How To Make Shaved Ice Without A Machine?

how to make shaved ice without a machine

On a hot summer afternoon, nothing beats sitting by the pool with some shaved ice treats or even just dumping some on your head to cool off. The secret to perfectly shaved ice at home that mirrors the lush powder you find snowboarding down the hills of Colorado in the winter seems to be cracked by machines. But what about those of us who can’t afford the latest Sunbeam ice maker? You don’t need to go to street vendors for perfect shaved ice anymore, because we’ve got the full details on how to get those perfectly smooth little crystals at home and creative ways to make use of them this summer.

How to make shaved ice at home

Let’s say you don’t have the money for the best machines on the market, the industrial ice makers that your local vendors are using to pump out tonnes of ice every day. There’s still plenty of machines that are most likely sitting around the back of your kitchen cabinets which can get you the ice you are looking for. Any food processor will do you just fine but with its fast motor, the ninja machine is one of the best. Albeit, most food processors have filters with fine grates available and these will be a godsend for making great shaved ice. You just need to utilize a couple of tricks to get the consistency perfect.

Don’t be afraid to add water and add a little bit of sugar, both of these are for personal preference, of course. But when your ice starts to look nice and white like snow on Christmas, you are done. Adding each one tablespoon at a time will make sure you don’t go overboard. Apart from these additions, switching speeds is key. Blitz your ice between high and low speeds for 20 seconds each. Taking breaks to dislodge stray ice with a shake of your machine is also a great way to maximize your cold treats.

What to do if you don’t have any machines at home?

Maybe machines are a bit out of your price range or you live a minimalist lifestyle without a tool shed of machines in your kitchen. In that case, there is a tried and true method for making perfect shaved ice at home. Any canvas bag or towel and a wooden mallet give you a little workout while making perfect snow. Specifically using a wooden mallet over a metal one is not only a choice for your safety but also the safety of whatever surface you use for this activity. A wooden mallet will still pose a hazard for denting surfaces and hurting people, but less so than its metallic siblings.

To ensure your ice doesn’t go everywhere as you let loose with your mallet, make sure the towel or bag of choice is wrapped tight. As you smash the ice, make sure you are hitting everywhere and shifting the ice around so that the consistency is the same. There is going to be water produced the longer the ice cubes are out of the freezer so make sure you act fast. There is also a number of hand-operated shaved ice maker devices on the market, but most of these are plastic and prone to breaking. The mallet and bag method is guaranteed to last.

What are some good uses for shaved ice?

Cultures across the world use shaved ice differently but if you ask us, the best recipes come from Korea and Hawaii. Korean shaved ice focuses on being light and subtle with a hint of ice cream textures, whilst Hawaiian shaved ice is a decadent delight.

Korean shaved ice, otherwise known as Patbingsu, is prepared like a sundae with two layers of shaved ice and a tablespoon of condensed milk in the middle. Sliced fruit such as strawberries and kiwifruit is then added along the sides of the bowl, with mochi typically added on top. Red bean is also frequently featured, either raw or in mochi form.


Hawaiian shaved ice is a more decadent treat, with multiple fruit syrups drenched on top of shaved ice alongside coconut and condensed milk. Typically pineapple and plum syrups are used, with up to an entire can of condensed milk drizzled over the top and sprinkled with coconut flakes. A truly decadent and creamy delight with the classic island vibe of sweet coconut to round out the sweetness.

You can also put together a quick delicious fruity treat by mixing up some fruit juice in your water when you freeze your ice cubes before transforming them into a shaved delight.

How to make a perfect fruit syrup?

Going to the shops to buy sweet syrups is easy, but the flavors are always a letdown and unnecessarily healthy with plenty of preservatives. Delicious syrups are easy to make at home, cheap, and full of real fruit. There are not many steps for these syrups and you can get creative, making all sorts of combinations while you are at it. All you are going to need is lemon/lime juice, water, sugar, and your fruit of choice.

fruit syrup

For starters, you are going to have to puree your fruit somehow, a blender will do the trick but you can go old school and smash them up by hand if you really want. Puree 1 and a half cups of your favorite fruits then put them in a saucepan on medium heat. As you stir, add in 2 tablespoons of your lemon/lime juice along with ¾ cup of water and ¾ cup of sugar. You can add less sugar and put in agave or honey instead if you want to be healthier and have a different flavor. Not to mention, if you use a watery fruit make sure to reduce the amount of water you add. When this starts to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and wait for 5 minutes before removing the saucepan and straining for a smooth sauce.


Shaved ice is one of our all-time favorite treats for the summer sun and you can see why. It’s so easy that anyone with a freezer can do it, very customizable, and if you take a couple of minutes out of your day you can make it healthy! Pretty much anything sweet can be combined with shaved ice to make a fantastic treat. But if we are being honest, keeping it decadent with the Hawaiian-style shower of condensed milk is just too good to pass up.

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