Genius Recipes

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

By • August 6, 2014 • 57 Comments

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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!

Photos by James Ransom

Jump to Comments (57)

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

Comments (57)


4 days 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.


27 days 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.


28 days ago jacqueline

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


28 days ago jacqueline

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


28 days ago lydia.sugarman

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


29 days ago lydia.sugarman

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


29 days ago Rosalind Rogoff

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


29 days 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 !!


30 days ago Dan PR Lamontagne

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


30 days 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!


about 1 month 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.


about 1 month 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!


about 1 month 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.


about 1 month ago Rosalind Rogoff

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


about 1 month 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.


about 1 month ago Jane Alessandrini Ward

Sweetened condensed milk is milk and sugar. I bought a brand that was organic, so no hormones in the milk, no GMOs in the cane sugar. Churned ice cream made from a custard base is delicious too.


about 1 month ago Janne Brorup Weston

But I LIKE EGGS, and what is in condensed milk, anything bad like HFCS?


about 1 month ago Samantha Stent

you can make it without the alcohol it just freezes a touch firmer


about 1 month ago Francesca de Onis Tomlinson

Made this with one tbs espresso granules and 3 tbs cocoa powder. Delicious with a fudge sauce in which I used last third of condensed milk from recipe in place of corn syrup. Didn't now what else to do with it.


about 1 month ago Martha Garvey

Okay, can I hand whisk this? (I am basically a non-cook these days but! Coffee! Ice Cream!) Also, I don't put alcohol in stuff, so...I see one poster said it worked okay without the liqueur.


about 1 month ago durun99

I whisked it by hand, came out great and it's easier to stop before you make butter. Good forearm workout, too.


about 1 month ago del davies

I have also substituted Scotch Whisky for the brandy and then it becomes
Irish Coffee icecream !! Be careful of the alcohol......too much and the icecream doesn't set well. Enjoy !


about 1 month ago allstar379

Warning, you can DEFINITELY taste the alcohol in this. If you like that taste, then go for it. The flavor was certainly not what I was expecting though, so be warned.


about 1 month ago BreadandButter

If I needed to leave out the liqueur altogether and create a booze-free version, should I substitute something else to prevent over-hardening?


about 1 month ago Jennifer

You can just omit the alcohol and it still turns out great. I made it last night.