The very best ice cream, perfect shakes, popsicles: Frozen desserts to help you cool off

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen

When the dog days of summer hit hot and sticky, sometimes only frozen sweets will do. Here, we've gathered some of our favorite recipes for ice cream, popsicles, frozen pies and even a classic milkshake to help you cool off.

Raspberry Mint Popsicles

These homemade popsicles are easy to make, require no cooking and taste purely of fresh fruit. If you don’t want to take the time to strain the seeds, that’s fine. But the texture will be infinitely better if you do. You'll need popsicle molds to pull this off.

Raspberry Mint Popsicles

Serves: 6

Ingredients

6 cups raspberries

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

12 fresh mint leaves, chopped

Instructions

In a food processor, pureé raspberries, water, sugar and lemon juice until loose and smooth. Pour mixture through a mesh strainer into a bowl to remove seeds. Stir in mint until evenly incorporated. Pour strained berry mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until solid, 8 hours. Serve.

Banana Pops

Banana Pudding Popsicles

Serves: 10

Can't find proper pudding pops? Make your own. A note: the pudding will look loose and runny when you mix it, but the excess liquid will help the popsicle freeze better. You’ll need a popsicle mold for this recipe.

Ingredients

1 (5.1 ounce) box vanilla pudding mix

2 cups cold milk

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

2 ripe bananas, peeled

1 cup wafers, crushed

Instructions

In a large bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk until slightly thickened. Add condensed milk and whisk to combine.

In a food processor, puree bananas until smooth. Whisk bananas into pudding mix and stir until completely combined. Stir in vanilla wafers.

Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until solid, 8 hours. Serve.

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Buttermilk Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream

Buttermilk Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream

Using buttermilk lends a lemony tang that pairs beautifully with blueberries in this ice cream, which requires an ice cream machine to make.

While making the custard, it’s important to keep whisking the dairy base constantly so the buttermilk never separates from the cream. Make sure your custard cools completely before churning.

Serves: 8 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup sugar

6 large egg yolks

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 cup blueberry compote or jam

Instructions

Fill a large bowl with ice water. Place a medium metal or glass bowl in the ice water.

In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and buttermilk to a simmer over medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, egg yolks, corn syrup and salt.

While whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place over medium heat.

Cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until thick enough so that you can run your finger down the back of the spatula and the custard will hold its shape. Remove from the heat and pour through a mesh strainer into the bowl set in the ice water.

Let the ice cream base cool completely, then stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until very cold, 4 to 6 hours.

Using an ice cream machine, churn following the manufacturer’s directions. When the ice cream just finishes churning, pour in the blueberry compote while the machine is still running. Continue to churn just until the ice cream is evenly streaked with the compote. Transfer to an airtight container, cover and freeze until completely set before serving.

Peach Ice Cream Pie

Peach Ice Cream Pie

Lightly stewed peaches lend a tart and fruity summer flavor but remain icily al dente in this reasonable effortless pie. It all works perfectly with soft mounds of ice cream and a crisp cookie crust. You’ll have trouble putting the leftovers back in your freezer.

You don’t have to use fresh peaches for this recipe but sweet, fresh, in-season peaches will take it over the top.

Serves: 8

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups (about 4 whole) peeled and sliced peaches

45 vanilla wafers

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

1 1/2 quarts vanilla ice cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Chop 2 cups of the peaches into small pieces and stir them into the sugar mixture (reserve the remaining 2 cups of peaches for the peach sauce, below). Cook the mixture over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly but the peaches are still crisp. Remove from heat and cool completely, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the crust. In the bowl of a food processor, combine 35 vanilla wafers and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and process until fine. Add the melted butter and process until well-combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Freeze the crust for about 30 minutes.

Allow the vanilla ice cream to sit at room temperature until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Coarsely crush the remaining 10 vanilla wafers.

Place the ice cream in a large bowl and carefully stir in the cooled peach mixture and the coarsely crushed wafers until the ice cream is just swirled in a marble pattern. Pour the filling into the crust, mounding in the center and smoothing the surface, and freeze until hard, at least 3 hours.

Meanwhile, make the peach sauce. In a food processor or blender, combine the remaining 2 cups of peaches with 1/4 cup sugar. Puree and store in the refrigerator.

To prepare the sweetened whipping cream, beat the cream with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until soft peaks form. Store in the refrigerator.

To serve, drizzle each dessert plate with peach sauce. Place a slice of pie on top of the sauce, then top the pie with whipped cream.

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The very best classic vanilla ice cream

This basic vanilla ice cream tastes like it came from an old-fashioned ice cream parlor.

Proper heat control is key to not creating scrambled egg yolks, which will prevent the ice cream from thickening. Make sure the ice cream base has cooled completely before churning (and you will need an ice cream maker for this recipe). 

You can add any flavors you like once the base has been cooled. If you want to add solid chunks such as pecan pieces or chocolate chips, add them after the ice cream has been churned, but before storing in the freezer.

Serves: 8

Ingredients

2 cups half and half

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon vanilla

Instructions

Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Nestle the bowl and strainer into an ice bath. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the half and half and cream. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

While the dairy mixture is heating, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a large bowl.

While whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot dairy mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Once all of the dairy has been whisked in, return the mixture to the saucepan and place over medium heat.

Gently heat the custard, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, making sure no solids form on the bottom and corners of the pot. When the mixture has thickened enough so that you can run your finger down the back of the spatula and the custard will hold the shape, pour the custard through the prepared strainer into the bowl in the ice bath. Let the mixture cool to room temperature and then stir in the vanilla. 

Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Once the ice cream has reached the texture of soft serve, scoop it into an airtight container and freeze until completely set. Serve.

Strawberry Milkshake

Perfect strawberry milkshake

Adding ice to a milkshake helps give it that perfect, classic frothiness. Unfortunately, frozen water doesn’t pack much in the flavor department. Using frozen strawberries instead will lend that perfect frozen texture while maximizing fruit flavor.

Serves: 2

Ingredients

2 cups frozen strawberries

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup strawberry ice cream

Freshly whipped cream, for serving

Instructions

In a blender, combine the strawberries, milk and ice cream. Pureé until thick and creamy. Divide between two pint glasses, then garnish with whipped cream. Serve.

Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.

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Reach me: mlunsford@southernkitchen.com