STEAM at Home: Make Your Own Ice Cream in 5 Minutes

Let’s Make Some Ice Cream!

Ever wonder how ice cream is made? We’ve got a five-minute ice cream recipe for you that explains the science behind the creamy goodness. This is an easy activity that is great for kids of all ages.

There are two key science lessons in this activity:

  1. The salt is used to lower the temperature of the ice surrounding the bag filled with the ice cream ingredients. The salt helps the ice melt. As the ice melts, it freezes the ice cream mixture by pulling heat out out of the ice cream bag. This heat transfer is essential  for making the ice cream cold.

2) Shaking the bag while this heat transfer is occurring  also helps by adding air to the ice cream, which lightens the texture so the ice cream is nice and creamy.


Ice to fill a gallon size ziploc plastic bag

6 tablespoons coarse salt, such as kosher salt or rock salt,

plus a pinch

1 tablespoon sugar

½ cup half-and-half

2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (optional)

½ teaspoon flavor extract, such as vanilla, strawberry, maple, or mint

Gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag

Large bowl

Pint-sized zipper-lock plastic bag


Step 1: Fill the gallon bag about halfway with ice cubes
Step 2: Add the 6 tablespoons salt and shake the bag, so the salt gets all over the ice. Stand the bag in the bowl to keep it from falling over while you mix up the ice cream.
Step 3: Put the half-and-half, chocolate syrup (if you want), sugar, extract, and pinch of salt in the pint-size bag
Step 4: Seal the bag perfectly shut. (Any gaps in the seal and you’ll make a mess instead of ice cream.)
Step 5: Put the small bag of ice-cream base into the big bag of ice and gently push it down so the ice completely surrounds the ice cream.
Step 6: Shake hard for approximately 5 minutes, but not too hard to break the bags.
Step 7: Open up the big bag and take out the small bag of ice cream, which should now be creamy and thick.

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