Snow Ice Cream

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This winter has had more and better snowstorms than the past several years, so we hopped on a bandwagon a few weeks ago and made some ice cream out of fresh-fallen snow. It’s delicious. Also, it reminds me of Little House in the Big Woods, where Laura Ingalls Wilder had hot maple syrup over snow. I’ve been meaning to try that for probably thirty years, and this is as close as I’ve gotten.


Bring on the snow! (But not the grass. Grass does not taste good in ice cream. Nor does dirt.)

Snow ice cream is best made with very fresh snow – not the snow that fell two days ago, not the first inch of snow (which knocks pollutants out of the air), not anything on top of driveways or manure or within range of the plow. We let it start snowing in the morning, then put a big stock pot out in the yard to catch the rest of the day’s snow. When the snow slowed in the afternoon and the pot was largely full, we topped it off and brought it inside.

Condensed milk overflowing the pot
Ask me how I know that you need to make a well in the snow…
Pouring evaporated milk into a well in the snow
See how much neater this is?

This was primarily a Belle project, from choosing the flavors to opening and pouring the canned milk. The can opener was particularly tricky – it requires squeezing strength with one hand, rotational strength with the other, doing both at the same time, and holding everything at the right angle (lest one lose the grip on the can). She can grasp tightly enough with her left hand to hold the can opener closed, but once she starts to focus on the right hand’s rotational movement, she loosens her left hand. Honestly, we should practice this MUCH more often with less sloshy canned goods to get the strength and coordination pieces down.

Milk mostly mixed into the snow
Did we get bored and find an umbrella? Mayyyybe.

Belle also wants to do it all on her own, but can’t quite get it, so we compromise by my starting the process, letting her make mistakes with it, and finally coming behind her to grasp over her hands and move them. Or more precisely, attempt to move her hands before she flips between “you do it, mommy, it’s too hard,” “No! I can do it!” and “I’ll do this part and you do that part, mommy.”

Limoncello measurements
Limoncello is basically an extract, and basically not a substantial source of alcohol when mixed in with 12 cups of snow, right?

Skills worked on:

  • fine motor coordination: mixing near the top of the bowl, can opening
  • fine motor strength: mixing heavy things, can opening
  • flavor knowledge: choosing extracts and mix-ins that go together
  • food prep!
Adding jam to the snow ice cream
Pick your favorite flavors and eyeball the additions.


  • stock pot, or other large pot
  • can opener
  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups
  • large rubber/silicone spatula
  • covered container for storage
Finished chocolate chip snow ice cream
Chocolate chips – required.

Recipe (several hours prep, 10 min assemble, yield: about 8 c ice cream)

We saw recipes all over Facebook – some with sugar, some without, some with sweet additions, some without. We like when sugar highlights a flavor, not when it overwhelms all flavors, so we ditched all recipes with added sugar. We also chose to use the sweetened condensed milk for the sweeter chocolate chip flavor, and the evaporated milk for a lighter, more gelato-y limoncello-raspberry version.

Therefore, the recipe is pretty simple: snow, plus sweetened condensed milk (or evaporated milk, or milk and sugar), plus some sort of flavored extract, plus whatever mix-ins you want (think chocolate chips). Our proportions were as follows:

  • 12 c snow (very rough measurement)
  • 1 12 oz can sweetened condensed milk (or 1 can evaporated milk, or 1 1/2 c milk and 1/4 sugar)
  • 2 tbsp extract
  • 1/2 – 1 c mix in (optional)
  • toppings (optional)
  1. Collect snow. Create a well in the middle to pour the milk in.
  2. Add milk and extract, and use large spatula to mix til consistent.
  3. Use spatula to mix in any mix-ins.
  4. Serve immediately or freeze in covered container.

We have a lot of random extracts that would have worked here: vanilla, raspberry, maple, and rum, to name a few. We also had some limoncello in the freezer (thanks Italian cousins!) that we decided was a good fit, being intensely flavored alcohol in small amounts.

We also checked out the full range of flavors in our add-ins: jams, peanut butter, chocolate chips, nuts, crumbled cookies – basically anything that would work in a cookie or regular ice cream was fair game. Toppings are the usual sundae fare: sprinkles, chocolate/butterscotch syrup, whipped cream, and/or maraschino cherries.

If we weren’t already limited on freezer space and covered container space, we would have considered using a package of hot cocoa to make a chocolate/mini marshmallow flavor too!

(Oh, PS, according to Belle, sprinkles are not optional.)

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snow ice cream pin

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