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This 4-ingredient mason jar ice cream is the coolest summer treat around

No ice cream machine required, and you can add whatever flavors or mix-ins you want.

Guillermo Riveros Senior Video Producer / Chowhound
Guillermo is Chowhound's senior video producer, a multitalented filmmaker and producer transplanted from Colombia to NYC in 2006. He has developed and produced short- and long-form projects for both commercial and editorial clients, while continuously expanding his body of work in the fine arts field. His work has been seen and published around the world. Follow him on Instagram @guiriveros.
Guillermo Riveros
5 min read

Summer is here and it's too hot to turn the oven on for more quarantine baking. Let's face it, you're probably sick of banana bread by now anyway. Homemade frozen desserts are in order, and I'm here to tell you that you don't need an ice cream machine to make your dreams come true.

Making ice cream at home with ingredients you already have in your pantry, and no special gadgets, is possible. I've done the plastic bag trick (it's messy, and your hands freeze), and have tried the food processor method -- the next step was to test an internet recipe that promised to make ice cream only using a mason jar (and strong forearms).

Mason jar ice cream tips and tricks

To be honest, it took a little testing to get the final result right. Here is where your arms come into play. Since you are the one shaking the mixture and you're not a machine, finding the right strength, speed and duration takes testing and checking. I went on a quest across the interwebs, reading and watching how others had done it, and soon discovered the directions for the shaking of the cream mixture were vague at best. In videos I saw people shaking the mixture in different ways, and citing different durations for the shaking (anything from 10 minutes to 1 minute). This reinforced the idea that this has more to do with whoever is making the ice cream than any formula.

After a couple of trials I discovered what happens when you put too much force and spend too much time shaking the jar: You end up with frozen whipped cream that almost feels like butter. At the other side of the spectrum, if you only do a wrist shake for a couple of minutes (as seen in some YouTube videos), the volume of the mixture only changes slightly, and after the freezer you will just end up with frozen heavy cream that liquifies quickly.

Guillermo Riveros/Chowhound

I believe the trick to get it just right is to do it at your pace and don't be afraid to check the mixture and keep going or stopping. Once you start shaking, you'll feel the volume inside the jar change: It gets denser and heavier. You should check as soon as you feel this change. Stick your spoon in and see how the mixture looks and feels. If it's still too thin (it doesn't coat the spoon like a batter, and it hasn't almost doubled in volume), put the lid back on and shake for another minute, then check again.

There's something magical about making your own ice cream, especially when it's so literally hand-made. It feels 100 times more special than anything store-bought. If you have kids, this is a fun family activity and a bit of an arm workout -- so win-win! Reward yourself with your own hand-made sweet treat, and play with the flavors however you like.

How to make mason jar ice cream

To make the base for any flavors you may want to try, all you really need is four ingredients and a 16-ounce mason jar. You'll get roughly three servings of ice cream.


The only equipment you need for homemade ice cream!

Find the basic mason jar ice cream recipe on CNET's sister site, Chowhound. It calls for heavy whipping cream, sugar, vanilla and salt and and makes a classic vanilla ice cream that you can dress up with your favorite ice cream toppings once it's set.

Or if you want to go a step further, mix in some extra ingredients before you freeze it. Once you get the hang of it, flavor combinations will go as far as your creativity will take you. Try swirling in raspberry jam or crushed Oreo cookies, or add a little cocoa powder to the other ingredients for chocolate ice cream (then top it with melted peanut butter, or serve with graham crackers and marshmallow fluff for a s'mores inspired dessert).

Here are two variations to get you started:

Mint chocolate mason jar ice cream

Guillermo Riveros/Chowhound

I experimented with one of our favorite flavors at home, a mint chocolate chip. For this one I steeped fresh mint leaves in half of the cream, and added chocolate chips before freezing.

Ice cream ingredients

  • Half a cup mint steeped and cooled heavy cream (directions below)
  • Half a cup heavy cream
  • 1.5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • A quarter teaspoon salt
  • Half a cup semisweet chocolate chips

Mint heavy cream ingredients

  • Half a cup heavy cream
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves


1. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, heat half a cup of heavy cream until it comes to a soft simmer. 

2. Take off the heat and add mint leaves. Cover and let them steep for two hours.

3. Strain heavy cream and set it aside to cool. (You can do this step the day before and store it in the fridge overnight.)

4. When the mint heavy cream is ready, combine it with the additional half cup of heavy cream, sugar, vanilla and salt in a mason jar. Secure the lid.

5. Shake the mason jar for 3 to 5 minutes (depending on your strength and speed), until the cream thickens and almost doubles in volume. The mixture should be able to easily coat the back of a spoon, and feel like a loose batter.

6. In a mixing bowl, combine your ice cream base with the chocolate chips, then pour everything back into the mason jar. Secure your lid tightly and freeze for at least 3 hours, or until ice cream hardens.

Strawberry balsamic mason jar ice cream with black pepper

Guillermo Riveros/Chowhound

Then I went a little over the top with roasted berries, balsamic vinegar and ground black pepper. I cannot recommend this recipe enough, it's my new hit of the summer.


  • Half a cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • A quarter teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

2. Combine strawberries with honey in a bowl until coated and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring once. Let the strawberries cool before mixing with your ice cream base. (If you don't want strawberry chunks in your ice cream, you can take this a step further and puree in your blender or food processor after letting them cool.)

3. Follow the standard vanilla mason jar ice cream recipe to make the base.

4. Before freezing, in a mixing bowl combine your ice cream base with the roasted strawberries, balsamic vinegar and ground pepper. Mix to combine and pour into the mason jar.

5. Let ice cream harden in the freezer for about 3 hours before serving.

Keto mason jar ice cream

If you're cutting carbs, it's also possible to make a keto mason jar ice cream recipe with erythritol, a low carb sweetener. We all scream for ice cream, after all.

This story was originally published on Chowhound.