How to Make Homemade Ice Cream

By: Highlights Editorial
Two bowls of homemade vanilla ice cream
Ages 3+
Critical Thinking
Fine Motor Skills

Making homemade ice cream is a fun way to involve kids in the kitchen. But unlike some recipes, this one has some key steps and ingredients that you won’t want to ad lib. They’re not hard (we promise!), but they’ll help you understand more about what goes into this tasty summer treat. So read ahead to explore some of the finer (and tastier) details behind this homemade ice-cream recipe.

What You'll Need

What to Do

  1. Turn your freezer’s temperature to its coldest setting. Teachable moment: Ice cream freezes at a lower temperature than water. Your coldest freezer setting gives you the extra chill you need for the recipe.

  2. Put the 2 tablespoons of whole milk in a saucepan. 

  3. Sprinkle the unflavored gelatin on the milk. Let it sit for 1 minute, then warm the mixture on low heat, stirring until the gelatin dissolves.

  4. Remove the pan from the heat. 

  5. Stir in the honey and evaporated milk.

  6. Pour into a shallow mixing bowl. Add the remaining whole milk and vanilla extract. Stir well. Helpful hint: Using a chilled metal bowl can speed up the freezing time.

  7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 hour.

  8. After 1 hour, check the mixture. If it’s partly frozen, continue with step 9. If it’s not, put it in the freezer for another half hour, then check again. Repeat until the mixture is partially frozen.

  9. Remove the bowl from the freezer. Mix the ice cream with an electric mixer until it’s fluffy. Teachable moment: To have the right texture, ice cream needs air mixed into it. Mixing also creates smaller fat molecules that can help hold bubbles of air in place.

  10. Cover and freeze the mixture for 2 more hours. Helpful hint: Get your ice cream to freeze faster by putting it in smaller containers.

  11. Take it out, let the ice cream soften for a few minutes and then serve!

Ice Cream-Making Secrets

For smooth ice cream, the ice crystals need to be very small. Big crystals form when there is too much water and it’s not blended in well. Here’s why we used what we did:

  • Gelatin is a stabilizer—a substance that keeps everything well mixed and helps prevent big crystals.
  • Evaporated milk has less water than regular milk, so using it reduces the amount of water that can crystallize.
  • Invert sugars such as honey work better than granular sugars to keep ice crystals from forming.

Extend the Fun

Younger kids: Grab some colored pencils, markers or chalk and draw pictures of you making and then eating your ice cream. What flavor is your ice cream? Will you draw your ice cream in a cup or a cone? How many scoops did you give yourself? How many scoops did you give other people in your drawing?

Older kids: Since you’re making the recipe, you can decide what flavor you want to make your ice cream. If you like chocolate, what would you need to add? What if you wanted to make cookies-and-cream flavor?

Author Photo
By: Highlights Editorial