Playtime meets dessert with this fun ice cream maker

Summer and ice cream are the perfect combo. Nothing can beat the oppressive heat like having a cold fudge and cream dripping onto a sugar cone, a waffle cone or a waffle bowl if you so desire.

But you know what’s better than eating ice cream? Eat the ice cream I spent 30 minutes making, and that’s the beauty of YayLabs! SoftShell Ice Cream Ball, which my family and I tested…for science, of course.


What is YayLabs! Softshell ice cream ball?

Yaylabs!  An ice cream ball in its box.

Yaylabs! An ice cream ball in its box.

Vinyl Harris for Hearst Newspapers

Yaylabs! Softshell Ice Cream Ball is an interactive, fun and simple way to make ice cream at home. The ball comes in two sizes: pint and quart (I got the pint). The circumference of the ball is the same, the only difference is the amplitude of the inside. The ball casing is flexible and stretchy, and can be removed in case you have to wash off any accumulated dirt or grit.

There are two slots on opposite sides of the ball: a top slot for cream holds a pint-sized metal bowl, and a bottom slot for ice and salt encases the outside of the aforementioned metal container.

Overall, it feels like a heavier version of a kicking ball, but don’t kick it. This ball is for spinning only. I had to tell my kids that, so I have to tell you too. It’s as manual as you can get – no app, associated ingredient, or machine included, just grab the ingredients to make your own ice cream and start mixing.

Yells! SoftShell Ice Cream Ball Review

Prepare the ingredients for the ice cream ball.

Prepare the ingredients for the ice cream ball.

Vinyl Harris for Hearst Newspapers

To get started, an ice cream ball requires a few ingredients:

  • ice
  • rock salt (1/2 cup)
  • Cream or yogurt or milk substitute (1 liter)
  • sugar (1/3 cup)
  • Vanilla extract (1.5 tsp)
  • Fruits / mixes of your choice


Ice is obviously of paramount importance, but rock salt is the main ingredient; Otherwise it is very difficult to control the freezing process. Half a cup of rock salt is required, although table salt is also acceptable if you have table salt. Just add an extra ½ cup to counteract the small grains of salt.

The texture of the ice cream depends on the milk and cream products you decide to use. Soy drinks, low-fat milk, and milk are lighter, making the ice cream slower to emulsify (30 minutes). Double cream, heavy whipping cream, and heavy cream on the heavier end, making it faster (15 minutes). I used half and half, and put it more on the lighter, slower end of the emulsifier.

The ball comes with a recipe booklet for the ice cream flavors (vanilla/key lime/chocolate chip/frozen yogurt/fruit syrup) but the family was craving strawberry ice cream, so we sliced ​​up a cup of strawberries and mixed them in a bowl with half and half sugar and vanilla extract. We transferred the mixture to the ball and filled the ball with as much ice as possible. Then we threw the salt into the ice and closed the lid. We didn’t have any rock salt on hand, but the pink Himalayan salt worked well in a pinch due to the larger size of the salt grains.

The ice and salt area on the ball (left) and the fluid area on the ball (right).

The ice and salt area on the ball (left) and the fluid area on the ball (right).

Vinyl Harris for Hearst Newspapers

My boys and I rolled this dribbling ball of hell in our backyard, in the sweltering heat, for 10 minutes. The heaviness of ice cream and cream made it seem like we were rolling a bowling ball over concrete. It was fun at first, but the circles on the ball on the outside would pick up the gravel and dirt on the ground and we had to shake them every now and then so our fingers wouldn’t get hurt.

It has been specified that after 10 minutes you are supposed to check the ice cream and scrape the sides of the container with a plastic or wooden spoon. Then you’re supposed to remix the remaining liquid, close the lid, and add ice if needed. I didn’t go into it because I was afraid that once my kids saw the ice cream they’d give up all other fun and worship at the altar of fresh candy, no matter how short the show. We kept rolling the ball inside our apartment, and for about 20 minutes my oldest son commented that he could feel the ice cream getting harder by how different the ball was, and he was right. The slush was clearly more on the outside, due to the melting ice, and less on the inside due to the emulsified ice cream.

Yells! SoftShell Ice Cream Ball Results

Rolling an ice cream ball proved harder on concrete than on grass and indoor surfaces, but it was fun nonetheless.

Rolling an ice cream ball proved harder on concrete than on grass and indoor surfaces, but it was fun nonetheless.

Vinyl Harris for Hearst Newspapers

After 30 minutes we stopped rolling and we opened the ball and started getting our hard-earned reward. It was a little soupy in the middle with hard ice cream stuck to the sides, which is probably why it is important to scrape off the ice cream after the first 10 minutes. We used a plastic scraper to scrape the ice cream off the sides and put it into bowls for the boys, and as the ice cream cooled, it was like the consistency of something you’d eat at a local cream shop. The flavor was excellent as it was tailored to our personal tastes and cleaning was a breeze (you just had to run water through the ice cream slot with a piece of dish soap and dry it with a soft towel).

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