Brow Beat

Nigella Lawson’s No-Churn Ice Cream Is a Genius Way to Chill Out

A scoop of ice cream on a toasted bun.
James Ransom

Not having an ice cream maker never stopped us before. We’ve done all kinds of weird stuff in the name of doing it for ourselves. We’ve nested coffee cans and shaken (or kicked) them; we’ve returned obsessively to the freezer to stir; we may or may not have purchased this ball.

I am so impressed with us for doing all of that! We did a really good job of making ice cream, against all odds. But instead of doing any of it, you can glide over to your cupboard like you’re Nigella Lawson, find four ingredients, whip them into a cloud, then freeze—they will become ice cream while you go on with your day.

A series of four images: a bowl of white liquid with brown liquid being added; a hand adding dark brown powder to the bowl; the mixture with the powder sitting on its surface; a whisk in the mixture, now a light brown liquid.
James Ransom

It’s really as simple as that—there’s no egg to deal with, nothing to heat or temper or ice bath or strain. Just cream and sweetened condensed milk, flavored with espresso powder and liqueur. The sugar and booze keep it from getting hard and icy; the whipped cream provides air (and, yes, cream); the thick condensed milk helps do the work of a custard.

“When I was a child, I used to make an ice cream with my great aunt that required no special equipment (save a freezer) and was the work of moments and a trio of ingredients: condensed milk, heavy cream, and vanilla,” Lawson wrote to me. “Needless to say, it was sickly sweet, but more latterly it occurred to me that by adding bitterness or sharpness—coffee, bourbon, and salted caramel, the fixings for a margarita, the combined juices of pomegranate and lime—this effortless ice cream could make life subtly sweeter in the grown-up world.”

A light brown liquid drips from a whisk into a bowl.
James Ransom

The ice cream will have a creamy, almost buttery smoothness. The first time, I whipped it a bit too far and it had a more noticeably buttery quality—not the worst problem, but an avoidable one. The sweet spot is just when the whisk leaves trails in the bowl (I was trying to be proper and hold a soft peak when I lifted the whisk out—no need).

You can try all kinds of variations—Lawson has worked out at least six others for us. Food52er mrslarkin has this to add: “I loved this recipe so much that I made a mint chip version, using gin, mint extract, and grated chocolate, which was very delicious.” Definitely make a no-churn ice cream cake.

Or, like Lawson, “You could (and I often do) serve it with a chocolate sauce but my absolute favourite way of eating this is by squidging it into little brioches, like sweet burger buns, as they do in the south of Italy.”

A series of images: a hand pours a white mixture into a rectangular pan; the mixture covering the bottom of the pan; a pan full of the liquid, with peaks on top.
James Ransom

Nigella Lawson’s One-Step, No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

Adapted slightly from Nigellissima. Makes one pint.

• 1 1/4 cup (300 milliliters) heavy or double cream, well-chilled
• 2/3 cup (175 grams) sweetened condensed milk
• 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
• 2 tablespoons espresso liqueur

More from Food52:

Dori Sanders’ No-Churn Fresh Lemon Ice Cream
Meera Sodha’s Cardamom & Rose Water Kulfi
The Kitchn’s One-Ingredient Ice Cream
A Fruit Salad That’s Salty, Savory, Perfect
A Crispy, Cheesy Pan Pizza Anyone Can Make
19 Best Costco Snacks for When You Need a Bite, Stat