Creamy no-churn coffee ice cream is affogato meets scoop shop. This easy ice cream recipe is ready for the freezer in just minutes, needs only 4 ingredients, and *no* ice cream machine!!!
Some days need more than one cup of coffee. And while the after-dinner decaf some of my family prefer is fine, it just doesn’t always work. First, I don’t even have decaf coffee in my house, so there’s that. Second, there’s limited after-meal space and replacing my dessert with a drink is usually a no-go too. Dessert is special, darlings, and we savor it. This is why no-churn coffee ice cream is so special. It’s the perfect combination of the after-dinner coffee and dessert!
It’s also a perfect “introduction to making ice cream” for new bakers and those with impatient children. My littles love to help me mix up ice cream in the afternoon to enjoy after dinner.
You don’t need an ice cream maker to make no-churn coffee ice cream!
This fun fact is in the title, but might not be obvious if you have never made ice cream. I had NO CLUE what “no churn” meant when I started reading ice cream recipes to try making my own.
Churning refers to the constant mixing of a dairy product to cause a reaction. In the case of heavy cream, you churn until you get butter. In the case of ice cream, you churn your base to thicken it for freezing and that lovely creamy texture.
But if you don’t have an ice cream machine, or you haven’t frozen the bowl for the maker and you want ice cream now, what do you do? You use a no-churn recipe like this one!
By creating a mixture of whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk, you can mimic the texture of creamy ice cream without a machine!
How to get the best coffee flavor in the ice cream…
This can be more challenging than you think. Like with my Cuban coffee macarons, you might assume we add espresso to the mixture. It just doesn’t work for this ice cream recipe.
If you add enough espresso to get a bold coffee flavor, you sacrifice texture. The water will encourage the formation of ice crystals during the freezing process.
The workaround is in the same not-so-secret ingredient many bakers keep on hand for chocolate cake… instant espresso powder!
This hyper-concentrated instant coffee powder not only gives you a strong coffee flavor, but the bitterness balances the sweetness of the condensed milk perfectly! You can also add an optional pinch of salt to really help the coffee flavor come through in less of an “instant”-tasting way. Honestly, though, I don’t think my people noticed a difference between the salt batch and salt-free batch based on how quickly they enjoyed each.
If you’re worried about caffeine, I believe there are caffeine-free versions available. Any unflavored and unsweetened instant coffee will do.
A few recipe tips and possible variations…
You can make this recipe using either a hand mixer or stand mixer. It helps to use either for making the coffee whipped cream. Whipping cream by hand is quite the workout! Once you’ve made the whipped cream though, switch to a rubber spatula to help you fold in the condensed milk. You don’t want to overwhip your cream and accidentally cause separation.
Second, don’t worry about buying a special ice cream container. We make ice cream year-round, so I bought one recently. For years though, I just used a loaf pan and pressed plastic wrap around the top. Any freezer-safe container is a good ice cream container as long as it has enough room for the ice cream base.
Third, this is such a good recipe for variations! Two of our favorites are super easy, and both involve cookies. For one, add about 10 or so chopped Oreo cookies to the base for coffee cookies and cream ice cream. Chef’s kiss! The second is to take some of my homemade caramel sauce (or the Irish cream version!) and swirl it through the ice cream base for a coffee caramel ice cream. Like a latte but cold and dessert-ier.
I hope you love this coffee no-churn ice cream recipe, darlings! Enjoy!
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (see notes)
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- pinch salt (see notes)
- Place the chilled whipping cream in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Starting on low speed and working your way up to medium speed, whip the cream until it starts to thicken and increase in volume. Stop the mixer and add the espresso powder.
- Start the mixer and work your way up to high speed. Mix until you have whipped cream and stiff peaks form. Stop mixing so you don't over-beat your whipped cream.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold in the condensed milk and pinch of salt (if using). Keep folding and gently stirring until the mixture is smooth.
- Scoop the ice cream base into your freezing container and top with a little extra espresso powder for decoration if you'd like.
- Press a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper over the top of the ice cream to help prevent the formation of ice crystals and freeze for 2 hours until firm.
- When you are ready to serve, let the ice cream stand for 5 minutes at room temperature before scooping.
- Top with your favorite ice cream toppings, if desired, or enjoy as is!
- You may use decaf if you'd like. Instant coffee will work as well, but I find the extra bit of bitterness from instant espresso works really well to balance the sweetness of the condensed milk. Any instant coffee will do, I recommend staying away from the sweetened coffee mixes though. You won't get enough coffee flavor in the final product.
- The salt is optional, and you're looking for 1/8 teaspoon, no more. It helps round out the coffee flavor a bit.
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