweetened condensed milk, is the key ingredient in this sophisticated variation adapted from one popularized by Nigella Lawson. A splash of bourbon, rum, brandy or other spirit keeps it ultra-creamy.

No-Churn Salted Caramel Bourbon Ice Cream
  • 1 (13.4-ounce) can dulce de leche
  • 1 1/4 cups well-chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons soft sea salt flakes or 1/2-1 teaspoon fine sea salt (or more, to taste)
  • Up to 3 tablespoons bourbon (or other spirit)
  • Chopped, toasted pecans or other nuts for serving (optional)
  • Scrape the dulce de leche into a large mixing bowl, then add the heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Whip with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until very fluffy, about 2 minutes. Taste and add more salt if desired (the salty taste will dissipate somewhat when frozen).
  • Add a tablespoon of the bourbon, taste, and add more if desired. The more you add, the softer it will be, so don’t go overboard.
  • Fold the mixture gently with a rubber spatula a few times, then pour into two 1-pint containers or other vessel. Cover tightly and freeze for 8 hours or overnight.
  • Since the liquor prevents it from hardening, keep frozen until just before serving. Scoop into bowls and garnish with toasted nuts, if desired. Eat within 2 weeks or so. Serves 12.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per 1/2 cup serving: 570 calories (percent of calories from fat, 55), 9 grams protein, 55 grams carbohydrates, no fiber, 34 grams total fat (21 grams saturated), 112 milligrams cholesterol, 623 milligrams sodium.
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