Custard vs Ice Cream: What’s the Difference?

Custard uses all the same ingredients as ice cream (milk, cream, and sugar), except custard must contain 1.4% pasteurized egg yolk, giving the sweet treat a creamy and smooth texture.

Both custard and ice cream are two of the most popular frozen treats. Do you know the difference between these two famous favorites?

What Is Custard?

Often branded as frozen custard, this popular frozen dessert consists of milk, sugar, and cream as its principal ingredients, in addition to 1.4 percent egg yolk. The egg yolk is pasteurized. 

Custard is served at a slightly warmer temperature of −8 °C (18 °F) and has a dense consistency. Though the dessert is now a trendy delight across the globe, it has unmatched popularity in the American Midwest, where it’s sold at custard stands. 

Note: The frozen custard contains 10 to 18 percent milkfat. 


Frozen Custard – A Simple & Quick Recipe

Not satisfied with how your frozen custard comes out every time? Try this recipe!

Step 1: Add milk, heavy cream, and sugar to a large saucepan. Leave the egg yolks aside for now. We’ll handle them separately as we don’t want scrambled eggs, right?

Step 2: Place the saucepan over a medium-high flame and whisk its contents. 

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Step 3: Add the required egg yolks to a separate bowl and whisk them. 

Step 4: Remember that merely whisking won’t give you smooth custard. For that to happen, add half of the hot cream mixture from the saucepan to the egg yolks while continuously whisking them. This will prevent the eggs from scrambling. 

Step 5: Transfer this egg mix to the above saucepan and heat all the contents to an approx. 170° (according to FDA) or until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. 

Step 6: Cool the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours until it’s ready for churning. 

Step 7: Churn the custard blend in the custard machine or via hands to incorporate air bubbles for a light and fluffy custard. 

Step 8: Shift the custard to the freezer for another couple of hours (or more, if required) and relish your homemade frozen custard. 

Best Custard Flavors – You Can’t Resist These!

Can’t make out which frozen custard flavor to order at Culver’s? Some favorites include:

  • Cappuccino Cookie Crumble
  • Blackberry Cobbler
  • Chocolate Pretzel Crunch
  • Peanut Butter Cookie Dough
  • Dark Chocolate Decadence
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Caramel

What Is Ice Cream?

Ice cream is a blend of three crucial ingredients – milk, cream, and powdered sugar, frozen into a light and smooth delight. 

You can prepare ice cream with any milk (whole milk (3.25% milk fat), reduced-fat milk (2% milk fat), or low-fat milk (1% milk fat). However, the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) recommends only high-fat milk. High-fat milk lends a smoother texture to the ice cream and leaves fewer ice crystals upon deep freezing. 

Fun Fact: Ice cream gets its scoopable texture due to alcohol or de-icers. 

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Ice Cream – A Simple & Quick Recipe

Here’s a straightforward ice cream-making process.

Step 1: Add milk (with higher fat content), cream, and sugar to a saucepan. 

Step 2: Place the saucepan over a medium-high flame and whisk its contents. 

Step 3: Transfer the mixture to your refrigerator once the ingredients get evenly mixed and you have the required consistency.

Step 4: Wait for 4-5 hours for the mix to get cool enough for churning. 

Step 5: Now, take the mixture out and churn it. You can either use an ice cream maker or proceed with the traditional manual churning. The aim is to incorporate air bubbles into the mix to make it light and fluffy. 

Your homemade ice cream is ready to serve. 

Tip: You can add your favorite flavor to the ice cream during heating. 

Best Ice Creams – Resist If You Can!

The following are the most loved ice cream flavors globally:

  • Chocolate 
  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Strawberry 
  • Mint Chocolate Chip 
  • Butter Pecan 
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough 
  • Rocky Road 
  • Coffee 
  • Neapolitan 
  • Birthday Cake 
  • Unicorn Swirl Soft Serve 

Comparing Custard vs Ice Cream

The following table summarizes the main differences between ice cream and custard. 

Custard vs. Ice Cream
Milk, sugar, cream, and egg yolks  Ingredients Milk, sugar, and cream
100 cal. (100g serving) Calories 200 cal. (100g serving)
−8 °C (18 °F) Serving Temperature −12 °C (10 °F)
Less air Amount Of Air Incorporated More air

Custard vs Ice Cream – Exploring the Differences

The following are the main differences between your regular ice cream and custard. 


The first differentiator between custard and ice cream is the presence of egg yolk in the former. 

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The treats are made using three key ingredients – milk, cream, and sugar. However, 1.4% pasteurized egg yolk is added to the custard for a dense and creamy texture. 


You consume approx. 100 calories per 100g serving of frozen custard. On the other hand, your calorie intake increases to approx—200 for the same serving of ice cream. 

Ice creams are high in calories since they are primarily prepared using high-fat milk, unlike custard, which gets its smooth and dense texture from egg yolk and not milk. 

Serving Temperature

Ice cream is served at −12 °C (10 °F) and custard at −8 °C (18 °F). This is since custard retains its texture and consistency at a warmer temperature. This isn’t the case with ice cream; thus, it melts away quickly.  

The Importance of Air

Another difference between custard and ice cream is the amount of air incorporated into each. While ice cream machines mix in more air during the churning process, less air is used for custard.


Ice cream and frozen custard are two unique sweet delights to please your taste buds during the hot summer days. Remember the key differences between the two treats to appreciate each dessert.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: Is Ice Cream The Same Is Gelato?

Answer: No, ice cream and gelato (an Italian dairy dessert) are two different entities. While ice cream has a high proportion of milk and cream, gelato consists of more milk and less cream. 

Question: Which is Better – Ice Cream or Custard?

Answer: Both ice cream and custard are good in their way. If you wish for a less dense dessert, go for ice cream. Custard is for you guys who love a thick and creamy dessert. 

Question: Is Savory Custard A Real Thing?

Answer: The custard is available in sweet and savory forms. For example, Japanese Egg Custard, or
parmesan custard with basil oil and balsamic syrup are two examples.


Vanessa is passionate about written communication, especially after beginning her career as a middle school English teacher. She’s an experienced content marketer as well. Vanessa loves to analyze, compare, and contrast, which is why she writes for ContrastHub. Besides writing, Vanessa is a wife, mom, entrepreneur, spicy food enthusiast, comedy nerd and lifelong learner.

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