The Cost of Making Ice Cream


I had a comment on my last blog post on making ice cream and how expensive it is.  Perhaps some of it has to do with the ingredients you choose to use and the type of ice cream you make.  I think it is also important to note that the recipe makes a whole gallon of ice cream and that would be like buying 2 typical containers from the grocery store.  Ice cream is one of those foods that are so full of garbage ingredients and chemicals it is not funny.  It is hard to find really good quality ice cream.  I was even looking the other day at the ice cream my food co-op sells and was disappointed to see that it contained natural flavors (another name for MSG) and gums to help make it smooth.  And the cost was ridiculous.  So this morning I roughly calculated the cost in making a gallon of homemade strawberry ice cream with better quality ingredients.  I personally think that even if you used less than excellent ingredients (like sugar instead of cane juice crystals) you could cut the cost that I came to AND still have a much better quality product than what is typically in the grocery store.  In any case..  here is my breakdown of costs ..   

Eggs: $1.37 – right now I don’t have my own chicken eggs.  I buy free range, organic eggs from my food co-op for $2.75 a dozen.

Milk:  .50 cents -  I buy whole milk (rbst free) from Costco (about $4 for 2 gallons) normally (when I don’t have enough goat milk or it is not milk season.)  Since you pour the milk into the ice cream maker when you have added everything else I don’t have an exact measurement..  I am guessing maybe 2 to 4 cups of milk.  So I rounded the price up for 4 cups.  

Cane Juice Crystals: $1.44 

Cream: $1.25  (I buy cream in 2qt containers from Costco – it is rbst free and not organic, organic would bring the price up) 

Strawberries: $2.50 (I bought 4lbs for $4.99 from Costco and used about half of them.  I rounded up for this cost analysis) 

My estimated cost using the above ingredients for one gallon of ice cream is:


I think this is not a bad price to pay for the quality of ingredients put into it.  The best ice cream (ingredient wise) I can find in the grocery store is Haagen Daz.  They are over $4.00 per pint making the cost of a gallon $32.00..  haa.. haaa..  

Breyers is another ice cream with pretty good ingredients and they don’t even sell half gallon containers any more..  they have been downsized.  I think I paid about $2.80 awhile back for 1 1/2 quarts (but I have seen the price over $3 per 1 1/2 quarts). At the price I paid that would make it about $7.50 for a gallon (if my math is off it is because I have only had one cup of coffee this morning and my brain is still foggy! LOL)..   

The cost for a 1/2 gallon of organic ice cream from my food co-op comes to a whopping $11.63!!  making it over $23 for a gallon.   

Another thought I had on the price is that this price includes strawberries.  If you were to make vanilla or chocolate ice cream the cost of vanilla extract and/or cocoa powder would be less than the cost for strawberries. So the type of ice cream you choose to make can also influence the price.   

In the big scheme of it all I had not really considered that homemade ice cream was a huge expense, especially for the quality of food my family gets for the money. I do know that it is also not the most frugal of all desserts either, but still sits somewhere around reasonable in my thoughts and sure makes for a great family treat once in awhile.  


  1. Even when you compare your #s against the "cheapy" store brand, the homemade still comes out at a lower price ounce for ounce.

  2. ROFLOL!! I grow my own strawberries, use sugar, and have my own chickens. It would cost ME less than $2!!!

  3. abundantblessingsJune 19, 2009 at 9:15 AM

    There's really no comparision! Homemade is oh so much better!!!

    The taste..and knowing that there are no icky's just a no brainer to make it at home.

    You should weigh the containers of ice you'd be surprised how much air is whipped into those store bought containers.

    And...if you can find Breyer's for that price, I'm surprised...course your dairy products seem to be much cheaper than here in TN. A gallon of milk...nothing almost $4 per gallon. Breyer's 1-1/2 quarts is over $4.

    I made more chocolate and vanilla today...along with blackberry. The strawberry is incredible...I'll have to try your tip of pureeing the time! :)

    Have angel food cake in the oven now..I'm thinking cake and ice cream for Father's Day!! :)

  4. We've got strawberries on sale for 99 cents right now. And anyone that has a stocked kitchen should have the sweetner on hand as well as the milk and eggs. I LOVE homemade ice cream! I have made it three times already since our weather got hot and am planning sorbet and sherbet as well. Those are a bit less expensive than ice cream and the kids love them just as much :0)

  5. Need Your ExpertiseJune 19, 2009 at 5:04 PM

    In the recipe on your website it says use rennet does this mean liquid rennet or rennet tablets ?? Also do I have to use Whole milk ?? I am new to this whole process and just want to get it right. I love your website & blog !!!

  6. "Good Eats" is a program on Food Network.

    Alton Brown breaks down ice cream in a scientific way....and half the store bought container is AIR anyway!!

    Home made is the way to go, every time!!


  7. Now that we are back to the country where we can buy raw milk from a friend for 2.50/gal making ice cream is really cheap (skim the cream, add agave, some org instant coffee and you got coffee icecream, or add a bit of a green color, andes mint chips and peppermint flavor and you got another easy flavor!) . You forgot to mention that the garbage (like antifreeze type ingredients, that are not listed in that manner on box, like the natural flavor, aka MSG) that goes into store bought stays in the walls of the frozen ice cream maker bown ( I use a cuisinart), not in the ice cream! Happy, healthy eating of one the yummiest desserts a mom can make!

  8. 21, 2009 at 7:33 AM

    That was me that left the expensive ice cream comment earlier, and I've been stewing about it ever since :D. I REALLY wanna make ice cream, and w/there just being 3 of us home tonight, I've been thinking about giving it a try. So I decided to take another look at your recipe, and I was so happy to see that you'd blogged about my comment. Looking at your price comparison, really makes me so much more tempted to make it, but WOW do you get some good deals at Costco! We had a membership a while back, and although I mainly used for the butter, eggs, cheese, and milk, I do not remember the prices being that good, or them having any quality (like non RSBT). The cheapest prices I get right now on those items are: a gallon of milk (organic @ Trader Joes) = $6, eggs (organic @walmart) = $3.50 (although I think they have hormone free/free range for $2), and cream (hormone free) $2, and we buy organic strawberries (only when on sale) for about $3.40.

    Since our items cost so much, I always second guess recipes when I see that they use a high percentage of these particular items, because I won't have enough left for other meals :(. I did NOT, however take into account that the recipe made a gallon. Trader Joes has pretty reasonable prices on their ice cream, like $5 for 1/2 gal (and its really good) so I never invested in an ice cream maker, though I always wanted one (I've ALWAYS preferred homemade, just didn't think it affordable when I'd see recipes and how much cream and sugar they'd use LOL). But now that I have one, I'm searching high and low for ways to put it to use w/o breaking the bank.

    Sooooo, hopefully I'll be making some tonight. I'll keep you posted. Thanks so much for your detailed response, and the motivation to give Costco another chance, lol.

  9. My kids still say that Goat Milk Ice cream is the BEST ice cream they have ever had. I wish we still had our milk goats. We are over run by eggs, I may have to break down and make some cows milk ice cream today. It is HOT!

    - Lori (I was too lazy to chase down my logins!)


Post a Comment

All messages are moderated. After approval your message will be posted. Thank you for your comments!! Crystal :)

Popular posts from this blog

Canning Cabbage

Canning Chicken Noodle-less Soup

Canning White Bean Chicken Chili