How Long Does It Take to Make Homemade Ice Cream?

how long does it take to make homemade ice cream
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Regardless of age, many of us just love the cold, sweet treat that is ice cream. This is especially true during the summer months.

Sadly, you may find that the price of your favorite ice cream makes you want to make it yourself instead. It’s possible to do so, and it can taste a lot better because you have control over the ingredients you use.

You might have purchased an ice cream maker or found another way to make it without the machine. How long does it take to make homemade ice cream? In this article, we will answer that question. We’ll also talk about how to use an electric ice cream maker and other ways to freeze it.

Using An Ice Cream Maker

While there are several models available on the market, they all work similarly. We’ll primarily talk about the machines that use ice for the process. In that way, you can easily get the ice you require from your home ice maker.

Step 1: Prepare the Ice Cream Can

Make sure that you’ve prepared the ice cream can that will hold the mixture during the freezing process. Put it in the freezer for two or three hours before you begin. Also, make sure that you have prepared the ice cream mixture already, aging and chilling it before you start.

When you’re ready, pour the mix into the can, but don’t fill it more than about 3/4 full. This is because you will need some room for the mixture to expand as it freezes. Plus, you may choose to add flavorings and other ingredients at the end.

Now, you’ll put the dasher into the can, ensuring that the end fits snugly into the slot in the bottom, and the metal stem is above. Put the lid on the can so that the metal stem comes out through the center hole of the cover.

Step 2: Assemble the Ice Cream Maker

Put the ice cream can (with the cover) inside the bucket, centering it and aligning everything properly. Now, put the motor drive on top of the bucket, making sure it fits between the two tab openings.

Also, do not forget to check if the dasher on the ice cream can is installed into the drive unit’s hole in the bottom.

To make sure everything is on correctly, rotate the can (inside the bucket) until everything locks into place. On the opposite end of the motor, let the tab drop into the latch plate slot. Then, rotate your latch over the tab so that it’s all locked down, as well.

Step 3: Add Ice and Churn

Plug the ice cream maker in; it will immediately start churning. Next, add ice to fill up the bottom of the bucket. You’ll want about an inch thickness of ice down inside to start.

Then, you will need to sprinkle 1/2 cup of rock or table salt evenly over the ice. While rock salt is recommended, it could be hard to find in your area. Traditional table salt or Kosher salt will also work for this purpose.

Continue adding layers of the ice and salt until the ice reaches the top of the can, covering it completely. Now, all you have to do is wait about 20 to 40 minutes. The machine should stop on its own, but you should also check it after about 25 minutes and continue checking to be sure.

Of course, you should read the owner’s manual for the ice cream maker, as well. It will give you the instructions for use on that particular model. However, results can vary based on the mixture, type of salt you use, and much more.

Why Add Salt?

The goal of the salt is to make the ice melt. When the ice melts, it forms a brine, so it absorbs any heat from the ice cream mixture, reducing its temperature to the freezing point. This is a slow process, so the ice cream has enough time to mix and get enough air, as well.

Rock salt will melt the ice quicker, which freezes your ice cream faster. Again, table salt can be used, but you will have to wait longer for your treat. The goal here is to drop the ice cream mixture’s temperature to 27 degrees Fahrenheit. To do that, you need the right proportion of salt and ice.

Generally, you’ll use the ratio of one cup of salt to five cups of ice. This helps to keep the solution melting at the rate of 8 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything more than that will cause the mixture to freeze too fast or too slow. That means not enough or too much air is mixed into the ice cream.

Step 4: When the Ice Cream Is Done

When you’ve checked to be sure, or when the unit has stopped, you should unplug the motor and remove your motor drive. Make sure to scoop out any leftover ice and salt from the top of the can so that they don’t get into your ice cream.

While still in the bucket, remove the cover and take out the dasher. Make sure the ice cream is at your desired consistency. It should be thick but still soft enough to scoop. This will allow you to add any flavorings you want.

Make sure to clean off the ice cream from the dasher using a spatula. Stir in your flavorings. Alternatively, you can add the flavors with the dasher still attached. Then, replace the cover and motor unit and churn everything together.

Just note that it might be easier to stir it all together at the end. Otherwise, you have to set up the ice cream maker once more.

Step 5: Harden the Ice Cream

You can leave the ice cream in the can, but you should pack it down firmly. Make sure you use a cork to plug the center hole of the cover. Now, put the lid on and wipe everything down before putting it in the freezer.

Alternatively, you can scrape all of the ice cream out of the can and put it in an airtight container. Again, you’ll pack it down and leave at least half an inch for expansion. Put the cover on and put it in the freezer for about three to four hours.

how long does it take to make homemade ice cream

How Long Does It Take to Make Homemade Ice Cream?

Now that you understand the process of making ice cream, you may have guessed that it takes some time to do it all. When you factor in the prep time involved, it can take eight to 10 hours to complete the process.

Remember, you need to prepare the mixture and can first, making sure that you chill them beforehand. Then, you have to let the ice cream harden before you actually eat it. This all takes time.

Can You Make Homemade Ice Cream Without a Machine?

Some people don’t want to buy a fancy ice cream machine but still want the deliciousness of homemade ice cream. It is possible to freeze it without the use of an ice cream maker. This process is often called “still freezing” because it’s not stirred throughout the freezing process.

Step 1: You will still want to chill the mixture in the refrigerator and stir it once it’s cold. Put the liquid ice cream into a freezer-safe container if it’s not already in one. Cover the bowl tightly with foil, plastic wrap, or an airtight lid.

Step 2: Now, put the container into your freezer for about two hours. Remove it and beat it with a hand mixer, making sure to break up any ice crystals that have formed. Cover it again and let it continue to freeze for two more hours.

Step 3: Repeat the process, beating again to remix it all. By now, the ice cream should be to the right consistency where it’s thick but can be scooped. If not, put it back in the freezer and repeat the beating process once more.

Step 4: When it’s at the desired consistency, you can choose to add cookies, chocolate chips, and more. Make sure to stir them in and not use the hand mixer, or else it will break up the added ingredients too much.

Step 5: Then, you’ll want to put the mixture in an airtight container that can go in the freezer. Pack down the product and leave about half an inch of space so that it can expand. Cover the container and put it in the freezer, leaving it to freeze until it’s firm.

Step 6: Once it’s hard, you can remove the ice cream from the freezer. Scoop it into cones or bowls and enjoy.

Tips for Making Homemade Ice Cream

Most people think that homemade ice cream is just like store-bought varieties, but this is false. Homemade ice cream can get too hard after a while. Therefore, it should be eaten after it has sufficiently hardened the first time.

If you can’t eat all of it after the first few hours of making and hardening it, you can save it for later. However, be aware that it will continue to get harder and harder. We’ve got some advice to prevent your homemade ice cream from becoming too hard, even if it’s saved:

  • Make sure to chill and age the ice cream mixture correctly before you start the freezing process. When it’s not cold enough, large ice crystals will form while it’s freezing later. These will make it harder than you want it to be.
  • If you use too much sugar, your ice cream may come out harder than desired. Be sure that you’re following the recipe carefully. On the other hand, when you don’t add enough sugar, the ice cream might be too soft.
  • You need to make sure the ice cream gets churned fast enough. If not, large ice crystals will develop, causing the ice cream to get too hard. Faster churning means more air is whipped into it, preventing such a hard freeze.
  • It’s important to have enough fat from the dairy. Therefore, you should consider using half-and-half or cream instead of just milk. The fat won’t freeze, so you’ll achieve a smooth texture.
  • To prevent your ice cream from freezing too much, you could add a touch of alcohol to the mix because it doesn’t freeze. Add up to two tablespoons of vodka right before you start the churning process. Vodka works well because it’s clear and doesn’t have much of a taste, though you can add any alcohol you like to drink.
  • If all else fails and your ice cream gets too hard, you can let it sit out on the counter. Check it every few minutes until it is easy to scoop.

Why People Like Homemade Ice Cream

Of course, it’s all about preference here, but many people like to experiment with different flavor mixtures. You often can’t find these at your local grocery store. Plus, it’s much easier to control the quality of ingredients when you make something yourself.

Keep in mind that it will take a long time to make the ice cream. With all of the chill times involved and the prep for making the mixture, you will need the whole day. Therefore, you can’t decide on a whim that you want ice cream unless you don’t mind waiting until the next day.

That being said, you will likely enjoy making it yourself. You can even get the family involved and let the kids help make the mixture or add the flavorings. Everyone can participate, making them all appreciate the work that went into making it.

Some people prefer to make homemade ice cream only when there is a special occasion. For example, you may make it for birthdays and other celebratory functions where ice cream is typically served. Alternatively, you may choose to make it as a new tradition for the holidays.


Now that you know how to make homemade ice cream, you may want to try it for yourself. It’s a great treat that tastes a little different than store-bought products. Plus, you can control the ingredients and make unique concoctions to be creative.

How long does it take to make homemade ice cream? That’s the question we worked hard to answer. To do that, we had to explain the process of making the ice cream, so you understood why it might take longer to do it yourself.

With that said, you can now plan ahead to make a delicious, homemade treat that your family will love. They’ll be impressed, and you will feel confident that it is wholesome.

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