What Is the Different Between Custard and Ice Cream?

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Is there anything more pleasant on a hot summer day than a sweet, cold dessert? Whether you need to cool yourself from the heat or relax after a workout, frozen custard and ice cream are two frozen delicacies that always work!

The names of these two delectable sweets seem to be used interchangeably at times, but at others they appear to be completely unique from one another. So, what’s the difference between frozen custard and ice cream? Are they the same thing?

Although each of these delicious delights strike the same chord, there are some distinct differences between them. Let’s jump into one of the most delicious comparison articles you’ll discover online and learn all there is to know about frozen custard and ice cream.

Custard vs. Ice Cream: Ingredients

The fundamental components of frozen custard and ice cream are the same: milk, cream, and sugar. In reality, each of these products contain almost the same amount of milkfat. The fundamental difference between the two recipes’ compositions, however, is the addition of a single ingredient: eggs.

Frozen Custard

In addition to the fundamental components listed above, frozen custard must include egg yolks, which serve as a thickening and stabilizer. To qualify as frozen custard, custard must include at least 1.4 percent egg yolks, according to Food and Drug Administration rules.

Ice Cream

Hey, wait, doesn’t ice cream also include egg yolks? Indeed, at times! It is not, however, compulsory, therefore some ice cream recipes may include less than the 1.4 percent requirement, while others may contain no egg products at all. Any ice cream product that exceeds the 1.4 percent egg yolk limit may no longer be termed ice cream and must be referred to as frozen custard instead.

Custard vs. Ice Cream: How Are They Made

Now that we’ve clarified the distinctions in the components of these two, we can move on to the variances in how they’re manufactured.

Although each of these desserts are created using a machine that churns the ingredient combination while it freezes, there are some significant distinctions. Specifically, how much air (referred to as overflow) is integrated during the freezing process.


It should be noted that frozen custard cannot be prepared on a regular ice cream maker. Since frozen custard includes a very small quantity of air, frozen custard machines are especially designed to integrate less air into the frozen custard mixture as it churns and freezes.

Ice Cream

Ice cream, on the other hand, contains substantially more air throughout the freezing process. Although frozen custard machines average approximately 20% overrun, an ice cream maker may operate at up to 100% overflow! When the quantity of air in the ice cream base increases, more ice crystals might develop inside it as it freezes.

Custard vs. Ice Cream: Taste and Texture

Lastly, we get to the area of distinctions that may be most important to you: flavor and texture! It’s important to understand how these goods are created and what they contain, but the most important distinctions are those you can see and feel for yourself as you taste your way through these frozen delicacies.


The texture of frozen custard is ultra-dense, creamy, and almost silky since it includes less air and tiny, practically undetectable ice crystals. Because of the presence of those egg yolks, the taste of the custard is also extra-rich. Since the distinctive texture of frozen custard is readily disrupted by the conditions of a conventional freezer, it is best savored directly from the machine or at one of your favorite custard shops!

Ice Cream

As previously stated, ice cream contains significantly more air than frozen custard and so has an incredibly light and fluffy texture as opposed to the thick, creamy texture of frozen custard. The taste of ice cream also varies more considerably, since many ice creams include eggs and there are several combinations of dairy products that may be used to produce ice cream, ranging from nonfat milk to heavy cream and everything in between.

Other Frozen Desserts

There is a vast universe of frozen delicacies available to tantalize your taste senses! Here are several additional frequent frozen sweets, as well as how to tell them distinct from the custard and ice cream we’ve previously discussed.

Soft Serve Ice Cream

Soft serve ice cream is a delectable treat! This ice cream product has almost the same components and air content as ordinary ice cream, but it is the kind of machine that gives it its distinct texture. When it churns, a soft serve machine maintains a little warmer temperature than regular ice cream makers. This gives soft serve its creamy, almost melty texture!


Gelato is normally manufactured without eggs, and unlike ice cream and custard, gelato is not created with cream but rather with milk. This results in a decreased total fat level in the finished product. Gelato machines, unlike traditional ice cream makers, include substantially less overflow into the finished product. As a result, a scoop of gelato is significantly heavier and concentrated.

Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt is, well, frozen yogurt! While the frozen dessert may not be totally yogurt, a part of the dairy components are sometimes substituted with yogurt while cream or milk are still used for textural reasons. The quantity of yogurt in this dish varies, but it’s usually recognizable by the delightful tang you’ll feel when you taste it!

It seems to reason that frozen yogurt would be a healthier option than other ice creams and gelatos, but this is not always the case. This dessert may contain just as much, if not more, sugar and fat than conventional ice cream, so check the ingredients to see for yourself!

Dairy Free Frozen Desserts

Dairy-free frozen dessert choices are becoming more popular as product availability and culinary technology improve. Several of them are vegan and lactose-free, as contrast to your typical frozen dairy treat, which will almost always include animal components as well as a significant amount of lactose. Dairy free frozen desserts are worth a try whether you have a food allergy, choose to eat plant-based, or just like the fantastic flavor of these alternatives! You may even create your own, like our Homemade Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream.

Reviewing the Differences Between Custard and Ice Cream

Frozen custard and ice cream are both dairy-based, frozen treats, but they have a few crucial differences that are simple to distinguish!

  • Frozen custard has a specific quantity of egg yolk, but ice cream may or may not include any egg products at all, and if it does, the amount is relatively tiny.
  • Frozen custard is churned by a machine that integrates very little air into the dish, while ice cream is made with significantly more air added in.
  • Frozen custard has a solid, heavy, silky feel, but ice cream is light and fluffy with a larger flavor variety!

If none of these dessert selections appeal to you, don’t despair. There are several additional frozen dessert alternatives available, including frozen yogurt and gelato, soft serve ice cream, and dairy-free sweets aplenty!


Is custard better for you than ice cream?

What should you offer with your pudding? Vanilla ice cream contains around 10% more calories than custard, as well as twice the saturated fat, less protein, and half the calcium and potassium. Nonetheless, ice cream often has less sugar and salt.

How is custard different from ice cream?

“Ice cream is prepared from milk, cream, or a mixture of the two,” writes The Kitchn, “while frozen custard is formed from milk, cream, and egg yolks.” The frozen delicacies are also prepared differently.

How does custard taste different from ice cream?

The fundamental distinction is due to a single ingredient: eggs. Milk, cream (or a mix of the two), and sugar are used to make ice cream. Egg yolks are added to frozen custard (no less than 1.4 percent egg yolk solids by weight, per FDA guidelines).

Is custard better for lactose intolerance?

Because of the high lactose content, cream-based products such as ice cream, cream cheese, custard, and butter should be avoided. In addition to various cheeses, some persons with lactose sensitivity may be able to consume yogurt in moderation since the lactose has been partially broken down.

Can a diabetic eat custard?

Absolutely! Custard has always been a favorite dessert in many homes; just because someone has diabetes does not imply they must avoid it.

What are two reasons custard is healthy?

Numerous nutritional benefits: Custard is high in calcium and B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12. They are beneficial for bone health, digestion, and cell health. Handmade custard has no artificial ingredients, making it both delicious and healthier to ingest.

Why is it called custard instead of ice cream?

The only distinction between ice cream and frozen custard is the presence of egg yolks. Ice cream is created from milk, cream, and sugar. The same components are used in frozen custard, plus egg yolks.

Is gelato a custard?

Gelato, like ice cream, is prepared from a custard foundation of milk, cream, and sugar. The distinction is in the proportions of each, with gelato containing more milk (and less cream) than ice cream. Gelato, unlike ice cream, does not often include egg yolks.

Is custard basically ice cream?

Ice cream and custard are made from the same three ingredients: milk, cream, and sugar. The main distinction is that custard must also include 1.4% pasteurized egg yolk (per the Food and Drug Administration). The inclusion of eggs makes it smooth and creamy.

Is dairy Queen custard or ice cream?

DQ® soft serve is classified as “reduced-fat,” while our shake mix is classified as “low-fat.” Yet, although our soft serve has been classified differently in the past, our formula has not altered. DQ soft serve has 5% butterfat, which differs from 95% fat-free.

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