Mihai Aurel
Tips for making homemade ice cream


If you’ve baked from our bestselling cookbook ‘Life is Sweet’, you might have been excited to see the chapter on ice cream but apprehensive if you’ve never tried to make ice cream before.

Well, we are delighted to share the secret that ice cream is really easy to make!

And once you have mastered the basic ice cream custard, you can get creative and make a whole world of new and delicious ice creams.

So, flip to the chapter on ice cream in ‘Life is Sweet’ and give this frozen treat a go.    

Top 10 tips for making irresistible homemade ice cream

Here are our top ten tips for making your own ice cream:  

1. Pre-freezing your ice cream bowl in the freezer for more than 24 hours before use is preferable. Lots of ice cream fiends keep their bowl wrapped up in the freezer ready for use all year round.

2. Be careful not to burn the custard. Watch it carefully and stir so that the custard on the bottom of the pan doesn’t settle. If you have one available, a heavy bottomed pan will help to distribute the heat more evenly and prevent the mixture from burning.

3. When adding the egg yolks to the custard, the trick is to go slowly. Adding them quickly will only result in scrambled egg ice cream, and not the good kind – we’ll leave that flavour up to Heston!

4. If adding alcohol to your ice cream mixture, be aware that this doesn’t freeze and using more than a splash may prevent your ice cream from setting altogether.

5. Don’t overfill your ice cream maker. The ice cream needs plenty of space to aerate, which gives it its lovely texture.

6. If adding delicious ingredients like chocolate chips or fruits into your ice cream, these only need adding at the last minute in the churning process. This will help prevent them from being broken down too much in the machine before freezing.

7. The Italians know a thing or two about making perfect ice cream and they often store theirs in long, shallow containers. The surface area makes it easier to draw an ice cream scoop across. Long Pyrex-style containers or loaf tins can work, as well as plastic containers.

8. If the recipe calls for it, be sure to cling film the top of your ice cream custard before you freeze it. Press the cling film directly onto the custard and this will prevent a skin or ice crystals from forming.

9. Change in temperature is the enemy of tasty homemade ice cream and the temperature of your freezer is important to get your ice cream properly frozen. It is generally colder towards the back of your freezer.

Thus, this is a great place to freeze your ice cream because the temperature remains consistent. Inconsistent temperatures when freezing can stop your ice cream from freezing lovely and smooth.

10. Always follow the instructions on your ice cream machine. Every machine is different and it is important to know how your particular machine works.  

Red Velvet Ice Cream, from 'Life is Sweet' by Tarek Malouf and the Hummingbird Bakers (Fourth Estate, 2015) Credit: Kate Whitaker 



Can I make homemade ice cream without an ice cream maker?

Yes, although we do recommend using an ice cream maker for the best results. Making ice cream by hand is more time consuming and you are also more likely to have ice crystals form when the ice cream isn’t churned by a machine.

However, if you want to try making ice cream without the help of a machine, here is the process:  

Making ice cream by hand:

1. Make the ice cream custard following the recipe’s instructions.

2. Freeze your ice cream mixture in a plastic container in the freezer. Cover with a layer of cling film.

3. Mix the ice cream every hour or so until completely frozen in order to aerate the mixture and minimise ice crystals forming.  

Is it expensive to purchase an ice cream maker?

Depending on the particular specifications of the make and model, ice cream makers are no more expensive than other basic items of kitchen equipment and can start in the region of £20.

If you or your family regularly purchase ice cream by the tub from your local supermarket, this may even offer a regular saving, but best of all you have the satisfaction of enjoying premium quality homemade ice cream with no nasties.  

Do you recommend a particular model of ice cream maker?

We don’t have a special model in mind; we think home cooks should choose according to their needs and budget.

Some ice cream makers require you to remove the ice cream bowl several hours before use and freeze it in your freezer at home, while more expensive options can freeze the ice cream in the machine itself.  

What kind of things should I think about when choosing an ice cream maker?

Things worth considering when buying an ice cream maker are your budget, how often you plan on using the machine, ease of use, any additional functions, the quantity of ice cream you plan on making (some bowls are bigger), the preparation and freezing time combined for any model, the noise of the model (some can whir quite loudly), whether you have separate freezer space to accommodate the freezing bowl and space you have to store and operate the machine.  

Can I substitute the cream/milk/buttermilk/evaporated milk in the recipe for low fat or non-dairy alternatives? 

Our recipes are only tested with the ingredients listed, so unfortunately we can’t vouch for substitutions. However, there are a range of ingredients available such as soya milk/soya custard/soya cream that can be used to make non-dairy alternatives.

In terms of lowering the fat content, we recommend using ingredients such as double cream and whole milk because it adds to the richness of flavour and creaminess of texture. Ice cream is a treat and we’d rather try a smaller portion of a full flavour ice cream than sacrifice taste for a less delicious lower fat version.  

Can I substitute the cream for yogurt?

Lots of frozen dessert recipes call for yogurt, so it’s not unusual to use yogurt as an alternative to cream. In our recipes, however, we recommend sticking to the recommended ingredients to get the right result. If you wish to experiment, fro yo (frozen yogurt) can be absolutely delicious too!  

Can I substitute the sugar for a sugar alternative?

We haven’t tested any sugar alternatives in our own kitchens, so we can only recommend what works for us. If you wish to try sugar alternatives, it will be an experiment – but if it works, please share with us on our Facebook page.  

How should I serve my homemade ice cream?

Dip your ice cream scoop in a mug of warm water between scoops and this will help to soften the ice cream up just enough to scoop. Be sure to tap off excess water before scooping.

This is preferable to leaving the ice cream on the side for 10 minutes to soften, which can cause it to melt too much and will cause crystals to form when it is refrozen.  

How long does homemade ice cream last for in the freezer?

When it comes to ice cream, the fresher the better. We recommend eating your homemade ice cream within two weeks of making it (if you can make it last that long!).

Homemade ice cream doesn’t contain any preservatives or chemicals that will keep it for longer and it also deteriorates with too much freezing and refreezing, so we recommend eating as soon as possible for the freshest flavour.  

What happens if I refreeze partially melted ice cream?

Ice crystals form when melted ice cream is refrozen, so this will affect the texture of your dessert. We recommend freezing your ice cream as soon as you have finished serving so that you minimise ice crystals next time you come to eat it.  

What temperature should ice cream be kept at?

Below 0°F. If your freezer doesn’t have a thermometer, you can purchase one to check that you are freezing at the right temperature.

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