Informational Guide

How To Make Ice Without An Ice Tray

by Ian Haynes

We all love cool drinks on a hot summer day, and making them from home has never been easier. An ice tray in the freezer is the easiest way to make ice; pour water into the tray, leave it in the freezer for a few hours, and voila! 

If you don't have one or don’t have the freezer space for a tray, it can be tricky. How exactly do you solve this?

There are several ways we can make ice, and they’re not as complicated as you think. Follow this guide for some helpful tips and to find out how to make ice without ice tray.

1. Ziplock Bags 

These are thick plastic bags with a zip on the top for protection. It works best with 3x5 inch bags, but a larger one will work too.

Simply fill the bag about one quarter of the way with water, zip it up and place it in the freezer. Any more than a quarter could split the bag as it freezes. 

The ice will be in a big block and will require you to break down, which isn’t ideal. But if you’re looking for crushed ice, then this will work a treat! 

how to make ice without tray

2. Silicone Molds 

Food-grade silicone molds can be found everywhere. They're a good alternative to plastic ice trays, and with different designs, you can make many ice shapes and sizes.  

Fill up a silicone mold as you would with an ice tray, place it into the freezer, and in a few hours, your ice will be ready to go. A silicone mold will make removing the ice easier and can give a flare to your drinks.  

3. Egg Carton 

This is more for when you need ice urgently and don't have an alternative. It works best with plastic or foam, but if you only have cardboard cartons, you can line them with aluminum foil.  

Wash the carton thoroughly and pour the water in. Place them into the freezer and you should have ice in no time! You will have to break the carton to remove the ice, so these aren’t reusable. 

4. Portable/Freestanding Ice Maker 

If you don’t mind spending some money, buying a portable or freestanding ice maker may solve all your ice problems. They can make a lot of ice quickly, approximately 7-15 minutes. 

You can take portable ice makers anywhere; RV's, mobile homes, etc., and your ice worries will be a thing of the past.

Freestanding will give you up to 85lbs of ice a day. Ice should hold for a while before it starts to melt, giving you more ice when you need it. 

Related Article - How Does A Portable Ice Maker Work?

5. Alternative: Frozen Fruit 

If you’re stuck with little freezer space, you can use frozen berries to create ice alternatives. Blueberries have a high water content, and the skin will stop any juice from changing the flavor of your drink. Once thawed, you can eat them as a tasty snack!

You can also use cut up berries (like strawberries), but as they melt, they may change the flavor of your drinks. Simply freeze some berries overnight or purchase them pre-frozen.

how to make ice cubes without a tray

How To Use Ice Cube Bags To Make Ice 

Ice cube bags are a handy tool that make cubes quickly. They come with an opening to fill, dividers to separate the water, and seals to avoid spills.

Unfortunately, they're usually made of plastic and aren't reusable after you remove the ice.

Simply fill the bag with water, seal on the top, and lay flat in the freezer. There may be some bubbles in the sections, but these will freeze with the ice.

Once you're ready to use, either separate each section by pulling them or open the bag with the seal. Either way, your ice will be ready to go in no time. 

Bonus DIY Tip: How To Make Ice Cube Shot Glasses 

If you want an alternative to shot glasses that will keep your drink cold, you can take a crack at making ice cube shot glasses! The process is a little complicated but can be done hassle-free.  

  1. 1
    Tape the inside of a shot glass and tape it at four points in a lowball glass or tumbler. Make sure-shot glass is suspended at the top. 
  2. 2
    Fill the gap with water, but not to the top. The water expands as it freezes and could break your glass.  
  3. 3
    Place in the freezer on a tray or wire rack and wait a few hours. Once they’re frozen, remove the shot glass and run lowball under the faucet to release.  

They can also be used multiple times; simply use your shot glass and return it to the freezer! You can also get creative by adding drops of food coloring or small berries to the water.

They're a nice alternative to regular shot glasses and will save you money on replacing them should they break! 

how to make ice cubes at home without a tray

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How can you make ice cube trays non-stick? 

Ice tends to stick to trays because of the volume of water. Try adding less water to the tray, making sure there’s none on the sides. You can also allow the ice tray to reach room temperature before freezing; a warmer tray will freeze faster.  

Can you put bottled water in the freezer? 

Yes! Remove some of the water and seal back tightly beforehand. If there is too much water inside, the expansion will cause the bottle to break. Iced bottled water is a good way to keep your food cooler in the event of a power outage, too.  

How long do ice cubes take to freeze?  

It should take between 3-4 hours to freeze a 12-cube ice tray, but for the best results, leave them to freeze overnight as the ice will be more solid when you take it out. 

Read Also - How Long Do Ice Cubes Take To Freeze?

Why is my ice cloudy? 

Typical freezers will freeze water from the outside in. Meaning that minerals, nitrogen, and impurities will be pushed into the middle, giving the cloudy effect. Try boiling water before freezing to remove any impurities.  

Learn More - How To Make Clear Ice At Home


Ice cube trays aren't necessary to make ice; while they come in handy, if we don't have the freezer space, there are easy alternatives to keep our drinks cool. Get creative with your ice.

Use silicone molds to make different shapes or ice cube shot glasses for those warm summer evenings. Now with the tips above, you can give yourself cooler drinks when it's time to chill out! 

Ian Haynes is an expert writer who has successfully deployed over 500 plumbing pages and other related content. He has an excellent understanding of home plumbing issues and translates his experiences via Plumbing Lab so readers can have a better understanding of common household problems. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.