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homemade ice cream vs. store bought ice cream

What will the difference be between making my own ice cream at home vs. buying ice cream from the store?

What are the pro's and con's to homemade ice cream?

And, if I do try to make ice cream at home, can I get away with using those $50 Cuisinart ice cream machines or do I a better ice cream machine?

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  1. Cost...while making home made is great because you can come up with varieties you might not find in the stores, you can probably buy a container for less than you'll spend buying the ingredients to make it, unless you're making something basic like vanilla. The machine you have should work should you decide to make it.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Cherylptw

      I agree re: the cost of making ice cream at home is generally more than buying it - especially when you can find it on sale. I typically buy 1.75 quarts for $2.50 and I couldn't buy the basic ingredients for that if I made it at home. IMO, there isn't any real benefit in preparing ice cream at home. Commercially prepared ice cream is, for most brands, less expensive than what you might make at home. Commercial ice cream products have a broad range of price/quality factors to consider so the actual cost differences will vary.

      1. re: todao

        I've never really thought about the cost, that making it at home would end up being more expensive than buying it.

        But, how can those companies do that- sell it for less than I could make it all the while paying labor costs and still make a profit? Does that mean they're using inferior ingredients, or is it simply economy of scale?

        1. re: hobbess

          Sure, some of those companies are using inferior products, just read the side of the carton. Some whip so much air into the product that it doesn't take as much product to fill the container, ever notice how a carton of Hagen Daaz feels heavier than the cheap stuff! But also, these companies are buying massive quantities of milk, cream, sugar, etc and pay what we would consider to be bargain basement prices.

          My vote goes for making your own ice cream, especially if you have kids. You get to choose the quality of your ingredients and you can make any flavour you like. I have decided to make a lot of ice cream with the kids (4 and 6) this summer. When I let them pick a flavour at the grocery store they will generally choose something like bubblegum or rainbow. Our first batch at home they decided to make caramel coffeecake ice cream, much better choice in my opinion!

          And yes, you can get away with the Cuisinart, that's the one we use with great results.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. I have a Girmi ice cream maker that I bought about 5 years ago for $30. This year, I added one of those $50 Cuisinarts. Both work fine and I've made excellent ice cream with each machine, so you'll be fine with the Cuisinart. Do remember to freeze your canister a full 24 hours before you churn the ice cream (trust me--I know this by experience!)

        I prefer homemade ice cream and find it particularly delicious when it's freshly churned and has the consistency of soft ice cream. I usually have some that way and put the rest in a container to firm up. With homemade, you can control your ingredients. It does tend to be denser than store-bought (less air or overrun in the product). I like that! Also, you aren't limited to the flavors at the supermarket. If you want orange ice cream, you can make it. Try to find that in a store (real orange ice cream, not creamsicle.) That said, I do think some of the premium ice creams are quite tasty, but the regular brands are lacking in flavor, though they are cheaper.

        Good points from previous posters on the costs. Making your own ice cream is more costly and time-consuming, but worth it, especially if it's for something special. Also, once you've made a few batches, it becomes easier. And you needn't do it all at once. For a custard style, you make the custard and it needs to chill thoroughly. I've made custard bases up to a couple of days ahead of time. The churning itself only takes 15-30 minutes (unattended). Another plus with homemade is the ability to make only the amount you desire--you can make less than the "half-gallon" in the supermarket. The Cuisinart has a 1.5-qt. capacity and most recipes make 1-2 quarts. I often halve the recipes because I don't want the full quart.

        FYI, if you get an ice-cream maker, do understand that some of the product will freeze on the side of the canister. This is normal. There has been at least one thread on CH about this.

        1. When you make your own ice cream (like the other posters have said) you can make flavors you can't get at the store. You can also control the ingredients, so your ice cream will be a lot more quality than most of the stuff at the grocery store and you can control the creaminess, the texture, etc. It'll also be a lot more fresh, you can make it and eat it right then, whereas who knows how long some of those pints have been sitting on the shelves.

          However, the grocery store is more convenient. You don't have to buy the ingredients, spend the time making it, and then cleaning up all the mess. Store bought is also (sometimes) cheaper, depending on what brand you usually buy. I'm sure a half gallon of the store brand ice cream would be way cheaper than making your own. But if we're talking a pint of Haagen-Dazs compared to a quart of homemade, the price difference would probably be negligible.

          You can definitely get away with the Cuisinart, especially if you don't plan on using it all the time. That being said, I had one for a few years and I used it so much the engine burned out. Now, I have a freezer bowl for my KitchenAid which never fails me. If you have a KitchenAid, I think the extra $10-20 is worth it, it takes up much less space than a separate machine.

          1. I like making homemade ice cream, but it's pricy. I have a couple of really inexpensive recipes that I found on the internet that are family favorites - I have a big churn type ice cream maker that makes the whole batch, but recently switched to a Kitchen Aid attachment, and have just cut these down to 1/3.

            Orange Sherbet -
            2 liter Orange Crush soda
            2 cans Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
            1 lg. can crushed pineapple

            Wendy's Frosty -
            16 ounces Cool Whip
            1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
            1 gallon chocolate milk

            These are good, and cheap to make - and everyone loves them.