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How to Make Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag in 10 Minutes

I loved making this homemade ice cream with my family, and I hope you will too!

This article will show you how to make homemade ice cream in a bag—in any flavor you want!

This article will show you how to make homemade ice cream in a bag—in any flavor you want!

If you've never made homemade ice cream in a bag, you have to try it at least once. Trust me, if you make this easy and versatile ice cream recipe once, you're sure to make it again and again—it's that delicious!

Cook Time

Prep timeReady inYields

10 min

10 min

About 3/4 cup ice cream

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup ice cream salt, or rock salt
  • 3 cups crushed ice

Instructions

  1. Pour half and half, sugar, and vanilla into a Ziploc sandwich bag. Zip the bag closed and set aside.
  2. To the Ziploc gallon bag, add crushed ice and rock/ice cream salt.
  3. Put the sealed sandwich bag inside the gallon bag; zip the gallon bag closed.
  4. Shake the bags for at least 5 minutes; when the ice cream feels slightly firm, it's done.
  5. If desired, add other ingredients like chopped strawberries, chocolate chips, crushed cookies, or candy bars to the small bag and shake for another minute or two.

The Chemistry Behind Ice Cream in a Bag

If you've created homemade ice cream before, you may be wondering how a liquid like half and half can turn into ice cream simply by moving it around in a bath of ice and salt. Here's how it works.

The ordinary freezing point of water (H2O) is 0°C. When the compound salt (NaCl) is added to the ice, a phenomenon known as freezing depression occurs. Simply put, freezing depression means that the temperature at which freezing occurs is lower than ordinary.

Salt lowers the freezing point of water to a maximum of -18°C, causing it to both freeze and melt at lower temperatures than normal.

Now, recall from the ice cream in a bag recipe that a smaller bag of liquid cream is placed inside a larger bag of ice and salt and then shaken. There are two basic reasons the cream forms into ice cream:

  1. The salt/ice mixture creates a super cold environment, well below water's normal freezing point.
  2. The salt/ice mixture draws heat away from the cream mixture and maybe even your hands holding the bag.

Additionally, rock salt, or ice cream salt, has larger crystals than ordinary table salt. Not only do the larger crystals of salt dissolve more slowly in the ice water, but they allow for more even cooling.

Lastly, the shaking of the bags helps to make the ice cream consistent and creamy!

Homemade chocolate chip ice cream, made in a bag.

Homemade chocolate chip ice cream, made in a bag.

A Favorite Dessert

As a kid growing up in the northeastern U.S., eating ice cream was a year-round affair, not just an indulgence of summer. While store-purchased ice cream certainly was not a novelty in our home, homemade ice cream sure was.

I remember the first time I ate homemade ice cream at a friend's birthday party. We each took turns cranking the handle on an old-fashioned ice cream freezer and then got to enjoy the tasty and creamy fruits of our labor.

Strangely, that was the one and only time I have eaten homemade ice cream in 45 years of living. That is, until my daughter brought home a science experiment from her high school chemistry class for ice cream in a bag—not a bad homework assignment if you ask me!

Comments

Mackenzie on May 10, 2018:

Is there something that you can use instead of of using vanilla extract?

Terri Mitchell from Dartmoor on May 09, 2015:

I never knew you could make ice cream in a bag! Why have I messed about with freezers and churning for so long.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on September 18, 2014:

Thanks Lionrhod.To answer your question, no I've never had any problems with the plastic bags I use (Zip Loc brand) tearing from the ice or salt.

Lionrhod from Orlando, FL on September 14, 2014:

Brilliant idea! Love this hub.

Are the strength of the bags a challenge? My first thought was that the ice/salt might puncture the smaller bag.

I'm going to try this!

Mary Wickison from Brazil on November 18, 2013:

This hub has started a discussion in our house. My husband doesn't believe it will work. I know it will because when I was young we made ice cream out of snow and rock salt.

The ice cream here in Brazil is really expensive for the good stuff.

I am looking forward to trying this, my mind is now on over-drive thinking of the different recipes to try.

Thank you so much. Voted up and Useful.

portables on June 03, 2013:

I tried this with solid CO2 - it worked really fast, but it made fizzy ice cream!

talfonso from Tampa Bay, FL on May 28, 2013:

I remember making homemade ice cream in a bag with my chemistry class in high school, believe it or not! I'm the only one who chose to make vanilla as opposed to chocolate or strawberry because it's second to coffee as my favorite flavor. I am on the shake diet not-to-be-named and I bet it would work with the already mixed shake (without ice). It's something to enjoy if I have a hankering for ice cream because it's low calorie, low fat, and sugar-free!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on February 18, 2013:

Wow - Thanks for letting me know that and for thinking to use my Hub to help out. What a great science fair project; I'm glad the judges liked it too. I'm still sort of amazed myself each time I do this, how quickly you can turn cream into ice cream. Thanks again - sounds like a fun class you teach!

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on February 18, 2013:

Ktrapp, I wanted to let you know that I used your hub for two of my students' science project. They thoroughly enjoyed doing this, and got compliments from the science fair judges that their ice cream was the best of three other projects that also did homemade ice cream. Your instructions were very easy to understand. Thank you so much!!!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on February 16, 2013:

Vicki - "Ice dessert!" That borders on blasphemy. I just checked my 1/2 the fat Edy's that I just bought, and luckily it says ice cream. I checked the ingredients and it definitely has cream - phew! Thanks for your comment; I'm glad you liked the photos too.

Vickiw on February 16, 2013:

This is a fabulous Hub - very well done! I will try it ASAP. I am really ticked off with bought ice cream now - have you noticed they have to call it ice dessert, because it is no longer ice cream? Just look at the labelling. I really don't like all this tinkering around to put extra junk in our food. Lovely pictures too.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 29, 2012:

Thanks ishwaryaa22. I'm glad you found the video and photos to be helpful for this recipe. Hopefully you will get the chance to make ice cream in a bag yourself sometime, especially since you like ice cream so much!

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on December 29, 2012:

An unique recipe! Your video, instructions and photos are clear and helpful. The scientific details are engaging. I would like to try this easy to make recipe as I am a big fan of ice cream. Belated congrats on the HOTD. Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & pinned

Rie-Rie from Somewhere in MO. on December 21, 2012:

Yummy! Tasty treat. I'm loving it!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 19, 2012:

I'm glad you liked the recipe-step photos, teaches12345 and thank you.

Dianna Mendez on December 18, 2012:

What a novel idea! Love the photos showing the recipe steps -- yummy. Congrats on the HOD and thanks for sharing.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Clearly any teacher that will let her class full of five year-olds make ice cream in a bag must be amazing! I bet every kid in your class remembers that day.

Megan Dodd from Florida on December 18, 2012:

She was amazing. She only just now retired and I'm 24!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Learning in Life - What a great kindergarten teacher you had to do an activity/lesson like this!

Megan Dodd from Florida on December 18, 2012:

I learned how to do this in kindergarten. It is so much fun!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Sunshine - The first I heard of ice cream in a bag was from my daughter's chemistry class of all places. we went ahead and tried it at home; I was doubtful that it would work, but amazingly it does. Thanks for stopping by.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on December 18, 2012:

I never heard of ice cream in a bag until now. Thanks for the fun lesson of the day. Happy HOTD to you!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Lrc7815 - Was that a pun? haha. Thanks for the vote and sharing.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Hi Vicki. It was definitely a bit warmer outside when I filmed this than it is today, but it's not like winter has ever stopped me from eating ice cream :) Thanks for stopping back by.

Linda Crist from Central Virginia on December 18, 2012:

This is too cool. Voted up and sharing!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on December 18, 2012:

I remember when you published this one. It's a good one! Congrats on HOTD. You deserve it!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

adrienne2 - You know what else? Not only can you make ice cream in a bag, but you can take the same concept and make it with two cans (a smaller one inside a bigger one) and then play kick the can until you have ice cream. Personally, I've never made ice cream in a can, but I think it would be an awesome idea for a kid's summertime birthday party. Thanks so much for your comment and votes.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Junaid Ghani - Thank you so much. That's really kind of you to say.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Definitely give it a try, NornsMercy. To me, it rates high on the "yummy" scale, especially with fresh strawberries.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Thank you, Rusticliving. I had a lot of fun making that video with my daughter and dog :) Looking at if again makes me want ice cream too.

Fierce Manson from Atlanta on December 18, 2012:

Get THE HECK OUT!! Ice cream in a bag. Love this recipe, and the video is awesome. I can not wait to give this a try. Congrats on the hub of the day, totally deserve it. Have voted up, and bookmarked!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

seanorjohn - "Magical" is a great way to describe ice cream in a bag. I've made it quite a few times, and even with an understanding of the science, I am amazed each time the liquid cream turns to ice cream with some shaking. Thanks for your votes and for sharing this too.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

idigwebsites - Half and half, if you're not familiar, is half milk, half cream. I'm not sure where you're from, but in the states it can be purchased that way. It certainly does make a "yummy" dessert.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

vnsatakopna - It's definitely easy to make this ice cream - just a few ingredients and a few minutes!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

RTallolini - Thank you so much, and what a great idea!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Relationshipc - Good thought, there. We would probably all be better off if we had to work for all our food :)

Junaid Ghani Durrani from Karachi, Pakistan on December 18, 2012:

Fantastic Hub! I really like it. Congrats on selection as HOTD.

Chace from Charlotte, NC on December 18, 2012:

This looks so yummy! Can't wait to try it. :)

Liz Rayen from California on December 18, 2012:

I LOVE this hub and your video! I want to make ice cream right now LOL

Congrats on Hub of the Day Kristin! Thumbs up and shared. ♥

seanorjohn on December 18, 2012:

congrats well deserved award. Never realised there was such a thing as ice cream salt. Will definitely try this recipe. It still seems magical even though you expertly explained the science behind it. Voted up and useful. Will tweet this.

idigwebsites from United States on December 18, 2012:

This is really interesting and looks quite yummy! I'm intrigued about the half and half hehehe. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your win. :)

Dr.Vangeepuram Navaneetham Satakopan from Chennai, India on December 18, 2012:

Very interesting and sounds easy. Really worth trying out.

RTalloni on December 18, 2012:

Aha--I knew it! What a fun time for the award to come--at Christmas. Congrats. :) I was thinking that this might make for a bright day in a nursing home.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Paradise7 - It is a good summertime activity. But it's really not messy, so it can be done indoors too. (Now I've got that song in my head.)

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Thanks so much prarieprincess. I've always had a soft-spot for ice cream. Really, it probably was only one of the desserts my mother bought. I loved every flavor from the store, except for peach and coffee. I appreciate your compliments.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Thanks Mary. It's a lot easier to clean up than an ice cream maker. I have to say, that every time I've made this I'm always just as fascinated that it works!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Thanks Thelma. You should definitely try it. Really the only thing out of the ordinary to get is the ice cream salt or rock salt.

Kari on December 18, 2012:

This is a great, fun idea. We should all have to 'work' or 'play' for our ice cream! It helps us burn off a few calories before eating it.

Paradise7 from Upstate New York on December 18, 2012:

OH, yummy, but I think I'll wait until summer to try this. Baby, it's cold outside, here!

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on December 18, 2012:

Ktrapp, this wonderful hub brought back memories for me. My Mom had a fascination with homemade ice cream and she was always looking for new recipes for it. She would have loved this!

I definitely want to try it, and am impressed by your hub, which includes the science, too. Bravo!

Congratulations on "hub of the day." Well deserved!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on December 18, 2012:

Well, who would have ever thought of this??? First: Congrats on HOTD!

I make homemade ice cream in a electric maker, but this method just fascinates me. I am bookmarking this one for sure.

I voted it UP and will certainly share.

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on December 18, 2012:

Awesome! Congrats on the HOTD! You definitely deserved it. Thanks for sharing. I would love to try this.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Thanks Jill. I was a bit skeptical when I made ice cream in a bag for the first time, but it does work and is a lot of fun.

Jill Spencer from United States on December 18, 2012:

Wow! Had never heard of this, but ... it makes sense--and it sounds like lots of fun, particularly for kids. Congrats on HOTD! --Jill

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Thanks ienjoythis. I hope you like it. It's a lot of fun to make.

M Carnahan from Nevada on December 18, 2012:

So awesome!! I cannot wait to make this. Great hub, thanks!!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 18, 2012:

Au fait - It might be good to add crushed candy cane at the end and make peppermint ice cream.

C E Clark from North Texas on December 18, 2012:

Well, I'm going to have to try this, maybe for Christmas. I like to try new things and I really like quick and easy short-cuts that produce good results.

Voted up and AUI.

Donna Kristine from Atlanta, GA on December 18, 2012:

OH YEAH! This recipe is great. I will be making this - the kids will love it.

sweetie1 from India on December 04, 2012:

Yes it looks easy so I have book marked it .. would make it in summers.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on December 03, 2012:

sweetie1 - Thanks so much. I believe an earlier commenter from the U.K. also inquired about half and half (half milk and half cream, as you discovered). I didn't realize that half & half was a U.S. thing. Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe and hope you get to make it.

sweetie1 from India on December 03, 2012:

Hi Ktrapp,

Really enjoyed reading your recipe. So easy to make and looks mouth watering. I had to google what is Half and half as we don't get this in India but it can be easily made at home with cream and milk. voting it up and useful.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 27, 2012:

It sounds like a lot of fun to make this on a camping trip with the kids (as long as you have access to ice).

Dan Harmon from Boise, Idaho on July 25, 2012:

Ice Cream in a bog - who would have thought? (Except a smart science teacher).

We have a camping trip planned this weekend - this just might make a great snack and game for the kids.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 24, 2012:

I'm not sure where you live and the terminology used if it's another country than the U.S., but half and half is half milk, half cream. So basically if you use 1 part of whipping cream and 1 part milk that would be the equivalent of "half and half." I hope this helps.

rosika on July 24, 2012:

Hi again ktrapp,

I really want to make this recipe but I can't find half and half at my place....what ingredient does the half and half have? I will try and make it at home if possible!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 20, 2012:

Thanks nancynurse. I hope you like it, if you get the chance to try it.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 19, 2012:

Thanks so much DzyMsLizzy. I wish I had know about making ice cream this way when my kids were younger. It would have been awesome to do at a birthday party. I've seen where you can also make this with two cans (instead of the plastic bags) and play kick the can to make the ice cream. Thanks for the stars and vote.

Nancy McClintock from Southeast USA on July 18, 2012:

great recipe I have to try this one. Thanks for sharing.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 17, 2012:

Oh, what a fun idea! You could do this for a group of kids, each making their own,and putting their own choice of "add-ins."

Voted up, awesome, starred and shared! (Oh, bummer--wanted to share, but no share button!) :-(

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 17, 2012:

Tracy - I know you've been busy moving and getting settled, but if you get a few minutes you should try making this ice cream with your kids. It's easy, really good, and sort of fascinating. Thanks for the votes and comment.

Tracy Lynn Conway from Virginia, USA on July 16, 2012:

Here is my one word, IRRESISTIBLE! Another great hub & video from you and I am not surprised. ~up, awesome and useful~

Tracy

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 14, 2012:

Thanks Happyboomernurse. I was pleasantly surprised with the contest win. I appreciate your "congrats" and pun.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 13, 2012:

Thanks moonlake. That's really nice of you to say.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on July 13, 2012:

Congrats on winning Best Family Recipe on this beautifully presented and fact filled hub.

The video was also very cool (pun intended).

moonlake from America on July 13, 2012:

I'm not at all surprised you won, great hub. Congratulations on your win.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 12, 2012:

ausis - I would love to hear what you think of this ice cream made in a bag if you get a few minutes to make it. As a professional chef, I bet you might even come up with a few tasty variations or flavors. You're homemade ice cream must be spectacular!

ausis from Australia on July 12, 2012:

Hi As a professional chef I learnt to make ice cream but even before that back in 1977 or their abouts my Aunt use to make it in the big machine. Now days I have 2 ice cream machines I use with a bulk recipe.

It uses a sort of old english custard mix, 3-4 egg yolks, 1.2 litres milk, 1.2 litres cream, 600gram sugar, gelatine & other stuff to make it just right. This recipe always pleases whips up perfectly light & creamy. WAY better than even the superior shop bought brands. MY one problem is, as with anything all good things take time. It takes 4-5 days to make this mix 5 litres of ice cream.

Sometimes I want just a little so your recipe will come in handy for that without having to do all the extra work first.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 11, 2012:

Hey Gordon - No apologies necessary at all. Oh, how I wish I wasn't a dessert person like you, but every now and then I can't resist. This ice cream is actually perfect though, since it's just the right amount; if you want seconds, you have to work for it! I'm glad you liked the video - thanks for letting me know and stopping by.

Gordon Hamilton from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on July 11, 2012:

Hi, Kristen

First off are the million apologies for the delay in dropping by! So sorry about that - I've been away.

I'm really intrigued. This looks amazing. I'm not normally a dessert person and not known for it but straight off the top of my head I know someone who would adore this and no doubt have many other friends who would also.

Great video technique and way beyond my capabilities! Do you do tuition? I really am an old sea fishing foggie! :)

Best wishes,

Gordon

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 09, 2012:

Thanks Dan. Your congratulations is very much appreciated.

Dan Human from Niagara Falls, NY on July 09, 2012:

Congrats on your well-deserved win in the cookbook contest!! This is surely a very family-friendly recipe.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 08, 2012:

Thank you so much Purple Perl. I'm so glad to know that you liked all aspects of this recipe Hub. It was a lot of fun to put together, of course eating the ice cream was the best part. Thanks again.

Esther Shamsunder from Bangalore,India on July 08, 2012:

Loved your dog, and loved the ice cream! What a fun idea and delicious too! Innovative, and I liked the science behind the idea too! Congrats on your win, a truly well deserved hub. Voted up and I loved your video and pics.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 07, 2012:

Pennylu - Thanks...I'm glad you liked the video. Hopefully it demonstrates that you really can make ice cream in a bag easily and with just a few ingredients.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 07, 2012:

Roskika - Thanks for the congrats. I hope you get the chance to try to make ice cream like this sometime.

Marntzu on July 06, 2012:

you're welcome

rosika on July 06, 2012:

What an excellent easy idea, loved it...Thanks for sharing and congrats on your winning!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 06, 2012:

Thanks for the tip Marntzu. It's always nice to have some available substitutes.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 06, 2012:

Thanks jennzie. I don't know why, but every time I make it, I'm amazed that it works. Thanks for the vote up and share.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 06, 2012:

Peggy W. - It's sort of crazy that you can make ice cream in a bag, isn't it? And it's an awesome way to teach science. I just got some fresh strawberries so I think we are going to make some again tomorrow. And trust me, Ruby the beagle always gets her fair share :) Now that I think about it, I bet she would love to help you make some of your old fashioned cookies.

Penny Lulich from Indiana on July 06, 2012:

Wow! Great ice cream maker! And, I loved the video. Thanks so much. I think you did a great job. Yum!

Marntzu on July 06, 2012:

You can use Kosher salt in a pinch too.

Jenn from Pennsylvania on July 06, 2012:

Awesome recipe idea! I didn't know you could make ice cream in a bag- this looks delicious!

Voted up and shared.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 06, 2012:

Congratulations on your win. Prior to reading this, I never heard of making ice cream in a bag. Good science project indeed! Voted up, interesting and sharing. I liked the last photo in the video. Nice that your dog gets to at least have a lick or two. :))

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 06, 2012:

Thanks so much Melvoy. Ice cream salt really is just rock salt packaged so you get the idea to use it for homemade ice cream. If you cannot find either in the UK, you're probably right that you can get it on Amazon. Thanks again for the congratulations.

Yvonne Spence from UK on July 06, 2012:

Congratulations on your win. This sounds like such a fun recipe to make. I feel sure my daughters will enjoy this science experiment. I have never seen ice cream salt, but I expect it will be available on Amazon, even here in the UK.

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on July 06, 2012:

Oh wow! I didn't know that vespawoolf. How nice to hear the good news from another hubber and thank you for the congratulations.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on July 06, 2012:

Congrats for winning the best family recipe in the contest! It's well deserved!

Kristin Trapp (author) from Illinois on June 30, 2012:

Thanks cocopreme. It's a hot summer so hopefully this ice cream does the trick. Thanks for the Pin too.