Eat & DrinkFeaturesGear


By Debbie AndersonAugust 26, 2021No Comments

Because there’s plenty of summer left

Photos and text by Michael Hiller

The magic of homemade ice cream is that even the most basic of ingredients and the simplest of techniques can deliver gratifying results.

Home cooks and many chefs have long relied on a variety of tabletop ice cream freezers to churn milk, cream, sugar and flavorings into ice cream, gelato and sorbets. Fancy restaurants often opt for something more high-tech: a $4,000 Swiss device called a Pacojet that uses a sharp blade to shave solid blocks of ice cream into the creamiest, most ethereal frozen desserts imaginable. 

That’s overkill for most of us. But a new $200 machine called the Ninja CREAMi (yes, the same brand known for its air fryers, blenders and juicers) emulates the essential functions of the Pacojet for a fraction of the price.

Traditional countertop machines slowly freeze liquid ingredients into ice-cold desserts. The CREAMi works in reverse. Combine all your ingredients in a mixing bowl, pour the mixture into one of CREAMi’s 1-pint canisters, then place it in the freezer for 24 hours. To serve, place a frozen pint into the base of the CREAMi, attach the lid, then let the device go to work.

Though the CREAMi appears as tame as a coffee maker, its lid incorporates sharp steel blender blades that rotate at jet speed. Depending on your ingredients and which setting you’ve chosen, the spinning blades shave the frozen ingredients into creamy concoctions, including milkshakes.

Because the whole process happens quickly — just a minute or two — the results contain none of those bumpy ice crystals that usually form in home-churned ice creams.

CREAMi’s blades move up and down like a drill press, which allows you to process an entire pint or only as much as you need. Other buttons slow the motor so you can incorporate mix-ins like chocolate chunks and nuts without pulverizing them.

Your favorite recipe will work fine, but if you need an assist, the included instruction book offers excellent base formulas for ice creams, sorbets and dairy-free treats.

There’s still plenty of hot weather left, though back-to-school time got us thinking about sandwiches — really good sandwiches made with ice creams enriched with mascarpone, candied oranges and figs.

While the produce aisles and farmers market booths are still brimming with seasonal fruit, you might want to take advantage of the bounty by making a pint or two of ice cream you can pull out when you’re longing for a taste of summer.


Ninja CREAMi The ice cream maker includes three single-pint containers with lids. Find it at $200