I believe there’s a reason to love each season in the kitchen, and around here, summer cooking is all about nostalgia, ease, and a childlike sense of whimsy. That’s the way I grew up, and it’s the same energy I’m passing onto my own family and a major element of the love I share from my home kitchen.
If you’re looking for a delicious homemade dessert idea, a fun go-to project with the kiddos, or simply a new dessert recipe to add to your arsenal, here’s one I’ve been whipping up (pun totally intended) for many years now, and a kid-friendly treat I now make with my toddler: a no-churn vanilla ice cream.
There’s nothing more fun or nostalgic than indulging in a big bowl of ice cream at the end of a sweltering summer day. This ice cream isn’t just soft, creamy, and luscious—it’s also foolproof and truly enjoyable to make together. Best yet, all you need is just three ingredients and a freezer.
For over a decade, I lived in tiny city apartments, so I never had space to store a big, bulky ice cream maker. Discovering this method changed the game for me because I could finally play around with creating different ice cream flavors in my tiny city kitchen nook.
How to Make Homemade No Churn Vanilla Ice Cream
Here’s how I make 3-ingredient no-churn vanilla ice cream. You’ll need:
- 2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Pop a loaf pan in the freezer to chill while you make the ice cream.
Add the heavy whipping cream to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl if using a hand mixer. Whip until slightly thickened, then add the vanilla paste or extract. Continue whipping the mixture on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, 5 to 6 minutes.
Gently fold in the first half of the sweetened condensed milk. Once combined, fold in the second half.
Transfer the ice cream mixture to the chilled loaf pan. Cover the top with a sheet of parchment paper, then wrap the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Freeze until set, overnight or for at least 6 hours.
Remove the prepared ice cream from the freezer 5 minutes before you’re ready to serve.
Tips For Making My 3-Ingredient No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream
Chill the Mixer Bowl
This isn’t imperative, and I don’t always do it myself, but it is effective and will aid the heavy cream whip quickly and evenly. This will also ensure that the stiff peaks will hold their form as you fold in the room temperature sweetened condensed milk.
Don’t Leave Your Heavy Cream’s Side While It’s Whipping
The whipping process is gradual and begins slowly, but once that cream begins to thicken, you need to stand by and keep a close eye on those peaks. Whipped cream can turn from light and fluffy stiff peaks to deflated and clumpy curds on the road to Butterville in mere seconds. Over whipping cream causes the fat to separate from the liquid and if that happens, you’ll have to begin the recipe again.
Use Vanilla Bean Paste For Flavor and Appearance
Vanilla bean paste is made with vanilla bean seeds and ground vanilla bean powder. It has a syrupy, pasty texture, and a very rich and intense flavor. While vanilla extract also works well for this recipe, vanilla bean paste is more potent, so you don’t need quite as much. I suggest using paste over extract if you love seeing little bits of vanilla bean in your ice cream.
Add the Sweetened Condensed Milk in Two Parts
You don’t want to weigh down the light and fluffy cream you’ve just whipped. Fold in the first half of the can, and then once slightly combined, add the second half.
Get Creative With Add-Ins!
Once you master this basic vanilla ice cream recipe, the fun has only just begun! Alternate layers of the whipped cream mixture with crushed Oreos for cookies and cream ice cream; cookie dough bites and mini chocolate chips for chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream; peppermint extract and crushed candy canes for candy cane ice cream; or rainbow sprinkles and chunks of vanilla cake for birthday cake ice cream. Nothing changes, you can just add layers of your favorite mix-ins—the sky’s the limit!