Frugal Homemade Ice Cream

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Want to make a yummy cheap homemade ice cream to enjoy this summer? This yummy Cheap Ice Cream recipe is so easy, you only need 3 ingredients to make it!

Want to make a yummy cheap homemade ice cream to enjoy this summer? This yummy Cheap Ice Cream recipe is so easy, you only need 3 ingredients to make it!

Cheap Homemade Ice Cream

Ice Cream is always a fun treat to make in the summertime. If you happen to not have any air conditioning in your home, it can also be a great way to cool your body down.

Normally when you make homemade ice cream, you use quite a bit of cream, and with the rising cost of dairy and cream already being expensive, sometimes it’s cheaper just to do without. I love a cool ice cream treat now and then, so I knew there had to be a solution!

This recipe requires an ice cream maker of some sort. If you don’t have one…watch at rummage sales or end-of-the-season sales to pick one up for less. They are worth it to be able to make a special treat once in a while! If you cannot purchase one, you can always make one following the Ice Cream Freezer. However, that project will not work with this particular recipe but will work with a more traditional churn ice cream recipe.

Why I Love This Recipe

This recipe is not only more frugal than traditional ice cream recipes because it doesn’t use lots of heavy whipping cream, egg yolks, or other expensive ingredients, it’s also so easy to make!

There’s no cooking involved, no rock salt (unless you have an old style ice cream churn), no freezing the liquids into ice cubes first…just straightforward and simple!


Ingredients in Ice Cream Mixture

  • Half and Half. Half and Half you should be able to find at the store, but if not, you can use half heavy cream and half whole milk. I think you could also use coconut milk to make this dairy free.
  • Sugar. This may be able to be replaced with another sweetener but we’ve yet to try it that way.
  • Vanilla Extract. I use homemade but you can use store-bought as well.

Frugal Ice Cream in a mason jar

How to Make the Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Pour all the ingredients together in the ice cream maker. You can use turbinado sugar or raw sugar in this recipe instead of white sugar as long as you send it through your blender first to make more of a fine powder. You also may be able to use another sweetener like honey or a sugar replacement but I haven’t tried it yet.

Turn on the ice cream maker and let the magic happen. For us, this recipe only takes about 10 minutes until the ice cream freezes.

The final product won’t be hard like store-bought ice cream; it will be more of a milkshake consistency. Still very yummy!

Variations to the Frugal Ice Cream

  • If you want to change it up, you could add a bit of Homemade Chocolate Sauce to make frugal Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream!
  • You could also add pureed strawberries for a strawberry ice cream (or any kind of berries).
  • Put in some chopped candy bars to make it like a milkshake from the local fast food place.
  • Add in chocolate chips or other mix-ins for some additional texture and flavors.
  • Top with whipped cream like a milkshake from a diner.

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5 from 1 vote

Cheap Homemade Ice Cream Recipe

How to make ice cream at home for less!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Cheap Homemade Ice Cream
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 416 kcal
Creator Merissa


  • 4 cup Half and Half
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract


  1. Pour all the ingredients together in the ice cream maker.

  2. Turn on the ice cream maker and let the magic happen. For us, this recipe only takes about 10 minutes.
  3. The final product won't be hard like store-bought ice cream, it will be more of a milkshake consistency. Still very yummy!

Recipe Notes

Half and half is made with half cream and half whole milk. If you can't find it at the store you can use 2 cups of cream and 2 cups of whole milk in place of it in this recipe.

Nutrition Facts
Cheap Homemade Ice Cream Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 416 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 17g106%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 85mg28%
Sodium 148mg6%
Potassium 321mg9%
Carbohydrates 35g12%
Sugar 35g39%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 857IU17%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 259mg26%
Iron 0.1mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Chocolate Ice Cream

More Frugal Summer Treats

Meal Planning Made Simple

Does your family like to eat cold treats in the summer? Perhaps all year around? Have you tried this recipe yet?

Did you make this recipe and enjoy it? Be sure to leave a star rating on the recipe card above! Also, don’t forget to share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and through Email using the sharing buttons below.

Me and KadyMerissa has been blogging about and living the simple life since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to the 100-acre farm on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.

This Cheap Homemade Ice Cream recipe was originally posted on Little House Living in June 2011. It has been updated as of June 2023.

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Recipe Rating


  1. gonna have to try this, hubby likes cocoanut so some flavoring and flake cocoanut should be good

  2. sounds yummy must try soonwe make onethat ha eggs in t!!!!!!!!!it yummy too oh and creamtoo.

  3. I heard Friday is National Ice Cream day. So if you don’t have the fixings today, you can get them by then and feel very hip making it on the “correct” day, lol 🙂

  4. The first recipe I ever used (& still the 1 I use most often), calls for 1/2 whipping cream & 1.2 light cream (half & half). Much richer, while saving a lot of money

  5. I’m in Australia and follow sweet poison eating plan (no fructose) i make one very similar with cream, vanilla and replace the sugar with dextrose, have also made it with natvia and works out just fine 🙂

  6. We have a traditional ice cream maker and a large family. What I do for cheap ice cream is make a frozen custard to freeze. In place of the heavy whipping cream and half and half the recipe calls for I use evaporated milk. No complaints yet!

  7. My poor hubby is lactose intolerant and misses ice cream so much so I substituted non-dairy coffee creamer for the Half and Half and added a tablespoon of vegetable oil, 2 T. corn starch and 1½ t. vanilla. Heat on stove until everything is dissolved and chill for at least 4 hours. I put it all in my ice cream maker like you suggested and let it churn for about 17 minutes. You should have seen my hubby’s eyes light up when he tasted it! Did you know that putting a piece of plastic wrap on the surface will prevent ice crystals from forming? Thanks for the frugal ice cream recipe which let me experiment a little to make ice cream for my poor hubby. P.S. I made my own (frugal) liquid non-dairy creamer by buying powdered creamer (Dollar store variety) and adding hot water to dissolve it (equal parts powder to hot water).

  8. We do frozen banana ice cream! Frozen banana, milk, put it in the blender. My cows not milking and cream is pricey. Plus being in florida, my banana ripen quickly so I end up freezing them a lot. I like this because the kids get fiber, fruit, and no added sugar or sweetener. Plus, easier to clean up. Lol can always add other fruit to it too