How to get the mix-ins-loaded ice cream of your dreams without a machine

Aug 31, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Image: Alexandra Ribeiro/EyeEm/Getty Images

Tell me, are you one of those people who gets a pint of ice cream and commences digging out all the bits of candy or chocolate or pretzel or caramel or what have you? Because I am, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. But I am disappointed when my pint turns out to be a desert of mix-ins. Like, if I wanted to eat just ice cream, I would have gotten a plainer flavor. Where are the cherries? The bits of dark chocolate? The blobs of cookie dough I was promised?

The ice cream struggle is real, but there are a few solutions, even if you don't own an ice cream maker. I invested in one years ago, and after a summer of creating exotic ice cream flavors no one but me wanted to eat, I abandoned it in the cabinet to collect dust for several years. I gave it away just before I moved house a couple of months ago.

More: 15 super-easy ice cream recipes you could make with your eyes closed

ice cream without a machine
Image: Alexandra Riberio/EyeEm/Getty Images

1. Make it in a plastic bag

Just about every parent of a school-age kid knows the ice cream-in-a-bag trick. Basically you put milk, sugar and flavoring into a plastic bag, and then put that in a larger bag filled with ice cubes. Shake, shake, shake, shake until your arms fall off, and eventually you will have ice cream. This usually works for single-serving sizes, so manage your expectations. Add your mix-ins right before serving.

2. Disturb the cream

Another method is the freeze-mix-freeze-mix-freeze-mix-for-eternity method. Mix together your ice cream ingredients, and pour them into a shallow pan. Let it start to freeze. From there, you're going to spend the rest of the afternoon stirring and refreezing your ice cream until it's done, so I hope you're not planning anything else that day. Add mix-ins toward the end of the process.

More: 2-ingredient ice cream will change your life

3. Use a Curious Creamery mix

curious creamery
Image: Curious Creamery

The Curious Creamery sent us samples of its ice cream kits, which we tried out almost immediately. Use a hand or stand mixer to whip up a liquid of your choice with its packet of magic ingredients,* adding your mix-ins at the very end. You can use cow's milk, coconut milk or pretty much any other liquids (including booze). They even give you the container to keep it in.

When I made this with my son, we used so many chopped strawberries, peaches and thick ribbons of caramel sauce it was practically all mix-ins, and we're not sorry. The next batch will be a sick combination of chocolate, hazelnuts and Frangelico. I will eat it, and then I will say, "Thank me! I'm welcome!"

*Glucose syrup solids, palm kernel oil, sugar, ultra-filtered skim milk powder, maltodextrin, sodium caseinate, distilled mono and diglycerides, guar gum, locust bean gum, gum Arabic and salt.

Yes, that's a long list of ingredients not everyone wants in their family members' bodies (see below). But it's a pretty fun and easy alternative for those of us who want to try making our own ice cream every once in a while but don't want to — or can't — buy an ice cream maker.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below:

16 ice cream shops serving up the sweetest scoops of the summer
Image: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/SheKnows