Best Ice Cream Mixes

Updated July 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

28 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
390 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best ice cream mixes

Last Updated July 2020

You’re a big fan of ice cream, but you can’t always make it to the grocery store or ice cream shop for your favorite treat. And making ice cream from scratch is quite the process, not to mention time-consuming. Don’t worry. We have the solution: make your own homemade delights with an ice cream mix.

Ice cream mix powder speeds up the process by serving as the recipe base. Simply blend it with milk and heavy whipping cream. Mixing takes only a minute or two, and once you pop the blend in the freezer, you’ll have your very own batch within a few hours. As far as flavor goes, the sky’s the limit. Most brands carry the staples of chocolate and vanilla, and some offer up to 30 varieties. You can even customize flavors by adding ingredients like strawberries or chocolate chips to the mix before freezing.

Ready to see what’s in store with flavors galore? Give our buying guide on ice cream mixes a read. We’re sharing shopping tips and a few favorites to make sure your first batch is a delicious success.

Measure each ingredient precisely when you make ice cream from a mix. Keep in mind that cooking involves chemical processes, so accuracy matters to yield successful results.

Key considerations

Benefits of using ice cream mix

Ice cream mix is the easiest way to make ice cream. Blending chilled milk and heavy cream with the ice cream mix powder is simple enough for kids to do, and it’s a great introductory recipe for aspiring home cooks of frozen treats.

Ice cream mix keeps the mess to a minimum. So long as you don’t spill the milk or heavy cream, you won’t have much cleaning up to do, save for a couple bowls, measuring cups, and utensils.

Ice cream mix is shelf-stable. That means you can keep it in the pantry instead of your freezer. Pints and quarts of ice cream take up considerable room, and the ice cream can get freezer burn if you don’t eat it right away.

Ice cream mix is a convenient way to control portions. Batches can be as small or large as you like while still giving yourself permission to indulge in a homemade treat.

Blending the mix

An ice cream mix can be used in any appliance or device you’d use to make homemade ice cream. This includes electric and manual ice cream makers, hand blenders, and mixers with an ice cream attachment. The only major difference between these appliances is how long they take to freeze the mixture. Certain electric and manual ice cream makers freeze the mix as it blends, creating an instant treat. For all other devices, you’ll need to put the mixture in the freezer. It takes anywhere from 6 to 24 hours to fully freeze into the traditional consistency of ice cream.

Soft-serve vs. hard ice cream

As you shop around for ice cream mixes, pay close attention to the names of the products to know what you’re buying. Soft-serve mix and hard ice cream mix aren’t the same, and frozen yogurt is a completely separate category.

The difference between the ingredient list for soft serve and for ice cream is quite dramatic. Chemically, they react differently to the freezing process. This is most noticeable in their consistency, as well as the amount of time it takes them to freeze. As a result, soft-serve mix is often dispensed from a soft-serve machine, while hard ice cream is simply frozen in a container. Hard ice cream mix should never be put in a soft-serve machine.

DID YOU KNOW?

Depending on the brand, ice cream mix is shelf-stable for 12 to 18 months. It’s best to keep it in a cool, dry place away from light.

Features

Flavors

All ice cream mix brands have chocolate and vanilla flavors, which are, unsurprisingly, best sellers. Many consumers stick with these varieties because they’re easy to customize with common ingredients like chocolate chips, nuts, or fruit.

Other common mix flavors include mint, strawberry, and dark chocolate. If you prefer other flavors, such as pistachio or cherry, they’ll be a bit harder to find because far fewer brands manufacture them.

Ingredients

There’s quite a bit of variety in the ingredients in ice cream mixes, and no two blends are the same. Common ingredients include cane sugar, natural and artificial flavoring, salt, and milk powder. Also common are binders and thickeners, such as guar gum, gum arabic, and carrageenan.

Unfortunately, if you have food sensitivities or dietary concerns, you won’t find too many ice cream mixes that can accommodate you. The ones currently on the market include no sugar added, lactose-free, non-GMO, kosher, soy-free, and salt-free varieties. Some brands also list how they manufacture the ice cream mix, citing whether they use equipment that also processes wheat, milk, eggs, nuts, or soy.

Packaging

Ice cream mix is packaged in hermetically sealed bags to prevent the powder from going stale or rancid. In terms of package size, it varies. Those mixes intended for smaller batches of a few cups to a couple quarts measure anywhere from 4 to 32 ounces. If you intend to make a very large quantity of ice cream, you can purchase mix in bags that weigh between 6 and 10 pounds, though these are more often used in food establishments or commercial settings.  

EXPERT TIP

Few ice cream mix bags are resealable, so you might want to store it in a tin or other airtight container.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

Ice cream freezer container: Sumo Homemade Ice Cream Containers
To optimize your freezer space, invest in some space-savvy containers for your ice cream. We like these from Sumo, whose slender design fits seamlessly in most freezers. They’re also dishwasher safe.

Ice cream scoop: Good Cook Smart Ice Cream Scoop
Make sure you get the perfect scoop every time with this cast aluminum scoop from Good Cook. Its unique design shapes ice cream like a pro.

DID YOU KNOW?

Of all flavors, vanilla has the greatest number of varieties in ice cream mix. You’ll find bourbon vanilla, old-fashioned vanilla, Madagascar vanilla, and creamy vanilla, depending on the brand.

Ice cream mix prices

As is the case with many foods and cooking items, buying in bulk gives you the best bang for your buck when it comes to ice cream mixes. On average, you can spend anywhere from $2 to $50 per package.

Inexpensive: Most ice cream mixes are packaged in bags that weigh from 4 to 16 ounces and range in price from $2 to $9. Price isn’t always contingent on size in this bracket, as smaller packages of premium mixes reach the top of the range.

Mid-range: Ice cream mixes are often sold in value packs that contain anywhere from two to ten smaller packages. These cost between $5 and $20 per value pack and may total between 12 and 64 ounces of mix.

Expensive: The largest quantities of ice cream mix range from 6 to 10 pounds and cost between $20 and $50. More often than not, you’ll only find these in a few flavors, namely chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

EXPERT TIP

To add a bit of caffeine and a subtle coffee flavor, add cold brew coffee to the blended mix. Depending on the yield of the mix, you can use anywhere from a teaspoon to a couple of tablespoons but be sure to taste the mixture as you add it.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Check liquids prior to preparing the mix. Even if your milk and heavy cream aren’t close to their expiration dates, smell and taste both of them to make sure they’re still fresh.
  • Keep the mix packages dry. Ice cream mix is powdered, so if the packaging gets wet, you’ll likely need to use it up or toss it because it will no longer be shelf-stable.
  • Experiment with flavors. Making ice cream is fun, especially if you're a fearless foodie. Try new recipes and flavors, including ones using unconventional ingredients like herbs or spices.
Make sure you have enough room in the freezer for the bowl or container before you make the ice cream.

FAQ

Q. Can I mix alcohol into my ice cream mix?
A.
You can, but you won’t need too much of it to add flavor. For every quart of ice cream you make, you only need to add a couple tablespoons of liquor. Less is more, so you may want to start with a teaspoon and work your way up. In terms of when you add the liquor to the recipe, it’s best to add it at the very end to the fully blended mix.
 

Q. Do I have to use whole milk or can I use other types of milk?
A.
If you’d like to save on calories, it’s fine to swap in low-fat or fat-free milk instead. With most ice cream mixes, you can use almond milk as well. The consistency and overall creaminess might be a bit different than a blend with whole milk, but it’s still packed with flavor. That said, not every milk alternative works well with ice cream mix, so it’s best to do a trial run with a small batch first.
 

Q. What’s the average calorie count of ice cream mix?
A.
When you look at the nutritional facts on the packaging, you’ll see two columns: one for dry mix and one for prepared mix. The dry mix calorie count is the number of calories in just the mix. The prepared mix refers to the calories from the mix plus the milk and cream. This is an estimate based on whole milk and heavy cream, so the total calories for the prepared mix may be less if you use other milk varieties.

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