How to Make Ice Cream in a Bag with Kids

You can have homemade ice cream without an ice cream maker. Here's what to know about making ice cream in a bag!

There’s nothing quite like homemade ice cream on a hot summer day. Even better? Homemade ice cream that’s easy to make—no fancy equipment needed. We think making ice cream in a bag is the perfect activity for kids. You’ll need a couple of ingredients from the refrigerator, plus a handful of resealable bags. It won’t be more than 10 minutes until you’re eating a bowl of ice cream.

Does making ice cream in a bag work?

Definitely! This easy method is great for many reasons, the first being you don’t need an ice cream maker to do it. The ingredients are combined in a resealable bag, and that bag goes into another bag holding a combination of ice and salt. There are steps for both kids and adults to help with, and it’s a fun way to get everyone together in the kitchen.

Plus, making ice cream like this also doubles as a kitchen science experiment. Your kids will see the ice cream form as if by magic, but it’s the combination of ice and salt that really does the trick. The salt lowers the freezing point of water. It comes into contact with water on the ice cubes and allows that water to become colder than 32°F. That’s why the bag will feel so much colder than regular ice!

Together, the salt and ice cause the ingredients to quickly cool down and transform into ice cream.

How to make ice cream in a bag

This recipe makes about 1 cup of ice cream.


  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups coarsely crushed ice
  • 3/4 cup salt


You will need four resealable plastic bags: two quart-size bags and two gallon-size bags.


Step 1: Combine the ingredients

Strawberry ice cream mixture in a bag.Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

The kids can easily measure and pour the milk, evaporated milk, sugar, and vanilla extract into a quart-size resealable bag. You may want to help smaller children measure—and hold open the bag as ingredients are added.

Press out all the air and seal the bag. Put it inside the second quart-size bag, press out the air and seal.

Editor’s tip: You can add flavorings to the bag too, like chocolate syrup, 1/2 cup of berries, crushed candy cane pieces, or mini chocolate chips.

Step 2: Prepare the ice

Strawberry ice cream in a bag, with ice and salt.Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

Have kids put the crushed ice and salt into a gallon-size bag and shake to mix it up. Place the ice cream bag inside the ice bag. Then, grown-ups can press the air out and seal the bag. Place this inside the second gallon-size bag, press out the air, and seal it. (The doubled-up bags help guard against leaks during the next step.)

Step 3: Shake, shake, shake!

It’s time to shake and squeeze the bags so that the ice and water move all around the ice cream bag. The kids can take turns shaking the bags with one another or the grown-ups. It takes about seven minutes of shaking and squeezing to create the ice cream.

You’ll want to wear mittens or oven mitts because that ice water gets really cold. Periodically feel the ice cream bag with your kids to see if it’s firming up.

Editor’s tip: Remember that seven minutes will feel like an eternity to kids, especially when they’re waiting for ice cream. Set a timer that they can check periodically. You can even sing songs to help pass the time. (The Frozen song “Let It Go” is 3-1/2 minutes long—sing it twice!)

Step 4: Serve up the ice cream

Ice cream, three kinds in dishes.Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

Send kids into the kitchen for bowls, spoons, and any ice cream toppings you might want, like rainbow sprinkles. Parents should take the ice cream bag out of the ice water. Dry the outside of the bag quickly so you won’t have any saltwater drips. Let kids scoop the ice cream into bowls, add toppings, and enjoy.

Once the ice cream bag is removed from the ice water, use a spoon to scoop it into your bowl.

Psst! For a more-hands off way to make ice cream with your family, this four-ingredient homemade vanilla ice cream recipe is our favorite. Next, check out the craziest ice cream flavors you can buy right now.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home

Nancy Mock
Discovering restaurants, tasting bakery treats, finding inspiration in new flavors and regional specialties—no wonder Nancy loves being a food and travel writer. She and her family live in Vermont and enjoy all things food, as well as the beautiful outdoors, game nights, Avengers movies and plenty of maple syrup. Find Nancy’s writing and recipes at her website: Hungry Enough To Eat Six.