Need a Cheap Cool Dessert? Make Your Own Shaved Ice!

Last week temperatures here in California soared into the 90s and we needed to cool down. After getting some fat free frozen yogurt we were still feeling hot, so my husband took out our ice shaver and made some shaved ice.

Shaved ice is fairly easy and cheap to make since the main ingredient is simply frozen water. We have a hand-cranked ice shaver that processes ice cubes. There are also ice shaving machines that automatically make ice into snow without manual labor. A blender could also be used to crush ice but the consistency of pureed ice is somewhat different from fluffy snow-like shaved ice.

Shaved ice takes on the flavor of whatever gets added to it so you can be creative with what you add. Here are a couple different types of ice we like to make and eat when the air heats up.

Hawaiian ice - This is basically shaved ice doused with colorful flavored syrups. You can make your own syrups or buy pre-made syrups and create very colorful and tasty ices.

Maiz con hielo (corn with ice) - This dessert is popular in the Philippines and it is basically a mixture of cream corn, shaved ice, milk, and sugar. My husband usually puts the cream corn into a tall tumbler and then adds the shaved ice, milk, and sugar and mixes all of it with a spoon. The amount of sugar and corn we put in is pretty arbitrary.

Red bean shaved ice - This type of ice is pretty popular in Chinese restaurants. It is basically a big bowl of shaved ice with cooked and sweetened red bean, condensed milk, and canned lychees on top. Sometimes people also add things like almond jelly and other fruits.

Halo Halo - This is a shaved ice that means "mix mix" in Tagalog. This is pretty much a freestyle shaved ice that could be topped with all kinds of fruits and beans. Some popular ingredients include red beans, coconut, purple yam, tapioca pearls, and pineapple. Ice cream could also be added.

So there you have it, shaved ice is really a frugal and versatile dessert that really hits the spot on a hot day. It could also be healthy and low fat depending on what ingredients you put into it. Do you have a favorite shaved ice recipe? Feel free to share!

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Guest's picture

Bad idea. Eating ice is the worst thing you can do for your teeth. Ask any dentist. The extreme change in temperature causes micro cracks in your teeth eventually costing you many thousands of dollars to save them or risk looking like a carnival ride operator.
IMHO your idea is not frugal and not healthy!

Guest's picture

Well, besides Debbie Downer's comment above.....LOL!!!

I've always chewed my ice, by the way, ever since I was a kid. My teeth are fine, and I hardly ever see the dentist, but when I do, they have no complaints about my teeth!

Anyway...this article just reminded me that I owe my Daughter a Snow Cone Maker for the summer, so thanks!!
We already have the syrups...just need the machine!

(she got one from Santa, that just didn't work right, so we returned it, and are waiting for summer, when all the snow cone makers come out, to get a good one!)

Guest's picture

From the ADA:

While blenders and ice crushers are perfect for crunching ice cubes, teeth are not.

Many people habitually chew on ice, especially during the summer months. That’s when dentists' offices are crowded with patients suffering from gum injuries and broken teeth. The American Dental Association says avoiding chewing ice is a simple way to avoid tooth injuries.

For refreshment, instead of crushing big chunks of ice with the teeth, dentists recommend letting ice slivers melt in the mouth like candy.

But anyone who has a persistent ice-chewing habit and finds it difficult to stop should let his or her dentist know. Craving and chewing ice is often associated with iron deficiency anemia.

©2008 American Dental Association.

Linsey Knerl's picture

This article is so cool!  It reminds me of my very first Snoopy snow cone maker that my sister and I had back in the early 80's.  It was the ulitmate in DIY refreshment.

When I'm pregnant, I really love to do plain shaved ice or snow cones (without flavoring...)  they really can keep a gal cool during hot months. 

Guest's picture

Yeah many advised bad things of ice and dents but I never cared. I love the one made with corn and milk and my wifey is good in making that cool...

thanks for the cool article

Guest's picture
j l

You don't really have to *chew* shaved ice, it melts as soon as it hits your tongue. There's a big difference. Think "Snoopy Snow Cone Machine."

You can also make granita, which involves freezing some sort of fruit juice or puree and then shaving the result. Very flavorful, very economical, and a great way to make use of local produce. Mmmm, strawberry granita! Serve with ice cream or whipped cream for an extra dab of goodness. Recipes at

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

Yeah shaved ice melts pretty quickly so you don't really chew it. The ice crystals should be pretty tiny. In the end you end up drinking it.

Fred Lee's picture

I always thought you drank the cold juice with a straw, then as the ice melted you slurped it up, or as your dentist recommends, let the ice melt in your mouth.

BTW, I chewed ice as a kid and my dentist asked me if I was eating rocks. Go figure. 

And wasn't chewing ice associated with sexual frustration? Hmm, makes sense. 

Guest's picture

Not to be picky, but 'maiz con hielo' translates to 'corn with ice' not 'corn with milk' which would be 'maiz con leche' (like dulce de leche - sweet milk). Even better for the ice theme.