How to make healthy homemade popsicles from A to Z, including how to make fruity, creamy, and even hidden veggie popsicles!
My first cookbook, For the Love of Popsicles will be released on May 7th (which is like…REALLY soon, y’all!) So in celebration of what is bound to be dubbed The Summer of Popsicles (okay, only I have dubbed it that), we’re going through all the basics of how to make your own homemade popsicles.
As with the recipes in For the Love of Popsicles, these are healthier than your average pop, containing down-to-earth ingredients and less sugar. Click the links below to jump around the post:
- The basics of homemade popsicle making
- How to make fruity popsicles
- How to make creamy popsicles
- Hidden veggie popsicles
- Homemade popsicle FAQ
Best popsicle molds
Before we dig into the popsicle recipes, it’s important that we’re working with a good popsicle mold! Here are our favorites for making perfect homemade pops:
- PopsicleLab’s Silicone Popsicle Molds (pictured below): With environmentally-friendly silicone, these complete sets have all required accessories and make unmolding your popsicles a breeze (+ dishwasher safe, win). A recent favorite of mine! (And level up your set-up with PopsicleLab’s premium popsicle sticks!)
- Quick Freeze Molds: With quick-freezing technology, these freeze popsicles in minutes (though they make less and have a much higher price point).
- Push Pops: While we like to avoid single-use plastic around here when possible, sometimes you just need a push pop for on the go!
The basics of healthy homemade popsicle making
Before you start whipping up your homemade ice pops, you’ll need to choose your adventure! Are you going creamy or fruity? Yogurt is a great basis for creamy pops, while fruit purees are great for making fruity pops. Once you’ve got that established, there are a few basic principles to making your own popsicles.
Flavor: Ripe (or even slightly overripe) fruit is the best flavoring for popsicles because it’s naturally the mosts sweet! You can supplement the sweetness with a touch of honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, or sugar if needed. Keep in mind that when food freezes the taste becomes less intense, so taste your mixture and make it slightly sweeter than you would a smoothie, because the sweetness will be less intense when frozen.
Mold: You’ve got your perfectly flavored mixture and you’re ready to mold it! A few of my favorite popsicle molds are the PopsicleLab’s Silicone Popsicle Molds (which are easiest to clean and unmold) and the classic popsicle shape mold (used to make the pops in these photos). If you don’t have a popsicle mold, shot glasses, yogurt containers, muffin tins, and ice cube trays work well! The mixture will naturally expand as it freezes, so be sure to leave a little space in the top of your mold when you add the mixture.
Stick: Without sticks they’re just ice cubes, right?! Add popsicle sticks (I recommend the sticks from PopsicleLab, which are food-safe and environmentally friendly)! The lid of your mold should help them to stand straight, but if you have issues with them going crooked, tightly wrap the top of the mold with aluminum foil (trying to prevent the foil from touching the popsicle mixture). Then just poke your popsicle sticks through the foil and they will stand upright!
Freeze: Next comes the freezing! Depending on how thick your popsicles are, it should take anywhere between 4 and 8 hours to freeze solid. For even more perfect pops, turn your freezer as cold as it will go. The quicker your popsicles freeze, the soft they will be in the end (I go into this a bit more in For the Love of Popsicles)!
Unmold: I’ve found the fastest and most efficient way of unmolding popsicles is by simply running the mold under warm water. I just hold the bottoms of the mold under running water, moving it around to evenly warm each mold. After about 10 seconds your popsicles should come out easily!
How to make fruity popsicles
When I think of homemade popsicles, bright red strawberry pops are the first to come to mind! And it’s probably because fruit and popsicles are just a match made in heaven.
To make healthy homemade popsicles with fruit, you’ll need to pick a fruit! Most berries work beautifully in popsicles, though you can also use mango, pineapple, kiwi, banana, peach, or watermelon.
Then add your liquid and your sweetener. I love using juice to give the popsicles even more flavor (especially a squeeze of fresh lemon juice!), but you could also use water or milk. Finally, add a touch of sweetener if it’s needed.
How to make creamy popsicles
When I polled readers on which popsicle they usually preferred – creamy or fruit – the creamy popsicle lovers just barely beat the fruit lovers! And when it comes to creamy popsicles that are also healthy, there are a few popsicle foundations that I always come back to!
Whole milk plain Greek yogurt is great for making homemade popsicles. It has a lower water content than regular yogurt, meaning less water crystals to make your popsicles icy (plus it’s high protein!)!
Full-fat coconut milk from a can is another great basis for making healthy creamy popsicles. The results in a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture (though it’s higher in fat than Greek yogurt).
Whichever you choose, Greek yogurt or coconut milk, you’ll want to sweeten it some (with honey, agave, maple syrup etc), then mix it with your favorite popsicle flavors.
How to make hidden veggie popsicles
And the category for “popsicle flavors you didn’t know you needed” goes to…hidden veggie! As a rule of thumb, most things that make a good smoothie also make a great popsicle! Case in point: green smoothie popsicles!
Spinach has a neutral flavor that blends seamlessly into most mixtures, so try adding a handful to your next batch of pops to start off your veggie-filled popsicle journey. Feeling adventurous? You can also try adding avocado, shredded carrots, roasted sweet potato, or roasted beet! (Each of these veggies is featured in a recipe in For the Love of Popsicles!)
Homemade Popsicles FAQ
You can make popsicles in yogurt containers, muffin tins, shot glasses, or even a loaf pan! If you have trouble getting the sticks to stand upright in these unconventional molds, tightly wrap the top of the mold with aluminum foil (trying to prevent the foil from touching the popsicle mixture). Then just poke your popsicle sticks through the foil and they will stand upright!
It all comes down to the molecular structure of popsicles! Water freezes into ice cubes, which is obvious not an ideal popsicle. But when you start adding things like sugar, fibers from fruit, or fat from coconut milk, the molecules can’t freeze as neatly and the result is a creamier, more bitable popsicle.
Sugar is an important ingredient in popsicles because it’s the difference between a soft popsicle and an inedible ice cube. With that said, you can make sugar-free popsicles by either using fruit purees (which have natural sugars and fibers to keep your popsicles soft) or by using a full-fat coconut milk or Greek yogurt as a base. These creamy options can be sweetened with sugar-free sweetener without a huge difference in texture.
Have more questions about making your own popsicles? Ask them in the comments below!
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 ½ cup fresh berries
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 2 to 4 Tbsp honey or sugar
- 1 cup sliced fruit
- 1 ½ cups coconut water
- 2 to 4 Tbsp honey or sugar
Berries and Cream
- 1 ½ cups fresh berries
- 2 Tbsp honey or sugar
- 1 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 14-oz can full-fat coconut milk
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 Tbsp lime zest
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 bananas
- Mix: Mix your ingredients and pour into molds according to the popsicle you want to make:Berry Lemon: Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into molds.Rainbow Fruit: Distribute fruit into molds. Combine coconut water and honey, then pour into molds, tapping on the counter to remove air pockets.Berries and Cream: Puree berries until smooth (add a touch of water or juice if needed to get things moving). Stir together yogurt, honey, and vanilla. Spoon berries and yogurt into molds in alternating layers.Coconut Lime: Stir together all ingredients. Pour into molds.Sneaky Spinach: Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into molds.
- Freeze: Insert popsicle sticks and freeze until hard, at least 4 hours.
- Unmold: Run mold under warm water for a few seconds to loosen, then remove pops from the molds.