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How to Make Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

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Do you want super creamy ice cream in a flash! The fastest way to make ice cream is to use liquid nitrogen. It is so cold (I’m talking -321°F) that it freezes your ice cream almost instantly. Follow along and we will show you how to make liquid nitrogen ice cream. I’m bringing some helpers into the kitchen today for video production and we are having a blast. 

two scoops of chocolate stout ice cream made with liquid nitrogen

The biggest benefit of making liquid nitrogen ice cream is that it is super creamy.  Since the liquid nitrogen freezes the mixture so quickly, there isn’t time for large ice crystals to form.  The ice cream freezes so fast that it creates super small ice crystals that make the ice cream smooth and creamy.

pouring liquid nitrogen into a mixer

What is liquid nitrogen ice cream?

Liquid nitrogen ice cream is regular ice cream that gets frozen using liquid nitrogen instead of ice.  You don’t actually consume the liquid nitrogen, it is only used to freeze the ice cream custard.  You can use any standard recipe for ice cream to make liquid nitrogen ice cream.

Liquid nitrogen ice cream looks like any other homemade ice cream.  It is scoop-able, spoonable, and lick-able.

However, another form of liquid nitrogen ice cream is the popular Dippin’ Dots. They are small pearl-shaped beads of ice cream that are fun to eat.  The frozen beads form when drops of unfrozen ice cream get dripped directly into the liquid nitrogen.

If you want to learn how to make ice cream dots that look similar to that popular brand then check out our post on liquid nitrogen ice cream dots 

a mixer with chocolate ice cream and liquid nitrogen in the background

How to make liquid nitrogen ice cream:

Step 1: Make an ice cream base:

First, you need a good recipe for ice cream. We have a few to get you started. Try one of these flavors:

Or you could just buy some store-bought ice cream and melt it. But we think if you’re going to go to the trouble of buying liquid nitrogen then you might as well make some amazing ice cream.

The recipe we are using in this post is a chocolate stout ice cream. It is an incredibly rich and creamy chocolate ice cream with a malty flavor from dark stout beer. 

Step 2: Gather your equipment:

You will need some special equipment and some safety items.

  • Loose-fitting gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Stainless steel mixing bowl
  • Stainless steel mixing paddle or spoon
  • Liquid nitrogen
  • A stand mixer (optional but very useful)

We do not recommend using a glass or plastic bowl because the extreme cold of the liquid nitrogen will crack or shatter glass and plastic.

dipping a spoon into chocolate ice cream

Step 3: Make instant ice cream:

  • Pour your ice cream mixture into the mixing bowl then turn the stand mixer on low.
  • Slowly pour the liquid nitrogen (LN2) into the ice cream mixture.  Pour slowly and keep the mixer on low to minimize splattering of LN2.
  • Continue pouring the LN2 until the ice cream has the consistency of soft-serve deliciousness. You need to keep the mixer running while you pour it so it doesn’t form a solid block.
  • Let the ice cream sit for a few seconds until all the LN2 evaporates out of, then eat to your heart’s content.

If you do not have a stand mixer, have someone stir the mixture by hand while another person slowly pours the liquid nitrogen into the bowl.

Liquid nitrogen can be hazardous.  Be safe!

Liquid nitrogen looks pretty cool but there are some hazards you need to be aware of if you plan to use it.

It can cause severe frostbite and eye damage if it comes in contact with your skin or eyes.

As liquid nitrogen evaporates, it can displace oxygen in the air. You need to have a well-ventilated room when you work with this stuff or difficulty breathing and asphyxiation can occur.

When liquid nitrogen evaporates it turns into a gas that takes up more volume than its liquid state.  Almost 700 times more volume.  That means you need to give it some space as it evaporates.  If you keep it stored in an airtight container then as it evaporates, the container will build up pressure and explode.

Key points:

  • Always work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Wear a face shield or goggles to protect your face and eyes if the liquid nitrogen splashes.
  • Wear loose-fitting gloves that you can pull off quickly if any liquid nitrogen gets inside the gloves.
  • Only store liquid nitrogen in an approved container.  NEVER seal a container with liquid nitrogen.
  • Allow any food made with liquid nitrogen to sit for several seconds before consuming it.  You need to give time for the liquid nitrogen to evaporate from the food or it could cause frostbite.
  • Keep children and pets away while you work with liquid nitrogen.

Is liquid nitrogen ice cream safe to eat?

If you follow safety precautions, liquid nitrogen ice cream is safe to eat.  Do not eat the ice cream immediately after it freezes.  You need to give the liquid nitrogen some time to evaporate out before you stick your tongue in the cold dessert.

If you eat any food (or put anything in your mouth for that matter) while it still has liquid nitrogen in it, you risk injuring yourself.

It doesn’t take very long for the liquid nitrogen to evaporate.  We only had to wait for 5 to 10 seconds for our homemade ice cream dots to be consumable.  When we did try to eat the little dots of ice cream right away, it hurt our tongues because it was so cold.  Luckily the dots of ice cream where so small that it didn’t cause any damage but if you put a large bite in your mouth it can create severe burns to your mouth or esophagus.

Where do you get liquid nitrogen:

Purchasing liquid nitrogen can be a bit tricky since it isn’t sold at your local supermarket.  We purchased our liquid nitrogen at a welding supply store.  The welding supply store loaned us the container so we didn’t have an additional cost of purchasing a very expensive canister to hold the LN2. 

We paid $47 for 7 liters of liquid nitrogen.  That is enough to make 4 to 5 batches of ice cream so we had a blast making a LOT of ice cream.

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How to Make Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

How to Make Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

Yield: 1 quart of ice cream
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: moderate
Estimated Cost: $30

Learn how to make liquid nitrogen ice cream using your favorite ice cream recipe. Liquid nitrogen freezes ice cream so quickly that it does not form large ice crystals. The quick freeze makes a smooth and creamy ice cream.

Materials

  • 1 ice cream recipe
  • Liquid nitrogen

Tools

  • Loose-fitting gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Stainless steel mixing bowl
  • Stainless steel mixing paddle or spoon
  • Stand mixer (optional but very useful)

Instructions

  1. Pour your ice cream mixture into the mixing bowl then turn the stand mixer on low.
  2. Slowly pour the liquid nitrogen into the ice cream mixture. Pour slowly and keep the mixer on low to minimize splattering of liquid nitrogen. 
  3. Continue pouring the liquid nitrogen until the ice cream has the consistency of soft ice cream. You need to keep the mixer running while you pour the liquid nitrogen so it doesn’t form a solid block.
  4. Let the ice cream sit for a few seconds until all the liquid nitrogen evaporates out of it, then eat to your heart's content. 

Notes

  • Do not pour the liquid nitrogen into a glass bowl.
  • Wear loose-fitting gloves that you can remove quickly if liquid nitrogen splashes inside them.
  • You should have eye protection in case liquid nitrogen splatters.
  • Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area when you work with the liquid nitrogen.
  • Only use approved containers to store liquid nitrogen. Never keep liquid nitrogen in a sealed container. Approved containers have a special cap that allows the gas to escape.
  • Read our post for a discussion on more safety tips.

Did you make this project?

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John / Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 7th of August 2019

This is a FUN recipe! I'm impressed -- I did know you can make ice cream using liquid nitrogen, but I've never known anyone who did it. You just won the interwebs. :-) Really neat post -- thanks!

Dahn Boquist

Wednesday 7th of August 2019

Haha Thanks John, we sure did have a lot of fun and ended up with a LOT of ice cream with all that LN2. Wish we could ship you some :)

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