Let’s be honest: An ice cream maker is a one-trick pony. And with limited space in our kitchens, machinery for the dessert genre isn’t always a top priority. Some of the more ice cream-obsessed of us (ahem) may think it should be the #1 kitchen appliance, but for most folks, it might do little more than collect dust.

A food processor, on the other hand, is nothing if not versatile — and we can’t think of a more noble use for your trusty processor than homemade ice cream.

Strawberry ice creamShare on Pinterest
Photography by Jesse Morrow/Stocksy United

You can find tons of recipes for “nice cream” made in a food processor using a base of frozen bananas instead of the classic recipe of cream, eggs, and sugar. But even though making a tasty treat out of fresh fruit is certainly a healthy choice, sometimes we want the real thing.

Fellow sweet-cold-creamy obsessive Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, shares a quick, simple way to make traditional ice cream at home without an ice cream maker. Follow her steps below.

1. Follow any basic recipe you want to make the custard. Don‘t include any flavorings yet, even vanilla, just the cream, eggs, and sugar.

2. Pour the custard into a zip-top bag and press every last bit of air out. Seal it tightly and place it flat in the freezer. Allow to freeze completely.

3. Crumble the frozen custard into your food processor and process until completely smooth. At this point, you can stir in any mix-ins or additional flavorings you want.

4. Scrape the ice cream into a storage container and place back in the freezer. That’s it!

The texture of this food processor ice cream is a bit finer, a little like gelato. But you can make it into any flavor you like, and stir in all sort of mix-ins, from chopped peanut butter cups to fresh berries.

The importance of air

Why can’t you just make the custard, freeze it, and eat it right away? It all comes down to air.

Churning air into your ice cream as it freezes is essential if you want to avoid large ice crystals and not end up with a sad, solid block. After all, you want something creamy and luscious that coats your tongue — not icy, crunchy crystals. But if churn your ice cream after the custard’s frozen, that’s the next best thing.

If you don’t already have a food processor, you probably want one right about now, huh? (It’s definitely more versatile than an ice cream maker!)

Try making these ice cream flavors in your food processor this summer (or any time the craving strikes).

1. Strawberry cheesecake ice cream

Spiced cookie butter or a spread like Biscoff’s has the taste of a graham cracker but the texture of peanut butter. It develops a cheesecake-like crust when combined with strawberry ice cream. Yaaaaasssss.

Get our strawberry cheesecake ice cream recipe.

2. Mixed berry sherbet

Frozen raspberries and blackberries play together in this creamy, egg-less dessert thickened with whole milk. Sherbet isn’t as rich as traditional ice cream, but it’s still plenty creamy.

Get our mixed berry sherbet recipe.

3. Toasted sesame seed and honey gelato

Sesame seeds and honey pair well in crunchy, sweet snack bars. Who knew they could also create a uniquely delicious ice cream?

Get our toasted sesame seed and honey gelato recipe.

4. Graham cracker malted vanilla ice cream

Malt powder doesn’t just make a mean milkshake. It also adds a sturdy undertone of toastiness to vanilla ice cream. Here, crumbled graham crackers add even more oomph to plain vanilla.

Get our graham cracker malted vanilla ice cream recipe.

5. Saffron ice cream (bastani-e gol-o blbol)

This is a Persian (Iranian) style of ice cream with saffron threads dissolved into rose water. If you can’t find the sahlab this recipe calls for, use cornstarch, and a lot of it. Sprinkle crushed pistachios on top, and you’ve got a super special flavor that isn’t available in most stores.

Get our saffron ice cream recipe.

6. Thai vegan coconut ice cream

Shredded coconut added to coconut cream gives this ice cream a pleasantly chewy texture. Top with diced mangos for a tropical treat.

Get our Thai vegan coconut ice cream recipe.

7. Grasshopper ice cream

You don’t have to use the green food coloring if you want to keep it all-natural, but we dig the nostalgia of our childhood version of mint chocolate chip. A bit of mint extract and chocolate chips are standard here, but then there are chopped up BROWNIES. Hop your way to the food processor to whip up this perennial favorite.

Get our grasshopper ice cream recipe.