mixology courses

How to Make Crushed Ice at Home, or Wherever!

You finally found a delicious recipe to make your favorite bar cocktail at home, but it’s served with crushed ice. Or maybe you’re having a backyard event and your signature cocktail uses crushed ice. Don’t have any? Don’t panic! There are plenty of options to achieve a tasty cocktail with the perfect ice!

Make Your Own Crushed Ice at Home

There are a lot of ways to make crushed ice, and I guarantee that you’ll be able to find a method here that will work with the tools (and budget) you already have. You can even crush ice with things you have around the house, like a sautè pan. Or you can add a Lewis bag and mallet to your collection of gadgets. For those folks who entertain big families or crush a lot of ice, maybe an electronic ice crusher can help you out.

Whatever your needs are, you’ll find a solution here:

  • Hand Towel, Ziploc, and Pan Approach
  • Lewis Bag and Mallet
  • Hand Crank
  • Manual Ice Crusher
  • Electronic Devices

How to Crush Ice without any Fancy Tools or Gadgets

Let’s get right into it, you guys. In your house, you have several tools that will help you achieve bar-worthy crushed ice. All you need are three simple things: 

  • A plastic bag that seals
  • A hand towel (any towel will do, but this size works great),
  • A saucepan with a bottom big enough for smashing.

For all of you pros behind the bar, you can find similar tools to achieve an IG-worthy cocktail!

Let’s Get Smashing:

  1. Grab your regular old ice and fill up a Ziploc bag, making sure to leave enough room for the ice to move around when you’re hitting it. (That’s right, you’ll be taking out your daily frustration by smacking that ice around!)
  2. Once you’ve got your ice in the bag, wrap it in a towel and grab your saucepan.
  3. Use the pan much like you would a mallet or a hammer and crush your ice to a satisfactory size.

We’ll talk more on why size matters, but for now – violà! You have crushed ice, without using an expensive ice crusher.

Crushing Ice in a Blender

Another option is to use a blender for ice crushing. Simply load your blender with ice cubes and pulse about five or seven times to your desired crushed size. 

Be careful not to add too much ice. If you overload the blender with ice, it will not blend properly, and you’ll have a guest sending the drink back in a matter of minutes and asking you to remove the larger chunks. It’s happened to me and it’s not a pleasant request, so blend properly, my friends!

Crush Ice Like a Pro

Your hard-earned money doesn’t need to go to an ice crusher that will cause sticker shock; there are some gadgets you can use to make your job a bit easier, though. One of your options is the Lewis Bag and mallet combo. This choice is popular amongst the most skilled craft bartenders. If you don’t have a mallet and don’t want to buy one, you can also use a muddler

This method is a nice “show,” too. At my bar, whenever we pounded ice away, guests within earshot would alway ask us what we were making and usually ended up ordering the cocktail for themselves… a welcomed request!

Budget-Friendly Ice Crushers

If you’d rather not take your aggression out with a mallet, you can find inexpensive ice crushers to do the smashing for you. Some options are:

  • Hand Crank
    Hand cranks require you to manually rotate a reel in order to crush ice. They usually cost about $25 so you can attain one easily and save your roommate the headache of pounding on the counter.
  • Manual Ice Crusher
    This hand-held crushed ice maker works like a lemon squeezer! Place your ice cube in the designated area and apply pressure from both sides to crush the ice. You can grab one for only $20 to add to your snazzy at-home bar gear.
  • Electronic Versions
    Machines do all the work with electricity, much like a juicer or coffee bean grinder would. The electronic versions can vary, but the tabletop options would work easily in a bar or venue setting. You load from the top and ice comes from the bottom. If you have a bit more money to spend, this one will cost you about $75-$100.

For those of you practicing or entertaining at home, your fridge ice crusher will do just fine. Even if you’re a novice and practicing a drink you saw your favorite YouTuber create, head over to the fridge and get yourself some easy crushed ice at home!

Crush It Up at Home

Now that you know how to make your own crushed ice, bring on the crushed ice cocktails! So grab your little umbrellas and light the torches because your next backyard barbeque will be lit with tiki drinks that sneak up on your guests. 

Crushing ice at home is fun, affordable, and a nice stress reliever (if I do say so myself). Don’t forget your baggies and those hand towels you never use, warn the downstairs neighbors, and get to pounding – you’ve got some ice crushing to do!

Carrie Jean Lipe

Carrie Jean is a Midwesterner-turned-Californian FOH veteran with over 12 years in the restaurant industry. Now, she writes about life (at work, and at home with your dog) with a focus on serving the hospitality workforce. In addition to writing, she offers freelance voice talent and virtual assistance. Fun Fact: She loves Abraham Lincoln.