Finally, a smooth, creamy fresh Strawberry Ice Cream! (No ice crystals!) This easy, no-cook, egg-free recipe preserves the fresh taste of strawberries, and works with fresh or frozen berries.
Developing this strawberry ice cream recipe was a real challenge, and it took Mr B and me some serious trial and error to perfect! We wanted to get it right, and so a lot of strawberry ice cream had to be made - and eaten - in the name of R&D. The end result made the effort totally worth it though: no exaggeration - this is the best strawberry ice cream either of us has ever had!
Why is Making Strawberry Ice Cream Tricky?
Making homemade strawberry ice cream is trickier than it looks. You'd think, just throw some strawberries, cream, and sugar together and you're golden, right? Wrong.
The biggest problem with fresh strawberry ice cream is the strawberries themselves. Strawberries have a very high water content, and what does water do when it get very, very cold? That's right, class - it freezes! Into little ice crystals. Which are fine for winter windows and root beer mugs, but no so great for ice cream.
To avoid having hard, crunchy strawberry ice cream, you have to do something to counteract water crystallization; hence the vodka and the corn syrup in this recipe. (Note: Any 70/80 proof liquor will work: we use whipped cream vodka.)
With a higher freezing temp than water, the alcohol in the vodka keeps discourages water crystallization, which in turn keeps your little strawberry chunks from turning into little strawberry ice cubes, while the corn syrup adds body, and keeps the texture smooth and supple.
What Makes this Recipe Unique?
If you've made strawberry ice cream before, you may find a few other things are different about this recipe:
♦︎ No Eggs: While eggs usually make for a richer ice cream, in the case of strawberry ice cream, they do so at the expense of that amazing fresh strawberry flavor - the exact thing that you want to preserve.
Another bonus for leaving the eggs out - no cooking necessary. (I'm not afraid of raw eggs, but you may be, and that's ok. Our eggs are produced in our backyard.) Anyway, that leads me to...
♦︎ No Cooking: Why? First off, you don't have eggs, so there's no reason to make a "custard base." Cooking also changes the flavor of the strawberries, and all I want to taste is sweet cream and fresh strawberries.
♦︎ Less Sweeteners: (i.e., sugar, etc.) - Almost all of the recipes I consulted as I was developing this recipe used a heavier hand with the sweeteners than my final recipe. I prefer to enhance the natural sweetness of the strawberries rather than overwhelm it. It's a delicate balance, based in part on how sweet your strawberries are.
Strawberry Ice Cream Ingredients
★ Fresh strawberries: Use fresh or fresh frozen strawberries for this recipe.
★ Sugar: Use plain, white granulated sugar.
★ Vodka: We use whipped cream vodka. Any 70/80 proof liquor will work.
As previously mentioned, the alcohol in the vodka keeps discourages water crystallization, which in turn keeps your little strawberry chunks from turning into little strawberry ice cubes.
If you prefer to avoid liquor completely, just leave it out. Your chopped strawberry chunks will be a bit crunchy, and the ice cream may get a little harder than optimal after a day or two in the freezer, but chances are it won't last that long anyway.
★ Half & Half: Yes, you can use heavy cream if you want. You can also use 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of heavy cream (but that's basically what half & half is, so why?).
We've tested this recipe using each of these three options, all with fine results; however, I think the lighter, cleaner flavor of the half & half lets the fresh strawberry flavors shine through most brightly.
★ Corn syrup: While we try to avoid corn syrup in most cases, we do use it in a number of our ice cream recipes, particularly the ones that are heavy on fruit. It adds texture and body, while discouraging ice crystal formation.
How to Make the Best Strawberry Ice Cream
Hull all the strawberries. Chop enough strawberries to make one cup of chopped berries. You want the chunks to be pretty small; ¼-inch cubes or smaller.
Put the chopped strawberries in a small bowl with ¼ cup of sugar and the vodka. Refrigerate while you make the rest of the ice cream base.
Put remaining strawberries in a blender and puree. Measure out about 1½ cups of puree. If you have extra, put it in the fridge - you can use it for ice cream topping later!
Blend the 1½ cups of strawberry puree with the half and half, corn syrup, and salt. Taste the mixture and adjust the sweetness to your personal tastes by adding a little additional sugar if desired.
Chill the ice cream base in the blender jar in refrigerator for at least one hour.
Take the blender jar out of the fridge and add the chopped strawberry mixture. Pulse very briefly to combine. You want to keep those little chunks of strawberries, so don't get crazy here.
Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions. For reference, it usually takes 25 -30 minutes to freeze in our ice cream maker.
Serve immediately for soft serve ice cream. If you prefer your ice cream hard-set, put it in the freezer for 2-4 hours before serving.
Raspberry Ice Cream: Substitute in equal amounts of raspberries for the strawberries.
Use a 1.5- to 2-quart ice cream maker for this recipe. Do not fill the ice cream maker beyond the "fill" line.
If you use a 1-quart ice cream maker, you will need to churn the ice cream in two batches.
Homemade ice cream doesn't last as long as store-bought ice cream because it lacks all the additives and preservatives present in most commercial ice creams.
Strawberry ice cream is good for about 2 weeks when tightly covered and stored the freezer. To help prevent ice crystals, press a sheet of plastic wrap, parchment, or waxed paper directly on the surface before putting the lid on.
More Fresh Strawberry Recipes
More Homemade Ice Cream Recipes
If you need an ice cream base recipe for adding chunky flavors, our homemade custard-style vanilla ice cream is simply the best!
Homemade Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream
- 1 quart fresh strawberries divided
- 1 cup sugar divided (or more, to taste)
- 2 tablespoons vodka
- 2 cups half & half
- ⅓ cup corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt to taste
- Hull all the strawberries. Chop enough strawberries to make one cup of chopped berries.Put chopped strawberries in a small bowl with ¼ cup sugar and the vodka. Refrigerate while you make the rest of the ice cream base.
- Put remaining strawberries in a blender and puree. Measure out about 1½ cups of puree.
- Blend the 1½ cups of strawberry puree with the half and half, corn syrup, and salt.Taste the mixture and adjust the sweetness to your personal tastes by adding a little additional sugar if desired.
- Chill the ice cream base in the blender jar in refrigerator for at least one hour.
- Take the blender jar out of the fridge and add the chopped strawberry mixture. Mix or pulse very briefly to combine.
- Add the strawberry mixture to the ice cream freezer. Churn according to manufacturer directions.
- For soft serve ice cream, serve immediately. If you prefer your ice cream hard-set, put it in the freezer for 2-4 hours before serving.
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