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Custard vs. Ice Cream: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 17, 2023
Custard is a dessert made from milk, sugar, and eggs; ice cream is a sweetened frozen dessert, often cream-based.

Key Differences

Custard and ice cream are both beloved desserts, but they differ in ingredients and texture. Custard primarily consists of milk, sugar, and eggs, resulting in a creamy texture. On the other hand, ice cream is generally made from milk, cream, and sugar, often lacking the egg component.
When it comes to consistency, custard tends to be denser due to the egg content. Ice cream, while creamy, can be fluffier and is typically churned at a faster rate, introducing more air. This difference in churning speeds affects the overall mouthfeel and experience of the two desserts.
Another distinguishing factor between custard and ice cream is their serving temperatures. Custards can be enjoyed either hot or cold, depending on the recipe and preference. Ice cream is distinctly a frozen treat, served chilled, and can melt if not kept at freezing temperatures.
In terms of versatility, both custard and ice cream can be flavored in numerous ways. From fruits to chocolates to spices, the possibilities are endless. However, custard often serves as a base for other desserts like pies and tarts, whereas ice cream is predominantly a standalone treat or paired as a topping.
Lastly, the presence of eggs in custard gives it a rich and velvety texture, distinguishing it from the more crystalline texture of ice cream. While both offer a delightful taste and experience, their unique characteristics make each stand out in its own right.

Comparison Chart

Basic Ingredients

Milk, sugar, eggs
Milk, cream, sugar


Creamy and dense
Creamy, can be fluffier

Serving Temperature

Hot or cold


Base for many desserts
Standalone or topping

Presence of Eggs

Contains eggs
Typically lacks eggs

Custard and Ice Cream Definitions


Custard has a velvety texture due to its egg content.
The silky consistency of the custard was delightful.

Ice Cream

Ice cream comes in a plethora of flavors.
The shop offers over 50 ice cream flavors.


Custard flavors can range from vanilla to chocolate.
The restaurant specializes in unique custard flavors like lavender.

Ice Cream

Ice cream is churned to achieve its texture.
The homemade ice cream was churned to perfection.


Custard can be served either hot or cold.
On chilly days, I prefer my custard warm.

Ice Cream

Ice cream often contains no eggs.
I appreciate that this ice cream brand doesn't use eggs in its recipe.


Custard is a dessert made from milk, sugar, and eggs.
I love the creamy texture of custard.

Ice Cream

Ice cream is a frozen dessert made from milk, cream, and sugar.
I'm craving some chocolate ice cream.


Custard is often used as a base in various desserts.
The tart was filled with a rich vanilla custard.

Ice Cream

Ice cream can melt if not kept frozen.
My ice cream melted under the hot sun.


A dish consisting of milk, eggs, flavoring, and sometimes sugar, boiled or baked until set.


A type of sauce made from milk and eggs (and usually sugar, and sometimes vanilla or other flavourings) and thickened by heat, served hot poured over desserts, as a filling for some pies and cakes, or cold and solidified; also used as a base for some savoury dishes, such as quiches, or eaten as a stand-alone dessert; egg custard.


A mixture of milk and eggs, sweetened, and baked or boiled.


Sweetened mixture of milk and eggs baked or boiled or frozen


Can custard be served hot?

Yes, custard can be enjoyed either hot or cold.

Does custard always contain eggs?

Traditional custard recipes include eggs, giving it a creamy texture.

Is ice cream made with eggs?

Typically, ice cream does not contain eggs, though some recipes might.

How many flavors of ice cream exist?

Ice cream comes in countless flavors, from classic vanilla to exotic combinations.

Does ice cream contain lactose?

Traditional ice cream contains lactose, but lactose-free versions are available.

What is custard made of?

Custard is made from milk, sugar, and eggs.

Is custard used in other desserts?

Yes, custard often serves as a base for desserts like pies and tarts.

Why is custard dense in texture?

The presence of eggs in custard gives it a rich, dense, and velvety texture.

Can custard be dairy-free?

Yes, there are dairy-free custard versions using alternatives like almond or coconut milk.

How should ice cream be stored?

Ice cream should be stored in a freezer to maintain its texture and prevent melting.

Is custard gluten-free?

Traditional custard is gluten-free, but it's always best to check recipes or labels.

Can I make custard at home?

Absolutely, making custard at home requires basic ingredients like milk, sugar, and eggs.

Is ice cream always served frozen?

Yes, ice cream is a frozen dessert and is best served chilled.

Can I flavor custard with fruits?

Absolutely, custard can be flavored with fruits, chocolates, spices, and more.

Is ice cream always sweet?

While ice cream is predominantly sweet, savory versions do exist.

What's the difference between custard and pudding?

While both are creamy desserts, custard typically contains eggs, while pudding might use starch as a thickener.

Is custard similar to crème brûlée?

While both are egg-based desserts, crème brûlée has a caramelized sugar top, distinguishing it from regular custard.

Are there vegan ice cream options?

Yes, vegan ice creams made from non-dairy milks like almond or coconut are available.

How is ice cream's texture achieved?

Ice cream is churned to introduce air and achieve its texture.

Can ice cream be made without a machine?

Yes, there are no-churn ice cream recipes that don't require a machine.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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