Vanilla Frozen Custard

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The most delicious homemade ice cream? Cooked vanilla custard makes a great base for this Vanilla Frozen Custard recipe. Add your favorite fruits or candies for an easy summer dessert.

Summer means ice cream! Have you ever tried making homemade ice cream? I fell in love with a creamy frozen custard rather than traditional ice cream. We’re from the Midwest…what can I say. 🤷‍♀️

You’ll need an ice cream machine for this recipe, but with updated countertop electric ice cream machines, this recipe is easier than dragging the family to the store when the ice cream craving hits. And it’s delicious served over our famous brownies.

scoops of vanilla frozen custard in a glass bowl

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Reader Meg says, “This was AMAZING!! My ice cream making doesn’t get it really stiff right out of the maker… but I put it in the freezer over night and tonight it was perfect… I made my amazing hot fudge sauce to go on it!! All I can say is WOW!! It’s going to be hard for me to buy ice cream any more!!”

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Reader Gina says, “This was excellent! We made it with just ½ cup sugar, and I think the flavor was perfect.”

Where did frozen custard originate?

Frozen custard originated in Coney Island, New York, in the early 1900’s. The World Fair in Chicago in the 1930’s helped to seal it as a midwestern favorite.

Now we have restaurants dedicated to selling their version of frozen custard. Culver’s, Freddy’s, Shake Shack and of course a slew of small local custard shops. It’s a favorite summer frozen dessert.

How is frozen custard different than ice cream?

Eggs are the main difference.

Frozen custard is a rich, smooth textured ice cream. Both ice cream and custard have cream, sugar and milk, but custard has one not-so-secret ingredient that ice cream traditionally does not have. Eggs. When eggs are added to dairy, you now have custard.

Some recipes call for using whole eggs, but this recipe only uses the yolks which makes a rich, smooth dessert.

Is frozen custard better for you than ice cream?

Of course it depends on your recipe and what you are adding, but in general, custard has less calories and fat than homemade ice cream.

Can we call it “good for you”? Maybe not…but homemade frozen custard often doesn’t have the additives that store bought ice cream has.


Fresh ingredients are best for homemade frozen custard:

  • Heavy cream. Use half and half for a lighter custard, but I recommend trying it with heavy cream first. You won’t regret it. 😋
  • Whole milk.
  • White sugar.
  • Salt.
  • Egg yolks.
  • Vanilla extract. Use homemade vanilla extract for amazing sweet treats.
ingredients for frozen custard on a table

How to Make Vanilla Frozen Custard

There are a few important things to remember when making homemade custard ice cream.

  • Plan ahead. Because custard has eggs, you cook the ice cream base together on the stovetop. Then you have to refrigerate it until it has cooled down. Only at that time is it ready for the ice cream freezer. You’ll need to refrigerate the base for at least 4 hours.
  • Use heavy cream and whole milk for the creamiest custard. Yes, these are higher in fat. Yes, you can use lower fat milk, but your ice cream won’t be as rich and creamy. I suggest first trying the recipe as written, the if you’d like you can lower the milk fat content as you continue to test.
  • Temper the eggs. Be sure to follow the recipe step by step and don’t be tempted to just start dumping ingredients in. (More on tempering eggs below.)
spooning hot milk into egg mixture
  • Cook over low heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Don’t think it will be pudding thick. You are just looking for the mixture to start to thicken. It will still seem a little runny, but should coat the back of the spoon. Don’t overcook the mixture or it may curdle. If you do end up with little pieces in your mixture, run it though a fine mesh strainer so it ends up perfectly smooth.
custard mixture straining in a strainer
  • If you have an electric ice cream maker, be sure the drum that holds the ice cream is frozen. You’ll want this in the freezer for at least 24 hours before churning ice cream. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for churning the custard.
  • Straight from the ice cream maker, the frozen custard will be soft. If you’d like it harder, transfer it to an airtight container and freeze it until it has reached the texture you’d like.
frozen custard in an ice cream scoop on a table

What does it mean to temper eggs?

When you temper eggs, you slowly raise the temperature of cold or room temperature eggs by adding a small amount of hot food or liquid and whisk it in quickly.

Crack the eggs into a bowl, then slowly drizzle ½ cup hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking the entire time you are drizzling.

It’s only after this that you add the egg mixture back into the entire hot milk mix.

Tempering eggs prevents the egg from cooking. No one wants scrambled eggs in their ice cream!

How long should homemade ice cream churn?

Plan between 20-30 minutes for the ice cream to churn in the maker. The exact time will depend on the temperature of the milk mixture and the exact texture of vanilla frozen custard that you desire.

ice cream sundae with cherries and hot fudge

Flavors and Variations

Whether you choose plain vanilla, vanilla bean or a fun overloaded custard, it’s delicious to scoop into a cake cone or waffle cone on a warm spring or summer day. Your taste buds will thank you.

  • For a simple chocolate custard, add chocolate syrup to the custard while it is churning.
  • This is amazing served over brownies or warm cookies.
  • Add the custard to a blender, then add a little more milk and some fruit for fun shakes.

And here’s a few unique options for a flavor of the day. Yes, we’ve actually made these flavors!

  • Make pumpkin dump cake, freeze it, then cut it into pieces. Churn this into the custard.
  • Make a cheesecake, freeze it, then cut it into cubes and add to the custard during churning. To add a fruit flavor, try strawberry jam.
  • Throw chopped Nutter Butter Cookies and a large scoop of creamy peanut butter into the custard while it is churning.
vanilla frozen custard in a glass bowl
vanilla frozen custard in a glass bowl

Vanilla Frozen Custard

4.77 from 106 votes
The most delicious homemade ice cream? Cooked vanilla custard makes a great base for this Vanilla Frozen Custard recipe. Add your favorite fruits or candies for an easy summer dessert.
Servings 6
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chill & Churn Time 4 hours 25 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 40 minutes

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  • Add cream, milk, sugar and salt to a small saucepan over medium low heat.
  • Simmer about 3-5 minutes or until sugar dissolves.
  • Remove from heat.
  • In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks.
  • Drizzle about ½ cup of the warm milk liquid into the egg yolks whisking constantly as you drizzle it in.
  • Whisk the egg mixture back into the pot. Add the vanilla. Return the pot to a medium low heat and cook until mixture starts to thicken.
  • Take off the heat and pour into a mesh strainer .
  • Cool the milk to room temperature, then cover and put into fridge to cool completely. This will take at least 3-4 hours to overnight.
  • Churn ice cream according to manufacturer directions. Serve soft serve from ice cream maker or firm it up in the freezer.



The calories shown are based on the recipe making 3 cups, with one serving being ½ cup custard. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate.


Calories: 443kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 297mg | Sodium: 56mg | Potassium: 131mg | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 1475IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 443
Keyword frozen custard, homemade ice cream, how to make ice cream, summer dessert

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About JulieJulie Clark

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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4.77 from 106 votes (92 ratings without comment)
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1 year ago

What if you have an ice cream maker with a compressor that you don’t need to freeze anything? Do you still cool in the fridge or freezer before putting in the ice cream machine or go straight from stove to machine? Thanks! Excited to try this recipe!

3 years ago

Where it says “pour into mesh strainer”…do you pour it into a separate bowl, leave overnight, and then put into ice cream drum when ready to churn? Or do you pour it directly into the frozen ice cream drum and leave overnight?

3 years ago

5 stars
This was excellent! We made it with just 1/2 cup sugar, and I think the flavor was perfect.

4 years ago

5 stars
Thank you, tried it and very good recipe. Was only afraid to add salt :D. But otherwise followed faithfully and it has very nice creamy texture.

The only question I have: any way to add different flavors? I know, you can pour fruit sauce over ready made ice cream but any ways to add fruit flavor to ice cream itself – like adding fruit puree before freezing in ice machine? And would this puree require different proportions (in sugar, yolks, etc.). Thank you in advance.

Elaine Glazer
4 years ago

HELP-I don’t have an ice cream maker. What else can I u?

Jackie RAE Misenheimer
4 years ago

Curious as to how much this recipe is supposed to make…..when comparing this recipe to others, is uses very little sugar and liquids. We only got 3 cups of ice cream. It’s good but seems something is missing.

Eileen O"Brien
4 years ago

I made it twice. It curdled twice very sad

4 years ago

Your kitchenaid ice cream bow, if that is what you are using, need to be in the freezer for 24 hours before using to churn your ice cream.

Alisha Sharp
4 years ago

Left mixture refrigerated overnight as well as freezer bowl in freezer well over 14 hours. My mixture will not freeze. Any tips???

4 years ago

How could you change the flavor of the Custard

Debby H
4 years ago

5 stars
Outstanding flavor and texture. I steeped vanilla bean and cinnamon stick for this. Great results.

5 years ago

Would this work with stevia instead of sugar?

5 years ago

5 stars
About how long should the final cooking step take? Don’t want to over thicken it.

5 years ago

Please tell me the pourpose of tempering the eggs, we have always made this recipe and never cooked / tempered the eggs?!

5 years ago

5 stars
This was AMAZING!! My ice cream making doesn’t get it really stiff right out of the maker… but I put it in the freezer over night and tonight it was perfect… I made my amazing hot fudge sauce to go on it!! All I can say is WOW!! It’s going to be hard for me to buy ice cream any more!!


G. Vaughn
5 years ago

Easy recipe to follow. The only thing I did differently, was put the custard mixture in an ice water bath to immediately stop cooking it. between steps 7 & 8 on your cooking directions. Tastes delicious.