Custard versus Ice Cream: Taking a Sneak Peek at the Differences

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. We will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you and be incredibly grateful.

What’s the best way to enjoy summertime? By indulging in some cold, refreshing frozen desserts! When you think of frozen desserts, they may all seem very similar. However, that’s far from the truth. There are so many types of yummy frozen desserts that you can enjoy in the sweltering summer heat. There’s ice cream, gelato, sorbet, custard, and so much more!

Custard versus Ice Cream

Do you want to know the main differences between custard and ice cream? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Prepare to be enlightened about what makes ice cream and custard so different from each other! There are a bunch of subtle differences in the way they are prepared, the ingredients that you need to make them, the consistency, the calorie count, and more!

Now, ice cream is undeniably one of the most popular frozen desserts that almost every individual has had the pleasure of enjoying on a cone, in a bowl, in a creamy shake, or as a sandwich, or in combination with other desserts like pies, brownies, tarts, etc. However, not everyone is very familiar with custard, or more specifically, frozen custard. However, after you finish reading this article, you might want to go out and get your hands on some yummy custard!


Dessert nameIce creamCustard
IngredientsMilk/cream (or both), sugar, eggs (optional)Milk, cream, sugar, pasteurized egg yolk (1.4% higher than in ice cream)
ConsistencyCreamy, light, fluffyRich, creamy, dense
EquipmentIce cream machineCustard machine
Nutritional valueLower protein contentHigher protein content



The difference in the ingredients used for making custard and ice cream

From an ingredient perspective, you might think that ice cream and custard are the same things. But they aren’t. Although the basic ingredients required to make both these delectable frozen desserts are sugar and cream or milk, there are a lot of subtle differences.

One of the main differences between custard and ice cream lies in the amount of egg yolk required to make these two desserts. Custard is a relatively newer frozen desert. And it’s creamier or richer than ice cream. Why is that? It’s because there is approximately 1.4% more egg yolk in custard than ice cream.

Although both desserts have approximately 10% milkfat in them, the difference in the egg yolk percentage makes a huge difference in terms of richness. For making delicious and rich custard, you need to add 1.4% more egg yolk than you would for making ice cream. The egg yolks need to be pasteurized.

On top of that, there are a lot of ice cream recipes that you can make without any eggs at all. However, when you’re making custard, egg yolks are a must-have.

So, to put it very simply, to make ice cream at home, all you’ll need is either milk or cream or you can combine both and sugar. To make frozen custard, you’ll need cream, milk, egg yolks, and sugar.

Ice cream vs Custard: Difference in Preparation

One of the main things that makes these two frozen desserts so different from each other is the way in which each of these desserts is prepared. Before delving into the preparation differences, let’s understand the meaning of the term overrun.

Overrun is the term used to describe the amount of air that is incorporated into these two desserts while preparing them. It’s a defining characteristic for frozen custard and ice cream.

Although you may be a very similar set of ingredients to prepare these two mouth-watering desserts, the way they are made is significantly different.

Ice cream

Most of the recipes that you’ll come across for making ice cream at home requires you to purchase an ice cream maker. So, why do you need a separate machine for making ice cream at home? Because of the overrun. Once you’ve combined all your ingredients together, you need to pour the mixture into your machine.

The machine will churn the mixture and make it nice and fluffy. Ice cream has a lighter consistency in comparison to frozen custard in the amount of air that is incorporated into the mixture when it is being churned in the machine. There is a 100% overrun in ice cream. That is why it tastes so creamy and light at the same time!


As mentioned already, there is a notable difference in the consistency of frozen custard in comparison to ice cream. This is because of the higher percentage of egg yolks as well as the lower overrun. The richness of custard is because of the egg yolks while the dense consistency is because of the low amount of air that is incorporated into a custard mixture.

Custards are usually prepared in special machines that ensure that very little air is incorporated into the mixture while it is being churned. To be very technical, custard mixtures have approximately 20% overrun. This low air content makes the mixture feel heavier and thicker. That is why, when you have frozen custard, the consistency feels denser.

Nutritional variations between ice cream and custard

From a nutrition perspective, both ice cream and frozen custard are not conventionally “healthy”. I mean, they are called frozen desserts after all. The nutritional value of both these desserts will also vary depending on the brand. Different brands state different calories for a serving of each of these desserts. The type of ingredients you use will also change the calorie count and the macronutrient breakdown. For instance, vegan ice cream will have a different nutritional value than traditional ice cream.

The amount of sugar, cream, milk, and eggs used to prepare these two desserts all account for the percentage of carbohydrate, protein, and fat content of these two cold desserts. However, as a rough approximation, owing to the fact that custard contains more eggs than ice cream, the protein content of frozen custard is higher than ice cream.

Although there are some significant differences between these two frozen desserts, on a hot summer day, either of these desserts is great to indulge in!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE is a participant in the Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,, and any other website that may be affiliated with Service LLC Associates Program.