Blog February 23, 2024

When life gives you snow, make snow ice cream!

When life gives you snow, make snow ice cream!

During our youth, my friends and I knew that when snow fell, certain activities were a “given.” We made snowmen and ate snow cream.

Snow cream is a winter specialty, akin to ice cream, both in taste and appearance but different in a special sort of way.

Some call it a Southern treat, which sounds both contradictory and appropriate. Contradictory since the South isn’t usually known for lots of snow. Appropriate since the sweet mixture seems like a Southern concoction.

The list of ingredients can be quite lengthy depending upon your viewpoint.

To begin, the second deep snowfall of the season is preferred. An old timey caution claims that use of the first snow of the year can give one a painful headache.

Truth is that eating icy snow cream, first snow or not, can result in a headache if swallowed too hastily. However, mothers of my contemporaries were emphatic about that first snowfall, believing that it somehow cleaned the air.

Snow should be at least four inches deep, a stipulation that makes some sense unless pine needles or dirt are considered a delicacy.

Next requirement is excited children (and some adults) pressing their faces against the windows to watch as soon as the first snowflake falls. In the background a stack of warm gloves, hats, scarves and snow boots should be assembled.

Most importantly are large bowls, pots and spoons for gathering the snow.

We were instructed to scrape away the top layer of snow before filling containers with the white stuff while others positioned their containers to catch the flakes as they fell. The latter can mean a lengthy wait unless icy granules are falling fast and furiously.

After the harvesters return with their cold-reddened faces and icy fingers, shedding snowflakes and puddles of water as they head for the kitchen, Mom or Grandmother assume command. They move rather quickly as snow melts in the warmth.

The memories I have collected from various and sundry people recall the main ingredients to be milk, sugar and vanilla extract. The types of milk vary from milk to sweetened condensed milk to “top” cream from the milk.

How long has it been since we saw milk topped with heavy cream? For me, that heavy topping is related to the days when the milkman delivered bottles to neighborhood homes, leaving them outside the door to be collected and placed in the refrigerator or icebox.

If you’ve never whipped up a batch of this fun snow day treat, it couldn’t be easier. All you need are 4 simple ingredients, a bowl and spoon, and a few scoops of fresh snow (or shaved ice). And in less than 5 minutes, a cute and legit-delicious bowl of snow cream can be yours to enjoy!

It’s the perfect quick and easy activity for kiddos of all ages (or, hey, any of us kids at heart). And it’s of course completely customizable with whatever different flavors, nuts, chocolate chips, sprinkles, or any other ice cream add-ins that you love best.

So the next time you wake up to a winter wonderland, go scoop up some fresh snow and let’s make some snow ice cream together!


The belief that it is not safe to make homemade ice cream out of the first snowfall is indeed an old wives’ tale. There is no scientific basis to support this claim. However, it’s important to note that consuming snow may not be safe due to potential contaminants, such as pollutants or bacteria,  that can be present in the snow. If you’re interested in making homemade ice cream, it’s best to use clean, fresh ingredients and avoid using snow as a primary ingredient.

So to sum it up:

What is snow cream? Basically, it’s snow ice cream and many consider it a Southern thing. In the South, it’s not a “dessert” you can make very often, so now is a great time to try it!

The recipe is super simple. If you Google it, you will see a pretty consistent recipe with a few variations.

Here’s a basic recipe. You can expand on this by trying different types of milk/cream or toppings.

1 cup Milk (any kind of milk – the snow cream will have a different texture based on what type of milk you use)

*I’ve seen recipes that use evaporated milk, whipping cream, heavy cream or a combination. Use whatever you have and experiment!

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 (or so) cups of clean snow

a pinch of salt

Whisk milk, sugar, vanilla and salt and set aside while you gather your 8 cups of snow (I put mine in the freezer.)

Once you’ve collected your snow, give your ingredients another hearty mix and then add your snow. Use a wooden spoon to mix it all up until you reach an ice cream-like consistency (it will look like homemade ice cream, not so much like store bought ice cream). Add toppings, serve and eat immediately. It will melt fast!