Making ice cream with a hand-cranked ice cream maker is a fun project for a summer day, and a great way to impress guests with a homemade desert. It can take a bit of effort to do all the cranking necessary, but it’s a good way to keep a bunch of kids busy.

Things You'll Need

Prepare the Ice Cream Maker

Choose your favorite ice cream recipe.

Let the ice cream mix cool down in the refrigerator for an hour or more.

Pour the ice cream mix in the metal freezer can of the ice cream maker. Don’t fill it more than 2/3 full.

Put the paddle, also called a dasher, into the ice cream can and close the lid on it.

Place the freezer can in the ice cream maker bucket.

Attach the turning mechanism and handle. Make sure everything is securely locked inside the bucket. Make sure the lid is attached firmly so water can’t get in.

Pack the area between the freezer can and the bucket with ice and rock salt. Add a 3- or 4-inch layer of ice and on top of this pour a layer of salt, at least a few handfuls. Repeat the layering until you get a little under the level of the freezer can’s lid. Don’t go above the lid.

Make the Ice Cream

Start cranking the ice cream. It’s best to have a number of people do this in shifts, as it gets tiring. If the ice melts add some more to the bucket. You want to keep the level near the freezer can lid.

Stop cranking when it become difficult. It will take at least 10 minutes.

Remove the turning mechanism and lid and check the ice cream. It’s done when it looks like soft-serve ice cream and has gained volume.

Harden the ice cream. Remove the turning mechanism, lid and dasher. Then either remove the freezer can and put it in a freezer, scoop out the ice cream and put it in a resealable container to store in a freezer, or leave it in the bucket with the lid on and put ice on top of the freezer can.

Enjoy the homemade ice cream.


  • Most traditional hand-cranked ice cream makers hold 4 qt. of ice cream. A 4-qt.maker will need about 1 lb of salt and 10 lbs of ice. It’s not exact. Whatever it takes to keep the bucket filled.

  • Table salt can be used instead of rock salt.

  • Crushed ice works best although ice cubes will work too.

  • You can speed the process by pouring a cup of water on the ice in the bucket.

  • The ice cream can be eaten without hardening but it will be pretty soft and melt quickly.