Photo courtesy of The Sweet Art

When it comes to iced drinks, everything starts out great: enticing, cool, refreshing. But your tasty concoction unfailingly diminishes into watery slop. Everybody knows it, nobody likes it.  So why do we stand for slurping sweet nothings?  The time for compromise is over. We present to you four easy ice cube recipes that will not only enhance the devolution of your drink, but your entire drinking experience.

1. Coffee Ice


Photo courtesy of Kitchen Treaty

Love iced coffee but oh-so-tired of the watery mess that inevitably fills the bottom of your cup?  This simple recipe will give you the finale you’ve been awaiting in five easy steps:

1. Brew coffee.
2. Let coffee cool to room temperature.
3. Pour coffee into ice cube tray.
4. Freeze.
5. Enjoy.

2. Striped Juice Ice


Photo courtesy of Oh Joy

This is perfect for a fruity cocktail or summer lemonade. Simply layer your choice of fruit juices in an ice cube tray, freezing each layer at a time, and viola!

3. Watermelon Ice


Photo courtesy of Taste and Tell

Watermelon is 90% water already, so freezing it easily makes some of the best ice cubes you’ve never had. These frozen watermelon chunks are a great addition to everything from a tall glass of water to a gin cocktail.

1. Cut watermelon to desired cube-size, removing the rind.
2. Place cubes into a tray or plate and cover with plastic wrap.
3. Freeze.

4. Flower Ice


Photo courtesy of Lucy Says I Do

If you’re feeling a little fancy and happen to have some tiny flowers laying around (is that a thing?), pop a comely carnation or dainty daisy into your ice cube tray, fill with water and freeze.


If you’re getting tired of plain old ice (first world problems), make some of these creative adjustments for a more delicious and super fancy drink.

Photo by Rafi Letzter

Summer’s arrived. Here’s everything you need to know about frozen treats — from how to make fancy homemade popsicles (way easier than you think), and how to blend frozen bananas into amazing two-step ice cream, to the best alternative ice cream options for you poor dairy-free souls.

DIY Ice Pops

1. Sangria Popsicles


Total Time: overnight
Servings: 10

3 cups nectarines, cubed
½ cup sugar
2 ½ cups red sangria

1. Whisk together sugar and sangria until sugar is dissolved.
2. Fill each mold three-fourths of the way with nectarines.
3. Pour sangria mixture into popsicle molds and add popsicle sticks.
4. Freeze overnight.

2. Creamsicles


Total Time: overnight
Servings: 10

1 cup orange juice
2 ½ cups vanilla ice cream
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Blend orange juice, ice cream and orange zest in blender until smooth.
2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, leaving top quarter of mold empty.
3. Spoon cream into top of mold and add popsicle sticks.
4. Freeze overnight.

3. Grapefruit Margarita Popsicles


Total Time: overnight
Servings: 10

¼ cup lime juice
cup tequila
4 cups grapefruit juice
¼ cup sugar

1. Combine grapefruit juice, lime juice, tequila and sugar.
2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and add popsicle sticks.
3. Freeze overnight.

4. Key Lime Pie Popsicles


Total Time: overnight
Servings: 10

¾ cup lime juice
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-and-half
Pinch of salt

1. Combine juice, condensed milk, half-and-half and salt in medium bowl.
2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and add popsicle sticks.
3. Freeze overnight.

5. Watermelon-Mint Popsicles


Total Time: overnight
Servings: 10

¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
½ cup fresh mint, chopped
4 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
2 limes, juiced

1. Combine water, sugar and mint in mug to make simple syrup. Microwave for 1 minute, then remove mint leaves.
2. Purée watermelon, lime juice and simple syrup in blender.
3. Strain watermelon mixture to remove pulp.
4. Pour strained mixture into popsicle molds and add popsicle sticks.
5. Freeze overnight.


Homemade Alternative Ice Cream

You don’t need an ice cream maker to indulge in cool summer treats. Frozen bananas make a creamy, neutral soft-serve base for all your favorite flavors and mix-ins. Just blend and freeze for two-step homemade ice cream.

Nutella Banana Ice Cream

2 bananas, sliced and fully frozen
4 tablespoons Nutella or other hazelnut-chocolate spread

1. Blend bananas in food processor or blender until consistency of soft-serve ice cream.
2. Fold in Nutella. Transfer to container and freeze until solid.

Cookie Dough Banana Ice Cream

2 bananas, sliced and fully frozen
6 tablespoons cookie dough, frozen and chopped into pieces (we used Pillsbury
pre-formed cookie dough pieces)

1. Blend bananas in food processor or blender until consistency of soft-serve ice cream.
2. Fold in chopped pieces of cookie dough. Transfer to container and freeze until solid.

Cinnamon Dulce Banana Ice Cream

2 bananas, sliced and fully frozen
3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Blend bananas, condensed milk and cinnamon in food processor or blender until consistency of soft-serve ice cream.
2. Transfer to container and freeze until solid.

Peaches and Cream Banana Ice Cream

2 bananas, sliced and fully frozen
1/3  cup frozen or fresh peaches
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Blend bananas, peaches, sugar and cream in food processor or blender until consistency of soft-serve ice cream.
2. Transfer to container and freeze until solid.


Photo by Rafi Letzter

Dairy-Free Ice Cream

Times, they are a changin’. And by that we mean you can still enjoy your ice cream even if your diet is dairy-free. Supermarkets are now full of ice creams made from all varieties of milk, from coconut to soy to almond. For the purposes of this article, we tasted vanilla ice cream to provide an unbiased review across milk type and brand.

Almond Milk:
Who knew it was even possible to get milk from an almond? Unfortunately, almond milk doesn’t translate well into ice cream, failing to deliver sufficient creaminess and strong vanilla flavor.
So Delicious
The creamiest of most almond milk options, it still leaves a somewhat funky and chemical-y aftertaste.
Almond Dream
Light and airy, this ice cream’s texture is almost reminiscent of whipped cream.
Rice Milk
There aren’t that many options for rice milk-based ice cream, and for good reason. They tend to be far too sweet. Skip this option.

Soy Milk:
Soy milk produces some of the creamiest and most real-tasting ice cream. On the downside, these soy-based creams are a little too sweet.
Trader Joe’s
With a creamy but not too creamy texture, a hint of nuttiness and a price that doesn’t break the bank, this is as good as it gets.
Soy Dream
Pretty good consistency, but it has a vanilla flavor that tastes more like the syrup in your latte.
So Delicious
Ice cream is meant to be sweet, but it’s not meant to put you in a sugar coma. Steer clear of this one.

Coconut Milk:
Of all the non-dairy milks, coconut milk has the highest fat content, making it the best candidate for ice cream. While the amount of fat may turn some people off, remember that these are generally healthy fats.
Luna & Larry’s
This ice cream isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it. Sweetened only by agave, it’s the most natural and real-tasting out of the bunch.
So Delicious
The texture is there, but the addition of certain chemicals gives this treat an undesirable aftertaste.
This ice cream is so soft and creamy it barely needs defrosting before scooping. Definitely a close tie between this one and Luna & Larry’s.
Trader Joe’s
Offered only in chocolate and strawberry flavors, this ice cream arguably has the best texture for coconut milk and is one of the least expensive options, too. The chocolate is a tad too rich to be enjoyed alone, but the strawberry is refreshing and well-complimented by the subtle coconut flavor in the background.


Flavored Ice Cubes

Use these recipes to keep your iced coffee caffeinated, your water zesty, your juice fresh, and any drink more beautiful.

1. Pink lemonade & pomegranate seeds
2. Pineapple/orange juice & raspberries
3. Coconut water & cucumber slices
4. Coffee
5. Lemonade & mint leaves


Photo by Rafi Letzter

Frozen Treats, Decoded

Sherbet or Sherbert
What it is: A fruit-based product with sugar and a little cream.
How it’s made: While it’s made with a process similar to that of ice cream, sherbet’s ingredient list leads to a different end result: a leaner treat that’s basically sorbet with some dairy added to it.

What it is: An entirely fruit-based frozen treat with a slightly icier texture. Around the world, sorbet often means different things, and even in the US, sorbet and sherbet are often confused.
How it’s made: Sorbet is made from simple syrup blended with fresh fruit, which is frozen solid and then puréed again before being completely frozen.

Frozen Yogurt
What it is: The healthier cousin of ice cream, it’s made with yogurt and sometimes other dairy products. Its yogurt base creates that distinct tart flavor and provides probiotics that help boost your immune system.
How it’s made: Frozen yogurt is made either by adding yogurt culture to a cooled milk base, or by mixing a frozen yogurt powder with water and then slowly churning until frozen.

Shaved Ice
What it is: A tropical-born dessert hailing from Hawaii. It resembles a snowball soaked in colorful syrup.
How it’s made: Shaved ice is made by finely shaving ice and generously drizzling the ice flakes with flavored syrup.

What it is: A decadent Italian ice cream made with milk, cream and various sugars and flavorings.
How it’s made: While it has less fat because it’s mainly made from milk instead of cream, gelato is richer and smoother because it is slowly churned. This minimizes how much air is whipped in during the freezing process and creates a denser product.

What it is: A frozen dessert similar to ice cream but made with egg yolks in addition to cream and sugar.
How it’s made: If you’ve ever been to Andy’s, you’ve seen the unique way that frozen custard is made: the chilled mixture is fed into a barrel that freezes the liquid quickly, then is scraped out by steel blades, which creates a dense and smooth texture. It’s lighter than gelato as some air is incorporated.

Ice Cream
What it is: A combination of milk, cream, sugar and sometimes eggs when it’s custard-based.
How it’s made: Ice cream begins with a liquid base that is churned in a frozen bowl until it reaches a soft-serve consistency, incorporating some air while preventing ice crystals from forming. This soft-serve is then frozen until it becomes ice cream. Ice cream falls in the middle of the spectrum and balances a delightful creaminess without being too heavy.

Chicago’s Best Ice Cream

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind ice cream experience, look no further. At iCream, you won’t find any pre-made ice cream or sorbet — you design your own frozen creation on the spot. First, select your dessert of choice: ice cream, yogurt, sorbet, a shake or even hot pudding. Next, pick your base: regular, light, organic, soy milk or regular/non-fat yogurt. Then, customize your dessert by selecting your flavor or combination of flavors, which can range from traditional vanilla or chocolate to exotic curry, green tea or cream soda. Finally, pick your fruit or candy toppings and watch as rapid freezing liquid nitrogen instantly transforms your custom creation into a frozen treat before your eyes.

1537 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
(773) 342-2834
Mon-Thur 2pm-10pm, Fri 2pm-11pm, Sat 1pm-11pm, Sun 1pm-10pm

Black Dog Gelato provides the unique combination of artisanal products, fresh ingredients and incredibly unusual flavors. With options like goat cheese cashew caramel, sesame fig chocolate chip, Mexican hot chocolate and maple cayenne bacon, Black Dog has certainly achieved its goal. The original location in the Ukrainian Village is cash only; the Roscoe Village location accepts credit cards.

Original Location: Ukranian Village
859 N Damen Ave, Chicago
(773) 235-3116
Mon-Sun 12pm-12am
Second Location: Roscoe Village
1955 W Belmont Ave, Chicago
(773) 348-7935
Mon-Thur 2pm-10pm, Fri 2pm-11pm, Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-10pm

Margie’s Candies has been serving up old school classics since 1921. With its retro parlor vibe and extensive list of old-fashioned delicacies such as sundaes, banana splits and malts, Margie’s transports you to a different era. Not only are they cranking out homemade ice cream, but they also hand-make candy like toffee, caramel, fudge and butterscotch to top off your frozen treat.

1813 Montrose Ave, Chicago
(773) 348-0400
Mon-Thur 9am-10pm, Fri 9am-11 pm, Sat 10am-midnight, Sun 11am-10pm

Scooter’s is a self-proclaimed “mom and pop custard shop.” Since 2003, they have been dishing out smooth, creamy custard in flavors like Reese’s, sea salt caramel, Almond Joy and raspberry crisp. They also make rich concretes and sundaes where delicious toppings are mixed in with your custard.

1658 W Belmont Ave, Chicago
(773) 244-6415
Tues-Fri 2pm-10pm, Sat 1pm-10pm, Sun 1pm-9pm, Closed Mondays, Labor Day to Memorial Day



Health is hard.