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Coffee Can Ice Cream

A Fun Camping Treat!
29 Jun 2023

Making coffee can ice cream was one of our favorite activities from summer camp. We can still remember all the anticipation, excitement, and magic of being able to make our own ice cream out in the woods. Plus, making it yourself is really the only way to enjoy ice cream while camping. That’s because keeping store-bought ice cream cold at a campsite is nearly impossible. Even the best coolers can’t keep their contents below freezing temperature. This means ice cream stored inside will melt in a matter of hours.

However, it’s actually very easy to make your own on-demand ice cream using the coffee can method. By combining rock salt with ice, you can temporarily create conditions that are below 32 degrees, which is all you need to make ice cream.

Coffee Can Ice Cream


Time to prepare: 45 minutes

How to make coffee can ice cream


  • A metal (or plastic) coffee can with a lid
  • Zip Top Baggies
  • Rock Salt (also sold as Ice Cream Salt)
  • Ice


  • 1 pint Half & Half
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Combine the half & half, sugar, and vanilla inside a zip-top bag. Mix around until the sugar is fully dissolved. It’s a smart idea to double bag to ensure you don’t get any surprise leaks.
  2. Place some ice and rock salt in the bottom of the coffee can. Next, place the double zip-top baggies into the middle. Then, fill the remaining space on top with more ice and rock salt.
  3. Firmly place the lid back on the coffee can and start shaking! Motion is a critical part of making ice cream and there are lots of creative ways to do it: Play “cold” potato by tossing it back and forth, roll it on the picnic table, or gently dribble it like a soccer ball.
  4. You may need to add more ice and rock salt as the ice melts. After about 10-15 minutes, the ice cream should be ready!

This coffee can ice cream is perfect on its own but also goes great with cobblers, crisps, and campfire-baked apples or banana boats. We hope you give this recipe a try!


Eddie Bauer Field Experts

Michael van Vliet and Megan McDuffie are the husband-wife team behind the camp cooking blog Fresh Off The Grid (@freshoffthegrid). They launched their website to share their recipes, skill guides, and other outdoor resources.

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