What frozen desserts can I make without an ice cream freezer?

Question: What frozen desserts can I make without an ice cream freezer?

You don’t have to purchase expensive equipment to make great frozen desserts. There are wonderful treats that you can make with basic supplies you already have in your home, or just small additions. If you only want to make your own frozen treats once in a while, these ideas are a great way to get started.


Ice Pops

Ice pops are probably the simplest frozen treat to make at home. If you want to buy ice pop molds, most kitchen supply stores have very inexpensive versions. Or, you can use paper cups or other small molds and popsicle sticks for an even cheaper version. You can get creative and invent your own flavor combinations, or try one of these ideas.


Granitas are a type of Italian ice. Imagine a snow cone, but with more adult flavors and textures. The best part is that they take no special equipment. Any type of shallow pan will work and the only other thing you need is a fork. The technique for making granitas is simple

Some of my favorite recipes for granitas include:

  • Coffee granita recipe
  • Lemon granita recipe
  • Watermelon granita recipe


Semifreddo is a type of frozen mousse. It incorporates air through whipped cream or egg whites instead of being churned in an ice cream maker. Typically, the process to make a semifreddo involves making a custard, folding in whipped cream or egg whites, and freezing it into a mold until it is set. Then you can just slice and serve. Most of the tools you will need are probably already in your kitchen, such as a small saucepan and a whisk or electric mixer.

One of my favorite combinations for a semifreddo is raspberries and chocolate chips.

Adding chocolate in like this gives an added texture to the dessert and goes well with the tartness of fresh raspberries.

Molded Desserts

I’ve been known to put together impressive ice cream bombes or cakes without actually bringing out my ice cream maker. A great store-bought ice cream is the perfect weapon when you want to make a special dessert but don’t have a ton of time to spare. It is the way that different flavors and textures are combined that makes these treats special, so don’t worry if you don’t have time to make it all from scratch. Use a little help from your favorite premium ice cream brand.

You can enjoy plenty of frozen treats without purchasing more equipment for your kitchen. Wait and see if you will really use an ice cream freezer before investing in one, but try one of these frozen treats to keep you cool in the meantime.

Fresh and Tropical Mango Sorbet Recipe

Sorbets are one of the fastest frozen desserts to put together. A typical sorbet contains fruit puree, sugar, and water, and can be frozen in any commercial ice cream maker. Simple recipes like these, that only have three to five ingredients, are best when you use the freshest fruit at the peak of its season.

The sweet and tropical mango makes a perfect base for sorbets. It is a soft and creamy fruit, which gives the finished sorbet a great texture. Adding a little alcohol to sorbet (such as Grand Marnier in this recipe) keeps the final product from freezing quite as hard, so it will store well.


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 large ripe mangoes, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tbsp. Grand Marnier

Prep Time: 10 minutes

​Cook Time: 0 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Mango Sorbet Recipe PREPARATION

  1. Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Puree the mango in a food processor or blender. You can make it completely smooth or leave a few small, pea-sized chunks of mango that will add texture to the finished product.
  3. Combine the mango puree with the sugar syrup, orange juice, and salt.
  4. Refrigerate the mixture until completely cold.
  5. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions. If your ice cream maker has a bowl that needs to be frozen first, make sure that it has been completely frozen.

Tips For Making Mango Sorbet:

  • Choose ripe mangos by using all your senses. Ripe mangos will give slightly when you press on them, but aren’t mushy (think about how a ripe avocado feels). Look for mangos that don’t have many blemishes. The best mangos are often very fragrant as well.
  • Taste your mixture before freezing it. If you want a little more acid, add a squeeze of lemon juice. If it is a little tart, add more sugar. Fruits can vary in sweetness levels, so make sure it is to your liking before you freeze the sorbet.
  • Feel free to experiment. Use half mangos and half of another fruit you love. Strawberries or raspberries are both great choices. I love raspberries because their tartness goes well with how sweet the mangos can be. Try switching the alcohol to something with a different flavor. This is your sorbet, so use ingredients you enjoy the best.

What makes ice cream smooth and silky?

Have you ever tasted ice cream with small ice crystals in it, so the texture isn’t smooth and creamy? If you’re going to take the time to make your own homemade frozen desserts, you are probably looking for ways to avoid that. There are several things that contribute to a great finished texture.

Freezing Time

The faster your ice cream freezes, the better the finished texture will be. There are two ways you can help things along. The first is to make sure your ice cream base is as cold as possible before putting it in the ice cream maker, especially if you cooked it. Refrigerate your ice cream base until it is completely cold. If you are looking for a way to speed it up, use a large metal baking dish so your liquid is in a thinner layer.

The second way to ensure your ice cream freezes fast is to make sure your freezer is as cold as possible before starting. Many home ice cream makers have a bowl that you freeze before starting. Although it varies by brand, most take at least 24 hours in the freezer. I actually store the bowl of my ice cream maker in the freezer, so it has been in there for a few days before I start making ice cream. I even throw the paddle in the freezer for a while before starting.


Air is actually an important ingredient in ice cream. It helps make the finished product softer and smoother. Commercial ice cream makers tend to churn more air into the ice cream than home makers. However, there are some things you can do to increase the air that is mixed in. Give the ice cream a minute or two longer than you think it needs in the ice cream maker. Those last few minutes are when much of the air is incorporated. If your recipe uses heavy cream, you can also give it a head start with a little whisking before you churn the ice cream.


Don’t fill your ice cream maker all the way to the top. This has to do with both the freezing time and the air. By making less at a time, your ice cream will freeze faster and there will be more room in the ice cream maker for incorporate air.


When you are making a frozen custard, especially if you are using egg yolks, you want to make sure the custard gets to the proper temperature before you chill it. Heating the dairy and eggs changes the nature of the protein in them and will help give you a smoother finished texture. If the recipe has a suggested temperature, use a food thermometer to try and hit it accurately.