Find the right tools for you.
For the Novice: Pick up a machine with pre-frozen inserts -- it's inexpensive and easy to handle. The inserts must be frozen for about 12 hours before using, but buy an extra one to store in your freezer to avoid the half-day wait in between batches.
For the Entertainer: Consider a rock salt and ice machine, the old-fashioned way to make ice cream. The base is poured into a metal canister set in a bucket, the motor is latched on top, and ice and rock salt are layered in between the bucket and canister. Available in electric or hand crank, this machine is noisy, but fun to watch and perfect for barbecues -- grab an extension cord to take the fun outside.
For the Fanatic: If homemade ice cream is regularly in your freezer, check out a machine with a built-in freezing unit. Though it's on the pricier side, zero forethought is required. Just pour in the custard, turn on the machine and 20 minutes later, your ice cream's done and the machine's ready for the next batch.
For the DIY-er: Put the kids to work outside! Rinse, dry and freeze a 36-ounce and a 10-ounce coffee can along with their plastic lids. Fill the smaller can three-quarters full with the ice cream base and seal; place it inside the larger can and pack the empty space with crushed ice, then cover with a layer of coarse salt before sealing. Roll or gently kick the can until the ice cream is frozen, about 45 minutes.
More: Get the dish on our favorite makers and scoops.
These homemade ice cream recipes and pairings are worth drooling over.
MIX IT UP
Put your own stamp on your next batch!
Freeze mix-ins separately while the base is churning. This way, they won't melt the ice cream when folded in.
Flavor your custard with aromatics like fresh ginger or coffee beans. Steep the ingredients in the hot cream base for 15 minutes before straining.
Reduce fat by using more milk and less cream.
Avoid rock-hard fruit chunks by cooking the fruit first: Roast in the oven or stew on the stovetop before adding it to the base.
Toast chopped nuts before folding into the churned ice cream, to maximize flavor.
Use a serrated knife to chop chocolate into shards for mix-ins. (Try your favorite candy bar!)
DRESS IT UP
There's nothing vanilla about these 3 easy recipe ideas.
Malted Milk Ball Pops: Pack strawberry ice cream into 3-ounce paper cups, then insert a wooden pop stick into each one. Freeze until hard, then unmold and roll in crushed malted milk balls.
Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream Cake: Prepare a brownie recipe, like The Best Basic Brownies, using a springform pan. Pack chocolate ice cream on top and freeze. Slice and serve with Caramel Sauce.
Pink Lemonade Milkshake: Using a food processor, mix together 1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream and 1/2 cup thawed pink lemonade concentrate.