No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream (& Fruity Floats)

May 16, 2022
1 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin. Food stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.
  • Prep time 4 hours 20 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • makes 6 to 8 floats
Author Notes

While at their simplest, floats can be made from a variety of store-bought items, making homemade syrup and a simple no-churn ice cream allows you to the flexibility to customize flavor combinations for a really special treat. I’ve always loved this fact, because I think floats—so simple, nostalgic, and fun—make a perfect ending to just about any type of summer party.

I love to use fruits that you can’t typically find in soda flavors, things like rhubarb, plum, or peach! And if you fall in love with no-churn ice cream along the way, you’re not alone; see some of my flavor tweaks below the recipe to make your own scoops all summer long. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

Test Kitchen Notes

Bake It Up a Notch is a column by Resident Baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Each month, she'll help take our baking game to the next level, teaching us all the need-to-know tips and techniques and pointing out all the mistakes to avoid along the way. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • No-Churn Ice Cream
  • one 14-ounce can (395 grams) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt
  • 2 cups (470 grams) heavy cream
  • Any-Fruit Syrup & Ice Cream Float
  • 4 cups (about 1 ¼ pounds or 565 grams) prepared fruit (peeled if desired, diced larger than bite size)
  • 1 1/2 cups (295 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (345 grams) water
  • Seltzer or tonic water, as needed for finishing
  1. Make the ice cream base: In a medium bowl, stir the condensed milk, vanilla, and salt together to combine.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer in a large bowl), whip the cream to medium peaks.
  3. Add about ¼ of the whipped cream to the sweetened condensed milk—you can mix this in more aggressively to help temper/lighten the base mixture. Fold in the remaining whipped cream in 2 additions.
  4. Pour the base into an 8x8 or 9x9 inch baking pan and spread into a fairly even layer. Cover directly with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
  5. Make the syrup: In a large pot, stir the fruit and sugar to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes to macerate lightly. Add the water, and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the fruit is very tender, 12 to 20 minutes (less time for tender fruits like raspberries; more for firmer fruits like rhubarb or pineapple). Stir the mixture occasionally as it simmers.
  6. Place a strainer over a large liquid measuring cup, and pour the mixture into it. Strain the mixture, pressing firmly on the solids to release all of the syrup into the measuring cup. (Save the solid mixture in the refrigerator for up to 1 week—it’s great on ice cream or yogurt, or as a component in cocktails). Refrigerate the syrup until ready to serve.
  7. To serve, pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of the chilled syrup into a glass, then fill with seltzer or tonic so the glass is about half way full. Scoop a few scoops of no-churn ice cream on top, and serve immediately.
  8. Variations on No-Churn Ice Cream:

    Peppermint Fudge Ripple: Reduce the vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon (5 g) and add ¼ teaspoon (1 g) peppermint extract along with it. In step 4, pour half of the ice cream base into the pan, then drizzle ½ cup (150 g) Fudge Sauce (from this recipe: over the ice cream. Add the remaining ice cream and drizzle another 1/3 cup (110 g) of Fudge Sauce over the top. Cover directly and freeze until firm.

    Coffee-Toffee: Place 3 tablespoons (21 g) instant espresso powder into a medium bowl, and add ¼ cup (60 g) hot water. Stir to dissolve, then add the sweetened condensed milk and proceed with the recipe. In step 4, In step 4, pour half of the ice cream base into the pan, then drizzle ½ cup (150 g) Fudge Sauce over the ice cream. Add the remaining ice cream and drizzle another 1/3 cup (110 g) of Fudge Sauce over the top. Cover directly and freeze until firm.

    Coconut: Toast 1 cup (85 g) coconut (sweetened or unsweetened—whichever you prefer). Cool completely. Replace the sweetened condensed milk with sweetened condensed coconut milk (

    DIY Rolled Ice Cream: Prepare the ice cream base, and pour it into a 13x18 inch baking sheet, and spread into an even layer. Cover directly with plastic wrap, freeze until firm, about 2 hours. Once it’s firm, use a wide palette/putty knife or the edge of a metal spatula to begin rolling the ice cream from one end into a tight roll, then transfer the rolls to a bowl to serve. It’s easiest to roll up about 2 ½-3 inches at a time.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

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