Delicious on its own or as a base to your favourite flavours, sweet cream ice cream is a gateway recipe to building the ice cream of your dreams.
Sweet cream ice cream gained popularity a few years ago as the starter ice cream used at Cold Stone Creamery, where they add any mix-ins when you order it to customise the flavour. It’s an ideal neutral base to enjoy plain or to customise at home into anything you like (see below for a list of suggestions).
With just milk, cream, egg yolks, and sugar – and a tiny bit of salt – this recipe is about as simple as it gets. It’s the base recipe most churned ice creams work from, but equally good plain as with additions like chocolate or sprinkles.
Use the JUMP TO RECIPE button at the top, or scroll to the bottom of the post to see the printable recipe card with full ingredient measurements and complete instructions.
- Whole milk
- Whipping cream
- Sea salt
- Egg yolks
- Vanilla extract (optional)
Start by beating the eggs and sugar together until fluffy and light in colour. Set this aside.
Combine the milk, cream, and salt in a saucepan. Warm this over medium heat, stirring frequently, until bubbles just start forming. It should be hot but not boiling.
Temper the egg and sugar mixture by very slowly adding the hot milk mixture to it, whisking continuously. Add a tablespoon first and whisk, then another spoonful, then you can slowly start adding the milk in a gentle stream.
We cannot stress enough to go slowly at this point – too quickly and you’ll get scrambled eggs. Better too slow than too quickly.
Transfer the mixture back into the pot the milk was in, and heat again over medium low, stirring constantly. Use a spatula to make figure eights on the bottom of the pot to prevent a skin from forming.
Cook until the mixture thickens slightly or reaches 175°F on a candy thermometer. It will have reduced slightly when it’s ready. Stir in the vanilla now if you’re using it.
Strain the ice cream mixture if there’s a chance of eggy bits, then chill until cold. Once the custard is cold, churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After churning, place the ice cream into an airtight container and freeze for up to two weeks.
Tips & Notes
No ice cream maker? You have a couple options. Freeze the cooked ice cream mixture in ice cube trays, then blend in a high-speed blender after freezing (and freeze again in a sealed container like normal ice cream). Or, turn it into popsicles by freezing the cooked custard in moulds – they’re great coated in dark chocolate!
If you have a standing mixer, you can use the whisk attachment for this whole process, including mixing the milk into the egg mixture. Otherwise it works better to switch over to a whisk when adding the milk, because an electric hand mixer causes a lot of splatter.
Adding vanilla is optional, and makes it more of a vanilla ice cream than sweet cream. It’s delicious either way.
These should all be added once the ice cream is finished churning, but before placing into the freezer. Try one or any combination of the mix-ins listed to make your own custom ice cream flavour.
Our favourites are cookie dough with fudge and marshmallows, peanut butter, jelly, and pretzels, and lemon curd with cake and fresh berries. Let your imagination run wild!
- Finely chopped chocolate or candy bars
- Broken up cookies
- Cookie dough
- Fudge or chocolate sauce
- Pretzels (especially good with chocolate!)
- Chopped or slivered nuts
- Peanut butter
- Cereal (think fruit loops, honeycomb, cinnamon toast crunch)
- Jam or jelly
- Fruit (fresh or semi-dried, like dates)
- Mini or chopped marshmallows
- Lemon curd
- Crumbled up cake
Plain white sugar and raw cane sugar can be used interchangeably. We haven’t tried with other types like brown or coconut sugar, which would change the flavour significantly here.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker, we recommend our no-churn mint oreo ice cream. The base recipe works just as well without the mint and cookies if you need a plain version. As mentioned above, you can also make popsicles.
More Cool Treats
Sweet Cream Ice Cream
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- Hand mixer
- Medium sized pot with a heavy bottom
- Rubber spatula
- Instant-read thermometer
- Fine mesh sieve
- Popsicle molds optional
- Mixing bowl
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 pinch salt
- 3 egg yolks, from large eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla, optional, see notes
- Using an electric hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together in a mixing bowl until pale and fluffy. Set aside.
- Warm milk, cream, and salt in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until bubbles just begin to form. Stir frequently to prevent burning and a skin from forming.
- Temper the eggs, by very gradually adding the milk to the egg mixture, mixing it constantly as you go.
- Start with 1-2 tablespoons and increase just as slowly until the egg temperature has warmed up. This will prevent the eggs from scrambling.
- Slowly stream the remaining milk mixture into the eggs you continue to mix.
- Transfer the mixture back into the pot and set over medium low. Cook, stirring constantly.
- Using a rubber spatula, stir in a figure 8 motion scraping the bottom until the mixture thickens slightly and measures 175°F (80°C) on an instant-read thermometer.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, if using.
- Strain through a fine mesh sieve to catch any inadvertent bits of scrambled egg.
- Chill until cold, then churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Alternatively, freeze in Popsicle molds until frozen solid, 6-8 hours or overnight.