The easiest salted caramel ice cream doesn’t require a machine

By Melissa Clark, The New York Times

When you urgently need a frozen treat without leaving the house to get it, the most satisfying shortcut might be a cold and fluffy no-churn ice cream.

Made from sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream, it’s almost absurdly minimalist and doesn’t even require an ice cream machine. There’s no fussing over curdle-prone egg yolks, because you don’t have to cook a custard. Simply whip some cream, fold in the milk and a few flavorings — a pinch of salt and some vanilla extract will do the trick — then let it sit in the freezer until scoopable. It’s the perfect hack for any hot day.

The reason this recipe works so well is because although there are only a few ingredients, each one does double duty. The cream’s fat content lends a rich, tongue-coating texture, and the air you whip into it creates volume and buoyancy, allowing the ice cream to stay supple when frozen. Then there’s the condensed milk: Because the sugar in it is already a liquid, it doesn’t need heat to dissolve. Viscous, syrupy and low-moisture, it also helps prevent ice crystals from forming, which makes for an especially smooth and velvety ice cream.

In this version I tweak the ingredients slightly, substituting store-bought dulce de leche for the condensed milk. The flavor is deeper and more complex, with toasty caramel notes replacing milky vanilla. Then I swirl more dulce de leche into the ice cream base for irresistibly sticky ripples of caramel throughout.

To punctuate the sweetness with a few crunchy, savory pops, add a pinch of flaky sea salt to the dulce de leche before swirling it into the ice cream base. And while you’re at it, you can also mix in a few tablespoons of chopped nuts, shredded coconut or chocolate chunks or chips.

Once it’s frozen, scoop this delightful ice cream into cones or mound it on a sundae or banana split. Then again, you could take the time-honored, lazy-summer approach and spoon it up, languidly and meltingly, right from the container and into your mouth.

No-Churn Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Melissa Clark

Yes, you can make excellent ice cream without an ice cream machine — and with just two ingredients. This salted caramel version has a buoyant, velvety texture thanks to whipped cream and gets toasty butterscotch notes from prepared dulce de leche, a richly complex substitute for the more commonly used sweetened condensed milk. Adding a pinch of flaky sea salt to some of the dulce de leche before swirling it into the ice cream base gives the whole thing crunchy, savory pops, balancing out the sweetness. And if you want to go one step further, swirling in a few tablespoons of chopped nuts, shredded coconut or chocolate chips along with the dulce de leche adds texture as well as flavor.

Yield: 1 1/2 pints

Total time: 3 1/2 hours


  • 1 (14-ounce) can or jar dulce de leche
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky salt (optional)


1. Pour 3/4 cup of dulce de leche into a small bowl. In a large bowl, using a whisk or electric mixer, beat heavy cream and fine sea salt until stiff. Add a dollop of the whipped cream to the small bowl, and mix until the dulce de leche has loosened.

2. Add the lightened dulce de leche mixture to the bowl of whipped cream, gently folding until combined.

3. Add remaining 5 ounces dulce de leche to the now-empty small bowl and season with flaky salt (or you can substitute 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, but you won’t have the crunch).

4. In a quart-size container, add one-quarter of the dulce de leche whipped cream. Dollop in a few small spoonfuls of salted dulce de leche on top and swirl gently. Repeat until all of the whipped cream and dulce de leche are transferred. Freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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