Looking to make only a pint of homemade ice cream instead of a quart? Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to make homemade small batch ice cream plus a list of recipes. Ideal for when you want dessert for two.
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Happy National Ice Cream Month! Well to me ice cream month is every month but I guess the official “holiday” is in July. And today is officially National Ice Cream Day. I thought it would be fitting to share my knowledge on how to make homemade small batch ice cream for my readers who come here looking for dessert for two.
It’s no secret I love ice cream. In fact I love it so much, I started a new Instagram account called @becauseiloveicecream. It’s mostly me reviewing ice cream I’ve eaten. Trust me – I eat a lot of ice cream to justify enough content.
Not only do I know what great ice cream tastes like, I’m also well versed in making ice cream at home. I have over 30 (!) ice cream recipes with the earliest from 2012 – 6 years ago!
Most ice cream recipes from cookbooks and websites make 1 quart. The problem with homemade ice cream is it’s not easy to share unless you have people visiting. Most of the time when I have leftover dessert like a layer cake or a dozen cookies, I give them away at my coworking space.
With ice cream I can’t take it with me. Well I probably *could* since I’m only 10 minutes away and the coworking space does have a freezer, but it’s not ideal. Which means unless I have family over, I’m either stuck eating it all or throwing it away.
As a one woman household, making a quart of homemade ice cream isn’t realistic. Could I eat a whole quart of ice cream? Sure. Should I? Probably not. Not to mention it’d take me forever to eat it all, so I wouldn’t be able to make as many flavors.
Over the years I learned how to cut them down into a pint of ice cream. It may sound simple enough, but there are a few challenges to deal with, such as cutting an egg yolk in half and how to store it in the freezer without using giant containers.
Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
No matter how much ice cream you’re making, first we need to talk about equipment. Is an ice cream maker necessary? No. Does it make life easier? Yes.
How To Make Ice Cream Using An Ice Cream Maker
The easiest way to churn ice cream is with an ice cream maker. I own this red 1.5 quart ice cream maker. Although you can buy smaller models, I like having the option to scale up or down, depending on the occasion. You never know when you might need to make a quart for an ice cream cake or for a party.
Most ice cream models (including the one I use) require you to freeze the canister at least 18-24 hours ahead of time. This is important because if you churn in a room temperature canister, the ice cream will not be cold enough to freeze. You’ll need to plan accordingly (or store your canister in your freezer indefinitely).
Most machines (including mine) tell you it takes 20 minutes to churn. I find most pint recipes take about 15 minutes since there is less mixture to freeze. At this point you can eat it at the soft serve stage or you can transfer to a container and freeze until scoopable.
German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream
How To Make Homemade Ice Cream By Hand
One question I get a lot is how do you make ice cream without a machine? For the longest time, I made ice cream by hand; I didn’t have the money (nor the room) for an ice cream maker.
Churning in a machine ensures there are no ice crystals forming while it freezes. Once you understand this reasoning, you’ll realize a machine is a luxury, not a necessity.
Of course if you plan on making lots of ice cream, investing in a machine is your best bet. But if you’re only making ice cream once or twice a year, you can certainly make it by hand. It’ll require more attention, but it’s worth it!
Start by pouring your already-chilled ice cream base into a baking pan with deep edges. If you don’t have one (or don’t have room in the freezer), you can use any freeze-proof container, such as a bowl. I find using a wider, shallower container allows the mixture to freeze faster.
You will be whisking the mixture periodically, so make sure the container is deep enough so it won’t splash everywhere.
I find a lot of small baking pans at thrift stores and flea markets for cheap. I mostly use them as props (you’d be surprised at how small most of my props are in real life!), but I also use them for small batch freezing.
After freezing 45 minutes, whisk the mixture, breaking up any already-frozen sections (you’re beating the ice crystals, so it’s important to whisk everything). Return to the freezer.
Repeat this process every 30 minutes until the ice cream is completely frozen. This will take about 2-3 hours total.
If you’re adding any mix ins or layering in sauce, you can fold them in when the ice cream is about 90% solid.
Chocolate Stout Pretzel Ice Cream
How To Cut An Egg Yolk In Half
The hardest part about cutting an ice cream recipe in half is dealing with egg yolks. It’s easy when it’s an even number, but what about when a recipe calls for 5 egg yolks? How do you add 2 1/2 egg yolks? The answer: You don’t.
Typically I round down to 2 egg yolks, mostly so I don’t have to deal with leftover egg whites. The ice cream is still rich and creamy, so it’s ok to leave out that half a yolk.
Sometimes there are circumstances where I round up to 3 yolks. For example, if I have leftover yolks from another recipe, I’ll add more to use them up faster. Or if you know ahead of time you need 3 egg whites for another recipe, you can use those yolks in your ice cream.
Cherry Pie Ice Cream
What To Do With Leftover Egg Whites
Speaking of egg yolks, most ice cream recipes will leave you with leftover egg whites. Rather than throwing them away, browse through my recipes calling for egg whites.
Not sure what to do with them yet? Freeze them for future use. Freeze them individually in an ice cube tray so you don’t have to worry about measuring later! Once they’re frozen, pop them out of the tray and store in a freezer bag.
Churro Ice Cream Sandwiches
How To Store Homemade Ice Cream
Storing ice cream is just as important as making it because if you don’t freeze it properly, your ice cream will have ice crystals forming on the outside and possibly even become freeze burnt.
I use these small round freezer-proof plastic containers, which hold exactly 1 pint of ice cream. You can easily find them (or something similar) in the storage container aisle of your store. Make sure it says freeze-proof as not all containers are created equal.
You can use other containers, such as specialty ice cream containers (which are more expensive than plastic storage containers but also much cuter), a loaf pan tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, or even a glass baking pan with a lid.
Caramel Waffle Cone Ice Cream
Recipes For Small Batch Ice Cream
Now you learned some tips for making a pint of ice cream, time for the recipes! I’m not going to list out all 30+, so here are some of my favorites. For the full list, visit my Ice Cream and Frozen Treats page.
- Apple Butter Cheesecake Ice Cream
- Apple Cider Ice Cream
- Banana Fudge Swirl Ice Cream
- Buttermilk Ice Cream
- Chocolate Stout Pretzel Ice Cream
- Churro Ice Cream Sandwiches
- German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream
- M&M Cookie Dough Ice Cream
- Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream
- Nutella Ice Cream
- Peaches and Cream Ice Cream
- Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
- S’mores Ice Cream
- Strawberries and Cream Ice Cream
- Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
- Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Here are my favorite ice cream cookbooks. You will need to cut most if not all of them in half. Use my handy tip above about halving egg yolks.