Custard vs Ice Cream: What’s the Difference?

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custard vs ice cream

Looking for a tasty frozen dessert to delight your taste buds? While your go-to may have been ice cream, frozen custard is fast becoming a popular option. The questions is, what is the difference between these two yummy desserts?

Custard vs Ice cream: what’s the difference? The main difference between ice cream and frozen custard is the egg yolks used in custard. The inclusion of this ingredient makes frozen custard richer and the freezing process makes it denser as less air is used in the process. Not content with basics, however, more and more chefs are creating their own signature dishes. From vanilla ice cream to strawberry frozen custard, there is a frozen treat for everyone.

Frozen custard and ice cream share many of the same ingredients, such as milk, cream, and sugar. They are also both delicious, especially when enjoyed on a hot summer’s day. Below are some main differences between custard and cream.

What is Custard?

Custard is a mixture of cream, egg yolks, milk, and sugar. Frozen custard takes this result and freezes it for a delicious dessert.

More and more recipes now include extras in their frozen custard, including chocolate, fruit, and even nuts.

Frozen custard is increasing in popularity and there are now frozen custard stands popping up in many cities.

What is Ice Cream?

Ice cream is a frozen treat made from cream, milk, and sugar. While it may have different names in other countries, such as frozen yogurt or frozen custard, it is actually different from these desserts.

Ice cream can come in hundreds of different flavors and can be used in ice cream cones, frozen desserts, and so many more delicious concoctions.

You can get soft-serve ice cream from a machine, which has more air and a smoother texture or scooped ice cream from a container that is thicker and often includes different flavors.

Difference Between Custard vs Ice Cream

difference between custard vs ice cream

Milk Fat and Yolk (main difference)

The main difference between frozen custard and ice cream is eggs. In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration, custard must include at least 1.4% pasteurized egg yolk in order for it to be classified as custard.  

Besides egg yolk, though, ice cream and frozen custard share the same three main ingredients. These are milk, cream, and sugar.


You should expect a nice, smooth consistency for both ice cream and frozen custard. However, ice cream should be a lot fluffier.

More air is incorporated into ice cream, while custard has at least half the amount of air added to it.

Both ice cream and frozen custard can have extra ingredients added to them, so their consistency may be crunchy, depending on what is added.


Ice cream is a simple yet delicious treat. Sugar, cream, and milk make up the heart of any ice cream recipe.

In addition to these three staples, various other ingredients can be added to create different flavors. While vanilla and chocolate are the most common flavors, you can add an assortment of fruit and chopped up candy bars for a whole range of tastes.

Custard is normally just cream, egg yolks, and sugar. For frozen custard desserts, chocolate, fruit, and candy bars can also be used to enhance the flavor.

Ice cream has an advantage in that it is has been around longer and seems to have more flavor combinations. Frozen custard is becoming more popular, though, so expect more tasty concoctions as more people experiment with it.

Method used

To make ice cream, you need cold and continuous motion. Older methods of creating ice cream actually involved you kicking a container of ice cream ingredients that was housed inside a larger container filled with ice.

Thankfully, there are now ice cream makers that are a lot easier to use. First, mix your base ingredients until they are a rich and smooth consistency.

The ice cream maker will have an outer portion that needs to be fully frozen to work. Pour the mixture inside and turn the machine on.

The ice cream maker will then continue to rotate for about 30 minutes until the mixture has reached the consistency of ice cream. You should add your extra flavorings towards the end.

While ice cream should be light and airy, frozen custard will have a denser consistency, thanks to the method used to make it.

Similar to ice cream, frozen custard needs to be exposed to very cold temperatures. However, it is created through a continuous flow machine that doesn’t add too much air to the mixture.

It is more common for restaurants to use frozen custard machines, similar to how you would create soft-serve ice cream.

Kitchen Tools and Equipment used

To start with, both ice cream and frozen custard will require a large mixing bowl and a whisk. Measure out your ingredients for both and whisk into a smooth consistency.

You will need both liquid and dry measuring cups for both ice cream and frozen custard.

The best equipment to use for ice cream is an ice cream maker. There are many at-home machines that are rather budget-friendly.

While you can also use an ice cream maker for custard, to give it its dense consistency, it’s recommended to just place it in the freezer.

However, it will need to be whisked every few minutes so expect a bit more arm power for frozen custard.

Which is healthier frozen custard or ice cream?

If you purchase store-bought ice cream, then it will not be as healthy as frozen custard. There are normally more preservatives and sugars added, which increases the saturated fat.

However, if you were to make homemade ice cream, it would have about the same calories as frozen custard.

What really makes frozen custard and ice cream unhealthy are all the extra ingredients. Candy bar pieces and flavored syrups are full of sugar,so keep that in mind if you are adding any of these ingredients.


Ice cream may have been the standard frozen dessert, but now that frozen custard is getting its share of the limelight, there are more options than ever to satisfy your sugary cravings. Frozen custard uses egg yolks while ice cream doesn’t but both can be crafted to meet everyone’s particular tastes.  

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