The Secrets to Better Homemade Ice Pops

Strategies, techniques, and tips all about ice pops—from the Real Simple test kitchen to yours.

Ice pops are one of our favorite summer treats. They’re flavorful, refreshing, and always hit the spot. Whether you’re planning on adding booze for alcoholic adult pops, want to serve the snack at a party without them melting, or simply need help popping them out of their molds, we’ve got all the tips you need for guaranteed ice pop success.

Keep Them From Melting at a Party.

papaya-raspberry-lime-pops
Photo by Jennifer Causey

It starts with a strategically packed cooler.

1. The day before the party, bring your cooler inside (e.g., out of the garage) to let it cool down. Fill empty water bottles or milk cartons with water and freeze overnight to create slow-melting ice blocks.

2. The day of, pack the cooler tightly, alternating the ice blocks, ice packs, and loose ice (the fewer open spaces, the colder the cooler will be). Nestle a sheet tray of unmolded pops in the center and pack ice around it. Or fill freezer bags with unmolded pops and stash between layers of ice.

3. Set the cooler in a shady spot, close the lid, and cover with a towel. Pops will stay frozen for about one hour.

Unmold Without Fear.

Keep calm and repeat after us: No broken pops.

1. Fill your sink or a deep container with cold water (warm water will cause the pops to melt too quickly).

2. Dip the mold for five seconds, then gently wiggle the sticks. Repeat until the pops begin to loosen from the sides. Give a firm tug to pull out.

3. Immediately place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the freezer.

Hot Tip: We like the Prepworks by Progressive Freezer Pop Maker

Add Booze for Grown-Ups.

Ready for a math lesson? Pops won’t freeze if the alcohol content is too high. Most spirits clock in at about 40 percent, so a good rule of thumb is to keep the total amount of alcohol to no more than a fifth of the mixture. Here are three delicious pairings to consider:

1. Vibrant red Campari makes for a fun Grapefruit Negroni Pop when mixed with grapefruit juice, gin, and vermouth.

2. White rum can be used for boozy piña colada or daiquiri pops.

3. Because of its lower ABV (alcohol by volume), you can be more generous with wine in pops. Try pairing red wine with ripe berries.