How to Make Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag

ice cream in a bowl topped with chocolate and nuts

Can you imagine anything more perfect on a scorching summer day than a delectable dessert? What if I told you the dessert was easy to make and fun for the entire family?

Only five basic ingredients– and some Zip Lock bags – and you’re well on your way!

Read on to learn about concocting your own ice cream in a bag.

Below is a list of ingredients for a simple ice cream. Feel free to add your own twist and tweak the recipe to your specifications, but this will be the foundation for all ice cream in a bag.

ice cream in a bowl topped with chocolate and nuts
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Ice Cream In a Bag

Below is a list of ingredients for a simple ice cream. Feel free to add your own twist and tweak the recipe to your specifications, but this will be the foundation for all ice cream in a bag.
Course Dessert
Servings 3 Servings


  • Zip Lock Bags**


  • 1 Cup Half and half or 1/2 whole milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ Cup Salt
  • 1.5 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Bowl Ice


  • Pour the half and half [or milk mixture] into the small bag
  • Add the vanilla extract and sugar
  • Seal the bag as tightly as you can
  • Fill the larger bag about halfway with ice and add the salt
  • Put the small bag inside the large bag and fill the excess with ice
  • Shake it up!
  • Remove the small bag and rinse thoroughly with cold water
  • Serve and enjoy!


**Be sure to include a freezer sized bag and a smaller, sandwich-sized bag as both will be necessary for the ice cream process.
Keyword Ice Cream


Let’s talk recipe variation. Some folks prefer half and half whereas others gravitate towards milk and heavy cream. Either is acceptable.

If you choose to use milk and cream, opt for whole milk. The primary difference is the creaminess of the ice cream. If any of the kiddos have dairy intolerance, you can use almond or soy milk, but expect a chunkier ice cream.

Worth noting is the fact that only liquid ingredients should be added during the actual ice cream making process. Try chocolate, caramel, or butterscotch syrup to give your base flavor a boost.

Anything solid should be added when the ice cream is done.

Shake, shake, shake it up!

One of the best parts of this entire process is the ‘shakeage.’ Are you tired of the same four walls and the kids glued to their devices? Take it outside and make the ice cream creation process a family activity.

Your own family can go in the backyard, or you can enlist neighborhood families to make a [social distance acceptable] activity to make your own creation.

My 8 year old daughter cranks Jojo and has a dance party while she makes her chocolate ice cream.

Be sure to use gloves if you are merely shaking [and not engaging in cardio], because it does get quite chilly. Consider using oven mitts if that’s the route you choose. Vigorous shaking is crucial so your hands must be protected.

No Salt

Ice cream should not be salty. That is why you want to use bags of the highest quality– and I always encourage a rinse at the end of the process. Even with top of the line plastic bags, I suggest a double bag approach if there’s lots of stomping to ensue.

With poorer quality bags, breakage can happen and leak salt into the ice cream. While any salt can be used– even table salt– I recommend rock salt. It is the absolute best for breaking down the ice cream and making it desirable for your taste buds.

Toppings – The Added Bonus

We already spoke how this should be a family friendly activity. The only thing more fun than making your ice cream is eating your ice cream!

Once the ice cream is out of the bag, it’s time for the toppings.

I love to add fresh blueberries on top of my ice cream. Any fruit that suits your fancy makes a suitable topping, That is, of course, if we’re keeping it healthy. If your youngsters are anything like mine, that is not always the case.

Adam loves any ice cream….with cereal on top. Yes, you read that correctly. His go-to toppings for our homemade ice cream are Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Tatum appreciates her chocolate ice cream with pretzels and marshmallows.

For adults, there are ways to jazz up the ice cream as well. Drizzle a shot of rum and a shortbread cookie. Or use some creme de menthe and a pice of a Hershey bar.

There’s always the vodka and Jolly Rancher route, too! For those who don’t drink, the coffee route is always a viable option.

Back to Family-Friendly

These are trying times we have been dealing with here recently. There is nothing better than getting the family into a new activity, getting their heart rate pumping, and getting some fresh air.

Ask your kiddos their favorite toppings so there can be a delicious ice cream bar that the entire family is into.

Although my children love non-traditional toppings, don’t discount those.

Sprinkles, brownie bits, gummy worms, cookie dough, etc. are all delicious alternatives. Ice cream is a luxury. Let them eat cake! Depending on your local supermarket, you can go to Dollar Tree and get candy, cereal, or pretzels affordably priced.

Final thoughts

The best part of making ice cream in a bag is the ease and simplicity, and the way it brings your family together. Whenever I bring out the bags and the ice, Adam and Tatum know exactly what’s about to happen.

We can take a break from Netflix and screen time, get outside, and do something fun as a family. As a family unit, we are trying to be outside more and do more physically active things, so making ice cream in a bag is perfect.

My son just smashed his bag as I wrote this. He decided to combine forces with his little sister and make mint chocolate chip. Never did I think they would share something so amicably but he got her two bowls and they are slurping away.

ice cream in a bowl topped with chocolate and nuts
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