How to Make Ice Cream in a Bag Article -
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How to Make Ice Cream in a Bag

It's a dessert! It's a science project! It's way cool fun.

Let the kids shake up their own ice cream, and sneak in a little brain food while they're at it.

This no-cook recipe for vanilla ice cream makes about eight half-cup servings.


  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 bag crushed ice
  • 4 cups coarse salt

For each kid you'll need:

  • 2 pint-size resealable plastic freezer bags
  • 1 gallon-size resealable plastic freezer bag
  • Gloves or towel to protect fingers

1. In a pitcher or large measuring cup, stir together the whipping cream, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla extract until sugar has dissolved.

2. Pour about 1/2 cup of mixture into a pint-size plastic bag and seal carefully, squeezing out extra air. Place each sealed bag into a second pint-size bag, again squeezing out extra air. Seal carefully.

3. Fill each gallon-size plastic bag about halfway with ice and add 1/2 cup coarse salt. Place one sealed small bag into the large bag, squeeze out most of the air, and seal the large bag.

4. Wear mittens or thick gloves, or wrap the bag in a towel to protect hands against the extreme cold. Shake and massage the bag for about 5 minutes or until mixture thickens into ice cream. Add more salt and ice to the outer bag if ice cream hasn't formed after 10 minutes of continuous motion.

5. Remove the outer pint-size bag before you open the inner bag so you don't get any of the salty ice on your ice cream!

    Jun. 21, 2009 5:55 pm
    I have also tried this recipe using a large coffee tin instead of a gallon bag. It's a great science experience for elementary schoolers! Students rolled the cans down a hill in place of shaking. What a fun, tasty way to learn!
    Jun. 27, 2009 11:28 am
    I've done this before as a science experiment when I was in 8th grade... It was pretty cool to compare the results using milk and cream.
    Jul. 17, 2009 12:00 pm
    My children enjoy it better when you put the mixture in a small coffee can and put the ice and salt in a big coffee can. Put the little can in the big can and roll it between them. Make sure to seal the cans really well. I always add tape to it.
    Jul. 28, 2009 7:18 pm
    I can't wait to try it? Do you think it would work with whole milk in place of the cream? Where can you get cream?
    Aug. 25, 2009 10:32 pm
    Sweetie don't use milk it doesn't taste as good and doesn't set the same. You can get the whipping cream at any grocery store
    Aug. 31, 2009 6:57 am
    how fun! I am so excited to try this with my boys! Thanks for the posting! :-)
    lu cro 
    Aug. 31, 2009 11:08 am
    i am going to try this at the picnic this week end!
    Sep. 1, 2009 8:29 am
    i've tried this before a loooong time ago and this stuff is THE BEST!!! i loved it soooooo much!
    Sep. 4, 2009 5:57 am
    I tried this with my 9 great nieces and nephews and it was a big hit. Even Grannie and Grandpa had to try it. I used different extracts to get different flavors (lemon, pepermint, almond).
    Oct. 5, 2009 11:29 am
    This was soooo good. I was afraid it wouldn't work and then my kids wouldn't get the icecream they were so excited about. Fortunately it worked perfectly. The kids (and me) had a great time making and eating. We will definitely do this again.
    Nov. 4, 2009 7:32 pm
    I learned a similar trick at a fair for the grade school my boys were attending. The Ice cream mix in the double bag was placed into a large coffee can, suspended upright by one student while the others filled the can with crushed ice and rock salt, then a plastic lid was placed on the can. The students sat in a circle and rolled the can with its contents back and forth to each other for about ten minutes until the ice cream was at soft-freeze stage. What a hit! Yummy!
    Nov. 27, 2009 7:55 pm
    I am a science teacher and we do this as a heat energy transfer lab. The students and my grandchildren just call it the ice cream lab. We use a coffee can for the large bag iwth the ice and salt, and a quart size zip closure bag for the ice cream ingredients. I also buy a bag of salt for a water softener for less than $5. This seems to work as well as the expensive ice cream salt. The students convert the measures from metric to household measures to use at home. Be sure you have the bag closed and rinse the outside of the bag before you oopen it. Even the youngest can make their own ice cream.
    Cynthia Falwell 
    Dec. 11, 2009 8:51 pm
    I can't wait to try this, the ingredients are on my grocery shopping list. Thank you so much!
    Jan. 12, 2010 1:36 pm
    We've done this as a family, but we told the person we were throwing to, what we liked about them. It's fun because you gets lots of compliments and ice cream!
    Jan. 13, 2010 5:22 am
    I love this, my dad use to make homemade ice cream all the time! Ive been wanting to do it but i dont have the machine anymore and i could never remember the ingredients, blah. I cant wait to make some! also i think the coffee cans are an excellent idea Rae
    Feb. 4, 2010 8:57 pm
    I can't wait to try this when I'm kid sitting my 11 year old twin granddaughters. I've been looking for activities for us to do together.
    Suma Jacob 
    Feb. 9, 2010 10:27 pm
    As kids we made ice cream all summer in a pail with a handle. My mother used to fill the inner container with the icecream mix (all home ingredients)and the outer with ice and rock salt and my brother and I had to turn the handle. We knew it was done when the handle got harder to turn. She never had to ask us twice!!!
    Feb. 12, 2010 6:59 am
    No matter how you make it, home made ice cream is the best! You'll never want store bought again!
    Mar. 3, 2010 4:27 pm
    I made this today with my kids. It took us 15 minutes but OMG, it was sooooooooooooooooooooo good! I was wondering, has anybody used a pint size canning jar inside the coffee can method? it would be easier to eat out of as opposed to scooping it out of the bag.
    Mar. 11, 2010 6:19 pm
    I cannot wait to try this with my younger sister. However, i would like to ask.. as far as adding extra ingredients (such as oreos or m&ms)is it better to add them in the bag/container before you shake it or after? does that make a difference in how evenly it freezes?
    Mar. 22, 2010 2:10 pm
    I've tried this both with a bag and coffee cans. I prefer using the coffee cans, but they are hard to come by now. The bags are fun to toss around while the ice cream forms. But whatever method you use, still have a yummy treat when you're done :)
    Apr. 11, 2010 12:35 am
    Made this with my daughter when she was in preschool. Delicious but be sure to wash off bag before eating or you get very salty ice cream!
    May 2, 2010 8:35 am
    i like this recipe ice cream n bag because on truck
    May 15, 2010 11:02 am
    i did this once at a daddy daughter thing and it was so fun and delicous
    May 26, 2010 8:30 pm
    We put all the ingredients in a coffee can, tape the lid tight and kick it around in the snow for a while and it works great...we do it every winter!!
    May 31, 2010 3:45 pm
    i made this it was soooooo good thank you so much for this. thank you brenda
    Jun. 7, 2010 9:58 am
    Grandkids got a kick out of making this. One hot summer night they sat on a blanket in the yard and wearing winter mittens, flipped the bag over and over till it was done. Nice treat.
    Jun. 19, 2010 10:06 am
    i cant wait to try this.....any one tried this is a plastic coffee can???will it do the same thing?
    Jul. 2, 2010 1:35 pm
    Try throwing the bag back and forth between people. That way, no one gets frozen and it's a fun activity! Works really great in about 15 minutes!
    Jul. 5, 2010 12:37 pm
    I've done this just using chocolate milk (and 1% milk, at that!)instead of ice cream ingredients. It's still yummy, although more like ice milk I guess. Lots less calories though, and kids still love it. So do I!
    Jul. 6, 2010 7:19 pm
    I am a GreatGrandMother of three little ones now and will look forward to trying it. I will be looking for some coffee cans now.
    Jul. 8, 2010 11:11 am
    This is a great thing to do while you are camping, you can tote the ingredients with you in your cooler, and make it for dessert or a quick snack. (Unlike regular ice cream will not stay cold enough in a cooler!! Great posting! Yummy!!
    Jul. 16, 2010 2:35 am
    hi there friends,it sounds great and I'll try doing it with my daughter,We all like icecream very much. Enjoy yourselves too doing it with your kids too. Have a great day.
    Jul. 16, 2010 10:24 am
    We can't wait to try this!!
    Jul. 16, 2010 12:35 pm
    Hi there I was wondering if I substitute honey for the required sugar will the recipe work anyway?
    Janet Gentry 
    Aug. 9, 2010 11:28 am
    Girl Scouts do this as a team effort rolling the cans back and forth between partners. We call it "Tin Can Ice Cream"......yum!
    Aug. 9, 2010 2:15 pm
    this sounds just AMAZING! sounds fun to do with all 4 kids......yummmy!
    Aug. 24, 2010 12:03 am
    this is grate and it sounds easy i think im gonna give it a try
    Aug. 24, 2010 9:55 pm
    I have a son turning 5 in a few weeks and have been wracking my brain for 'new & cool' ideas. I think I finally found it! I think the kids will love this. What kid doesn't love kicking/throwing things around?! Plus they get to eat ice cream! Great idea. I have never heard of this but sooo glad I found it. Thank you very much!
    Aug. 25, 2010 4:38 pm
    This is a tradition in our family on the Fourth of July. It gives all the kids something to do while waiting for it to get dark enough for the big fireworks. They look forward to it every year! We also add food coloring and flavoring to change it up a little bit.
    Aug. 28, 2010 6:54 pm
    sugar and spice you do not know what cream is and u r an expert cook?
    Aug. 31, 2010 8:41 pm
    As someone mentioned, coffee cans are hard to come by now, so I'm thinking of getting clean empty paint cans from Lowe's. Maybe a quart and a gallon? Or a gallon and a 5 gallon?
    Sep. 2, 2010 3:23 am
    This sounds like so much fun. I like the idea of empty paint cans from Lowe's. My granddaughters will love this!
    Sep. 18, 2010 10:06 pm
    Not that much easier to come by I suppose, but if you have young kids or friends who have young kids, the big cans that you can get baby formula in would work also...
    Sep. 18, 2010 10:06 pm
    or if you ever buy instant mashed potatoes, those still come in big tin cans too I believe...
    Food Mechanic 
    Sep. 23, 2010 1:00 am
    Sounds great! I'm going to try my hand at using a small water bottle for the mixture, a large Karo syrup bottle for the ice/salt, and use the home dryer to mix while I'm watching the game. If it doesn't work out I'll blame it on the cat....
    Sep. 27, 2010 6:14 pm
    wow all i need is wipping cream and like ya so im waiting for my ma to get up and get me some lol i want to try it im 13 and want icecream lol
    Sep. 27, 2010 6:15 pm
    wow all i need is wipping cream and like ya so im waiting for my ma to get up and get me some lol i want to try it im 13 and want icecream lol
    Oct. 10, 2010 7:40 pm
    In 8th grade we did this as a lab! we wrapped the bag with quite a bit of newspaper and tape and played catch until the ice cream set. It was a lot of fun!
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    Dec. 16, 2010 8:33 am
    Can hardly wait to try this with my great grandchildren, sounds like fun.
    Jan. 5, 2011 2:25 pm
    I remember making lots of different ice cream at my grandparents house growing up. They had an old hand crank mixer and all the grandkids would take turns mixing. It is one of my fondest memories that we did as a family. My grandma had so many different recipes and I will have to look through her recipe cards that my mom now has to see if I can find some of them to share with everyone. Also they now have a ball that you can buy for kids that is made to make ice cream. They can roll it back and forth on the floor to mix the ice cream. It was featured on the Today show. I've seen it at different stores including Cabela's.
    Feb. 6, 2011 8:41 am
    Instead of heavy cream, used non-sweetened condensed milk. Expect a different flavor, but if you can find real whole milk (try the organic section), you will get good ice cream. If I do it this way, I add an envelope of gelatin, softened first in some of the milk, to improve the body. I cut the sugar by 1/3 or use SweetLeaf stevia, too. Less fat & sugar, tastes great.
    Kay Anderson 
    Feb. 6, 2011 7:09 pm
    Can't wait to try with the grandkids. I know we will be hooked on this.
    Feb. 10, 2011 8:37 pm
    My uncle is a science teacher and did this for a "science experiment" with all the cousins and family at Christmas and it was a BLAST!! :)
    Patricia Bickar 
    Mar. 4, 2011 4:32 pm
    I come from a "real ice cream" maker. My dad was noted from miles around. That crank freezer was busy for every event. Secret was lots of "real" cream. He added an egg or two also depending on how much he was making. A favorite was called "Lacto". A tart fruit was added to the mixture. I make it for "very special events" And bring out the old crank freezer with lots of ice and salt....
    Mar. 12, 2011 6:55 am
    can you use this method with any ice cream recipe?? i dont have an ice cream maker but i want to try making some :]
    Apr. 25, 2011 6:33 pm
    sounds like tons of fun... will have to try with my kids!!!
    May 18, 2011 1:21 pm
    Since we were young and poor we've always made homemade ice cream using Condensed (Pet)Milk plus a half gallon of milk. It's not bad if that's what you're used to! I was never crazy about too much cream in ice cream.
    May 27, 2011 4:08 pm
    I wonder what the ingredients to this price out as? My calculations show non sale prices in my area to be: 1 pint(2 cups) of cream is $3.89, 1 Quart of half and half is $2.69(1 quart is 4 cups, so the recipe calls for 2 cups=$1.60), coarse salt is $4.39 for 3 lb(4 1/2 cups, so the recipe calls for 3 cups=$3.50)... Those ingredients alone cost $8.79. It better make alot of iced cream, or provide much fun value!
    Jun. 14, 2011 9:32 pm
    I was wondering if you could use Epsom Salt, or is that a different salt? I cannot wait to try this!
    Jun. 14, 2011 10:17 pm
    Can't wait to try this w/ my granddaughter. We all love ice cream & asking it pure like this w/ no chemicals sounds great! THANKS SO MUCH for all the comments to get me started!
    Jun. 14, 2011 10:18 pm
    PS-I meant making it NOT asking it. hehehehe
    Jun. 15, 2011 1:36 am
    @hollybake, epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) is completely different from the coarse salt you need here (sodium chloride, plain ordinary salt). I wouldn't use epsom salt because it could have some VERY unpleasant effects if you accidentally got some in your ice cream! (it's a laxative)
    Jun. 15, 2011 5:24 am
    Will be looking for containers post haste. Sounds like a reason to go to Grandma's house in these busy times!
    Jun. 15, 2011 7:01 am
    Will try this with the grandkids next time they're bored. I like the kick it around in the snow idea too.
    Jun. 15, 2011 7:33 am
    This idea sounds fun. Used to make ice cream with the attachment for my mom's kitchen aid. I wonder if placing water in a big coffee can, and then placing a small coffee can inside that and freezing it would have the same effect as the kitchen aid attachment...
    Jun. 16, 2011 4:46 pm
    i made this in chemistry my junior year, it was fun and the end product was the most delectable vanilla ice cream I've ever had!
    Jul. 10, 2011 2:15 am
    I cannot wait to try this! I absolutely love fresh, homemade ice cream! Thanks for this great recipe!
    Jul. 24, 2011 12:49 pm
    I have never done this before I will have to try this one. This looks like fun and I could even do this for a family and friends dinner or lunch party at my house.
    Sep. 14, 2011 5:27 pm
    Yes it is true it is costly when 2 companies have all natural ice cream 2-3 dollars cheaper, but then the children don't have the fun and experience. this is one of those things you only do as a special treat. Years ago mothers use to save the cream that settled on the top of the milk and made the ice cream with that and butchers use to give you free chicken wings and ham bones. What is a small extra cost to see the smiles of a little one when they taste something that they made theirselves; That sense of pride and accomplishment.
    Oct. 2, 2011 7:11 pm
    This is one great way to have bonding with your kids! Love this idea!!!
    Nov. 10, 2011 6:15 am
    loving this recipe bu how can I make chocolate icecream and use regular milk? Also can I use regular salt? Im going to try this eiyh my 11and 6yr old this weekend. Thank u
    Dec. 5, 2011 2:53 pm
    Seems to me Tupperware would lend itself very well to this project. The pieces seal, so less chance of leakage. Also, wouldn't this be fun on a camping trip!
    Jan. 31, 2012 10:52 am
    Feb. 7, 2012 2:53 pm
    Here's another fun grandma. The babes will be here in two weeks. 6 and 8 year old boys.our driveway is up a hill. What fun. I noticed people were needing coffee cans. Kroger and HEB still have metal cans. Kroger coffee in the red can is great. I have my kids bring it when they visit. The boys will love this, their 5 year old cousin will be with them. Will let you know how it went later. Aloha
    Feb. 27, 2012 5:20 pm
    I am 14 I just made this a bit slushy but so good this recipe is Faboo 12 on a 1-10 scale
    Mar. 24, 2012 2:49 pm
    I remember doing this when I was younger, but with a tin coffee container, it was very fun. I can not wait to do this with my daughter when she gets older. Wish I could save this article.
    Apr. 3, 2012 11:34 am
    I am doing this as a science experiment now hopefully it works cause I am kind of hungry for ice cream.
    May 9, 2012 10:57 pm
    this is one of our favorite all time school "experiments" to make. with five homeschooled kiddos, we've had plenty of opportunity. thanks for not just a great recipe, but a "lesson" as well!
    May 26, 2012 7:55 am
    at last,i can make ice cream without any troubles and worries...i actually didn't know that one could make ice cream using a ziploc bag!
    May 31, 2012 9:02 am
    I'm 78 and when I was a kid on the farm we made this in the old crank maker then put it in the snow bank to "Cure" for half and hour. Excellent! Another way is using the custard method with eggs. it is better if all ingredients are cold to start with. Enjoy!
    Jun. 8, 2012 7:30 am
    Sounds like a great recipe the only problem is I am making this for my family for my mom's birthday but it doesn't tell you how much ice cream it will make. Otherwise very imformative and very fun to make (:
    Jun. 15, 2012 3:45 pm
    I did this recipe today and it was amazing! So fun to make (although tiring) and great results. This is REAL ice cream:)
    Jun. 30, 2012 12:03 am
    I remember doing this for a school science experiment!!! It's awesome and it's good!!!
    Jul. 4, 2012 6:56 pm
    OMG! My kids and I had fun making our own ice cream! We used almond extract instead of vanilla extract and it was so YUMMY! Next time we will double the recipe to satisfy our family of four.
    R B 
    Jul. 8, 2012 9:20 am
    When I was in Brownie scouts in the late 60's a similar recipe was in the girl scout handbook using coffee cans. It works and is a great project for kids.
    Jul. 23, 2012 12:13 pm
    As a scout master we often did this for a follow up on their cooking merit badge as way to make an easy tasty dessert. I've purchased a hard ball that has another ball within it. They put all the ingredients into the inner ball with the salt and ice inside the outer ball. They roll it around until its ready. Goes great with dutch oven brownies or cobbler on a campout.
    Oct. 5, 2012 7:43 pm
    wow i just tried it and it tastes so good thanks for posting!!!!!
    Oct. 10, 2012 3:07 pm
    which one it looks sssssssssoooooooooooo good i'm sssssssttttttaaaaaaarrrrrrvvvvvvviiiiiiiinnnnnnnnngggggggg.
    fhdbfvgfvb b vh 
    Oct. 11, 2012 9:47 am
    this taste like i dont know y i ate this
    Oct. 16, 2012 12:03 am
    Hi! I'm 69 these days. As a child I learned how to make ice cream from my Grandparents and my Parents---using a pump-&-wring ice cream maker. They all used eggs with a cooked custard base. It froze deliciously! In 1967 my Son joined us, and got into our family events. In the 1970's he joined Cub Scouts. I became a volunteer, and worked with the Pack learning Craft Programs to teach the children. In the Summer we went to the N. Virginia Cub Scout Day Camp Prog. for the week. One of the weekly skills we taught the boys, was to fill an interior small coffee can with the ice cream ingredients. We slid the small can into the large can we had begun filling with ice and salt. The last item was using a sealing coat of tape, to prevent leakage while rolling the cans! The boys would come to the site to pair up with at least one other Den to make teams to 'Roll' their ice cream. They made their combination, sealed it into a large coffee can, sat upon the ground and each team rolled t
    Jun. 5, 2013 9:12 am
    thos was a great way to have fun and get a nice cold drink, but instead of cream i used milk. My next test ill use coffie cream i wonder how itll taset
    Sparkle Jane 
    Jun. 16, 2013 1:26 pm
    Sounds good...Will probably try it out w/ some of my friends...
    Aug. 3, 2013 6:50 pm
    Does anyone know if this recipe can be modified to use soy milk?
    Aug. 5, 2013 8:19 pm
    I've done this before and it makes a great soft serve type of ice cream. We make it when we are out on the boat for the day to go along with cobbler!
    Aug. 7, 2013 10:43 am
    This is an awesome activity for kids. I know because I my class did this when I was in second grade (with the coffee cans) and 20 years later I still remember how cool it was to make our own ice cream! Will be trying with my 3 and 5 year olds soon!
    Aug. 20, 2013 6:24 pm
    It definitely helps to chill the mixture in the fridge before starting the rolling process. The colder at the start, the sooner you'll get ice cream.
    Sep. 6, 2013 3:18 pm
    Hows the taste of it?
    Sep. 22, 2013 6:48 am
    Why can't I add this to my recipe box?
    Sep. 30, 2013 6:48 pm
    Ditto - trying to add to my recipe box but don't see how - thanks for any help!
    Feb. 10, 2014 8:13 am
    I work in a Christian camp and a group of kids last year did this and it turned out awesome and the kids couldn't believe it worked!
    kathy farrow 
    Mar. 17, 2015 8:15 am
    This so easy make.
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