9 Biggest Homemade Ice Cream Mistakes + How To Avoid Them

When making homemade ice cream there are a lot of things that can go wrong. If you’re wondering what mistakes made your ice cream all icy and taste terrible, you’re at the right spot.

Making the perfect ice cream takes a lot more than just mixing up the ingredients and letting the freezer do its magic.

The most common mistake when making homemade ice cream is using low-fat dairy products. Another common mistake is not making sure that your ice cream making bowl is cold enough before starting or using warm ice cream mixture or overfilling. This can stop ice cream freezing properly. Over or under-churning the mixture is another common problem.

Here we will look at all the biggest homemade ice cream mistakes and also how you can avoid these mistakes so your next attempt will produce smooth and creamy textured ice cream that everybody loves.

Mistake #1: Using Low-Fat Dairy Products

You shouldn’t cut corners when choosing the dairy for your ice cream. 

If you’re a health conscious person, you might want to choose low-fat products as they are healthier.

While this is a good choice for making other foods, low-fat milk in ice cream will affect the taste and quality. You’ll end up with an ice cream that lacks the smooth creamy texture we all love and you’ll end up with something either icy or sloppy or both.

Dairy products with a low-fat content cannot give your ice cream a rich flavor as they don’t freeze well. You’ll end up with an icy gritty texture that tends to not taste as good either.

Fats in your ice cream are what give it a creamy texture. So always use full-fat cream or you can also opt for cream and whole milk mixture in a half-and-half ratio.

If you are trying to make a low fat ice cream or ice cream using alternative milks make sure to get a recipe specifically for this formulation. Don’t try to just replace full cream milk with a low fat alternative.

Mistake #2: The Ice Cream Mixture Is Too Warm

Most people think pouring a warm ice cream base into the mixer will not affect anything. They are totally wrong. Even if your base is at room temperature it would have a hard time freezing and a warm mix of ingredients will not freeze at all.

It’s because the outer bowl needs to maintain its cold temperature to freeze the ice cream and if your mixture is too warm the outer bowl will warm up way early and your ice cream won’t ever freeze.

You must ensure that your ice cream base is chilled completely before moving toward the churning process. 

This might mean putting it in the fridge or freezer for a bit to cool it down before making your ice cream, or it may just mean using cold ingredients directly out of the fridge.

If your ice cream isn’t freezing properly this could be the cause.

Mistake #3: You Haven’t Frozen The Outer Bowl Long Enough 

The same goes for the outer bowl. You want the bowl to be as cold as it can get.

While commercial machines have their own powered freezing, smaller at-home ice cream makers rely on a pre-chilled outer bowl that has been left in the freezer for 24+ hours.

The full 24 hours gives the outer bowl enough time to completely lower down to the temperature of the freezer (which is usually -18ºC/0ºF).

Leaving the outer bowl in the freezer for under 12-24 hours will likely mean it hasn’t fully come down to temperature. It might still be below 0ºC/32ºF but this often isn’t enough to bring your ice cream ingredients down to a freezing temperature.

If you’ve done the full 24 hours and you’re still having issues then you may want to turn down the temperature of your freezer. This will make the outer bowl even colder and may fix the issue.

Some old school ice cream-making methods also involve the addition of salt and ice to the outer bowl.

Salt lowers the melting point of ice which helps keep the bowl cool for a long time. Your ice cream will never solidify if the bowl is not chilling cold. However, most ice cream machines nowadays only use an outer bowl and no salt is required.

Mistake #4: Churning the Ice Cream Too Much

The ice cream will start getting its firm texture once you start churning. You might think that the more you churn after this point the more solid your ice cream will be but that’s not the case.

During churning, the ice cream develops crystals that give it a hardened form. Excessive churning will make those crystals larger, and your ice cream will become gritty and icy. Click here to learn exactly how long to churn your ice cream for.

The ice cream will actually get firm in the freezer. So once you speculate the mixture has become soft and smooth you should stop the churning process and let the ice cream freeze in the freezer.

If you have overturned the mixture, you can try letting it melt a bit in the fridge and start churning again. Make sure to remove the mix as soon as it gets the creamy form.

Mistake #5: Churning Too Little

Not churning the ice cream mixture enough is also a big problem. Usually, it takes 15 to 20 minutes to churn the ice cream to its optimum consistency. If you take out the mixture before this time, the ice cream will be very runny and the components will not mix in well. 

When you freeze the under-churned ice cream mixture, it will not achieve a smooth and creamy consistency.

Mistake #6: Completely Filling The Ice Cream Machine Or Bowl

Adding too much ice cream means the outer bowl can warm up before the ice cream freezes properly. The outer bowl can only make so much ice cream before its cold power is used up and it can’t freeze your ice cream anymore.

Also, ice cream needs to incorporate air in it while churning. If you fill the container all the way to the top not only will your ice cream aerate less but it might also spill out from the container.

Ice cream with less incorporated air melts much more quickly and you also don’t want a mess of sticky ice cream all around. You should not fill the container more than three-quarters.

Mistake #7: Storing The Ice Cream In A Large Container

Homemade ice cream is a little different from store-bought ones. For starters there are no additives or preservatives so it’s much healthier.

However, some of those additives in store-bought ice cream are stabilizers that keep it from melting soon or going bad. Homemade ice cream will usually go off much quicker.

To avoid this you should store your ice cream in single-serving containers. If it’s all kept in a big container most of the ice cream will melt down and become rock hard and not as light and fluffy.

If you’re storing it in a cooler, you can use dry ice below the ice cream to prevent it from melting. 

Mistake #8: Improper Additions To Your Ice Cream

Adding some chocolate chips or your favorite fruit chunks breathes a new flavor into your ice cream. However, you can’t just dump all the ingredients as you like.

Additives, especially ones kept at room temperature, can get in the way of the ice cream making process and stop it from happening property.

It’s usually best to add the toppings just before or right after you take the ice cream from the churning container. This will allow the extras to be mixed into the ice cream without interfering with the ice cream making process.

Alternatively, add smaller chunks instead of big ones. You can also convert your fruits into jam or fudge to create nice swirly ice cream. 

You should thoroughly cook the jam and add some cream to it so it will retain a soft and silky texture in the ice cream.

Mistake #9: Storing It Too Long In The Freezer

You might be tempted to make a batch of homemade ice cream and then store it in the freezer for a later date.

Store bought ice cream can last months in the freezer before it goes off. However, homemade ice cream lacks the preservatives that store bought ice cream has.

While this can make it a more natural and healthier alternative it also means that it won’t last as long in your freezer. Homemade ice cream takes just 1-2 weeks to go bad in your freezer and if you don’t eat it in that time it can grow harmful bacteria and potentially make you sick.

Conclusion

We all scream for ice cream. That’s right, and making ice cream at home is a lot more exciting than buying it from a store.

However, if you don’t keep the mistakes mentioned above in check, you might end up with the ice cream nobody would want to eat.

These are the biggest homemade ice cream mistakes that you must avoid:

  1. Using low-fat dairy products.
  2. Churning the warm ice cream mixture
  3. Not chilling the outer bowl completely.
  4. Churning the ice cream too much.
  5. Under churning the ice cream
  6. Overfilling the ice cream machine or churning bowl.
  7. Storing all ice cream in a large container
  8. Not adding mix-ins at the right time.
  9. Storing your ice cream for too long before eating it