How to Make Dairy-Free Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker


Ever find yourself drooling over a cool and creamy image of an ice cream recipe online, only to realize you don’t have the necessary kitchen appliance to make it? In all honesty, it is difficult to replicate the results of a good quality ice cream maker, but you can still enjoy those frozen dessert recipes with a little ingenuity and some low-tech labor.

Wheeler del Torro, author of The Vegan Scoop and founder of Wheeler’s Frozen Desserts, has gathered his two favorite methods for making homemade “ice cream” without the convenience of an ice cream maker for us to share with you here:

Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla Vegan Ice Cream – Photo by Hannah Kaminsky

Method #1 – From David Lebovitz. Full article can be found here.

1. Prepare your ice cream mixture, then chill it over an ice bath.

2. 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.

3. After forty-five minutes, open the door and check it. 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.

4. 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 stick-blender or hand-held mixer. But since we’re going low-tech here, you can also use just a spatula or a sturdy whisk along with some modest physical effort.

5. Keep checking periodically and stirring while it freezes (by hand or with the electric mixer) until the ice cream is frozen. It will likely take 2-3 hours to be ready.

Method #2 – From Sci-Toys. Full article can be found here.

1. Pour a cup of the ice cream mixture into a plastic zip-lock sandwich bag.

2. Zip the bag closed, and put it into another sandwich bag for safety, and zip that one closed as well.

3. Fill a gallon size food storage zip-lock bag about one third full of ice cubes. Add a cup of salt (we used rock salt, but any kind will do).

4. Zip the large bag closed, and wrap it in a towel to keep fingers from getting too cold.

5. Make a bag for everyone (this recipe will make enough for three or four servings, and you can double or quadruple the recipe if you are having a party). Now have each person squish the little bag around in the salt and ice, making sure that the ice contacts the little bag as much as possible, and that the little bag gets lots of kneading, to keep the ice crystals tiny, so the ice cream is very smooth.

6. The kneading stage takes 10 minutes. You can let the ice cream sit in the ice for another 5 minutes if you like harder ice cream, although continuing to knead it for the extra 5 minutes is also OK to do if you’re having fun.

7. You will know the ice cream is done by feeling the mixture become a paste instead of a liquid. When you take the little bag out of the ice, wipe off the salt water, and then remove the outer bag carefully, so you don’t get salt in the ice cream. The little bag will stand up in the bowl, because it is a frozen paste.

If these techniques still seem too complicated, KitchenAid makes an ice cream maker attachment for their mixers.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.