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You’ll Scream for This Easy 3 Ingredient Ice Cream Recipe — No Churning Required

Learn how to get the perfect creamy texture without ice

Warm weather is finally here and who wouldn’t want to kick-off summer with a cold, sweet treat? I have fond memories of driving with my whole family to our favorite ice cream place. Now I live a little too far away to enjoy that comforting chocolate ice cream cone. So, when I heard you can make it at home without a machine or hours of churning, I had to try it. This 3 Ingredient ice cream recipe takes just minutes to prep for smooth and creamy results that rival any store-bought tub. I also got the expert scoop on avoiding icy crystals, plus storing tips and fun ways to customize. Here’s how to make 3 ingredient ice cream.

What is 3 ingredient ice cream?

I didn’t know you could make ice cream with just three ingredients. “A traditional homemade ice cream recipe often starts with cooking a custard,” explains Holly Nilsson, creator of Spend With Pennies. “The custard is then added to an ice cream machine that has been pre-frozen and churns until the custard freezes into a creamy delight.” But with this method, you just need heavy whipping cream, sweetened condensed milk and your chosen flavoring. Sweetened condensed milk adds sugar, but it also thickens the mixture.

So, how does it work? The magic lies in the cream. Whipping heavy cream rapidly incorporates air bubbles that expand as the mixture freezes, creating a light and airy texture. This process takes out the need for churning, which traditionally breaks up ice crystals.

Want another dessert using sweetened condensed milk? Try this Tres Leches Cake!

Tips for the perfect 3 ingredient ice cream

3 ingredient ice cream
Cavan Images/Getty

From watching pro chefs struggle making ice cream with a machine on TV, I didn’t have high hopes for myself. But it all comes down to getting the perfect creaminess without any ice.

1. Start cold

Ensure all your ingredients are well chilled before starting. Cold temperatures help the cream whip up properly and prevent ice crystals from forming. “As long as the loaf pan and bowl for the whipping cream are pre-chilled, mixing up the rest of the ingredients shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes or so!” says Nilsson.

2. Whip it right

Patience is key here! Whip the heavy cream until it reaches stiff peaks. This creates the air bubbles necessary for a smooth texture. You can also use a stand mixer to save elbow grease — just be careful not to over whip on a high setting.

3. Fold gently

Once you whip the cream, you’ll want to slowly incorporate it. Nilsson says to “gently fold together until fully mixed. Do not over mix or the finished result won’t be as light and airy.”

4. Freeze wisely

Freeze the mixture for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, to allow it to solidify completely. Additionally, I stirred the mixture occasionally during freezing to break up any large ice crystals.

Easy 3 ingredient ice cream recipe

Nilsson’s recipe doesn’t require any custard making or fancy machine, just 15 minutes of prep. It makes a base vanilla ice cream, but you can swap out the extract. Remember to freeze your pan (or container of choice) before adding the ice cream.

Base 3 Ingredient Ice Cream

3 ingredient ice cream
Cavan Images/Getty


  • 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream (heavy whipping cream)


  • Active Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. Line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper. Place in the freezer.
  2. Combine sweetened condensed milk and vanilla in a large, chilled bowl.
  3. In a separate chilled bowl, whip heavy cream on medium high until stiff peaks form.
  4. Gently fold the whipped cream into the sweetened condensed milk. (Stir in any mix-ins you’d like at this point). Then, pour into prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and freeze at least 4 hours or overnight.

Note: “For a more intense vanilla flavor, use a real vanilla bean by scraping the tiny seeds out of the bean,” suggests Nilsson.

Storage instructions

3 ingredient ice cream can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. However, the longer it stays, the more likely it will develop ice crystals and lose its smooth texture. Nilsson shares her steps to prevent this as much as possible. “Once the ice cream is made, the key is to keep it from temperature fluctuations,” she explains. To start, cover it in plastic wrap before sealing the lid to prevent ice crystals forming on the top. Additionally, “store towards the back of the freezer (not the door) so the temperature stays the same,” adds Nilsson.

See also: 3 Simple Ways To Store a Pint of Ice Cream So It Stays Fresh and Tasty

Personalize your 3 ingredient ice cream

It can’t get any better than this. I loved inviting friends over and setting up a DIY ice cream bar. With a few items probably already in your pantry, you can switch up the vanilla flavor easily (no shade to those who like vanilla). I made these fun flavors below!

1. Double chocolate

Add chocolate syrup or cocoa powder into the base recipe. For extra decadence, you can top with chocolate chips, crushed cookies or chocolate candy.

2. Fruity fusion

Puree fresh strawberries, blueberries or even mango and fold into the mixture for a bright, tart flavor. A touch of lime or lemon juice also helps here.

3. Peanut butter pretzel

Fold in some runny peanut butter and chopped pretzels for a salty-sweet explosion. You can also top with crushed peanuts or other nuts.  

4. Salted caramel

Stick to the base recipe, then top your vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of caramel sauce and a pinch of flaky salt. Or you can drizzle the caramel into the base before freezing.

For more refreshing ice cream desserts, try these below:

Protein Ice Cream Recipe Is So Easy to Make With Just 5 Ingredients: My Taste Test Results

5-Ingredient Ice Cream Cake Recipe Features 2 Kinds of Oreos for Double the Yum

Creamy-Cool Coconut Ice Cream Cake Recipe Is an Absolute Breeze to Make

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