Home Articles Frozen Custard vs. Ice Cream (What’s the Difference?)

Frozen Custard vs. Ice Cream (What’s the Difference?)

Frozen custard vs. ice cream- what is the difference? I have the scoop!

Both tick the boxes of being sweet, creamy, and delicious. But they are not the same thing.

Frozen Custard vs. Ice Cream- The Main Differences featuring Scoops of Strawberry, Chocolate, and Strawberry Ice Cream  on a Cup with a Sprig of Mint

So, what separates these two delightfully frosty desserts? I did the research for you.

So, you can focus on choosing which you like better.

Read on to explore the differences between frozen custard and ice cream!

Frozen Custard vs. Ice Cream (What’s the Difference?) 

They differ in two main areas: eggs and air. Think Culver’s (custard) vs. Cold Stone (ice cream). Let’s take a closer look.


Frozen custard includes egg yolks, heavy cream, milk, and sugar.

The egg yolks make custard richer, thicker, and denser. This means it does not melt as quickly as ice cream. 

Ice cream features milk, cream, or both mixed. Some ice cream recipes include eggs, too. But not as much as custard. 


Frozen custard is creamy and dense. It gets its richness from the heavy cream, butterfat, and egg yolks.

Ice cream is creamy but lighter than frozen custard. The blend of milk and cream gives it that velvety touch. 

However, ice cream might get gritty or icy sitting in the freezer (for weeks). This is true, especially for low-fat or sugar-free ice cream. 

Different Ice Cream Flavors with Pineapple, Raspberry, Peach, Cherry, and Pistachio Plus Fresh Garnishes o Each Flavor


Frozen custard is very indulgent, thanks to its high butterfat content

Think ice cream, but denser and more decadent. This is not a surprise since it’s loaded with heavy cream and egg yolks. 

Where frozen custard is heavy, ice cream is refreshing. It has the right balance of sweetness and creaminess.

Plus, Ice cream comes in a whole rainbow of flavors.

You have the classics, like vanilla and chocolate. Then there are fun combos like mint chocolate chip, strawberry, and rocky road. 

And about a million more options!

Churning Process

They churn frozen custard in a machine designed to keep out as much air as possible. The result is a dense, rich, and thick dessert. 

Ice cream gets churned quickly, which lets lots of air sneak in. That’s what makes it light and foamy.

While ice cream has about 50% air, frozen custard only contains 20-30% air.

And then there’s the final touch. 

Once it’s ready, ice cream goes in the freezer to harden. Store-bought ice cream could be days, weeks, or even months old. 

Producers always serve frozen custard right away– straight from the machine. 

Frozen custard is always fresh and served soft. So you rarely find it in grocery stores- freezing it would ruin its texture.

Scooping Frozen Custard with a Sprig of Mint

What Is Frozen Custard? 

Frozen custard is a decadent, creamy dessert made from milk, cream, sugar, and flavorings. The most vital ingredient, however, is egg yolks. 

Like ice cream, it must have at least 10% milk fat. But, it also needs to contain 1.4% egg yolks by weight.

The creation of frozen custard dates back to Coney Island, New York, in 1919. 

Ice cream mongers Archie and Elton Kohr mixed egg yolks into their ice cream. This resulted in a creamier and longer-lasting frozen treat.

Frozen custard is unique because it is dense. Again, think of Culver’s custard. 

Frozen custard contains very little air (unlike ice cream). A specially designed custard machine makes this possible. 

They serve the custard immediately for a quick melt-in-your-mouth experience.

Bowl of Scoop of Pistachio, Vanilla and Chocolate Ice Cream Garnished with Pistachios and a Sprig of Mint

What Is Ice Cream? 

Ice cream is a sweet, frozen treat made from milk, cream, sugar, and various flavorings. 

By U.S. law, ice cream has to have 10-16% milkfat, contributing to its creamy texture.

This beloved dessert can come in myriad flavors, from classic vanilla to adventurous ones. (Think about Ben & Jerry’s.)

Unlike frozen custard, producers churn ice cream with (lots of) air while freezing. 

This churning gives ice cream its light and airy texture. You typically serve it in a cone or bowl.

Ice cream has been a favorite for centuries. It became a hit in the 1800s with the advent of refrigeration. 

Today, it is a staple in dessert culture. I mean, July is National Ice Cream Month in the States. 

Americans even average 22 pounds of ice cream consumed each year!

Frozen Custard vs. Ice Cream (Which Is Better?) 

It’s not a question of better or worse. But it is about personal taste. 

Frozen custard is dense, creamy, and packs a rich flavor punch. 

On the flip side, ice cream is lighter and airy, offering many flavors. 

What do you crave in a dessert? Richness and depth or lightness and variety? 

Both custard and ice cream bring their unique charm to the dessert table. It’s your call on which one takes the crown.

Frozen Custard vs. Ice Cream

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Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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