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Everything You Need to Make Ice Cream at Home

According to pastry chef Jeanine Lamadieu, once you have the right machine, the rest is easy

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An ice cream maker, whisk, spatula, scoop, bowls, and thermometer laid out on a light blue grid

Jeanine Lamadieu believes everything goes with ice cream. “It’s one of those lounge-around foods,” the 25-year-old pastry chef says. “If you’re in a sour mood, you can eat ice cream. If you’re in a happy mood, you can eat ice cream.” Lamadieu picked up a 2020 James Beard Rising Star semifinalist nod for her work last year at Yūgen in Chicago’s West Loop, where she spun tart kefir sorbet and caramelized milk ice cream for desserts inspired by the Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bar and her childhood invention of smashed Oreos and milk “cereal,” respectively.

Since leaving the restaurant in January to embark on an undisclosed project, Lamadieu has been making ice cream at home. “It’s easy, and all you need is an ice cream maker and a thermometer,” she says. With those items, plus a few other everyday kitchen tools, “you can have fresh, homemade ice cream in just 30 minutes.” And making your own batch, instead of relying on Ben and Jerry, means you can customize the end result exactly to your tastes. “My dad, for example, likes smooth ice cream, but I’m big into chunks,” Lamadieu says. Her go-to flavor these days: “white coffee,” for which she steeps whole beans overnight in cream.

Here’s everything Lamadieu recommends to get started:

A good recipe

There are two main styles of ice cream: French, which contains eggs and dairy and needs to be cooked, and Philadelphia, which is egg-free and may or may not be cooked. Lamadieu prefers the former. “I appreciate its richness and fattiness.” (Egg also eliminates the need for chemical stabilizers.) “It’s the kind of ice cream you want to sit on the couch with and go ‘Hammertime’ on it.”

French style:

And a few Philadelphia-style options:

An electric ice cream maker

Lamadieu calls the Cuisinart Stainless Steel Electric Ice Cream Maker the standard-bearer in at-home ice cream spinning. “I honestly think it’s the best home product I’ve seen in a long time and an awesome investment.” It has just four parts: motor housing, mixing arm, lid, and the two-quart bowl, “which you can just leave in the freezer for months and not think about until you want to make ice cream. All you have to do it is add the ice cream base and turn it on. You don’t need to pay attention, it won’t over-spin, and in 30 to 45 minutes you have frozen ice cream.”

A sturdy pot

You cook the French-style base on the stove in a pot; Lamadieu likes Natural Home’s Eazistore line. As the name implies, “they’re stackable, which is super convenient for cabinet space, and I can scour them without them being scratched and getting beat up.” But any sturdy pot will do.

Rösle spiral whisk

Lamadieu calls this tool a sauce whisk. “Instead of being shaped like a light bulb, it’s flat, which lets you get into the edges of the pan,” while whisking your base on the stove.

An infrared thermometer

A French ice cream base is essentially a custard, which needs to be heated to a safe temperature, and for that task Lamadieu recommends an infrared thermometer. Unlike a typical candy thermometer, “you don’t have to stand there holding it, the heat possibly catching your hands. You don’t have to clean it.” The infrared beam penetrates to the center of the mixture, giving you the most accurate reading. For a French base, Lamadieu targets 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nested metal mixing bowls

After coming off the stove, an ice cream base should be rapidly cooled. For that, Lamadieu sets up an ice bath in metal mixing bowls, like All-Clad’s stainless steel set. Fill the largest bowl with ice and nest the next largest bowl into it before pouring in the base. Metal bowls cool hot liquids twice as fast as glass ones and three times faster than plastic, according to testing conducted by Cooks Illustrated.

A rubber or silicone spatula

To transfer the base to the ice bath, Lamadieu uses a flexible spatula like the GIR. “It lets you get every little bit out of the pot.”

A perfect scooper

“Using the same motion you would use for making a quenelle, the Zeroll 1030 scooper gives you the perfect egg-shaped scoop,” Lamadieu says. “I think it’s a perfect portion of ice cream.” If you’re not eating it straight from the bowl, that is.