How to Make Popsicles With or Without a Mold
Cool off this summer with easy, breezy ice pops! Learn how to make popsicles with this easy guide.
When the weather gets hot—we mean fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot—there are a few surefire ways to cool off. Seek shade, drink plenty of water and snag a frozen dessert, to name a few. One of our favorite ways to beat the heat is to enjoy a nice and cool homemade popsicle! Follow along as we show you how to make one of our favorite popsicle recipes, along with our popsicle-making tips and tricks (and flavor suggestions, of course).
The Basics for Making Popsicles (With or Without a Mold)
Here are a few things to know before you dive into making this frozen treat.
Choose Your Ingredients
The wonderful thing about ice pops is that you can use virtually any ingredient to make them. If you can freeze it, you can make it into a popsicle—no recipe required! We recommend starting with a liquid like juice, soda, yogurt, fruit puree or pudding as a base. Then, add mix-ins like fruit, chocolate chips or sprinkles. You can also look to your favorite store-bought popsicles or frozen treats from around the world for inspiration.
Choose Your Mold
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Have a specialty popsicle mold you got from the store? Great! You’re on your way to becoming a popsicle pro.
If you don’t have a popsicle mold, don’t sweat it. It’s easy to make popsicles without a traditional mold. Ice cube trays, small disposable cups and muffin tins lined with foil cupcake wrappers can be used in lieu of a popsicle mold. Simply pour the ingredients into your DIY mold, cover with aluminum foil and spear a wooden popsicle stick through the foil into the center of the mold. The foil will help the stick stay upright.
Depending on the temperature, it should take about 2-3 hours for your treats to fully set. Check to see if your pops are firm before attempting to remove them from the mold. Serve immediately or save for a hot summer day.
Now that we’ve got the basics covered, follow along as Test Kitchen experts teach you how to make our favorite homemade fruit popsicle recipe. Beware: they won’t stay in the back of the freezer for long!
How to Make Homemade Fruit Juice Popsicles
Here’s how to make a fruit juice popsicle using only five simple ingredients.
- 2 cups water
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 4 cups unsweetened apple juice
- 1 cup unsweetened pineapple or orange juice
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 12 freezer pop molds or 12 paper cups (3 ounces each) and wooden pop sticks
Step 1: Prepare ingredients
Combine the water and sugar in a large saucepan, then bring to a boil. Once the water begins to fervently bubble, reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer. Stir occasionally until the sugar is entirely dissolved. This should take 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the fruit juices of your choice.
Step 2: Pour into molds
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Fill your popsicle molds or paper cups with 1/4 cup juice mixture. Then top molds with holders or, if using cups, top with foil and poke the sticks through.
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Step 3: Freeze ’em
Stick your treats in the freezer until firm. Ice pops take about 2-3 hours to freeze—but many popsicle pros prefer to leave them overnight.
Step 4: Enjoy
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Ready to serve? One of Community Cooks, Angela Lively, clued us in on the best way to remove a popsicle from the mold. After pulling your frozen treats from the freezer, give them a quick dip in hot water. They’ll fall right out of the mold.
Test Kitchen tip: To avoid sticky fingers, skewer a cupcake liner through the end of the popsicle stick. It’ll help collect any drippings. Plus, colorful liners can help give your pops extra flair at a summer fling.
Step 5: Store
For best results, you can keep homemade popsicles for up to six weeks when stored in an airtight container or freezer bag (if they last that long!). If you decide to stick with store bought popsicles this summer, here’s an easy hack to open freezer pops without scissors.
How to Customize Popsicles
Personalize your favorite popsicle recipe with these suggestions.
- Add fresh fruit: Have some extra fruit on hand? You can also make popsicles with fresh or canned fruit. These authentic paletas, peach popsicles and strawberry banana popsicles all use up a handful of fruit.
- Control sweetness: Feel free to add more sugar, less sugar or no sugar at all to any popsicle recipe. A sugar substitute, like the honey found in our Berry White Ice Pops, will give your frozen treats natural sweetness.
- Make ’em healthy: Did you know you can make healthy popsicles? Sneak veggies or good-for-you ingredients into your pops, like in this sweet potato popsicle recipe. Christina Addison, one of our Community Cooks, recommends pureeing pineapples, strawberries, vanilla yogurt and carrots together for a nourishing, yet tasty, pop. Christina claims, “Picky eaters hardly notice the hidden veggies!”
- Get boozy: Grown-up popsicles are our new favorite adult treat this summer. You can turn just about any cocktail into a frozen treat. Just remember that spirits like gin, vodka and whiskey don’t freeze easily–so add sparingly. We love these White Claw popsicles!
Tips for Making Popsicles
Your popsicle questions: Answered.
How do you make popsicles creamy, not icy?
You can make popsicles creamy by using a dairy-based ingredient, like yogurt, cream, cream cheese or pudding. If you are on a dairy-free diet, almond, soy or coconut milk work well, too.
Lisa Allen and Ruth R. Hartunian, two of our Community Cooks, share their favorite popsicle recipes that result in a creamy, not icy, pop:
- Blend softened cream cheese, almond milk, strawberries, yogurt and a little sweetener of your choice until smooth. The result? Strawberry cream cheese pops! —Lisa Allen, Joppa, AL
- Swirl together prepared chocolate pudding with butterscotch. Mix in a few toasted nuts and dark chocolate chips for added texture. —Ruth R. Hartunian-Alumbaugh, Willimantic, CT
Why do some popsicles not freeze?
The reason some popsicles don’t freeze all comes down to a little food science. Having too many fats (like milk) or sugars can prevent popsicles from freezing correctly. Thankfully, our popsicle recipes are tested by our Test Kitchen, so if you follow the directions to a tee, you’ll have perfect popsicles every time.