Planning to make homemade ice cream and need to know how much time to set aside for the project?
There are four different ‘stages’ to making ice cream: preparation, curing, churning and hardening. This article will break down each stage in the process so you know exactly how much time to set aside to make some delicious homemade ice cream for yourself and your family.
Making homemade ice cream usually only takes about 10-20 minutes to create the mixture and 20 minutes to churn. However, it takes 24 hours before making the ice cream to pre-freeze the outer bowl, up to 12 hours to cure the ice cream base and up to 4 hours to harden the ice cream in the freezer after it's been churned.
If you are interested in finding out some hacks that can reduce the time it takes to make your delicious homemade ice cream, without jeopardizing the taste or texture, then read on!
Preparing your ice cream will take the longest amount of time. This often isn't “active” time making the ice cream but you do need to allow enough time here if you want your ice cream to turn out right.
One of the biggest mistakes when making homemade ice cream is not allowing enough time for preparation and pre-freezing of the outer bowl.
Chilling your ingredients and tools is a crucial step in the ice cream making process. Getting it wrong, or missing out these steps, will result in watery ice cream that could fail to freeze altogether.
- Chill the outer bowl – I recommend placing your mixing bowl in the freezer for at least 24 hours to ensure it is cold enough. This time may vary depending on the temperature of your freezer.
If you are unsure, give your bowl a shake. If you can hear liquid sloshing inside the walls of the bowl then it has not been chilled for long enough.
If you are making ice cream in an antique ice cream maker that uses ice and salt in the outer bowl to make the ice cream (or making ice cream without a churner) then you don't need to pre-chill the outer bowl but you do need time to make ice (unless you buy it).
- Create the ice cream base – The recipe you follow will vary depending on whatever flavor you are trying to achieve, but most recipes will take approximately 10-20 minutes to whip together.
- Chill your ingredients – Adding some foods, like dried fruit or nuts, can make the freezing process more difficult. Especially if they are at room temperature when you add them to the machine. We recommend chilling extra ingredients in the fridge for 12 hours before adding them to your ice cream machine. This can be done while you are pre-freezing the outer bowl before you create the ice cream base.
You will need to chill the ice cream base before adding it to your machine. This step is referred to as curing. In some recipes it is important to chill the ice cream base in the fridge for at least 12 hours before churning. Whereas other recipes require no curing at all as long as you have pre-chilled the ingredients.
Failing to do so could result in ice cream that will not freeze properly and will have a watery texture.
The mixture needs to be at fridge temperature (39 °F /4 °C) or ideally colder. Use a thermometer to check the temperature before you add to your ice cream machine.
We recommend that you set a timer for approximately 20 minutes as this is the average time it takes to churn ice cream.
Be sure to listen for a change in the sound of your machine and look for a consistency like soft-serve ice cream.
If you wait until it looks like store bought ice cream, you may have over-churned your batch. Check out how to know when your ice cream is properly churned for our top tips and tricks.
Using an older machine, or one that has been overfilled, will increase churn time dramatically. Churning by hand will also take far longer.
However you choose to complete this stage, it will usually be the quickest part of the process.
Your homemade ice cream will resemble soft serve consistency when it is finished churning.
You will need to place it in the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving to harden the ice cream. You can also leave it in the freezer for longer term storage but remember homemade ice cream only lasts about 1-2 weeks before it goes bad.
The process is called “hardening” and will help you achieve a firm, scoopable consistency much like store bought ice cream.
You can serve and eat homemade ice cream immediately after churning and skip the hardening phase altogether. However, your ice cream will have a softer and runnier consistency and it will also melt faster than ice cream that has been hardened in the freezer for 4 hours.
How to Make Homemade Ice Cream Faster
One of the best ways to speed up the process is by avoiding the biggest mistakes people often make when making ice cream! Make it correctly the first time around and save yourself time by not having to repeat the process.
For those of you wanting a very quick result, have you considered trying out no churn ice cream?
There are even recipes claiming you can make ice cream in a bag in as little as 15 minutes, an ideal project to work on with impatient little children!
However, if you want that high quality texture then we recommend sticking to using your ice cream maker and churning for optimal results.
Here are some other tips to reduce the time it takes to make your delicious homemade ice cream.
- Avoid adding liquor to your batch. Liquor reduces the freezing point and will take longer to churn and harden.
- Minimize the amount of water you are adding to your batch. Water content will also increase the time it takes for your ice cream to thicken and harden. Try adding water little by little so you can control the consistency.
- Make sure all your tools are properly frozen before you begin the ice cream making process. Make sure your ingredients are pre-chilled too. This will produce a faster result!
- Do NOT overfill your ice cream machine. Manufacturers suggest not to exceed 3/4 of the maximum bowl or base capacity for best results. Doing so will slow down the process dramatically.
So your ice cream is made, congratulations!
The total amount of time you can expect it to take to make homemade ice cream can vary.
There are four stages to the ice cream making process, the first stage ‘preparation’ will take the longest.
It will take approximately 24 hours for your outer bowl to chill in the freezer and around 12 hours for your ice cream base to cool in the fridge. This process is referred to as curing.
Making the ice cream base itself only takes 10-20 minutes and the third stage ‘churning’ will be the shortest and can be finished in as little as 20 minutes. However there are several factors which can influence churn time, such as the age and power of your machine and how full it is.
Hardening the ice cream takes approximately 4 hours, so you can achieve that scoopable consistency that matches store bought ice cream. However, you can eat your right cream immediately after it has been churned, the consistency will just be softer and runnier and it will melt faster.
If you are looking for some time saving cheats we recommend avoiding using liquor and being mindful of water content. Ensure you have chilled all your equipment before churning and do not overfill your machine.