Ice Cream: To Cook or Not to Cook?

There’s a big debate in the recipe (and ice cream lovers) world about the need to cook an ice cream base or not. The answer is really up to your preference and time commitment to making the ice cream base.

A cooked ice cream, also known as French-style, is really a classic custard base which is simply some version of milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks. While a non-cooked base, also known as American-style or Philadelphia-style, is all of the above with the exception of the egg yolks and therefore not cooked. There are pros and cons to each.

Custard Style Cooked Base:

  • Longer cook and chill time before processing
  • Creamier mouth-feel
  • Skill level is moderate, must temper the egg yolks and carefully cook milk mixture so it doesn’t scorch
  • Results in a denser ice cream, thick and custard like (think Häagen-Dazs®)

Non-Cooked Base:

  • Quick prep time with little chill time before processing
  • Less dense, light, and airy consistency (think Breyer’s®)
  • Skill level is easy
  • Can develop ice crystals if churned too long

I’ve developed recipes using both styles and have taste tested the styles with a variety of ice cream connoisseurs of all ages. I find an easy tip for making the American-style a little creamier is to warm up a small portion (1 cup or so) of the milk/cream mixture and dissolve the sugar in it, then add that to the larger dairy mix. This ensures that all the sugar gets distributed evenly. Try our new Blueberry Buttermilk ice cream for the perfect balance of tangy and sweet. I used West Georgia Creamery’s delicious whole milk and buttermilk that I purchased while visiting the farm.

Personally, I’m an equal opportunity ice cream lover, so no matter which style which style you choose, have a scoop (or two) and enjoy!

The Dairy Chef

Southeast Dairy Association - Rebecca EgsiekerRebecca Egsieker is a trained chef, food photographer, and communications professional in the dairy industry. She has worked in recipe development for gourmet food companies as well as specialty grocery chains. After leaving the Ritz-Carlton, she started her own private chef business in California where she worked with clients that had special dietary needs. Today she is the Director of Communications and Farmer Relations for The Dairy Alliance.