CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Forget Those $9 Pints. Make Ice Cream at Home in a Food Processor

Skip the pricey creamery trip and make ice cream at home in four easy steps.

CNET staff
4 min read
scoop of caramel ice cream on a spoon

You really can make this ice cream at home in your food processor.


It's definitely ice cream season. If you have a full-fledged addiction, I don't have to tell you that the good stuff is expensive. If you've been blowing your budget on Breyers, it might be wise to add an ice cream maker to the kitchen setup. I recommend the Ninja Creami, but Cuisinart makes a host of popular models that churn out homemade ice cream, gelato and sorbet. 

If you don't feel like adding another appliance into the mix, you may be wondering if it's possible to make ice cream at home in a food processor. The answer is yes. If you don't have one yet, you can bet your buns we've tested to find the best food processors for 2023. If you do have one, it's time to make some delicious frozen treats for a fraction of what store-bought costs. 

Any food processor with at least an 8-cup capacity will suffice to make ice cream. CNET rated the Cuisinart FP-8SVP as the best value food processor of the ones we've tried, and it will certainly work for blending your ice cream base. Now, here's how to make delicious frozen custard -- otherwise known as ice cream -- with a food processor in four simple steps. For more tips, try these nine cooking hacks that actually work and these steps for keeping your kitchen knives sharp

Make real ice cream, not just 'nice cream'

cuisinart food processor sitting on a table

Who knew your food processor could double as an ice cream maker?

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You can find tons of recipes for "ice cream" made in a food processor using a base of frozen bananas instead of the classic cream, eggs and sugar base (often called nice cream in reference to its healthy vegan status and maybe also its ease of preparation). It's actually really good, but sometimes we want the real thing. Fellow sweet-cold-creamy obsessive Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, shares a quick, simple way to make traditional ice cream at home without an ice cream maker.

You can use Bauer's basic vanilla ice cream recipe as a starting point: Leave out the vanilla bean and make the base through step two, then follow the steps she outlines here:

How to make ice cream in your food processor

1. Follow whatever basic recipe you want to make the custard. Don't include any mix-ins yet, just the cream, eggs and sugar -- and any ingredients that are there for flavor alone (see the note below for more info).

CNET Home Tips logo

2. Pour the custard into a Ziploc bag and press every last bit of the air out. Seal it tightly and place it flat in the freezer. Allow to freeze completely.

3. Crumble the frozen custard into your food processor and process until completely smooth. At this point, you can stir in any mix-ins or additional flavorings you want.

4. Scrape the ice cream into your storage container (which can be a reusable ice cream carton or just a regular loaf pan) and place back in the freezer. That's it!

The texture of this food processor ice cream is a bit finer, a little like gelato. But you can make it into any flavor you like, and stir in all sorts of mix-ins, from chopped peanut butter cups to fresh berries.

Note: If you want more infused flavor, you can steep things like fresh mint, roughly ground espresso beans or whole cinnamon sticks in the cream for a few hours or overnight before straining it and starting the recipe outlined above. You can also mix in vanilla extract, cocoa powder and other flavor agents, but you don't want any mix-ins to go in until after the base has been frozen and blitzed -- or else they'll be completely pulverized.

The importance of air

Why can't you just make the custard, freeze it, and eat it right away? Churning air into your ice cream as it freezes is essential if you want to avoid large ice crystals and not end up with a sad, solid block. You want something creamy and luscious that coats your tongue -- not icy, crunchy ice "cream." But if you churn your ice cream after the custard's frozen, that's the next best thing.

If you don't already have a food processor, you probably want one right about now, huh? It's definitely more versatile than an ice cream maker.

Don't just stop at vanilla

There are hundreds of ice cream recipes online you can try with this food processor method. Just remember to follow the steps above and avoid any solid mix-ins during the initial mix. Something tells us this is going to be the best summer ever.

And if you do have the counter real estate for an ice cream maker, we tested Ninja's Creami ice cream machine and gave it a big thumbs-up. 

If you're looking for more delicious dishes to try this summer, check out our alternative Dirty Shirley recipes, our guide on making whipped lemonade and this fun way to make a chocolate cake in five minutes

More kitchen tips and hacks to read next