Turn Your Hard Ice Cream Into Soft Serve With A Simple Hack

Few treats can transport you to another place and time quite like soft-serve ice cream. Something about the perfect swirl takes you back to easy summer afternoons spent on a crowded boardwalk. But for those of us who live in parts of the world where soft serve isn't typically on the menu, finding escape in a cup or cone of the good stuff is practically impossible. Luckily, you can turn any ice cream into soft serve with just one trick: Mix more air into it.

While the cones you find at places like McDonald's aren't actually ice cream at all, real soft serve is made with all the same ingredients as its more traditional relative. The real difference between ice cream and soft serve is in the texture and comes from the amount of air in the mix. When the ingredients are mixed and air is incorporated, the ice cream's volume increases. This is known as overrun. While regular ice cream is infused with enough air to be overrun by 20%, meaning the volume increases by 20%, soft serve is overrun by anywhere from 30% to 60%, producing a much softer, airier texture.

Just keep mixing...

While you may not always be able to take your sweetheart out for a soft-serve cone, you can use their favorite ice cream flavor to whip one up at home with nothing more than a hand mixer. You need only scoop the desired amount of ice cream into a bowl and mix it. As you do so, you'll blend more air into the ice cream, increasing its overrun. Just be careful not to whip it too much, or else the ice cream's butterfat will congeal to form tiny balls of butter.

If you still miss the nostalgic swirl of a soft-serve cone, there's an ice cream hack for that, too. Before blending your hard ice cream, add ⅓ part heavy cream to the bowl. Blending the ice cream with the heavy cream will produce a softer, runnier mixture, which can be transferred to a Ziploc bag and left to set in the freezer. After about four hours, or once the mixture has hardened a bit, just snip off the corner of the Ziploc, and with a flick of your wrist, you can squeeze your soft-serve ice cream into a bowl or cone in a perfect swirl formation.