Strawberry Ice Cream in a Can

#SummerwithHeinens: Strawberry Ice Cream in a Can

Who needs an ice cream machine? This perfect summertime treat requires only two kids, two coffee cans, a little duct tape and one recipe for the simplest ice cream ever. That’s how Heinen’s Associate Megan remembers creating it while babysitting during the summer.

With no cooking or eggs, it’s not as rich and creamy as custard based ice creams, but you get to eat it right out of the can on a hot summer’s day. Icy, sweet and just rich enough, you can whip up (or roll) this dessert in no time flat.

Strawberry Ice Cream in a Can

Start to finish: 30 minutes 
Hands on time: 30 minutes
Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 12 strawberries, hulled, chopped and mashed with a fork


  • One 3-lb coffee can with plastic lid (doesn’t have to be metal)
  • One 1-lb metal coffee can with plastic lid (must be metal)
  • Duct tape
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt, plus more if needed

It’s that easy: If you don’t mash up the strawberries really well, the chunks will freeze hard and the ice cream won’t be as fun to eat. So mash them thoroughly. You can also use frozen strawberries in syrup instead of fresh. Just drain them and then mash them up with the back side of a fork. I haven’t tried using some of the syrup in the ice cream but it sounds like a good idea. Reserve the 2 tablespoons sugar and add 2 tablespoons of the strawberry syrup instead and see what happens. Bet it will be delicious.

In a large bowl, whisk together the half and half, sugar, vanilla and salt until the sugar is dissolved. If the mixture isn’t still really cold, refrigerate it for an hour to chill it off really well.

Stir in the strawberries and pour the ice cream mixture into the 1-lb metal can. Attach the lid and secure it with duct tape all the way around the can, sealing the edges and then again across the top making an X.

Place the smaller can inside the larger one, fill up the sides halfway with ice and sprinkle over half the salt. Fill to the top with ice and the remaining salt (the salt makes the water and ice colder). Attach the lid and seal in the same way as the smaller can.

Now is the fun part. Find two kids and have them roll the can back and forth for 20 minutes. Some of the salty water may leak out so it’s best to do this outside or on a beach towel.

Open the containers to check if it’s ice cream yet. It will be loose but should be icy and creamy. It can be eaten just as it is from the can or the ice cream can be placed in the freezer to firm up a bit and become scoopable.

Variations: Instead of strawberries you can add one or more of the following.

  • 1/2 cup M&Ms (the color will bleed off the candy while rolling so stir them in at the end)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite crushed candy bar
  • 1/2 cup crumbled brownie or cookies (they may dissolve while rolling so stir them in at the end)
  • 1/2 cup mashed blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, nectarines, etc.
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted almonds or hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup chocolate covered pretzel pieces (stir them in at the end)

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