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5 Unique Ways to Make Your Own Ice Cream

A scoop of chocolate brownie ice cream, a cone with raspberry ice cream, and a bowl of mocha ice cream.
Half-Baked Harvest/A Couple Cooks

Ice cream is so much more than the traditional milk, cream, and eggs—and we’ve got the proof! Check out these five different ways to make ice cream with alternative ingredients.

Whether you’re swapping ingredients for health reasons or just personal preference, there are plenty of options for homemade ice cream beyond the usual cream-and-egg custard base.

Mix things up by adding some vegan ingredients or unexpected dairy products, like sour cream or ricotta. You can even try a no-churn or non-dairy recipe. Find your favorite flavors in the recipes below and get ready for a delicious, unique summer treat.

Ricotta Ice Cream

A waffle cone full of raspberry ice cream and a bowl with ice cream and peaches.
Half-Baked Harvest/Snixy Kitchen

It might not seem intuitive to use ricotta in an ice cream base, but the creamy cheese actually helps produce a wonderfully creamy treat! The ricotta isn’t a substitute for heavy cream, but for the egg custard part of the traditional ice cream recipe.

It provides a similar rich texture without having to deal with cooking down the egg mixture, and the taste of the ricotta has just a hint of savoriness, giving the ice cream a more multi-dimensional flavor.

If you’re a fan of summery fruit flavors, then a raspberry shortcake ricotta ice cream is the way to go. The main event is the creamy, delicious raspberry ice cream (with a hint of lemon to bring out the flavor), but the “shortcake” comes in with crumbled biscuits sprinkled throughout for texture.

Get the Recipe: Half-Baked Harvest

Of course, sweeter flavors aren’t for everyone, but a honey, lemon, and thyme ricotta ice cream is totally unique and totally delicious. This easy recipe is a less-sweet, gently flavorful alternative if you’re not a fan of super-sugary ice creams. The base contains ricotta along with the milk and cream (but no egg custard), flavored with a delicious blend of sweet honey, tart lemon, and just a hint of sharp thyme for extra dimension.

Get the Recipe: Snixy Kitchen

No-Churn Ice Cream

A scoop of brownie ice cream and a silver mug full of toffee caramel ice cream.
Half-Baked Harvest/Heather’s Home Bakery

No ice cream machine? No problem! No-churn ice cream recipes are the perfect solution when you don’t have a machine handy (or just don’t want the hassle).

Most of the time, these recipes get their texture from sweetened condensed milk, which helps give the mixture a rich creaminess, without having to use the churning-while-freezing technique.

It tends to produce a sweeter ice cream, so this type of base is especially good for richer flavors like chocolate and caramel. For example, you can try a no-churn toffee caramel ice cream.

This indulgent, gooey recipe is a lot less complicated than the finished product appears. You start with a rich, pure vanilla base, add thick swirls of your favorite caramel, then sprinkle in some chunks of English toffee for extra flavor and a crunchy contrast to the creaminess.

Get the Recipe: Heather’s Home Bakery

If you’re a chocolate and coffee lover, then you’ll definitely appreciate a no-churn fudge brownie coffee ice cream! Imagine your favorite mocha, in ice cream form, with chunks of delicious brownie.

This is a surprisingly quick and easy recipe, with just a few ingredients, including instant coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and brownie chunks. For a more grown-up version, add a splash of Kahlua!

Get the Recipe: Half-Baked Harvest

Vegan Milk Ice Cream

A bowl of chocolate ice cream; a bowl of mocha ice cream
Heather’s Home Bakery/A Couple Cooks

Vegan ice cream is one of the hottest (no pun intended) trends of recent years, with many people turning to non-dairy alternatives for health reasons or just preference. Even if you don’t have a totally dairy-free lifestyle, you can enjoy a delicious vegan ice cream.

They’re typically made using alternative milks made from nuts, like almonds and cashews, or coconut milk.

Chocolate ice cream might seem like a tough one to make dairy-free, between the milk, cream, and the actual chocolate, but you can try a rich, flavorful, vegan chocolate chocolate-chip ice cream with just a few tweaks to the ingredient list.

This recipe includes dairy substitutes for the half-and-half and cream, plus sweetened condensed coconut milk and vegan chocolate. It’s a wholly plant-based ice cream with all the flavor you love!

Get the Recipe: Heather’s Home Bakery

You can even re-create some of the most iconic ice cream flavors in vegan style. If you have a sweet spot for Baskin Robbins’s famous Jamoca Almond Fudge flavor, this mocha-almond ice cream is both easy to make at home and perfectly vegan.

The base uses sweetened condensed coconut milk, cornstarch, and agave instead of milk, cream, and eggs, with coffee, toasted almonds, and chunks of vegan chocolate for that layered flavor and texture.

Get the Recipe: A Couple Cooks

Fruit-Based Ice Cream

Two cups of strawberry ice cream, and a tub filled with chocolate ice cream.
As Easy as Apple Pie/What Molly Made

Another way to get a dairy-free or vegan ice cream is to use fruit as the base. Bananas are usually the secret ingredient for these ice creams, as the creamy texture and sweetness can help get a no-churn vegan recipe to the right consistency.

These are different from sorbets, which are less creamy frozen treats, but it’s the same idea of using fruit as the main ingredient, then freezing to reach the right consistency.

Start super easy, with something like a strawberry banana ice cream. Technically, we wouldn’t even call this an ice cream, because it doesn’t have any cream or a non-dairy substitute, just the fruit. The secret is to use ripe bananas to get that creamy texture, then freeze it just until it becomes scoopable. Who says ice cream can’t be healthy?

Get the Recipe: As Easy as Apple Pie

A fruit base doesn’t have to mean a pure fruit flavor, though. Try a vegan chocolate banana ice cream for a super-easy recipe packed with fantastic (and plant-based) chocolate flavor. Nut butter (almond, cashew, or peanut) and almond milk, plus frozen bananas, form the creamy base. Then, you just mix in your favorite cocoa powder and some vegan chocolate chips.

Get the Recipe: What Molly Made

Tip: Invest in an excellent cocoa powder, like the intensely flavored Dutch-processed cocoa, for a huge difference in the flavor.

Sour Cream Ice Cream

A bowl of lime ice cream, and a bowl of strawberry ice cream.
The View from Great Island/Two Peas & Their Pod

Sour cream isn’t the most intuitive swap for an ice cream recipe, but it actually produces great flavor and texture, while lowering the fat content. Most sour creams contain less than half the typical fat content of heavy cream. So not only do you get a base that’s slightly tangy and super creamy, but it’s also a bit more health-conscious.

If you’ve never had lime chiffon ice cream, now’s your chance to find out what makes it so special. This simple recipe produces a super-creamy, no-egg ice cream with a tart citrus twist.

It’s surprisingly easy to make. All you need is some sugar, sour cream, fresh lime juice, and, of course, the sour cream. Its extra-creamy texture interacts beautifully with the citrus for a tangy, refreshing summer treat.

Get the Recipe: The View from Great Island

Strawberries and sour cream are a classic dessert, making them the perfect centerpiece of this ice cream. Perfectly pink and packed with flavor, this version uses half sour cream and half heavy cream for a hybrid recipe.

The trick here is to make sure you let the strawberries sit for a little while before blending them in. This brings out the sugars and juices for the best texture and most potent flavor.

Get the Recipe: Two Peas & Their Pod

Whether you’re an ice cream expert or this is your first try at homemade, these fun recipes offer an easy way to whip up a summer dessert the whole family will love. And if you want more dairy-free recipes, here are some of our faves!

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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