Screw ice cream machines! Grab a freezer bag, a coffee can, or some liquid nitrogen, and get ready to eat your weight in sundaes. Here are six ways to make ice cream without a traditional maker.


Grandpa made ice cream in a hand-cranked machine, with an inner canister surrounded by ice and rock salt (salt causes the ice to absorb more energy from its environment and become colder, freezing). The YayLabs Play and Freeze Ice Cream Ball uses that same concept, but instead of cranking a lever, you are just 10 to 15 minutes of ball-rolling away from Rocky Road.

CAN IT shares a timeless method (assuming that metal coffee cans never go away, which is kind of a big assumption): a small coffee can inside of a large coffee can filled with ice and salt. Just pour your base into the small can, duct tape the lid in place, and roll the cans for a tasty 10-minute ice cream.


The Kitchn updates the coffee-can method by using a small freezer bag of ice cream base placed inside of a larger freezer bag filled with ice and salt. Play some shaking music (Kelis’s “Milkshake” is a personal favorite), shake the bag along with what your mama gave you, and you’ll have ice cream in no time.


Ice cream god and author of The Perfect Scoop David Lebovitz perfects the freeze-and-stir method. Pour your custard base into a baking dish, freeze for 45 minutes, stir with a spatula, and repeat until it has the perfect consistency.


Cooking genius J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats uses evaporated milk, an ice cube tray, and a food processor to make his no-machine ice cream, showcasing kitchen science at its finest.


A little liquid nitrogen and a stand mixer is all Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks needs to make ice cream. Unless you want to shatter off a finger or two, be prepared to use special gloves and safety goggles for this little bit of molecular gastronomy.

PHOTO CREDITS From top to bottom: Industrial Revolution; Flickr members Michael Carian; Jaap Den Dulk; citymama; teresatrimm; and Sarah_Ackerman under Creative Commons.

Leena Trivedi-Grenier is a Bay Area food writer and cooking teacher with an undying love for pot stickers. She earned her master’s in gastronomy from Le Cordon Bleu. Her writing appears on her blog Leena Eats and in various food-based encyclopedias.
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