This helpful guide includes ice cream accessories, tools, equipment, and recipes for making ice cream at home. It's the perfect list for every ice cream lover's kitchen.
Summer is coming, and with summer inevitably comes ice cream! Around here, we get pretty serious about our ice cream.
Not only is it a family tradition that goes way back, but there is no better way to provide the cold, refreshing treat that we so crave during the stifling dog days of summer than by making old-fashioned homemade ice cream.
This is a great way to get the kids into the kitchen; homemade ice cream can make memories that they will remember their entire lives… Speaking from experience. Who knew that making ice cream could be so much fun?
So here you go. This is my extensive guide that covers my top 10 essential ice cream tools and equipment. Whether you're looking to improve your own experience, or you're making a large batch for a church potluck or ice cream social, I hope you can put this guide to good use.
So what are the best tools for making ice cream at home? Do you need a special machine to make ice cream? Keep reading to find out!
1. Ice Cream Maker
Although you can mix up your ice cream with just a large mixing bowl and whisk, you will need some sort of machine to churn it. Here are a few options…
Automatic Compressor Ice Cream Maker
If you want a dump-and-go, high-quality experience, then this ice cream maker is for you. This compressor ice cream maker is prized for its ease of use and silky smooth ice cream; it's about as automatic as it gets.
One of the most popular models is the Breville Smart Scoop ice cream maker.
- Not only does this machine feature 12 consistency settings, but it's also possible to make sorbet, frozen yogurt, and gelato in addition to ice cream.
- It has a pre-chill function.
- It can cool your ice cream for up to 3 hours.
That said, there's still a catch. This machine is not at all budget-friendly, and it's fairly small at a 1.1 quarts capacity; however, many die-hard fans would argue that it is well worth its weight in just the savings in time alone. It's fully automatic, no hassle involved.
Freezer Bowl Ice Cream Maker
If you're looking for an easy going ice cream maker that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, you may just consider buying this Cuisinart Cool Creations ice cream maker. It's mostly automatic, and all it requires is a working freezer!
Making ice cream with a freezer bowl ice cream maker is super easy. Simply pre-chill the double-walled freezer bowl in the deep freeze for at least 6 hours; then pour your ice cream mixture into the bowl, churning it with a paddle until the desired consistency is reached.
KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment
The KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment for the stand mixer uses a 2 quart freezer bowl that works in much the same manner as the freezer bowl ice cream maker mentioned above.
It's recommended that you place the bowl in the deepest, coldest part of your deep freeze for at least 15 hours. After this, simply fill the frozen bowl with your ice cream mixture and let it churn on the stand mixer until a desired consistency is reached.
The advantage to this method is that, provided you already own a KitchenAid stand mixer, a stand-alone ice cream maker isn't needed. So, this attachment exhibits a much smaller footprint as compared to any other ice cream maker on the list.
However, one disadvantage is that it won't keep the ice cream cold, so it's important to get your finished ice cream into the freezer as soon as possible in order to prevent melting.
Chef'n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Maker
The Chef'n Sweet Spot ice cream maker is, by far, the best ice cream maker for kids. It's SO easy, and it takes practically no time at all!
Again, this product features a small freezer bowl that is stored in the deep freeze for roughly 24 hours, and it's designed to make roughly 1-2 servings for the average consumer. Once the bowl is frozen, pour your chilled ice cream mixture into the bowl, scooping and turning the mixture on the fast-freezing pan surface until a desired consistency is reached.
With this ice cream maker, it's also possible to make rolled ice cream. Simply use a soft scraper to roll the ice cream into your desired shapes. It's a fun, unique method of making ice cream that your guests will love!
Old-Fashioned Hand-Crank Ice Cream Maker
Who needs a gym when you can buy this blast from the past? Make your ice cream like Grandpa made it– with lots of elbow grease and dedication. For me, it's really nostalgic.
I've always thought it would be fun to find an antique hand-crank ice cream maker, but you may check out this Immergood stainless steel ice cream maker with triple layer, leak-free construction. No, it's not cheap provided its fairly limited capabilities, but if well-cared for, it will very likely outlast you and everyone you know!
I can see a hand-crank ice cream maker as really standing out in a party setting. What if everybody at the event took turns cranking the ice cream churner? Yeah? No? It could definitely be a fun, memory-making experience for all involved.
Old-Fashioned Electric Ice Cream Maker
This old-fashioned Nostalgia electric bucket ice cream maker is actually quite similar to our own machine! It features an easy-to-carry handle for fast transport, and it can make up to 4 quarts of ice cream in one batch. That's plenty for the average family.
I may be set in my ways, but this is, by far, my preferred ice cream maker; I've actually written quite extensively on old-fashioned ice cream makers. If this at all interests you, check out my Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Maker Guide.
While it's not the most sophisticated and maybe not the easiest ice cream maker to use, I prefer and embrace the dependable simplicity of this design.
2. Ice Cream Scoop
There are so many ice cream scoops on the market that sometimes it can be hard to choose. Most people have no knowledge of the different types and styles of scoops, all of which serve a unique purpose.
- For example, If ice cream has at all melted, it can form a very hard, icy crust on the surface when refrozen. It's in this situation that I prefer this OXO Good Grips ice cream spade, which, as the name implies, can effectively dig right through that crusty surface.
- Better yet, if you really want to get fancy, check out this cool ice cream shovel and spade kit. These tools feature unique wooden handles for added comfort and aesthetic.
- Once you break through that crust and gain access to the softer ice cream below, you can use something like this heavy duty heavy duty ice cream scoop to form those perfectly rounded scoops that most people desire.
- Similar to the heavy duty ice cream scoop listed above, you might also like this Spring Chef ice cream scoop due to its more comfortable rubber handle for better grip and performance.
- Last but not least, I really love this Oneida stainless steel ice cream scoop for its speedy, trigger-release design. This sort of ice cream scoop may not be quite as durable as some of its above-mentioned counterparts, but with proper care it can really speed things up. In fact, this scoop really stands out at an ice cream social, allowing its user to work much faster and far more efficiently.
Again, it's entirely up to you and/or the party theme. That said, for special occasions, you may desire something a bit more decorative…
- I really love this insulated ice cream bowl. This nifty bowl is double-walled with an insulated, freezable gel in between; once frozen, it's crazy effective at preventing the dreaded ice cream melt! It allows you to take your time eating – there's no need to rush!
- Porcelain ice cream bowls, as found in this colorful decorative porcelain bowl set, are refined and hardened at very high temperatures, resulting in a very strong serving dish that doesn't absorb odors.
- Then there's ceramic bowls, like this cheerful tulip-shaped ceramic bowl set. Although ceramic bowls are not as durable as porcelain, they are much stronger than glass, and they often cost less.
- Of course, all bowls are breakable when kids are present. In this situation, it's hard to beat this set of ice cream cone bowls with spoons. I know my Zeke would love these!
- Many people prefer a custard cup for their ice cream. I think these ramekin custard cups would work very well in a party setting!
- For an ice cream parlor look, check out these glass tulip sundae cups, or even these ceramic tulip sundae cups.
- Last but not least, I LOVE these cool ice cream cone cups. Wouldn't they just be perfect for an ice cream social or get-together?
4. Storage Containers and Tubs
The most important rule in preserving ice cream is that you should never let it melt. Pull it out for only as long as it takes to scoop out your serving, and quickly place it back into the deep freeze.
Freshly-churned ice cream should be placed in the freezer as soon as possible; it will melt with any sudden increase in temperature.
It's also essential that you store it in an airtight container. Plastic is preferable, as it freezes faster than any other material.
- I'm a big fan of these small, rectangular ice cream storage tubs. Their size and shape can easily fit into most freezer spaces. I also like these little personal-sized mini ice cream storage tubs for smaller batches.
- These airtight, 1-gallon storage tubs work great for larger batches of ice cream. They also happen to have plastic handles for easy transfer!
- All that said, you can use any airtight food storage container, glass or plastic. Don't think you have to go out and buy something special if you already have a food-grade container on hand. In fact, we like to wash and reuse old tubs that we save back from the occasional splurge on store-bought ice cream!
Unfortunately, it's not possible to use a regular waffle maker to make ice cream cones. The grid-pattern holes are simply too deep, and it would be next to impossible to roll up the cones as is necessary.
With the right machine, they're easy to make, and they don't take long at all. This is a great, fun way to get the kids into the kitchen, with supervision of course. Those waffle makers get hot!
- For a budget-friendly option, check out this MasterChef ice cream cone maker. It comes with both a cone and bowl shaper, and it features 100% nonstick heating plates for easy cleanup. This ice cream cone maker would make great summer entertainment, parties, and even gift giving!
- Then there's the CucinaPro ice cream cone maker. Like the MasterChef, this one comes with both a cone and a bowl shaper. It can cook an ice cream cone in under 2 minutes, and, like the MasterChef, it features nonstick heating plates. Did I mention that it's cheap?
- The VEVOR ice cream cone maker is a real step-up from either aforementioned models. This restaurant model is constructed of durable stainless steel, and it has adjustable time and temperature control. Again, it features nonstick heating plates for easy cleanup. This one would be perfect for an ice cream social or party!
- This simple ice cream sandwich cutter allows you to cut out your cookies with ease. You can even press a desired design into the cookie as you cut!
- With this Chef'n mini ice cream sandwich maker, you can bake the cookies inside of a provided silicone mold. Then, fill it with ice cream and freeze; it's that easy! It makes 10 miniature round ice cream sandwiches.
- If you want regular size, the Chef'n ice cream sandwich maker allows you to bake the cookies right in the silicone mold, then fill with ice cream and freeze. It makes 4 regular-sized ice cream sandwiches.
- If you really want to get fancy, check out this electric ice cream sandwich maker. You can bake your pre-shaped cookies in a matter of seconds!
7. Ice Cream Toppings and Sprinkles
Whether you're just making a personal-sized batch of ice cream, or you're hosting an ice cream social or even making it for a church potluck, you'll want toppings. Here are some ideas as to what you can put on ice cream to switch things up when making it at home. These optional add-ins can really make a difference!
- Dessert Sprinkle Mix
- Peanut butter
- Brownie bites
- Chocolate chip cookie crumbs
- Oreo Cookie crumbs
- Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream Topping
- Mini chocolate chips
- Chocolate syrup
- Caramel syrup
- Chocolate pretzels
- Graham crackers
- Maple nuts
- Sliced strawberries, or really any fresh fruit, tossed with a hint of sugar to get the juice running
- Another option that's worthy of consideration is this Stonewall Kitchen 4 Piece Dessert Topping Collection. You'll receive a generous supply of Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce, Chocolate Peanut Butter Sauce, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Sauce, and Sea Salt Caramel Sauce.
- In comparison, this Smuckers Sundae Syrup Collection is pretty neat, as well!
- You can also get this nifty sundae toppings kit from Williams Sonoma.
Most importantly, be creative! When it comes to ice cream, the sky's the limit.
You can definitely make some of the best milkshakes with just a blender, but many people prefer to buy a milkshake mixer simply for the savings in time. The same people will often argue that a good milkshake maker can produce a much higher quality, more consistent and more flavorful dessert!
- I'm loving this Hamilton Beach DrinkMaster milkshake mixer. Complete with a roomy 28oz. mixing cup for plenty of ice cream, this milkshake mixer features 2 speeds, allowing you to blend and mix by preference, in order to obtain the perfect texture. It's easy-to-clean, and the detachable spindle is even dishwasher-safe!
- Another great milkshake mixer is this Brentwood classic milkshake maker. Although it's a bit of a step down with its mere 15oz. mixing cup, it does have a high and low speed; it only requires 2 minutes to make a milkshake, on average! Plus, look at the price. This is a fantastic option for those that don't have a lot of money to spend.
- Then there's the VEVOR milkshake maker kit. It's a bit more expensive, but it may well be worth the extra cash. This milkshake mixer features an 800ml cup, a durable stainless steel design, and an adjustable 2 speed, 180-watt full copper motor. It even features a lotus leaf corrugated mixing head for 360º rotation, which makes for a more consistent, better tasting milkshake.
9. Ice Cream Social Supplies
I have a feeling that most people reading this post are likely preparing for an ice cream social or ice cream party, or maybe you're just looking to make enough ice cream for a large gathering! Either way, this section is for you.
- Regardless of what flavors you decide to serve, you'll want to give people a choice of toppings. Going off of my list of toppings above, try making an all-you-can-eat toppings buffet with this ice cooled condiment caddy!
- Better yet, make a DIY ice cream sundae bar with the Ultimate Ice Cream Party Kit from Williams Sonoma.
- Many people pre-scoop the ice cream into individual dishes that are bedded down in a shallow, ice-filled bucket for a chilling display.
- You can add a decorative touch to the sundae bar by displaying this chalkboard menu with all of the available ice cream flavors and toppings listed.
- For decorative style, I recommend sticking to pastel colors and gold accents. Why not simplify the whole process with this ice cream party decorations kit?
- You may opt for using easy-clean dishes. When it comes to an ice cream social, clean-up will probably be the worst part. There is no shame in using disposable bowls and spoons!
Play fun party games!
- To add on to the all-you-can-eat buffet mentioned above, try making an ice cream toppings bar scavenger hunt! You can hide all of the ingredients around the party space, except the ice cream of course, as it needs to stay frozen.
- Perform a blind ice cream taste test. Whoever guesses correctly the most amount of times is declared the winner!
- Hold an ice cream eating contest! Set the players down at the table, blindfolded and/or with their hands behind their back. Who can eat the most?
- Host a contest for who can make the best ice cream (or sundae). Have judges and everything, just like at the county fair.
- Have an ice cream sundae relay game! The goal is for each team to gather the necessary ingredients and build a sundae in as short amount of time as possible.
10. Ice Cream Cookbooks
If you're really serious about getting good at making ice cream, you'll inevitably want to find some cookbooks. So, here you go.
Listed below are some of my favorite ice cream cookbooks, some of which even have recipes for extras like cones, toppings, and sauces
- Ben and Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Cookbook by Ben Cohen, Jerry Greenfield, and Nancy Stevens
- The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
- Salt & Straw Ice Cream Cookbook by Tyler Malek and JJ Goode
- Mexican Ice Cream: Beloved Recipes and Stories by Fany Gerson
- The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book by Robin Donovan
- The Best Ice Cream Maker Cookbook Ever by Peggy Fallon
- Ice Cream Social: 100 Artisanal Recipes by Anthony Tassinello, Mary Jo Thoresen, and Alice Waters
- The Home Kitchen Ice Cream Cookbook by Wilson K. Lee
- Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream by Laura O'Neill, Benjamin Van Leeuwen, Peter Van Leeuwen, and Olga Massov
- Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough