Kitchen Science: Making Ice Cream In A Bag with Kids

Kitchen Science - How to make ice cream in a bag via What's Cooking with Kids

Why am I not surprised that my What’s Cooking summer camp kids loved making ice cream more than any other recipe?   It was real life science in action, and a perfect way to beat the summer heat.

Recipe: Ice Cream in a Bag

Why don’t YOU give it a try?  Here’s the recipe and a description of how it works:

Ice Cream In a Bag: Kitchen Science
What’s Cooking with Kids:
Serves 1

2 Tbs. sugar
1 cup half and half
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup rock salt or ice cream salt (The bigger the salt crystals, the better)
3-4 cups Ice Cubes
1 sandwich or pint sized zip lock bag
1 gallon sized zip lock bag
Optional: sprinkles, chocolate chips, or a crushed cookie

  1. Combine the sugar, half & half, and vanilla extract in the smaller bag and seal it tightly.
  2. Place the salt and ice in the gallon-size bag.
  3. Place the sealed smaller bag inside the bag with the salt and ice.
  4. Seal the larger bag. Now shake the bags until the mixture hardens (about 5 minutes). You may want to wrap the bag in a dish towel so that your hands don’t get too cold.
  5. The ice cream mixture should start to harden when it is ready, so give it a squeeze every few minutes.
  6. Take the smaller bag out of the larger one.  If desired, add optional toppings, and eat the ice cream right out of the bag.

Kitchen Science: How Does it Work?

Ice keeps things cold because it absorbs heat energy from its surroundings.  Adding salt to the ice lowers the freezing point, so the ice begins to melt.  The melting ice absorbs heat from its surroundings, in this case, the ice cream mixture.  When enough heat has been removed from the ice cream mixture, it freezes.

P.S.  If you like kitchen science, check out how to extract DNA from strawberries!

P.P.S. – I am not teaching summer camps anymore, but I AM making resources to help parents, teachers, and summer camps host their own cooking classes for kids.  Here are some of my DIY Summertime Cooking Classes for kids:

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11 Responses to Kitchen Science: Making Ice Cream In A Bag with Kids

  1. Sarah says:

    What a fun activity! Every kid (and grown up for that matter) can have fun with this and happily enjoy the results of the effort. Love it!

  2. Mick says:

    That’s a COOL idea! 🙂

    Although I don’t have kids I will certainly try this method.

  3. Julie says:

    Super fun idea! my son and I were just thinking of boy slumber party ideas. keep 10 boys outside, shakin, and eatin’ cool treats -sounds like fun to me (plus no clean up!)

  4. Oh my gosh, Julie – that would be a perfect activity for boys at a slumber party. They get to do something active AND productive all at the same time 🙂 Depending on how many boys you have, you may want to have 1-2 boxes of ice cream salt on hand…and maybe extra bags, in case some get punctured. If you do this at your party, send me a photo! I’d love to see them in action!

  5. Jeff says:

    I’ve done this with over a decade of chem students and it is always a big hit. Here are some things I’ve learned.
    1. Always buy 20-40% more of each major ingredient than you think you need. It’s always good to have some extra in case something goes wrong or if someone wants to do an extra batch.
    2. Small ice cubes or lightly crushed ice tends to work better than big ice cubes. You want the ice to cover most of the cream, but not completely fill the larger bag.
    3. Just as the salt lowers the freezing point of the ice, the sugar and the vanilla lower the freezing point of the cream. Too much of either may keep ice cream from forming. If you have a kid whose ice cream isn’t solidifying, have them redo the cream with less sugar and vanilla.
    4. You can use other extracts besides vanilla, like almond.
    5. With real ice cream, you usually put the ice in the freezer to let the ice crystals grow a bit to firm up the ice cream. Without freezing, the ice cream will start to melt again as soon as you stop agitating. Eat your results right away!
    6. It helps to rinse off the inner bag with cold water to get rid of any rock salt near the mouth of the bag.
    7. Berries also make great toppings!

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  9. I just saw this on your IG feed. Love it!! Will be sharing!

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