Resurrect Your Ice Cream Maker For Better Frozen Drinks

Thick, creamy ice cream may be more exciting to make at home than to buy at the grocery store — but that's not all you can use your ice cream maker for. It's easy to think these tools are one-hit wonders, but you can also deploy them to keep mayo-based salads, popsicles, or wine cold — or to whip up tasty frozen beverages.

Why use an ice cream maker instead of a blender to make an icy margarita, frozen strawberry daiquiri, or painkiller slushie? Ice cream makers are designed to produce minimal ice crystals while mixing in air and keeping everything as cold as possible. So, when you use them to make your frozen drinks, you'll get a thicker beverage with less watery ice. And making them is just as easy, if not easier, than whipping up ice cream: You'll just pour your ingredients into the container and let it churn away until it reaches the consistency you want.

How to whip up thicker frozen beverages

Although electric ice cream makers are much more popular these days, you may still have an old-fashioned manual version sitting around and it is possible to use these types to make frozen beverages. However, while it will reduce the number of ice crystals just like the electric ones, it will take much more effort to add salt to the outside rim and hand-crank everything until frozen. There are also options for ice cream maker attachments that fit onto a stand mixer, but this method for drink-making will work best in machines that have a canister you can pour everything into.

Most ice cream makers with canisters will ask you to freeze the container at least 12 hours ahead of time, so make sure to pop yours into the freezer the night before you want to make frozen drinks. You'll also want to keep your alcohol, if you're using it, in the freezer beforehand so it's cold going into the maker. And, if you'd normally add ice to a drink recipe in the blender, replace it with a little bit less water in the ice cream maker. Then let the device do its thing until you get a thick, frozen beverage.