ashley englishdessertrecipessmall measures

small measures with ashley: DIY popsicles

by Grace Bonney

image sources, clockwise from top left: sunset magazine, diana’s desserts, forecast earth, dopodomani, pure bar, jessica sayed

The home my husband and I own was built right around 1930. As such, it lacks air conditioning. Since we live in the mountains of western North Carolina, on land sited in a forested cove, the lack of an indoor cooling system usually poses no challenges. On especially muggy days, we crank on an attic fan to pull hot air out of the second story, as well as turn the ceiling fans located throughout the house onto top speed.

Some days, though, despite all of our best efforts, the house just gets too darn hot. That’s when I turn to cooling treats to work their magic from the inside out. Today’s small measure, then, celebrates popsicles. Homemade, using fresh ingredients and no additives, DIY popsicles offer a quick, cheap, easy, and delicious solution to the dog days of summer. There’s also no packaging or waste to dispose of afterward, making made-from-scratch popsicles an environmentally conscientious delight, as well.

CLICK HERE for the rest of the post and a tasty “coco loco” popsicle recipe after the jump!

To begin, you’ll need some popsicle molds. You can go as low-tech as you wish, using vessels such as clean, empty, single serving yogurt cups fitted with wooden craft sticks for your pops. Similarly, metal molds used in dessert-making would work just as well. There are also a number of stylish, reusable plastic molds now available for purchase. Tovolo , Kinder-ville , and Prepara all offer BPA-free selections in a range of fun and whimsical designs and colors. Orka from Mastrad , Norpro , and Cusipro also have modern shapes perfect for today’s kitchens (although I wasn’t able to tell from their sites whether these companies’ products are BPA-free, as well). I also found a really attractive stainless-steel mold available at the Tickle Trunk .

The incarnations for made-at-home popsicles are only limited by the confines of your imagination. I even found one mom who tosses kale into her kid’s pops! I’ve listed three recipe options below, from my kitchen to yours (special thanks to my ultra-awesome husband for getting in on the recipe development action!). One uses coconut milk as a base, another uses yogurt, and the last is fruit juice-based. Try them out and then manipulate them to your own specifications, preferences, and predilections!

Coco Loco (Coconut milk-based)
The Goods:
-1 13.5 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
-1 c. chopped pineapple
-1 ripe banana, lightly chopped
-1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
-1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
-A few grinds of fresh black pepper
-A few fresh mint leaves

The Deal:
-Toss everything into a food processor or blender.
-Puree until smooth (optionally, you can leave some chopped bits whole, if that’s your jam).
-Pour into popsicle molds.
-Freeze until solid.
-Remove from molds (if necessary, run the molds for just a few seconds under hot water until they release) and enjoy!

Raspberry Creamsicle (Yogurt-based)
The Goods:
-1 c. yogurt (we used Greek-style, which is thicker)
-1 c. orange juice
-1 c. raspberries (fresh or frozen)
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1/2 vanilla bean pod (scrape out seeds for popsicle, save the pod to use for infusing sugar)
-1 Tbsp. agave nectar or honey

The Deal:
-Toss everything into a food processor or blender.
-Puree until smooth (optionally, you can leave some chopped bits whole, if that’s your jam).
-Pour into popsicle molds.
-Freeze until solid.
-Remove from molds (if necessary, run the molds for just a few seconds under hot water until they release) and enjoy!

Lemon-Lime Ginger Pop (Fruit juice-based)
-Juice of 2 lemons and 2 limes
-1/2 c. granulated sugar
-2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
-Water and ice

The Deal:
-In a microwaveable container, place sugar and two cups of water. Heat for two minutes, stir, heat two additional minutes and then allow to sit for five minutes (alternately, you can make this simple syrup on the stove by gently heating the sugar and water together, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved).
-Add several ice cubes to the container and place in the refrigerator to cool for 10-15 minutes.
-Transfer contents to a larger container and add lemon and lime juices.
-Add enough water to make a total of 4 cups of fruit juice mixture and stir.
-Pour into popsicle molds.
-Freeze until solid.
-Remove from molds (if necessary, run the molds for just a few seconds under hot water until they release) and enjoy!

If you’re just too pressed for time to make your own treats, you might still be in luck. According to this article in the Huffington Post, a number of new popsicle-focused establishments are popping up around the U.S.. From Las Paletas in Nashville, TN to the Locopops chain in the Triangle area of North Carolina (worth the drive across the state alone, in my opinion) to NYC’s own People’s Pops , popsicle-themed eateries will undoubtedly be the place to be come summertime.

Have any tried-and-true popsicle recipes you’d like to share? Popsicle molds you’ve discovered? I’d love to hear about them. With summer officially kicking off in mere weeks, and some places already feeling the heat, we would all do well to slow down and take a minute to chill out in icy, delicious bliss. Cheers! -ashley

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  • just what i needed. it’s all about popsicles in my house and what a great way to get my son involved. thanks for these amazing recipes and beautiful pictures.

  • We make popsicles all summer long! I use yogurt (plain or vanilla), frozen 100% juice concentrate mixed with one can of water, and chopped fruit in any combination we have on hand. It’s a surprise every time.

  • I love making green smoothies in the spring and summer. I use a little OJ, frozen organic mango and whatever green I can find in the fridge (spinach, kale, etc.) I bet they would translate well to popsicles and maybe my kids would eat them.

    Thanks Ashley, as always, for taking the standard and flipping it homemade-style.

  • BOOM! Right into the Recipes bookmark. I can’t believe I just threw out a half can of coconut milk yesterday ’cause I figured it’d go bad before I needed to use it again. Drats. Double drats.

  • You have to try horchata pops! Just make some horchata or use ready made and put in the molds. Soooo good.

    Also I made Moroccan mint tea popcicles last week that were fabulous. It’s like an upgraded iced tea. (Or a literal one)

  • Ashley, you rock! I can’t wait to try these. They sound so much better than the frozen kool-aid of yesteryear. I am totally inspired now.

  • I love popsicles!! I was reunited with my love for popsicles last year at the Davis Farmers’ Market … they have the most adorable popsicle stand their Arnold Palmer Pop is my favorite. I just did a post this week on Do it yourself popsicles … I made a pineapple hibiscus pop perfect for summer. xo

  • Thanks for these recipes, they sound delicious. I can’t wait to try them!

    I like to use really ripe bananas as a base. My favorite combination is bananas, mango, strawberry, and a little ginger- so good! Or banana blackberry.

  • these will hit the spot this weekend! thought i recognized the image from sunset magazine – i was an assistant for the food stylist on that shoot and yes, they were delicious!

  • I am investing in some serious popsicle molds. I was just in Haiti and I was really craving some popsicles but I never saw a single one! They have so many good fruit juices there too, so I will bring molds down on my next trip and make my own private popsicle paradise! Ok, maybe I will share.

  • These look awesome, and just the thing for our old house without air conditioning!

    Just one thing though, I think there’s a typo in the Lemon-Lime Ginger Pop. When does one add the minced ginger?

  • Actually, yesterday I made too much of a smoothie and it ended up being too thin anyway so I poured the remnants into my popsicle molds. The ingredients (all pureed in a blender): a banana, 2/3 c vanilla yogurt, 1 c ice, and the juice of one very ripe grapefruit and one very ripe orange. They were the best I’ve ever made!

  • Liz L-Yikes! Good eyes! Thanks for catching that, and sorry for such a glaring omission.

    The minced ginger is added to the sugar and water when making the simple syrup, either via the microwave or the stovetop.
    Have fun!

  • i love homemade popsicles.. my mom made all kinds when we were young. The fruity kinds as well as a milky one with chopped nuts in it..

  • I’ve been obsessed with ice pops since my last pregnancy. You can make ice pops out of any smoothie recipe. I use just a pinch of salt in mine to help with the consistency. It makes them less icy.

  • My favorite homemade popsicle recipes are vanilla yogurt+ some coffee from that morning+ pinch of cinnamon+ some instant coffee powder, and blackberry+avocado+orange juice/zest+ little sugar. (the best texture ever due to the avocado!) Yay for summer!

  • Love those !

    I have a *hum* shameful recipe: just froze youghourts you bought, with a stick plucked into them. It’s zero work and quite good too !

  • MMmm, we had popsicles after a 15 mile bike ride the other day…perfect treat.
    I would really love to see pictures of their house! In the mountains in a forested cove! (Sneek Peak!) Love it :)

  • YUUUUUUM. I am totally going to get out my ice block set and make some…although I fear it is not BPA free. That raspberry one or the ginger one sounds just like what I need as I come through the final stages (I hope) of morning sickness at the beginning of a Tokyo summer. Woohooo. Thank YOU!

  • jello is the main base in our house for popsicles. jello, usual hot water to dissolve then get creative as you want – strawberry jello w/puree banana you can add yogurt. The best part is the non drip as it turns to jelly for those messy kids!

  • Fun! I remember making (simple) popsicles as a kid. Thanks for posting these delicious recipes. Now, if it would only get warm here…

  • The only way I can get my kiddo to eat vegetables is make popsicles out of orange & carrot juice but I really like the idea of kale. I am definitely checking out your recipes. They look awesome.

  • yee haw! Perfect timing…we’ve been making popsicles w/o any recipes, so thx for the inspiration! Can’t wait to try the coconut milk (it’s definitely a household staple around here!)

  • Hi Ashley. I have one question that I haven’t been able to puzzle out after reading your post a couple of times. What do you use for the sticks? I can’t imagine that the wooden ones would last more than one use.

  • This post is so inspiring and just what I needed as I melt in north Florida! One quick question though…what do I do with the ginger in the lemon-lime ginger pop? Did I miss that in the directions?


  • hi, regarding the ginger in the lemon lime ginger popsicle, where/when is the ginger added? there’s no mention of it in the directions. tx, rob