Who said that you can’t make ice cream without an ice cream maker? I mean, people made ice cream way back in the 4th century B.C. so there’s really no excuse for us not to. The advantages of making your ice cream are obvious. You know that the ingredients are fresh and clean (I hope…), there are no preservatives, and you can test out whacky flavors. The one major disadvantage- you’re probably less likely to ever eat ice cream again. Or maybe you’d think twice. When you see all of the cream and fat that goes into ice cream, you’ll see what I mean.

I’ve used an ice cream maker before, which works wonderfully because it does all of the hard work for you. But it’s also annoying because if you want to make ice cream on the fly, the canister that holds the custard base of the ice cream must be frozen in advance and the machine seems as if it’s groaning for hours on end when you turn it on.

Making ice cream without the machine is alot easier than most people. David Lebowitz writes a great post on making ice cream without coffee canisters or plastic bags. All you need is a tray, freezer, and whisk.

I halved his recipe and followed it step by step. The original recipe called for 5 eggs and I used 3. That’s probably something I’d change next time; I’d only use two. I can’t afford vanilla pods, so I used vanilla extract. While the ice cream was bold in vanilla and dark chocolate (I drizzled melted dark chocolate to make it Stracciatella), it had this heavy eggy flavor, which although wasn’t necessarily bad, reminded me of the really creamy ice cream you get at Cold Stone. Plus, I could use a bit less of cholesterol.

The following recipe is taken from David Lebowitz and altered:


  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Melted chocolate, dark or milk (optional)


  1. Heat the cream, milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan.
  2. Stir together the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add some of the warmed milk, stirring constantly as you pour. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
  3. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Chill over an ice bath
  4. Put a deep baking dish, or bowl made of plastic, stainless steel or something durable in the freezer, and pour your custard mixture into it.
  5. After forty-five minutes, open the door and check it.
  6. As it starts to freeze near the edges, remove it from the freezer and stir it vigorously with a spatula or whisk. Really beat it up and break up any frozen sections. Return to freezer.
  7. Continue to check the mixture every 30 minutes, stirring vigorously as it’s freezing. If you have one, you can use a hand-held mixer for best results, or use a hand held mixer. You can also use just a spatula or a sturdy whisk along with some modest physical effort.
  8. Keep checking periodically and stirring while it freezes (by hand or with the electric mixer) until the ice cream is frozen. This is the time to drizzle the melted chocolate over the ice cream. As you stir, the lines of chocolate will break up into thin chips.

Side Notes:

  • The original recipe calls for straining of the custard. I had no cheesecloth and my papertowels actually broke when I tried, so I disregarded the step.
  • Some people actually prepare this in a blender. You can pop it into the freezer,  blend it every half hour (same some arm energy), and get stuck with only having to clean the blender. Genius, I say- now, if only my blender would fit into my freezer…
  • The ice cream should take 3-4 hours to be ready.