An ice cream maker is a one-trick pony. And with limited space in our kitchens, machinery for the dessert genre isn’t always a top priority. Some of the more ice cream-obsessed of us (ahem) think it should be the No. 1 kitchen appliance, but the rest of you will love finding another use for equipment you already have cluttering your cupboards. And a food processor is nothing if not versatile. We can’t think of a more noble use for your trusty processor. Invest only in simple ingredients, and make your own ice cream like a boss.
You can find tons of recipes for “ice cream” made in a food processor using a base of frozen bananas instead of the classic cream, eggs, and sugar base. But we want the real thing. Fellow sweet-cold-creamy obsessive Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, shares a quick, simple way to make traditional ice cream at home without an ice cream maker. If you don’t already have a food processor, it might be a better buy as it’s more versatile. Check out Guide’s list of the best food processors.
Why can’t you just make the custard and then freeze it? Churning air into your ice cream as it freezes is essential if you want to avoid large ice crystals and end up with a sad solid block. You want something creamy and luscious that coats your tongue — not icy, crunchy ice “cream.” You can use this vanilla ice cream recipe as a starting point: Leave out the vanilla beans and make the base through step two, then follow the steps Britton outlines here.
If you like caramel and ice cream, but aren’t sure about the burnt, salted, super-sweet kinds, this is the version for you. Sugar, vanilla, cream, eggs, half-and-half go into this one, plus a touch of salt to keep the rest from becoming cloying. Get our Caramel Ice Cream recipe.
2. Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
Spiced cookie butter or spread like Biscoff’s has the taste of a graham cracker but the texture of peanut butter. It becomes like a cheesecake crust when combined with strawberry ice cream. Yaaaaasssss. Get our Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream recipe.
3. Roasted Pistachio Ice Cream
This is true, pistachio ice cream. Not that artificial green stuff. Roast your nuts yourself and get going making a better version than anything at the grocery store. Get our Roasted Pistachio Ice Cream recipe.
4. Mixed Berry Sherbet
Frozen raspberries and blackberries play together in this dessert that has no eggs but it does use whole milk. Sherbet isn’t as rich, but it’s still creamy. Get our Mixed Berry Sherbet recipe.
5. Toasted Sesame Seed and Honey Gelato
Sesame seeds and honey pair well as crunchy, sweet snack bars, and in cold cream, they also create something wonderful. Get our Toasted Sesame Seed and Honey Gelato recipe.
6. Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
You don’t have to wait until the pumpkin mania rears up again in the fall and winter. Pumpkin rules all year long, like ice cream in winter. Get our Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream recipe.
7. Saffron Ice Cream (Bastani-e Gol-o Bolbol)
This is a Persian (Iranian) style of ice cream with saffron threads dissolved into rose water. You’ll also need to get mastic. If you can’t find sahlab, use cornstarch, and a lot of it. Sprinkle crushed pistachios on top, and you’ve got a cool flavor that isn’t available in most stores. Get our Saffron Ice Cream recipe.
8. Coconut Ice Cream
Shredded coconut in addition to the coconut milk and cream give this ice cream a pleasantly chewy texture. Top with diced mangos for a tropical treat. Get our Coconut Ice Cream recipe.
9. Grasshopper Ice Cream
You don’t have to use the green food coloring if you want to keep it all-natural, but we liked the nostalgia of our childhood version of mint chocolate chip. A bit of mint extract and chocolate chips are standard here, but then there are chopped up BROWNIES. Yep. Get our Grasshopper Ice Cream recipe.
For everything else you want to know about ice cream, see our all ice cream, all the time page for more videos, articles, recipes, and discussions.
Amy Sowder is the assistant editor at Chowhound in New York City. She loves cheesy things, especially toasties and puns. She’s trying to like mushrooms. Her running habit is the excuse for her gelato passion. Or is it the other way around? Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and her blog, What Do I Eat Now. Learn more at AmySowder.com.