DIY Ice Cream Cold Plate W/ Frying Pan





Introduction: DIY Ice Cream Cold Plate W/ Frying Pan

About: I like turning boring things into awesome things! Usually on video.

Hello everyone! In preparation for summer I thought it appropriate to put together this DIY ice cream cold plate project which turned out surprisingly easy and effective. The whole process is demonstrated in the embedded video above, and a written description will follow. If the embedded video does not work for you on mobile here is a direct link to the video on YouTube.

An ice cream cold plate is used to rapidly freeze and mix ice cream moments before it's served. It's a great method for making custom flavors on the fly as the ice cream can be made in individual portions then immediately scraped clean to start again.

First things first, here's a list of all the items used.

Cold Plate:

  • 2 Towels
  • Large Baking Pan
  • Frying Pan (I used cast iron but any variety will work)
  • 3-5 lbs. of Dry Ice
  • Vodka or Rubbing Alcohol

Ice Cream Recipe:

  • Heavy Cream
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Strawberries (Or whatever else you would like to add for flavor)


  • 2 Spatulas
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Fork

Step 1: Preparing the Cold Plate

The first step in assembling the cold plate is to place a towel below a large baking pan to insulate it from the table. This will serve to both protect the table from the extreme cold and will also increase the efficiency of the cold plate.

A block of dry ice is then placed in the center of the pan, approximately 3-5 lbs should be adequate. A second towel now covers the block of ice and should be tucked into the baking pan to keep the block centered. This further improves efficiency by insulating the sides of the dry ice and will prevent the cold plate's surface from sliding around when the ice cream is being made. The towel I'm using to cover the block in the above images is perhaps a bit excessive, a small hand towel one or two layers thick over the block should be fine.

To increase the rate at which the dry ice is able to cool the surface of the cold plate the section of the towel directly on top of the dry ice is wet with some high proof vodka (100 proof or better) or rubbing alcohol. Alcohol of one kind or another must be used for this step as water would freeze and reduce the effectiveness. If rubbing alcohol is used care should be taken to avoid getting it into the ice cream as it is non edible.

The final step is to set the frying pan on top of the now moistened towel. It should begin cooling off quickly but in the meantime it's a good time to stop and make the ice cream mix.

Step 2: Making the Ice Cream Mix

For the sake of simplicity I've chosen an incredibly basic ice cream recipe to demonstrate with this project. If you have a favorite recipe of your own I'm sure it will work fine, as well as any other ice cream mix you might find through an online search. Despite it's simplicity I found the following recipe to be surprisingly delicious.

  • 50% Heavy Cream
  • 50% Sweetened Condensed Milk

Like I said, simple. After mixing thoroughly with a fork the result is a slightly sweetened cream that makes an excellent base to add berries or chocolate to for any flavor of ice cream you'd like. When using it with a cold plate you'll be able to make ice cream more rapidly if the ingredients are chilled prior to use so I recommend throwing it in the refrigerator for a few minutes after mixing.

Step 3: Using the Cold Plate

With the ice cream mix made a small portion is poured onto the now frosty cold plate and flavorings can be added. Here I'm using a few strawberries which can be chopped up with a pair of spatulas as the ice cream cools. It may take a few minutes for the ice cream to reach the desired consistency if the ingredients were not refrigerated before use. It's a battle between the plate trying to chill the ice cream and the air warming it up, so if you're trying this in direct sun on a 120 degree day it might work faster if you can find some shade. The dry ice should have no trouble winning in the end.

Once the ice cream has thickened enough for your liking it's ready to serve! It stores well in a freezer so I recommend making a lot of it and saving some for later. If the cold plate has been well insulated one block of dry ice should last for several hours.

I hope you enjoy this project! Thanks for reading!



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    18 Discussions

    I've heard that putting a thick slab of marble in a freezer will have the same result. I really enjoyed reading this, thanks for posting!

    2 replies

    I have tried that, and it just didn't hold the cold long enough. I am excited to see this and give it another try with the dry ice. Maybe if all of my ingredients had been well-chilled I could have gotten one serving.

    Yep, that'll work. But you have to work fast and would probably only get one serving out of it before the slab is too warm.

    do you have to use vodka or any alcoholic beverages?

    Fun project! Ideal to entertain kids in the summer. Thank you for sharing. I mainly use dry ice for the Halloween "witches chaldron", never thought of over uses... Will definitely try!

    1 reply

    And if you get overwhelmed by the kids, you can a) toss down some of that vodka (so, do you buy the cheap stuff since you're not really planning on drinking it or the good stuff because you might?) or 2) pour a little in with the cream mix for the kids.

    This is a pretty neat idea. Actually very instructive on thermodynamics as well as fun.

    Can I use car antifreeze instead of vodka or alcohol? I mean, It´s still alcohol and no one will drink it, and looks cheaper. Thanks, Excellent instructable, portable and no electicity need for outdoof sweet dessert.

    3 replies

    I would not use antifreeze. It is poisonous if you got any in the mix, and it is really obnoxious to use anyway. It probably wouldn't work. High proof alcohol actually lowers the temperature of the ice. Antifreeze is propylene glycol, not alcohol.

    Antifreeze is ethylene glycol, not propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is not toxic and is routinely used in many lotions, and pharmaceuticals. It can be safely eaten. There is a huge difference in toxicity.

    I think they passed a law to add a bittering agent to antifreeze, also, because it was used in too many murders. Modern antifreezes may contain other chemicals, not sure.

    On my ignorance I thought propylene glycol was some king of alcohol, and that was the way cars lower the engine temperature. My mistake, will find alcohol instead as you recomend.

    It's really nice to see an instructable on this. First time I saw this on Youtube many years ago it was under the name "fried ice cream" (well, it gives the impression of frying so it's a clever name) and it was in Thai, no explanations at all, and it left me pretty puzzled.

    1 reply

    There is a such thing as fried ice cream Mexican style where they coat it in rice and fry it. Which is quite different.

    Any chance that the extreme cold will crack the cast iron?

    1 reply

    Doubtful, unless the iron was really terrible quality to begin with.

    this is a great idea, but dry ice, that is unfortunatly not something i can buy here, unless i'm a stage builder and want to order like a cubic meter of it, can you make dry ice yourself?

    1 reply

    I was surprised to learn that several large grocery stores sell dry ice here in NC. They keep it in a small chest freezer near the frozen foods. BEWARE though, contact with skin will result in a very quick burn. Only handle it with insulated gloves, even if it's wrapped in plastic. The temp is near -100 F. The project sounds FUN, though and I'll be trying it.


    2 years ago

    I'm so excited to try this! I love ice cream but suffer from the problem of having way more appliances than space in my kitchen, so I've been reluctant to buy an ice cream maker. I do, however, have many cast iron pans!