It’s easy to make liquid nitrogen ice cream, plus it’s basically instant gratification because you don’t have to wait for a freezer or ice cream maker. Because liquid nitrogen freezes the ice cream ingredients so rapidly, smaller ice crystals form. The result is a smooth and creamy treat.
Here is a liquid nitrogen ice cream recipe, tips for finding liquid nitrogen, and a look at how to handle it safely.
Liquid nitrogen is not an ingredient in liquid nitrogen ice cream. It freezes the ice cream and then boils off into air.
Easy Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Recipe
Here’s an easy ice cream recipe that’s perfect for liquid nitrogen ice cream. Feel free to add your favorite flavorings or mix-ins.
- 1-3/4 cups heavy cream
- 1-1/4 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- A whisk and sturdy wooden spoon or a mixer
- Mix the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt. If you like, you can add chocolate syrup, other flavorings, or mix-ins (like chocolate chips, brownie chunks, marshmallows, candy pieces). Whisk the ingredients together until the sugar dissolves.
- Put on your gloves. While mixing, drizzle liquid nitrogen into the ice cream mixture.
- Continue adding liquid nitrogen, a small amount at a time, until the ice cream is too thick to stir.
- Pour liquid nitrogen over the ice cream to freeze it solid.
- Initially, the ice cream will be too cold to eat. Wait until the nitrogen evaporates to serve and eat it (when it stops releasing “fog”).
- Freeze any leftover ice cream in an air-tight container.
Tips for Great Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream
- You can use any ice cream recipe for liquid nitrogen ice cream, but you’ll see the best results with recipes that use heavy cream (whipping cream) or half-and-half. The fat in the ingredients gives ice cream a creamy texture. The fats and water make an emulsion, resulting in small ice crystals.
- Mix the ice cream in a large metal or plastic bowl. Don’t use glass because the extreme temperature could cause it to break. A plastic bowl offers thermal insulation, so it’s safer to touch the bowl. But, a metal bowl offers an advantage, too. You can heat the outside of the bowl with a torch to quickly release the ice cream.
- It’s easiest to mix the ingredients using a heavy-duty mixer, but a cordless drill with a mixing attachment works great, too. If you use a whisk and wooden spoon, give everyone their turn at mixing.
- If the ice cream starts to melt before everyone is served, simply add more liquid nitrogen to re-freeze it.
Where to Get Liquid Nitrogen
You’ll need at least 4-5 liters of liquid nitrogen to make ice cream, plus you’ll need a special insulated container to hold and transport it (a dewar). Some liquid nitrogen suppliers rent dewars. If you need to buy one, try Amazon or eBay for the lowest prices. Here are some places that might sell liquid nitrogen (LN2) or know a supplier:
- Google “liquid nitrogen near me”
- Try any industrial gas company (e.g., Airgas and Praxair)
- Try welding suppliers
- Inquire at the chemistry or physics department of the local university
- Ask a physician or dermatologist
If you’re not getting it delivered, be prepared to pick up the liquid nitrogen. You’ll need a dewar and a suitable vehicle. Some suppliers won’t allow transport except in an open vehicle. Once you have the dewar, handle it carefully. Store it upright in a well-ventilated area until use.
Liquid Nitrogen Safety
- Wear gloves to protect your hands from the cold, especially if you use a metal bowl.
- Don’t touch liquid nitrogen. A few drops splashed on skin don’t pose a risk due to the Liedenfrost effect, but prolonged contact freezes tissue.
- Never store liquid nitrogen in a sealed container. The liquid boils into a gas, which builds pressure when enclosed.
- Work in a well-ventilated space. Air is mostly nitrogen, but liquid nitrogen adds a lot more gas to the mixture. This reduces the relative amount of oxygen. Cold nitrogen gas sinks to the bottom of a space, potentially posing a suffocation risk.
- Don’t transport liquid nitrogen in the passenger part of a vehicle. If for some reason the nitrogen spilled, the excess gas could pose a suffocation risk.