Homemade popsicles: Let’s move beyond freezing apple juice.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It just gets a little old, even for an ice-pop-loving-four-year old (or 38-year old, for that matter).

That age-old bell for ringing in the summer is a mere days away (I refer to Memorial Day weekend — the very weekend we thought was a great time to move — anyone dying to unload a moving truck next Saturday?), so it’s time to bring out the frozen goodies, the ideal afternoon cool-me-down. We will eat untold numbers of these icy sweets over the next few months, so we need to make sure we have variety, and that delicate balance between something being not horrible for you and yet also desirable, in the “treat” sense of the word.


Yes, there are plenty of boxed options out there. But anything made with “real fruit” and not much else is gonna put you out around a dollar a pop. I’ve never been praised as a math whiz, but I can quickly calculate that for a family with 3 kids, that could end up pushing $90/month. On popsicles. But making your own ice pops isn’t just about saving money; it’s about experimenting with flavors, using up over-ripe fruit, and involving your kids in some of the process. Since you have all the control over what goes in, you can use a little less sugar than what’s utilized in a store-bought brand, introduce your family to new fruits, or cater to a food-allergic family member.

The recipe for fruit pops is simple: take one or more ripe summer fruits or berries, add sugar, water, and a pinch of salt, and puree in a blender. Then pour in molds. If you make too much for your molds, you can refrigerate it for a day or so until your kids eat a few and the space is available.  The options and flavors are limited only by your imaginations — almost anything liquid that you want to eat frozen on a stick. As with all experimentation, you’ll end up with a few duds. But the kids usually eat them anyway, and if not, you’ll know for next time — and it’s better than having spent $5 on a whole carton of disappointment.

Below are two of our favorites: mango pops and chocolate-coconut fudge pops. The mango recipe can be used with many other fruits, as long as the volume of fruit stays relatively similar — and feel free to add more sugar if a certain fruit needs it. And the chocolate-coconut has that fabulous soft-chewy texture of the fudge pops of our childhood — all without dairy or corn syrup, and with a subtle hint of coconut sweetness. These are a bit higher-maintenance because you have to heat the mixture to melt the chocolate (so a little planning ahead is necessary, but worth it).

So let’s ring in summer together next weekend. While you guys make the ice pops, I’ll be found here in a fetal position, compulsively popping bubble wrap and mumbling nonsensically about how we will live in our new house until at least 2035.

Bring me a spiked fudge pop if you get a moment?*


Mango Popsicles
(makes 6-8 pops, depending on mold size)

  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • 3-4 Tbsp sugar, to taste
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 4 tsp fresh lime juice (lemon could substitute), or more to taste
  • pinch salt

Peel the mangoes and cut into chunks, removing as much of the flesh as you can. Put the chunks into a blender, and squeeze the mango pits over the blender to extract as much juice from the clinging flesh as possible. Add the rest of the ingredients, and puree until smooth. Pour into molds and freeze.**


Chocolate-Coconut Popsicles
(makes 6-8 pops, depending on mold size)

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (freeze the rest of the can for future use)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, and stir in the chocolate, whisking until the it’s melted and smooth. Whisk in the coconut milk and vanilla. Allow to cool to room temp (or cool by stirring over an ice bath), pour into molds and freeze.**


* As great as this sounds, it really doesn’t work: alcohol doesn’t freeze, so an ounce in a popsicle will leave you scooping a slushy out of your popsicle molds. (Update: my sister has reminded me that wine or champagne can be used with success.)

**When removing pops from molds, it helps to run warm water over the outside to loosen them before pulling.

18 thoughts on “Homemade popsicles: Let’s move beyond freezing apple juice.

  1. I want to make these. Particularly the fudge ones. I also need to come up with a recipe to use up bananas. Where did you find your molds? I’ve tried a couple in the past few years with little success. My Pop never sticks to the cicle… know what I mean?

    1. Yeah, that happens. My molds are cheap ones from Target — the only hint I can give is to run warm water over your mold before you try to pull it out. If you have a really soft freeze (i.e., dairy-laden, or fattier pops will be softer than their sorbet-like counterparts) it’s tougher.

      Bananas are easy — blend 4 ripe bananas with 1 cup water, and add 6 Tbsp sugar + a couple tsp lime juice. Also fun to drop chocolate chips in as you fill the molds.

  2. Not that I am arguing with you on things alcohol-related, but I was at a child’s birthday party a couple of years ago where the adults were given mimosa pops — frozen champagne and orange juice on a stick. I don’t remember them being slushy. I remember them being really, really good.

    1. Amy, you are 100% right. I was referring to hard liquor, which has a much higher alcohol content. So, yes — popsicles spiked with wine or champagne or beer would work.

      You should always feel free to argue with me… haven’t we been doing that for 35 years?

      1. I guess I was figuring we didn’t actually start arguing until we could talk and reason?

      2. And then I came along and you were blissfully united in your mutual dislike for me. And my singing. And my sitting too close to you in the car. (“MOM!!! She’s TOUCHING me!!!!!!!!!) 🙂

    1. Thanks ; ) I had to wait four days for the rain to stop to shoot them.

      I’m putting the ice cream on my to-do list for June.

  3. MMmmmmm! I might have to make those chocolate coconut ones today…since its suppose to be warm this weekend. BTW, I bought molds at IKEA which have worked fine…but I do have to do the warm water thing. Ever tried pudding pops? Now Im going to obsess about ingredient options!

  4. Wow just found your blog, and your Popsicle look great. I am so going to try those chocolate coconut ones. Good luck with your move.

  5. My sister, Cherith Johnson, just introduced me to your blog since she is probably sick of talking about food with me 🙂 I love making popsicles for my three little boys. I tend to just pour smoothies into my Tovolo popsicle makers (the star ones stick less than the rocketship ones). I use frozen fruit and leftover bananas with greek yogurt and a bit of agave. My girlfriends tell me that you can add raw spinach without any ill-effects but I’ve yet to venture out on that one. Seems anything frozen is loved by the little ones. I’m going to try the chocolate-coconut recipes. I tried sugar-free chocolate jello pudding last week, but they were not a big success?? Don’t know why.

    1. Hi Kjesti! Hoping to see your sister this summer ; )

      Not sure why the pudding didn’t work — another friend asked that same question, so it’s worth knowing. It could actually be the sugar content (or lack thereof) — or something about the process used to make the pudding a pudding (I’m assuming you were talking about a boxed version?). When making ice cream or sorbet, the sugar content is very important; and although you can use less sugar if you’re freezing as ice pops, it makes me think that there is a necessary balance of ingredients for things to freeze properly. Worth looking into… (meaning me, sometime after we move).

  6. I’m so happy about this post. I’ve been scratching my head for healthy snack ideas, and until now we’d always offered pops as treats. Can’t wait to try these out.

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