Homemade Ice Cream in a Can { Fun for Kids }

Here’s an idea that is fun for kids: Homemade Ice Cream in a Can! It’s easy and it only takes a few ingredients, but most of all: it creates fun memories. What’s better than that?

Homemade Ice Cream in a Can --  fun for kids that only takes a few ingredients!

Want something to keep the kids busy? Well, for at least 30 minutes or so? Here’s how they can make homemade ice cream in a can!

To make homemade ice cream in a can, you will need to empty and clean metal coffee cans, with the lids. One will be a 12-16 ounce size and the other will be a 2-3 pound size. The 12-16 size must be able to fit inside of the larger coffee can with a bit of round all the way around it.

Empty Coffee Cans for Ice Cream in a Can

Inside the smaller coffee can, you will mix up all of the ingredients. My recipe is for a very basic vanilla ice cream, but you can change it up by mixing in some add-in items. I added some crushed Heath candy bars to ours, but you could also add nuts, fruit, chocolate chips and more.

How to Make Ice Cream in a Can

After you got it all mixed in, grab your duct tape. You want to secure the lid on the can you just filled, but first make sure the outside of the can is dry, so wipe it down with a dry towel if you need to. I tape the lid on by taping a “plus sign” over the top and then a piece all around the edge of the lid and the top of the can.

How to Make Ice Cream in a Can


Put your smaller, ice cream can into the center of the larger can. Place some crushed ice all around the small can. When the can about half full of ice, sprinkle some rock salt (about 1/3 cup) on the ice. Pack with more ice until nearly full and sprinkle more salt (about 1/3 – 1/2 cup) on the top. 

Homemade Ice Cream in a Can

Cover your large can with its lid, wipe down any moisture or frost that is collecting on the outside of the can and tape the lid on. 

How to Make Ice Cream in a Can

Have the kids sit on a floor and roll the can back and forth for about 15 minutes. After that time, open up the big can and pull out the small can. You should see the ice cream starting to form on the sides and bottom. Scrape down the sides, put the lid back on, and wipe your can with a dry cloth. Tape the lid on, but because the outside of your can is wet and frosty, it’s likely that you will need more duct tape this time. Since it may be hard to get the tape to stick to the can, wrap enough duct tape so that the tape is securing tightly to itself, rather than the can.

Drain off the water in the big can. Place your small can back into the large can and repeat with the ice and salt like you did the first time. Tape the lid of the big can on too — but just like the small can, you’ll likely need more. We wrapped from top to bottom all the way around and then repeated going in the opposite direction.

How to Make Ice Cream in a Can

Let the kids roll the can some more — another 15 minutes. When you are done, open up your cans and you’ll see that you have even more ice cream. Scrap down the sides. You can eat it at this point — it will be a bit soft, but if your kids are like mine, they won’t care. I personally prefer to stick it in the freezer for a couple hours to firm it up a bit.

Homemade Ice Cream in a Can 3

And after all that “hard” work, you have homemade ice cream perfect for a hot summer day!

Homemade Ice Cream in a Can

Homemade Ice Cream in a Can
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Optional add-ins: chopped nuts, crushed Heath bars or other candies, mini chocolate chips, toasted coconut, chopped berries or fruits, etc.
  • 2 coffee cans with lids (one 12-16 oz can & one 2-3 lb can)
  • Duct Tape
  • Ice
  • Rock Salt
  1. Inside the smaller coffee can, mix up the milk, whipping cream, sugar and vanilla. If you are using an add-in item such as chopped candy bars, chocolate chips, or nuts, you can also add those now. If using fruit, I recommend adding later. Wipe outside of can to ensure that it dry. Secure the lid on the small can securely with duct tape.
  2. Place the smaller (now filled) can into the center of the larger can. Place crushed ice all around the small can. When the can is almost full with ice, sprinkle rock salt (about ¾ cup) on the ice. Cover the large can with its lid, wipe down any moisture or frost that is collecting on the outside of the can and tape the lid securely on with duct tape.
  3. Roll the can around on the floor for about 15 minutes. Open the large can and remove the smaller can. Open the smaller can and scrape down the side of any ice cream that has begun to form on the sides of the can. Mix in fruit, if you wish to add any in. Cover can once again, wipe and dry outside of can the best you can, and secure the lid with duct tape. Since there will be more frost and wetness on the outside of the can, you will probably find that the duct tape doesn't hold to the can -- this means you will probably need to tape all the way around and secure to tape, rather than the can.
  4. Drain off the water from the large can and place the smaller can inside the larger can again. Repeat with the ice and rock salt as previously. Secure the lid just as you did with the smaller can on the 2nd time.
  5. Roll can on floor for another 15 minutes. Open large can and remove from small can from large can. Open the small can, scrape down sides again. The ice cream can now be served or if you wish it to be more firm, simply place the small can directly into your freezer for a few hours.

Homemade Ice Cream in a Can - Summer Fun for Kids

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  1. says

    I bet this was super fun to make and rewarding too hehe! We are hosting an extra special month long linky party through all of July focusing on frozen Summertime treats and we would love for you to join us! The best part is there is also an amazing GIVEAWAY! To get in on the action please visit us at We Scream for Ice Cream Linky Party + GIVEAWAY! Live from July 1st until July 30th. Hosted by: Dana @ This Silly Girl’s Life & Parrish @ Life with the Crust Cut Off We hope to see you there!

  2. says

    What a great project for the kids, awesome idea! Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you are having a great summer weekend and come back to see me real soon!
    Miz Helen

  3. says

    I’ll be featuring YOU tomorrow morning on my blog! Thank you so much for linking up to {wow me} wednesday!

    Ginger @ gingersnapcrafts.com

  4. says

    I’ve seen this before, but we’ve never tried it. It looks like a lot of fun and something that would be a great project for the kids this summer. Pinned.

  5. says

    I have to try this! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams, starts on Fridays 😀 Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.

  6. says

    I remember making ice cream in a can when I was a kid! I am so glad I found this recipe, I am pinning it so I can make it with my kids. Thanks for sharing!

  7. says

    I remember doing this as a kid. Sure, we only made plain old vanilla, but it sure was a blast! Thanks for the reminder. Pinning!

  8. says

    This would be such a great treat and science experiment! I love it! Thank you for sharing it at the #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup!

  9. says

    I’m drooling right now! This looks so good and so fun. Pinned and tweeted. Thank you for bringing this to our party and we hope to see you on Monday at 7 pm. Lou Lou Girls


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