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Nigella Lawson's One-Step, No-Churn Ice Cream

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Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Executive Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: 4 ingredients. 1 step. No cooking. No churning. Ice cream!

Nigella Lawson's No-Churn Ice Cream

Not having an ice cream maker never stopped us before. We've done all kinds of weird stuff in the name of doing it for ourselves. We've nested coffee cans and shaken (or kicked) them; we've returned obsessively to the freezer to stir; we may or may not have purchased this ball.

I am so impressed with us for doing all of that! We did a really good job of making ice cream, against all odds. But instead of doing any of it, you can glide over to your cupboard like you're Nigella Lawson, find four ingredients, whip them into a cloud, then freeze -- they will become ice cream while you go on with your day. 

Nigella Lawson's One-Step, No-Churn Ice Cream

It's really as simple as that -- there's no egg to deal with, nothing to heat or temper or ice bath or strain. Just cream and sweetened condensed milk, flavored with espresso powder and liqueur. The sugar and booze keep it from getting hard and icy; the whipped cream provides air (and, yes, cream); the thick condensed milk helps do the work of a custard. 

Nigella Lawson's One-Step, No Churn Ice Cream  Nigella Lawson's One-Step, No-Churn Ice Cream

Nigella Lawson's One-Step, No-Churn Ice Cream  

"When I was a child, I used to make an ice cream with my great aunt that required no special equipment (save a freezer) and was the work of moments and a trio of ingredients: condensed milk, heavy cream, and vanilla," Lawson wrote to me. "Needless to say, it was sickly sweet, but more latterly it occurred to me that by adding bitterness or sharpness -- coffee, bourbon and salted caramel, the fixings for a margarita, the combined juices of pomegranate and lime -- this effortless ice cream could make life subtly sweeter in the grown-up world.”

More: Serve it with another genius Nigella dessert: Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake.

The ice cream will have a creamy, almost buttery smoothness. The first time, I whipped it a bit too far and it had a more noticeably buttery quality -- not the worst problem, but an avoidable one. The sweet spot is just when the whisk leaves trails in the bowl (I was trying to be proper and hold a soft peak when I lifted the whisk out -- no need). 

Nigella's One-Step, No-Churn Ice Cream

You can try all kinds of variations -- Lawson has worked out at least 6 others for us. Food52er mrslarkin has this to add: "I loved this recipe so much that I made a mint chip version, using gin, mint extract, and grated chocolate, which was very delicious." Definitely make a no-churn ice cream cake

Nigella Lawson's One-Step, No-Churn Ice Cream   Nigella Lawson's One-Step, No-Churn Ice Cream

Nigella Lawson's One-Step, No-Churn Ice Cream

Or, like Lawson, "You could (and I often do) serve it with a chocolate sauce but my absolute favourite way of eating this is by squidging it into little brioches, like sweet burger buns, as they do in the south of Italy."

Nigella Lawson's No-Churn Ice Cream

Nigella Lawson's One-Step, No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

Adapted slightly from Nigellissima (Clarkson Potter, 2013)

Makes 1 pint

1 1/4 cup (300 milliliters) heavy or double cream, well-chilled
2/3 cup (175 grams) sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons espresso liqueur

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thanks to Food52ers mrslarkin and Ina-Janine for this one!

The Genius Recipes cookbook is here! (Well, almost.) The book is a mix of greatest hits from the column and unpublished new favorites -- all told, over 100 recipes that will change the way you think about cooking. It'll be on shelves in April, but you can pre-order your copy now.

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: genius, no-churn ice cream, ice cream, nigella lawson, summer, desserts, how-to & diy, everyday cooking

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Comments (68)

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about 1 month ago Laura F

I'd love to try this, but without alcohol. Are there alternatives?

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20 days ago Julio Caesar Perez

Yes. Leave out the alcohol.

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3 months ago tessga

made a kid-friendly (sans booze) chocolate version of this yesterday and it's so good. 3 TB. cocoa powder, 4 TB. Chocolate Syrup, 1 tsp vanilla 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips. 4 year old yelled 'it's delicious!'

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4 months ago Suzy Bowler

In my book of over 100 of these recipes I give directions for the right amount of alcohol and other sugary additions. Also - I always keep a jar of dried fruits covered in rum or brandy in the store cupboard. Great for adding to ice cream and also to bread pudding, apple pie and all sorts of other things.

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4 months ago Roberta Barnhart

I've seen a recipe on the internet (somewhere) that substituted Cool-Whip for whipping up cream.

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4 months ago maria

Jamie Oliver, when he first came on PBS as The Naked Chef, I was a die hard recipe follower, his show and cook books brought out the joy in cooking for me!I grow my own herbs and summer veggies and make up my own dishes all the time. Cooking is a art not a anxiety producing chore for food that looks like a stylist produced it. It's all about the taste and the feelings food can impart.

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4 months ago maria

oops, posted on the wrong post!!

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7 months ago Suzy Bowler

I've done this recipe for 20 or more years as a professional chef working in the tropics. I then wrote a book giving over 100 recipes eg Salted Caramel, Honey Roasted Fig, Chocolate and Crunchy Peanut Butter Ripple, Buttered Rum & Ginger Ice Cream and so on and so forth. It it #genius but now new. I wish I was famous"

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10 months ago Leslieb

I have done this recipe with berries and shortbread crumbles and a pumpkin version with gingersnap crust pieces, but I omit the coffee and liqueur. Always a hit whenever I have made either one.

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10 months ago Sandra A Key

Oh my you made me drool.....

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11 months ago Jennifer Kaufman Gresham

Hey Jacqueline ... I tried a coconut version. Not completely "vegan" I guess, because I still used the condensed milk. I did substitute with coconut cream, added toasted coconut in place of espresso powder. The taste was fabulous ... however, it definitely needs the liqueur to keep it from freezing solid. I'm thinking coconut rum maybe?

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12 months ago Rosalind Rogoff

I'm back. I had trouble finding this version of the recipe. The usual search goes to the plain recipe without photos and fewer comments. Here's a link to my rum raisin version. I've made it twice and it gets better each time. http://food52.com/recipes...

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about 1 year ago Alice Gardner

Oh. My. Gosh. This was one of those times I went home and made this straight away, and I am so glad I did. I can't believe how easy or how good this is. I used some wedding cake vodka and a bit of imitation butter flavor- Classy? Not so much. Delicious? Oh yes. Next time I'll do Nigella's salted caramel variation.

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about 1 year ago jacqueline

UGH! i'm just a baby in the kitchen - not brave enough to experiment yet!

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about 1 year ago jacqueline

any way to make this "vegan"? like with coconut milk and/or coconut cream?

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about 1 year ago lydia.sugarman

Great thought! Why don't you experiment and get back to us with your results?

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about 1 year ago lydia.sugarman

Perhaps if the raisins in the rum were gently heated, it would help them plump up and be juicier.

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about 1 year ago Rosalind Rogoff

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try that but I will use fresher raisins too.

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about 1 year ago del davies

The rum & raisin option sounds divine...that's one flavour I have never tried. One has to be very cautious re the amount of alcohol one uses as too much and the icecream does not set well......I have been making this no churn icecream for 35 years and it never fails to enchant !!

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about 1 year ago Dan PR Lamontagne

I love creative people with "FOOD" lol to all of you!

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about 1 year ago Dan PR Lamontagne

I might simmer the raisins and rum! Two reasons, one softer raisins, two more intense flavor for the rum as the alcohol evaporates and the liquid can reduces to your personal likings!

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about 1 year ago Rosalind Rogoff

I posted a rum-raisin version a couple of days ago. I soaked 1/2 C raisins in 1/4 C dark rum and added that with a tablespoon of vanilla in place of the coffee flavoring to the basic recipe. It came out great except the raisins were too dry even with the soaking. I need to buy fresh, vacuum packed raisins or use the yellow kind.

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about 1 year ago Scribbles

This ice cream must rate right up there with possibly the quickest and best tasting dessert I've made this summer. I love ice cream and make it quite often since I have an ice cream freezer....this version is so light and delicious I'll make this several more times before going back to the feeder. My version today is espresso and Grand Marnier. I did use the low fat condense milk and I beat my whip cream slightly before adding the rest of the ingredients - perfect!

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about 1 year ago Rosalind Rogoff

I made this this afternoon and it came out very thin. I put it in the freezer about 4-5 hours ago and it is still as thin as milk. I don't know what I did wrong.

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about 1 year ago Rosalind Rogoff

It just needed more time in the freezer. It was soft but solid by the next day.

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about 1 year ago Virginia Luppescu

This was so easy. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer and watched it carefully so I didn't over beat it. It froze perfectly. Will definitely make it again.