Don’t have an ice cream maker but do have a Cuisinart (or its equivalent)? You can use your food processor to make ice cream—and we don’t mean by blending bananas, either.
Let’s be honest: 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 #1 kitchen appliance, but the rest of you will love finding another use for equipment you already have cluttering your cupboards. A food processor is nothing if not versatile, but we can’t think of a more noble use for your trusty processor than homemade ice cream.
Ice Cream, Not “Nice Cream”
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 (aka nice cream). But sometimes 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.
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.
Steps to Making Ice Cream in a Food Processor:
1. Follow whatever basic recipe you want to make the custard. Don‘t include any flavorings yet, even vanilla, just the cream, eggs, and sugar.
2. Pour the custard into a Ziploc bag and press every last bit of the air out. Seal it tightly and place it flat in the freezer. Allow to freeze completely.
3. Crumble the frozen custard into your food processor and process until completely smooth. At this point, you can stir in any mix-ins or additional flavorings you want.
4. Scrape the ice cream into your storage container and place back in the freezer. That’s it!
The texture of this food processor ice cream is a bit finer, a little like gelato. But you can make it into any flavor you like, and stir in all sort of mix-ins, from chopped peanut butter cups to fresh berries.
The Importance of Air
Why can’t you just make the custard, freeze it, and eat it right away? Churning air into your ice cream as it freezes is essential if you want to avoid large ice crystals and not end up with a sad, solid block. You want something creamy and luscious that coats your tongue—not icy, crunchy ice “cream.” But if churn your ice cream after the custard’s frozen, that’s the next best thing.
If you don’t already have a food processor, you probably want one right about now, huh? It’s definitely more versatile than an ice cream maker!
Related Reading on CNET: The Best Food Processors of 2020
Cuisinart Elemental 8-Cup Food Processor, $99.95 from Williams Sonoma
Your summer secret weapon.
Homemade Ice Cream Recipes
Try making these ice cream flavors in your food processor this summer:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chios Mastiha Powder, $16.99 on Amazon
Powdered mastic adds a unique flavor that's fun to play with in lots of other dishes.
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.
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.
See our ice cream headquarters for everything else you need to know. But before you go, here’s a handy low-tech tip…
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.