Making American Style Ice Cream

The American style of ice cream making (also called “the Philadelphia method“, after this historically particularly dairy-rich city) is generally characterised by two things:

  • The ice cream base can be made “directly from the fridge”, by combining already cold ingredients (no need to heat the base)
  • Eggs are not, or rarely, used.  Basic ingredients therefore tend to be cream, milk, sugar and flavouring.

Preparing ice cream without heating the base has obvious advantages – the ice cream base can be prepared on the spot, in virtually no time at all: The ingredients are simply taken out of the refrigerator, combined and churned in the ice cream machine! You’re done!

One consequence of not cooking the base (as in the French-Italian tradition) is, however, that the ice cream will not be as smooth and refined as its Italian and French relatives.  If, and to what extent, this is a disadvantage depends, however, on your personal taste. Personally, I think that this somewhat “rougher”,  less refined type of ice cream goes particularly well together with many fresh fruit flavours and several solid mix-ins such as nuts, cookie crumbles and the like.

The general lack of eggs in the recipes might, however, require some compensatory balancing, and the proportion of butterfat (usually in the form of cream) tends to be relatively high in American ice cream, in order to maintain a creamy body.  If you would like to improve on texture and consistency, you could also consider adding stabilisers.

One simple method would here be to add a (raw) egg to the base mix, to improve both texture and consistency (you could, of course, consider other “mixed-in-cold” stabilisers, but ordinary eggs work very well for many people).

Raw eggs? There is a very slim, but yet possible risk that  un-pasteurised raw eggs could carry Salmonella. Given the potentially dangerous consequences, and heeding the advise to better be safe than sorry, infants, pregnant women, the elderly and those with impaired immune systems should better stay clear of ice cream (or other dishes) prepared with raw egg. Another possibility is of course to cook the ice cream base (mainly for the sake of those eggs) – even though it is not supposed to be part of the typical American style-tradition, there is nothing wrong with doing it (although the preparations will take longer, since the heated ice cream base needs to chill before churning).  Check out the instructions for making a simplified custard below!



Base recipe American Style ice cream (yields about 1 litre):


500 ml (2 cups) cream

250 ml (1 cup) milk

125 ml (1/2 cup) sugar

Vanilla (2 teaspoons genuine, pure vanilla extract)



Mix half of the cream with the sugar, whip until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the rest of the milk and the vanilla, and whip a couple of more minutes.

Churn the ice cream according to the instructions of your ice cream machine (or still-freeze in your freezer, in case you have no ice cream machine).


American style ice cream with added eggs

Do you find the result too rough or lacking in body, and don’t mind using eggs?  If so, consider beginning the preparations by mixing an egg with the sugar, whisking  a couple of minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Then, continue to mix in the cream, milk and vanilla as above.

… and how to make sure those eggs won’t bring salmonella to your ice cream (Simplified custard) 

If you feel uneasy about using raw eggs, do some cooking and prepare a simplified custard – put all all ingredients (at least the ones which can withstand some heat; suggestively then at least the dairy and the sugar) together with the egg(s) in a sauce pan. While whisking, bring the mixture to a temperature of about  82-84º C /189-183ºF. Cool down the mixture as quickly as possible, possibly also adding those ingredients that might not stand heating well. Chill the ice cream base in the fridge for some hours, or preferably over night, then churn in your ice cream machine according to instructions.

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51 Responses

  1. Simcha says:

    This website is one of the most fantastic sites I have seen,
    As a beginner that does not know how to make homemade nor commercial ice cream, but my passion for ice cream is really big like “I scream you scream we all scream” I’m really attached. So for a beginner where would I start and make this my career?
    A brief answer would be appreciated

    • Anders says:

      Dear Simcha,
      Happy to hear that you like the site.

      I guess that if you would like to make a career in ice cream, a lot would depend on your personal situation/location (if I recall the story correctly, Ben & Jerry started out with a mail-order course in ice cream making and a hand-cranked ice cream maker …). However, regardless of route, it might be a good idea to simply start out by doing some ice cream at home, play around with recipes and see how you like that 🙂 .

  2. Sarah says:

    What an absolutely fabulous site. Many thanks!

  3. julius says:

    love this web site lol

  4. Quinn says:

    Quick, probably stupid question, but what about using pasteurized eggs to make a custard like ice cream? I’ve never used pasteurized eggs, but love custard type ice creams.

    • Anders says:

      Quinn, I also love custard-based ice cream and you will find quite a number of different custard based ice cream recipes on the site: check out the tag cloud by the bottom of the page, or start by taking a look at the recipes for the two quintessential types of classic custard-based ice creams (French and Italian) here.

  5. Bill says:

    I agree with the others that this is a GREAT website! Although I have making great ice cream for a long time now I am very interested in understanding more about the science so that I may experiment with more ingredients. This site wets my appetite, indeed! Any other resources you can recommend? Thanks!

    PS – can’t wait to try some of these recipes!

    • Anders says:

      Bill, thanks for your kind words! Hopefully, you will find ample inspiration for further experiments in the posts and the links. And by all means – if you have more specific queries, I’m always happy to try answering 🙂

  6. Debbie Lee says:

    Do you have any tips for making low carb (no sugar) ice cream?

  7. Karen says:

    I was so excited to come across this site – the possibilities are endless. Let the churning begin! Thanks for all the information

  8. Tony Martin says:

    I have recently opened up a milkshake and ice cream bar, and this site has helped me with some small perfection pieces of information needed, Only thing i can get stuck with is sometimes the ice cream wont freeze properly not sure if this is because of to much fat or sugar ? My base mix is normally 2 cups double cream 1 cups whole milk 180 grams caster sugar and then flavouring. .

    • Anders says:

      Hi Tony,

      Glad to hear that you find the site useful 🙂
      You could try to reduce the fat (= use less double cream), but I would suggest that you start by cutting down on the sugar. Even if you would like to use more than in my base receipe above, you could for instance try with 150 grams instead of 180 and see how that turns out. By the way, you could also ask yourself if this is a problem only with certain types of flavours – obviously, a sweet base mix combined with a markedly sweet flavouring will be more difficult to freeze (as will any ice creams containing alcohol).
      Best of luck!

      • Tony Martin says:

        Fantastic, you are a legend an i am glad in that reducing the sugar was one of the ideas i had to try next, yes it is with different flavours i recently made up a cookies and cream but it just would not freeze and i have a resees peanut butter ice cream which can be pretty tempramental one min its a good consitency the next it looses the plot for a bit. and my chocolate ice cream can sometimes almost become hard not frozen just hard if that makes sense i use cocoa powder so its 2 cups double 1cup whole milk 140 grams sugar and 40 grams coco powder. I will let you know how i get on. .

  9. Gary F says:

    Making ice cream without cooking the base is like playing with a land mine. You MUST cook and pasteurize the base whether you are using pasteurized milk and cream or not. As soon as you add sugar and other ingredients you have contaminated the milk and cream. Only an idiot would make an uncooked ice cream and it certainly would be against the law to try that commercially.

    • Anders says:

      While it is quite true that most commercial undertakings in most countries with food safety standards probably would be compelled by law to pasteurize all types of ice cream, I would not go so far as to proclaim anyone making an uncooked ice cream base at home an idiot. After all, if the bacterial risks of adding sugar to dairy were that grave, a lot of people would be risking their health daily, as they heap sugar over their morning cornflakes or mix themselves a home-made milkshake 😉

    • Max Jacob says:

      Gary F – I’d like to know if I understand you correctly, since your opinion seems so strong on the subject. You believe that adding sugar to pasteurized milk presents serious dangers? I had never heard this! I know about the risks in using uncooked eggs, but always thought that the egg-less American method would be safe by any reasonable standards, assuming that even basic hygiene is followed. Do you mean that there’s some evidence that using pasteurized milk with sugar and vanilla might invite serious contamination of the sort that you might find in milk that’s been left unrefrigerated for long periods? I’d assume that any minor “contamination” introduced by the added ingredients would be so small that they could never amount to much as long as the ice cream was promptly frozen.

      Logically, I imagine that if all ingredients are safe to eat in their uncombined state, that combining them would not promote any bacterial blooming as long as the mixture was promptly frozen and eaten in a reasonable time frame. I suppose one ingredient could “seed” the growing medium of another ingredient, but which kinds of bacteria are you thinking might be likely to reach dangerous levels in a sub-freezing environment over a typical shelf-life for home-made ice cream?

  10. Amber says:

    I just made my first batch of ice cream in my new KA ice cream pot. I used 2 cups heavy whipping cream, 1 cup of whole milk, 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. After I churned it, before i froze it, I tasted it, it left a fatty coating in my mouth. I could only find heavy whipping cream in all the local grocery stores (including wal-mart). Is heavy cream different than heavy whipping cream? I do not like the fatty texture…I actually prefer something more like ice milk…perhaps I can use 2 cups milk,1 cup heavy whipping cream?

    • Anders says:

      Dear Amber,
      You could check, but I would think the two types of cream probably have the same amount of fat (which is what matters here). Just switching the proportions between milk and cream, however, would probably not work so well with the American style-base: the fat (in the cream, mainly) is there for a reason – if you reduce it too much, the consistency of the ice cream will suffer.

      You could try to use just cream (rather than the heavy cream) but if you’re really into lighter, not-so-creamy ice creams, the American type might not be your best option: I would recommend that you instead try out the custard based Italian/French bases, or – even easier when it comes to preparations – the Sicilian gelato-type. Good luck!

      • Crystal Braddock says:

        Heavy cream has 36% milk fat and heavy whipping cream has 30%. Half and half is half milk and half light cream and has 10-12% milk fat. Hope this helps.

        • Anders says:

          Hi Crystal!
          If it only had been so easy 😉
          The way different countries and regions tend to label cream after fat content, however, vary quite a lot. In some parts of the world, there are not even any binding rules, thus leaving the matter up to the producers.
          Those interested in the exact fatness of “their own” cream(s) should therefore better check the labels where they live 🙂

  11. Laurel says:

    Hi i am starting a fry ice pan ice cream business and am wondering what kind of ice cream base works best? And how do i go about making the bases in the fastest way for big batches everyday. And is it possible for me to use low fat milk / soy milk instead of whole milk? I will need a good base to mix fruits like strawberry, banana and pour the concoction into the ice pan and it will freeze to become an ice cream. I will appreciate if you can help me with my doubts!

    • Anders says:

      Hi Laurel,
      It is difficult to say what kind of ice cream base would work best, particularly since that also would depend on what kind of milk(s) you’d like to use (and yes, you can use other types than whole milk).

      By the way, for those who do not know it, (fry) ice pan ice cream is not “fried ice cream” but ice cream made quickly in a (kind of) very chilled “frying pan”. The “secret” behind is not so much the base (which can differ) but the quick freezing, coupled with the manual stirring/churning to mold the frozen ice cream and keep it together (go here for a quite instructive example: as can be seen in the video, the base used by at least that particular company could be based on several different types of dairy/dairy substitutes. You may also note that they use a special type of sugar, and also sea weed (likely in the form of Carrageenan or possibly Agar Agar; well-known agents in the context of ice cream making): both probably in order to improve on the final structure of the ice cream, which likely will be a bit ‘snowball-like’ anyhow 😉 .

      As for the best way of making big batches fast, this is a question I believe you are better suited to find answers to yourself: you should consult the applicable health and food safety regulations that may apply to ice cream production where you intend to start your business, and make your own estimate of how much you believe you’ll need during a typical day.

      Best of luck!

  12. Paula says:

    Hi! I came across your website while looking for a camel milk based ice cream.

    my family is trying to produce an ice cream for my little brother who has Autism, I was wondering if you would be able to send me a recipe or point me in the right direction to creating a base using only camel milk?

    thanks a bunch,

    • Anders says:

      Dear Paula,

      You should probably be OK with most recipes that only use milk (and not cream). The big, traditional bases (American style, for example) typically require more fat than what camel milk can offer and you would need to “prop up” such recipes in other ways (using stabilisers, of which there are a few …).

      The best and easiest way to good ice cream on milk only that I know of would be the Sicilian gelato-type: there, you use a little starch to stabilise the ice cream, and the results are usually great even when there is only milk and no cream involved (do use a little extra starch though!). You will find plenty of such recipes on the site 🙂

      Another thing I would like to recommend is this: take any sorbet-recipe you like and replace the water with (camel-)milk: unless you dislike the camel milk flavour, you should end up with very tasty sherbet!

  13. I absolutely love this recipe!!! Its great, but I’m always worried about getting sick from the eggs… Thumbs up from meeeee…and Gabri!! 🙂 WE LOVE ICE CREAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Anders says:

      Hi Hello and Gabri!
      So happy to hear that you love the recipe! But you are right: Using raw eggs in recipes is always a bit dangerous and merits caution: if you cannot get your hands on fresh pasteurized eggs (thus eliminating the worst risks) but still want to enjoy your ice cream without heating the base (see the instructions for simplified custard in the end of the post!), you can always try to increase the amount of cream – that way, you add some more stability to the ice cream. Keep your eyes open, by the way: In a week or so, I hope to be able to put up a really nice (and egg-free) strawberry recipe! 🙂

  14. Quan says:

    Hi Anders,

    Like all others, I salute you for setting up and maintaining this wonderful web site! I was going through your recipe above and didn’t find where you specified the right number of eggs that go into the mix. You said “mixing an egg”, does it mean that only 1 egg yolk (approx 18g) is needed for 1 litre of ice cream? And by the way, I found using grams would be a lot easier as I guess most of everyone would have access to kitchen scale. Is there a way of converting the ingredients in the recipes to gram? Thanks much, as always.

    • Anders says:

      Hi Quan,
      Thanks for your kind words of appreciation!
      As to the optional egg, one (1) egg should typically be sufficient for one batch, since – after all – most of the stabilisation comes from the fat in the cream (if you would like to add more eggs, I would suggest to, for instance, add two egg yolks instead of two whole eggs: the egg white has also some binding qualities but tend to contain a bit too much water to justify it in ice creams. But again – adding one whole egg in a batch should not upset things!)

      As for the grams/volumes: If you don’t want to rely on the “conversion sites” found on the internet, may I suggest that you simply make your own go-to conversion table? – Take a few of the ingredients typically used in the recipes (like the dairy, the sugar) and then weigh, for example, 100 ml sugar/100 ml milk/cream etc. and note down the results. Once done, you should have little trouble doing the conversions! Best of luck!

      • Quan says:

        Dear Anders,

        Thanks for the great advice! I have yet another question. My ice cream is made with a stand mixer and a blast of liquid nitrogen. The ice cream is great but I notice the texture is not as “fluffy” as it seems to lack air (low overrun) With liquid nitrogen, there is not enough time for ice cream to churn and mix air in as the mix freezes in seconds, instead of hours as in the traditional ice cream machine. Is there a leavening agent (like in baking) to “expand” the base and mix air in to compensate for short churning time, thus increasing the overrun? I assume it would be easier to scoop out and more pleasing visually. Thank you!

  15. Steve says:

    I have started making Ice Cream using various recipes. I have just found yours which is the easiest by far.
    My major problem is my ice cream so far (not your recipe) is that it goes rock hard in the freezer after a few days.
    Would you have a remedy for this?
    I am just about to have a go at your recipe.

    • Anders says:


      In short order, the main reasons why home-made ice cream often tend to freeze rock hard are one or more of the following:

      1) Too little air ends up captured within the ice cream [possible remedies: get a better ice cream machine/whisk more and better if still-freezing, whip the cream to be used to ensure more capture of air, or tweak/add ingredients to improve air capture in some other way]

      2) Too much “free” liquid which then freezes too solid [possible remedies: adjust/improve/change the ice cream recipe you have been following in order to reduce the overall water content and/or use (more) stabilising ingredients OR ingredients that ensure that the “free” water which freeze does not freeze as it would (if left on its own)]
      3) Too little sugar, which permits the water in the ice cream base to freeze too solid. [possible remedies: increase the amount of sugar, use sugar-types which acts as more powerful “de-freezers” than ordinary white sugar, counter the relative lack of sugar with other types of stabilisers]

      3) Too cold storage freezer [it is a fact of life that most normal “home freezers” simply are “too” cold for scoopable ice cream. This is, ironically, mostly a problem for good quality ice cream, as cheaper commercial ice creams tend to counter the problem with the help of generous amounts of air (“high overrun”) in the ice cream, and/or commercial grade-stabilisers and emulsifiers to maintain a pleasantly soft structure. Luckily, there is a less “industrial” solution readily available: just remember to take out the ice cream about 15-20 minutes before it is time to serve it!

      If you check out the different pages and recipes on this site, you will find many concrete examples of how to deal with the issues under 1-3 above. You may also want to check out the science-page, which explains how things like cream and sugar affect the consistency of ice cream.

      Best of luck with your coming ice cream batches, and I hope that the recipe turned out to be useful!

  16. steve says:

    I have made some ice cream starts out great but goes really rock hard in the freezer after a couple of days.
    any suggestion to remedy this?

    • Anders says:

      See the reply above!

      • steve says:

        thanks for that Anders your a great help when you mention stabalisers what are they?
        my recipe has basically been 3 cream 2 milk 1 sugar
        I was thinking less sugar healthier ice cream ?

        • steve says:

          I just read some of your recipes particularly the sicilian now I know what a stabiliser is i will try that recipe
          thanks again Anders

  17. David says:

    Such an awesome site. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. Do you have a suggested recipe to use on my new Thai style ice cream machine that quick freezes at -23C, and then can be scraped and made into rolls? Thanks for any advice!

  18. Heather Doyle says:

    I just wanted to say that your website is amazing, easily the best I’ve come across for ice cream and sorbet making .Its clear and easy to navigate and your recipes are easy to follow and understand!

    I have just been given an ice cream maker with a built in compressor ( I can’t tell you the make off hand) and I love it. I’ve made so much ice cream and sorbet over the last 4 days and its been so much fun !

    I had issues with the ice cream being too soft in the freezer after 2 days (2 cups if double cream,1cup of whole milk,3/4 cup sugar +vanilla + other desired flavours) so I switched the cream and milk ratios , still too soft , reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup , still too soft . ( the flavours however are amazing!!!!)

    so I adjusted the freezer temp. Now its rock solid ! So ice readjusted the freezer temp . heres hoping it works !

    Any way , thank you again for such a brilliant web site.

    • Anders says:

      Hi Heather, and thank you so much for your kind words – glad you like the website 🙂
      (and best of luck in adjusting that freezer!)

      All the best,

      • Heather Doyle says:

        Its working really well now 🙂

        I just made a raspberry ice cream with a limoncello ripple through it and its really really good !

        I used your Philadelphia base added in blended raspberries and for the ripple I made a lemon curd and added a slosh of limoncello!

        Its great fun experimenting.

  19. Hisham says:

    Thanks for very good sites. I have my own recipe ice cream. Two question hope you can help me.

    1) I use whole egg in my recipe (not cooked). But i found lot of recepi just using egg yolk. What your opinion?

    2) The ice ceram quick melt. Any idea to make ice cream slowly melt?


    • Anders says:

      Dear Hisham,

      1) Using one or two whole eggs (instead of egg yolks) in a home-made recipe should normally not be a problem.

      The reason why egg yolks are so popular, however, is that they contain most of what makes eggs so useful in ice cream: fat, protein and emulsifiers (mainly lecithin). They also add a nice, custard-like, flavour which many appreciate. Egg whites, on the other hand, contain no fat but add extra liquid – a combination which makes them less attractive for an ice cream base.

      I should add that to fully reap all the benefits of egg yolks, one would need to heat them. It is then the egg protein begin to bind otherwise free-flowing liquid, and the emulsifying powers of the lecithin (“melding” water and fat) are fully released: a couple of the reasons why the egg-rich, custard-based Italian and French style ice creams are so popular.

      2) If your ice cream melts too quickly, you could try to increase the overall amount of fat (more cream, or perhaps yet another egg yolk?), or add something which helps to stabilise the ice cream. You might also want to explore if you can increase the amount of air (the overrun) in the ice cream: one simple thing to try there could be to whip some of the cream you then add to the base before churning it. Best of luck!

  20. Max Jacob says:

    I adore this site. It’s exactly what I was hoping to find, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the science of it, since I’m likely to want to tinker and experiment. The thought that eventually inspired me to get a machine came to me recently when I wondered why I had never seen a cranberry ice cream. I thought that the flavor would be lovely, since the “cranberry sauce” common in the US during this time of year is very nice, but is both so tart and so sweet that, IMHO, it would benefit from that mellowing quality that cream can provide. I figured it would also enhance the flavor in other ways. Still, I figured that there must be a reason that people don’t make cranberry ice cream, and was willing to find out the hard way.

    My problem is that I was a little brash in my first batch, intuiting my way through a recipe that I improvised on the spot, and had such a stroke of beginner’s luck that everyone loved it and wanted the recipe or asked if I could make some for their families for the holidays, and since I never wrote the proportions down, I have failed in my efforts to reproduce the experience! The batches since then have been not quite as creamy as that first batch, and yet adding more cream can cause the cranberry flavor to be a less vibrant version of batch #1! I’m wondering if you might have suggestions? I worried initially that the unusual amount of pectin found in cranberries might compromise the texture of a creamy style of ice cream, but that first batch was just a smooth as can be. Reading your site, I wonder if the pectin is functioning as a stabilizer of sorts? That would be a good thing, right? And would that suggest a reduction in some other ingredient?

    All I can say, without knowing measurements, is that I cooked down fresh berries without any water — just a handful of sugar — until it reached the texture of preserves, then mixed in more sugar, some milk, cream and a teaspoon of a flavoring reduction/simple-syrup concoction I’d made for baking and beverage purposes during the holidays (with typical spice mix of allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange zest, mint… you know the drill). After mashing it all together, I put it through a strainer to remove the berry skins, and chilled the mix overnight. I think that’s all I did before running it through my new machine (until it was a “soft-serve” texture and not glossy at all), scooping it into a cold ceramic bowl, and putting it in the freezer to set for a few hours.

    If you have any thoughts on achieving that perfect texture, it might help to know that the mixture was pancake-batter consistency before chilling it, and that the next day it was almost like a very light mousse — not quite “gelled”, but clearly showing the presence of the pectin, which does gel rather remarkably when you make the traditional sauce. It did flow out of the bowl into the ice cream maker, like a thick liquid, but had an odd…. firm quality to the liquid, if that makes sense? (pardon my limited vocabulary on this!). I assume it was this “firm liquid” quality that made for a very quick process in the ice cream maker, taking only about 15 minutes of churning to lose the glossiness and become thick enough to strain the motor. That’s all I can recount, and if you don’t have any idea, that’s fine. I’m sure I’ll figure it out over time, but was particularly curious to know about the effect of pectin in ice cream, in your opinion. Thanks!

    • Anders says:

      Hi Max, and very happy to read that you like the site!
      It is a bit difficult to reply to your overall question about how to ensure the perfect consistency and flavour to your cranberry ice cream (I think you’re on the right
      way: continue to experiment until you get it right since you seem to have a very good idea of where, exactly, you want to land :-). However, I can easy your concerns
      about pectin which indeed is a stabiliser and therefore usually improves the consistency of ice creams (I write a little about jams in ice creams in this post). Good luck with your further experiments!

      • Max Jacob says:

        Thanks! I think I did it, finally, just in time for Thanksgiving. (it occurred to me, however, that people are usually so overwhelmed by flavors like the traditional cranberry sauce, and usually so excited about the dessert being something like pumpkin pie, AND tend to be in such a mindset of expecting traditional dishes, that trying to substitute cranberry ice cream in that meal, specifically, would be inevitably disappointing to some, so I will choose another time). I expect that some of the excitement I felt with my first batch might have been the kind of thing that only first batches can achieve, so I suppose there’s a chance that this will always be the elusive ingredient.

        Interesting to know about pectin. Thanks for replying so promptly! I’ll be keeping your site prominently bookmarked as I fumble through this early learning process. My intuition only goes so far.

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