The Right Way To Add Mix-Ins To Homemade Ice Cream

There are few treats quite as good as a scoop of homemade ice cream on a hot day, well, unless we're talking of a scoop of smooth ice cream with a mix of delicious crunchies. But if you've ever tried to add mix-ins to your homemade ice cream, you know that it can be a bit of a challenge. Luckily, it's not mission impossible so long as you know the proper steps to follow. 

Timing is critical when adding mix-ins to homemade ice cream, so aim for right after your ice cream is churned but has yet to set. At this point, your ice cream base is well solidified, so your mix-ins won't sink to the bottom. If you're using hard, super crunchy mix-ins like chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or candy pieces, you can add them directly to the churn in the ice cream maker and let the machine stir them in for no more than a minute or two. 

However, incorporating more delicate mix-ins like cake cubes or fresh fruit pieces, requires the folding technique. Start by scooping your ice cream into a bowl, then add your semi-soft mix-ins (a little at a time) and fold them gently into the ice cream using a spatula. These two methods of adding mix-ins will result in a well-aerated ice cream with splendid crunchy breaks. 

More simple tricks for the perfect mix-ins for your homemade ice cream

As you add your choice of mix-ins, remember to keep them small so they easily blend into the ice cream base without sticking out too much — you can use a chocolate chip for your size reference. But even as you avoid extra huge chunks, you'll need to also get rid of the tiny bits of mix-ins that often make your ice cream base grainy and unpleasant, for example, the dust particles from chopped roasted nuts or little crumbs from crushed cookies. To do this, sieve the add-ins in a fine mesh strainer and only use the remaining chunks.

Another thing to keep in mind before you finally drop those tasty add-ins into your ice cream is to chill them first. The reason for this step is two-fold. First, pre-freezing the softer mix-ins like cake will help retain their shape and prevent them from getting smashed under the weight of churned ice cream, and secondly, chilled mix-ins prevent the formation of melted pockets in your already-churned ice cream which is somewhat unsightly.

Finally, for the perfect crunch in your homemade ice cream, measure your mix-ins properly. If you just want a little chunkiness, go for about 1/2 cup of mix-ins per quart of ice cream. But if you're looking for extra-chunky ice cream, one cup per quart of ice cream is the sweet spot. Follow these tricks, and you'll have your dream homemade ice cream every single time.