Frozen Custard vs. Ice Cream: Do You Really Know the Difference?

Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream
Yummy pic/Istockphoto

Frozen Custard vs. Ice Cream

Hearing the jingle of an ice cream truck and chasing it down the street on a hot summer day never gets old. When temperatures rise, nothing quite soothes the heat like scoops of ice cream or frozen custard. But what’s the difference between these super cool frozen treats?

Whether you like your ice cream and custard in a dish or atop a freshly made waffle cone. Whether you like these frozen desserts with or without toppings, there’s a flavor combination to satisfy every sweet tooth.

Scoop up some ice cream or frozen custard and get the scoop on the difference between these two iconic desserts.


What Is the Difference Between Frozen Custard and Ice Cream?

There are several differences between frozen custard and ice cream, including ingredients, texture, and flavor. The main difference is that frozen custard always contains egg yolks and has much less air than ice cream.

Frozen custard is a newer frozen treat. Frozen custard was invented by Archie and Elton Kohr, two ice cream vendors from Coney Island, New York, in 1919. Ice cream was first made by the Chinese in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). However, it was American Jacob Fussell who pioneered modern ice cream production in the 19th century.

Ice cream
WS Studio/Istockphoto


Frozen custard ingredients include egg yolks, heavy cream, milk and sugar. There is less milk and more egg yolks in frozen custard. Custard must contain at least 10 percent milkfat and a minimum of 1.4 percent egg yolk solids.

Ice cream ingredients consist of cream, milk, and sugar.

The base for ice cream is made with milk and cream. To be labeled as ice cream in the U.S., the frozen dessert must have at least 10% milkfat. Sometimes ice cream is made with egg yolks. When ice cream has egg yolks, there are fewer egg yolks than in frozen custard.

Ice cream and custard are different from gelato. Ice cream and gelato are both made with milk and cream, but gelato has more milk and less cream than ice cream.

Pink homemade ice cream


The texture of frozen custard is silky smooth. Frozen custard is heated. Then, it’s chilled and churned with a little air. This results in a creamy, dense, and rich frozen treat that has a luscious, velvety mouthfeel. Frozen custard is creamier than ice cream.

The texture of ice cream is airy, thick, and velvety. Ice cream is mixed at high speeds, frozen, and churned with a lot of air. It’s served frozen, so sometimes it’s hard to scoop. It is smooth and creamy and lighter than frozen custard.

Bowls of various ice creams


The flavor of frozen custard varies, but it always has a rich and intense taste. It’s offered in many of the same flavors as ice cream, including chocolate and vanilla.

The flavor of ice cream depends on its flavors, but it is always milky tasting. Ice cream is airy, sweet, and refreshing. Ice cream comes in flavors that range from simple chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry to more complex cookies & cream, mint chocolate chip, and rum raisin.

Ice Cream Sundae With Chocolate Sauce And Cookie
Radu Bighian/Istockphoto

What Does Frozen Custard Taste Like?

Frozen custard is milky, sweet, and ultra creamy. It tastes similar to regular custard or pudding, but in frozen form. Frozen custard comes in similar flavors to ice cream.

Strawberry, vanilla, chocolate ice cream

Which Is Healthier Ice Cream or Frozen Custard?

Ice cream is healthier than frozen custard because ice cream has fewer calories and fat. Frozen custard is higher in fat because of some of its ingredients like egg yolks and heavy cream, and is higher in calories because of its dense texture.

Girl holding spoon with ice cream cone, eating ice-cream in cafe, hands holding ice-cream
Yuliya Koshchiy/istockphoto

Can You Eat Frozen Custard if You Are Lactose Intolerant?

No, frozen custard should be avoided if you are lactose intolerant. Both frozen custard and ice cream should be avoided because they contain cream.

Cream contains high levels of lactose, which is a sugar found in dairy products. People who are lactose intolerant lack the ability to digest lactose.

Anderson’s Frozen Custard
Anderson’s Frozen Custard

Most Iconic Frozen Custard & Ice Cream

Anderson’s Frozen Custard

Since 1946, Anderson’s Frozen Custard has been making small batches of its creamy, dreamy custard. The Buffalo, New York, shop uses superior hormone-free ingredients to handcraft its famous frozen custard in flavors like Black Raspberry, Chocolate, Pistachio, Strawberry, and Vanilla.

Graeter’s Ice Cream
Graeter’s Ice Cream

Graeter’s Ice Cream

For more than 150 years, Graeter’s Ice Cream in Cincinnati, Ohio, has been churning French pot ice cream. It’s the only place in the world that uses a French Pot Freezer that creates custard-like ice cream, 2 gallons at a time. Each pint has 18% butterfat and comes in flavors like:

  • Black Cherry Chocolate Chip made with sweet Pacific Northwest dark cherries and bittersweet chocolate chips.

  • Buckeye Blitz Chocolate Chip made with chocolate peanut butter ice cream, peanut butter cookie dough, and Graeter’s signature dark chocolate chips.

  • Original Salted Caramel, one Graeter’s original flavors, made with brown sugar, cream, and a pinch of salt.

Caffè Panna Ice Cream
Caffè Panna Ice Cream

Caffè Panna Ice Cream

Caffè Panna (Italian for “cream”) opened in New York, New York, in 2019 and the city hasn’t been the same. Founded by ice cream lover Hallie Meyer, the ice cream cafe and coffee shop churns its popular ice cream onsite daily.

Each batch is flavored with ingredients like imported Italian pistachios and olive oil from Sicily, cream and hazelnuts from Piemonte, Italy, or local fruit from Union Square Greenmarket.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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