HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Homemade ice cream recipes that don't use heavy cream?

I'm finally making use of an ice cream maker that I've had forever, and I'm looking for ice cream recipes that don't call for heavy cream, but are still nice and creamy. I don't mind the calories, but, wow, heavy cream is expensive!

I ran across an article on Living Well magazine's site that says gelatin is a good way to give the ice cream some nice body without the heavy cream, but can't seem to find any recipes.

So, do you have any favorite ice cream recipes that don't use heavy cream?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't, but search terms that should yield good results are "ice milk recipes", "healthy ice cream"' and "light ice cream".

    Gelatin is certainly one ingredient in these kinds of frozen desserts, as are sweetened condensed milk, buttermilk, and half-and-half, frequently in combination.

    1. I've tried this type of recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/vanilla-... . But it's really not creamy and adding gelatin didn't help.

      Most ice cream recipes with gelatin still need some kind of cream or evaporated milk -- something to add that fat you need to make it creamy. With just milk and gelatin, the base comes out more like a softened Fudgesicle texture than an ice cream texture.

      Maybe frozen yogurt? -- http://yogurt-everyday.com/frozen-yog... But that might get pretty expensive, too.

      Do you have, or do you know anyone who has, a Costco membership? You can get larger cartons of heavy cream there for about the same price per ounce as milk in a regular grocery store. I usually split a gallon cream carton with a few of other people, but you can also freeze the extra.

      Good luck!

      2 Replies
      1. re: ninrn

        Wow, those frozen yogurt recipes look awesome! I've been making my own yogurt, and it goes on sale pretty often, so I could probably keep those pretty inexpensive.

        My mom works at Costco, so I do have a membership, but the closest one is 40 minutes away (without factoring in Denver traffic), and since we are only 2 adults and a toddler, I don't ever go. There is a rumor that a Costco will be opening up near our home - I hope it is true! In the meantime, next time we go to Denver I will stop and pick up some heavy cream - I had no idea you could freeze it! But now that I think of it, why wouldn't you be able to freeze cream you are going to use to make ice cream, lol :) Do I transfer it to another container first?

        1. re: lizmari

          Yes, I pop it into 2 or 4 cup mason jars for freezing, mainly because I don't like storing food in plastic and they stack pretty well.

      2. Is it just heavy cream that's the issue? As opposed to dairy in general, or calories in particular?

        If so, any recipe you have (ie a custard based ice cream base) can be made with whole milk, or even canned sweetened condensed milk.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          Apparently, for the OP it's less about the calories than the higher cost of cream.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            It's just the cost of the cream - $6.99 for a quart, and every recipe I have calls for 3 cups :(

            Do you know the substitution ratio for using sweetened condensed milk in place of the heavy cream and some of the sugar?

            1. re: lizmari

              Here's a condensed milk ice cream recipe: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/no-co... -- I'd leave out the sugar altogether. It's still going to be super sweet.

              1. re: lizmari

                Eep! no wonder you're howling!
                David Leibowitz' recipes are generally 2 cups cream to one cup milk (add some sugar). No need for eggs, mind.

            2. Somewhere at home I have a recipe for Sicilian gelato which uses milk thickened with starch instead of cream. I'll see if I can dig it up but if I remember correctly it is similar to this http://www.icecreamnation.org/2011/08... .

              1 Reply
              1. visit a costco and buy some heavy cream. as a bonus, they have a relatively quick rotation.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Chowrin

                  The nearest Costco is 32 miles away, so to be cost effective, I will have to wait until the next time we go to Denver, but I will definitely do that!

                  1. re: lizmari

                    It keeps for a full month, generally (ultrapasteurized)
                    (and folks around here travel at least 100 miles to get to my costco).

                  1. re: cutipie721

                    Can you suggest some good recipes? :)

                    1. re: lizmari

                      I make coconut ice cream when camping. Just use chilled coconut milk, maple syrup to taste and a squeeze or so of lime if I remember. Luscious.

                      1. re: lizmari

                        This article has some great versions- if you're near trader joes or an asian grocery (or check the ethnic food aisle) for the coconut cream. I've found it for $3/can or so, and the can of coconut milk around $2. Definately cheap to make.

                    2. I pay $3.69 for a quart of cream @ Costco. It's a bit less @ Restaurant Depot. I generally use equal parts heavy cream & 1/2 & 1/2 for ice cream. So, it runs me about $2.75 per quart to make my own ice cream. It's not a lot cheaper than premium ice cream on sale by the pint locally BUT it's wayyyyyyy better.

                      1. I use this David Lebowitz recipe for coconut ice cream (you can exclude the saffron if you like) http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/09/...

                        Just make sure you are using the best quality thick coconut milk and then I usually use whole milk or half and half instead of heavy cream. The coconut milk adds the creamy consistency, so it's essential to get good quality coconut milk.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: bobabear

                          This looks yummy, thanks :)

                          I haven't cooked with saffron in years, not since I went back to school, I can't remember, would it add any flavor in a situation like this, or is it just for the beautiful color?

                        2. The best ice cream recipes I know don't call for heavy cream, or not much of it. Most call for a combo of half-and-half and regular milk.

                          The reason is twofold: First, if you've ever made a lot of ice cream in a professional setting, heavy cream results in a texture that slightly resembles mousse and not exactly ice cream.

                          Second, the best ice cream I know uses spectacular flavor ingredients (the very very best strawberries at peak ripeness, the best mint, the very best chocolate, etc.) and usually uses high-quality full-fat milk. Curiously, because the ingredient flavors aren’t competing with the higher butterfat of cream, they taste purer and brighter.

                          I'd suggest you find the very best creme anglaise recipe you can (one that uses whole milk or a combo of half-and-half and milk) and use that as your base.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            While I don't disagree with you, this generally only holds true for Philly style ice cream (non-egg).

                            If one were to make traditional French, egg custard based, ice cream, then heavy cream is not necessarily a bad thing.

                            1. re: ipsedixit


                              I don't understand. What are you disagreeing with?

                              The texture thing or the brighter flavors thing?

                              Don't understand your non-egg comment either.

                              Creme anglaise uses eggs, and the ice cream is better if heavy cream is not used.

                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                French style ice cream is fine and generally benefits with an equal ratio of heavy cream to whole milk.

                                Philly style, especially fruit or herb based flavors, do not for the very reasons you state.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  When I lived in France, the pastry chefs I was around used very little or no heavy cream in their custard base (creme anglaise) for ice cream. In US pastry classes, using heavy cream in the base caused the ice cream to freeze incorrectly. The extra fat in the heavy cream makes the ice cream end up too soft, and never fully frozen. I've made this error personally, and it was a tough lesson to learn.

                                  So, just to be helpful to the original question posed:

                                  Make your custard base using whole milk or a combo of whole milk and half-and-half. Forget the heavy cream. It's fine. Prolly better.

                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                    I'm not sure if I agree with your sentiment that using heavy cream makes ice cream like a mousse.

                                    We've been making homemade ice cream all my life, using regular heavy cream, and it's always turned out exactly like what people think of ice cream. We use a hand cranked ice cream machine with lots of ice and salt and after the ice cream has been made we pack it away for at least a few hours to "ripen" by leaving the ice cream inside the machine, pile lots of ice on it and wrap the whole thing with a heavy rug for insulation. It's nothing like mousse and is very much the quintessential ice cream, rich, creamy yet solid and cold. Mousse, by contrast, is soft and mushy.

                                    I do know Italian gelatos, which I enjoy very much, are made with whole milk and not cream. Perhaps that's where the French approach to ice cream comes from (ironically enough my recipe for French Vanilla ice cream calls for heavy cream).

                                    1. re: Roland Parker

                                      I'm all for whatever works. Your homemade ice cream sounds great. I'll never forget making that mistake of using a high proportion of heavy cream in ice cream and then creating mousse instead of ice cream. It was embarrassing.

                                      I have used heavy cream as part of the milk/dairy/cream combo with great success when making ice creams. However, the most intense and striking ice "cream" of late -- in the Bay Area -- has been made with milk only -- very good organic milk, but milk only.

                                    2. re: maria lorraine

                                      maria lorraine, your statement that "The extra fat in the heavy cream makes the ice cream end up too soft, and never fully frozen" surprises me to no end. Your experience is directly opposite of all of mine! I've made ice cream in a restaurant setting for 15 years, and have always used about half heavy cream (36-40% fat) and half whole milk in my custard. I control the softness/hardness of ice cream by adjusting the amounts of sugar, salt, and alcohol, all of which lower the freezing point and make it soft. Too much of any of those will make ice cream or sorbet too soft.

                                      Dairy fat, on the other hand, is quite hard when frozen. Ever try to slice a frozen stick of butter? Some of the finished texture depends on the machine, too, so you may have to adjust a base recipe for different machines that will spin faster or more slowly, and incorporate more or less air. When I make my high-fat ice cream in a smaller gelato machine, I get great results. When I tried the same recipe in a higher volume batch freezer and in a pacojet, I had problems. The pacojet spins so quickly that it would over-spin the ice cream and make butter. Similar issue with the batch freezer, but not as bad. I don't recall ever making something that seemed more like mousse than ice cream - maybe your machine incorporates a lot more air?

                                      Lizmari, I agree with other posters that half and half should make a creamy enough ice cream if heavy cream is too expensive. You might also look at this cornstarch ice cream recipe: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/01/din... The cornstarch replaces the egg yolks in the custard, and not using a bunch of egg yolks will lower the price to make it.

                                      1. re: babette feasts

                                        <<Your experience is directly opposite of all of mine! I've made ice cream in a restaurant setting for 15 years, and have always used about half heavy cream (36-40% fat) and half whole milk in my custard.>>

                                        We're not in disagreement. 50% heavy cream and 50% whole milk is an excellent ratio. A good deal more than 50% (75% to 100%) results in ice cream that is mousse-like. Years ago, when I worked in a professional setting, I made ice cream under a brilliant pastry chef and used professional machines. That was when I learned of the textural mousse-like problem I spoke of. The ice cream was of a normal sweetness so the softness was not due to excess sugar, or for that matter, over-run. Like I said, 50% heavy cream is fine -- wonderful, in fact, and I recommend that.

                            2. If your town has an Indian grocery store where you can get a large can of mango pulp or puree, you might try this Mango Kulfi (Indian-style ice cream): 1 30-oz can mango pulp, 1 12-oz can evaporated milk, 1 14-oz can condensed milk, and 8 oz whipping cream, whipped. Fold all together and freeze. Makes a half-gallon. Pretty rich.

                              1. I love love love pineapple buttermilk sherbet. There are quite a few recipes online, but none quite the same as mine.

                                1. I make ice cream often and you can use regular milk, half and half or heavy cream. I prefer half and half if it's cheaper for you. You can use regular milk but do it custard based with egg yolks

                                  1. Just read this New York Times article about adjusting the amount of heavy cream vs. milk depending on the flavor of ice cream. Thought it was a useful article overall:


                                    1. This Indian recipe for Mango Kulfi uses only 1/2 pint of heavy cream. Mix a 30-oz can mango pulp, a 12-oz can evaporated milk, a 14-oz can condensed milk, and 8 oz heavy cream, whipped. Freeze. Makes 1/2 gallon. Kulfi is VERY rich so you will use small portions. The canned mango pulp can be found in any Indian market---in Chicago it costs about $ 1.50 a can---it's also used to make yogurt drinks.

                                      1. Here is the recipe my mother used when we lived in Argentina 65 years ago. I remember that she froze it in an ice cube tray so it probably doesn't produce a large quantity, but here goes: Scald 2 cups milk with 3/4 cup sugar and a pinch of salt. In another bowl dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a tablespoon or two of cold milk then pour the hot milk over this and stir. Cool. Let this partially freeze then add 1/2 pint heavy cream, whipped. Add vanilla or fruit if desired. If you freeze this in an ice cube tray, stir it a few times while it is freezing. (My comment is that you might be able to use this recipe as a springboard for inventing an ice milk using minimal heavy cream and using cornstarch as a thickener to replace the body provided by heavy cream.)

                                        Another way to avoid using expensive heavy cream is to make fruit sorbets instead of ice cream. I have done this with pureed kiwis, pureed strawberries, bottled pear nectar, and orange juice with pulp---just add simple syrup and lemon juice and you can make a sorbet out of just about any fruit or juice.

                                        1. David Lebovitz's Cheesecake ice cream uses cream cheese (and I use store-brand neufchatel), sour cream, and half-and-half. It's a Philly-style (i.e. no cooking a custard) and is excellent, especially if you add some grated lemon zest. Pour the churned ice cream into a graham cracker crust, freeze, and you've got a frozen cheesecake!