Can You Make Ice Cream Without Eggs?

You sure can—unless you’re set on making a high-fat, superrich ice cream, the kind available in most high-end scoop shops. Otherwise there are plenty of other homemade ice cream styles, ones that don’t call for tons of yolks. Some Italian gelato recipes, for instance, rely on cornstarch for thickening. Philadelphia-style ice creams use just milk, cream, and sugar, with no cooking involved—infinitely easier to make than a French-style ice cream, which calls for tempering eggs and cooking the custard base on the stovetop.

The downside of non-egg ice creams is that they can be harder to scoop (yolks make ice creams richer, creamier), and ice crystals form more easily. But the upside, according to David Lebovitz in The Perfect Scoop, is that flavors will be more intense (yolks can dominate delicate flavors like fresh fruit). And adding a bit of alcohol or natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup will help prevent your mix from freezing into a solid, unscoopable mass. And an ice cream without egg-yolk richness is one you can eat more of in one sitting, a bonus if ever I heard one.

At Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio, they use a mixture of cream cheese, tapioca syrup, and starch (home cooks could use corn syrup and cornstarch), yielding ice cream that’s perfectly scoopable straight from the freezer.

Keep in mind that ice cream recipes are pretty flexible, and different flavors can taste better with either a purer-tasting, non-egg Philadelphia-style base, or with a rich, eggy, French-style base. If your homemade ice cream base seems lacking in richness and you’re not averse to eggs, add one or two yolks next time. And if it’s too creamy or custardy, next time around hold back a yolk or two until you find your perfect scoop.

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Leena Trivedi-Grenier is a Bay Area food writer and cooking teacher with an undying love for pot stickers. She earned her master's in gastronomy from Le Cordon Bleu. Besides CHOW, her writing appears on her blog Leena Eats and in various food-based encyclopedias.