Quick and Easy Soft Serve Ice Cream (also known as small batch ice cream in a bag) is smooth and creamy vanilla ice cream made with no special equipment and ready in about 5 minutes! The exact origin of ice cream in a bag is unknown, but it is said to have originated in the US in the early 1900s. The first known mention of ice cream in a bag was in a 1907 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine, where the article described a method for making ice cream in a bag using a salt and ice mixture.

This is a wonderful recipe for kids to be involved! I also have delicious no-churn ice cream you will love.

Metal Bowl with Scoops of Soft Serve Ice Cream in It with Sprinkles and a Spoon on a White Counter.
Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!

Ingredients & Substitutions

Heavy Cream: Heavy cream, also known as heavy whipping cream, is commonly used in ice cream recipes for its high-fat content. The fat in heavy cream adds richness and smoothness to the ice cream, resulting in a creamy and luxurious texture. For a lighter option, you could use half and half or whole milk. However, that will change the consistency of the ice cream.

Milk: Just like using high-fat heavy cream, I prefer whole milk for the richest and creamiest ice cream. If using milk that is lower in fat, the ice cream will not be as thick.

Sugar: Granulated sugar adds sweetness to the ice cream. It also dissolves easily to ensure it is evenly distributed.

Vanilla: Vanilla extract adds flavor.

Salt: Salt is used when making ice cream to keep the ice cold enough to make it. Without it, the ice will melt too fast. Rock salt, also known as ice cream salt, is often used but sometimes hard to find. So, I recommend kosher salt. You could also use Himalayan pink salt or Maldon sea salt. If using rock salt or Himalayan pink salt, double the amount in the recipe. Use the same amount as kosher salt if using Maldon sea salt.

Close up of Soft Serve Ice Cream in a Plastic Bag After Shaking it in a Salt and Ice Bag.

Can I Add Mix-Ins To The Ice Cream?

Yes! You can customize your soft-serve ice cream by adding mix-ins such as chocolate chips, crushed cookies, fruit pieces, or nuts. Add the mix-ins before blending the mixture with the ice. Or, top the vanilla ice cream with your favorite toppings like chocolate syrup and caramel!

Can I Double This Recipe?

The short answer is no. When I tried doubling the recipe using the method below, it took a bit longer and the ice cream didn’t get as solid as I’d prefer. You can make multiple batches though, and even re-use the ice & salt mixture.

Spoon Taking a Bite out of a Metal Dish with Soft Serve Ice Cream.

How To Store Soft Serve Ice Cream

This recipe is for about a cup of ice cream, so it is meant to be enjoyed immediately. That is also when it is the softest. However, you could store it in the freezer. But, it won’t be as creamy when you are ready to enjoy it.

Scoop of Soft Serve Ice Cream in a Metal Bowl on a White Counter with Spoon Nearby.
5 from 1 vote

Quick and Easy Soft Serve Ice Cream

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Quick and Easy Soft Serve Ice Cream is smooth and creamy vanilla ice cream made with no special equipment and ready in about 5 minutes! All you need is a little arm strength, and then the ice cream will be ready to enjoy!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (119 g) heavy cream
  • ½ cup (122.5 g) whole milk
  • ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups ice
  • cup (96 g) kosher salt, can also use Himalayan or rock salt

Instructions

  • To a sealable plastic bag, add the heavy cream, whole milk, and vanilla extract.
    Adding Milk and Heavy Cream to a Plastic Bag to Make Soft Serve Ice Cream.
  • Add in the sugar. Now seal the bag (double-check to make sure it is completely closed) and shake for a moment until the sugar is evenly distributed and has dissolved completely.
    Adding Sugar to a Bag Filled with Heavy Cream to Make Soft Serve Ice Cream.
  • Open the bag, remove as much excess air as possible, and seal again.
  • To a separate larger resealable plastic bag, add the ice and salt.
    Ice and Salt in a Bag before Adding the Cream Mixture Bag to Make Soft Serve Ice Cream.
  • Place the bag with the cream mixture inside the ice bag, making sure both bags are sealed tightly.
    Cream Mixture in a Bag Inside a Bag of Ice and Salt to Make Soft Serve Ice Cream.
  • Shake the bag vigorously over a sink for about 5 minutes. (You may want to wear gloves or wrap the bag with towels so your hands won't get cold.) The salt will lower the temperature, causing the mixture to freeze and turn into a soft-serve ice cream.
  • Carefully remove the ice cream bag from the ice bag.
  • Check the consistency of the soft serve. If it has reached the desired thickness, it is ready to serve. Shake a little longer for a harder ice cream.
    Close up of Soft Serve Ice Cream in a Plastic Bag After Shaking it in a Salt and Ice Bag.
  • Scoop or pipe the soft serve into bowls or cones and enjoy immediately.

Video

Notes

Can I Double This Recipe?
The short answer is no. When I tried doubling the recipe using the method below, it took a bit longer and the ice cream didn’t get as solid as pictured above. You can make multiple batches though, and even re-use the ice & salt mixture.

Did you make this recipe?

Thank you for making my recipe! You took pictures, right? Well go ahead and post them on Instagram! Be sure to mention me @iambaker and use the hashtag #YouAreBaker.

What the Test Kitchen had to say about this recipe:

Autumn

What a fun way to make soft serve ice cream at home! Just shake the bag and watch the magic happen. I think this would be a cool thing to do with your kiddos too!

Elizabeth

This is a fun treat to make! Plus, it's creamy and delicious. The final product is like a reward for all the shaking you get to do for your arm workout. I can't wait to make this a few times this summer.

Bella

You can't go wrong with traditional vanilla ice cream! All you have to do is shake up the ingredients, and now you have homemade ice cream! This is a fun way to treat yourself or your guests with a cold and delicious treat in no time.

Rachael

Such an easy vanilla ice cream, personal size, and done in only 5 minutes! Minimal ingredients most people have on hand too, try it out if you crave some soft serve ice cream!

Selena

Just a perfect, vanilla ice cream that is ready to eat in no time! I love that you don't need any special tools for this either!

Share with your friends!

Categorized in: ,

Related Recipes

Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

Reader Comments

    1. Yes! You can add extracts before and you can add any “add-ins” after it is it made. It is easy to stir in oreo pieces or fresh fruit! 🙂

  1. Here’s a crazy question: can I add half and half instead of milk and cream? 🤪. I don’t have cream and I don’t want to go to the store. 🤣💚

  2. Have made this for years with my kids when they were little as well as with Scout troops. Definitely need gloves to shake away as your hands get super cold. But so fun and tasty.

  3. Thank you so much for the recipe! I wanted to try making icecream sandwiches with homemade icecream, but couldn’t find a good recipe, but now I will definitely try this recipe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.