How to Make Ice Cream

To make ice cream like an artisan, start by picking your style: simple American or lush, custardy French.

Few people go into an ice cream store and wonder, American or French? Yet ice cream artisans in the US generally focus on one of these two categories: American-style (also called Philadelphia-style), made with sugar, milk and cream; and French-style, prepared with an egg custard. At Seattle’s Molly Moon’s ice cream shops, owner Molly Neitzel sells only the American style. “I love how easy it is to make, and I love its pure cream taste,” she says. “It’s the best way to showcase fresh fruit and herbs.” But she and Christina Spittler, head chef and co-author of a new cookbook, Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, also enjoy the lush texture of the French style. (The lecithin in egg yolks helps prevent ice crystals.) “Nuts, butterscotch and caramel go great with that custardy flavor,” says Spittler. Here are their best recipes, plus fun flavor ideas like salted caramel or blackberries with fresh sage.

Advice on Shelf Life

Homemade ice cream doesn’t contain gums and stabilizers like store-bought does, so try to eat it within a few days.

Best Add-Ins

How to Make Ice Cream: Strawberry-Jalapeño
American-style ice cream with strawberries and jalapeño
© John Kernick

Add flavorings to the ice cream maker at the beginning of the freezing cycle.


1 cup broken chocolate-and-toffee-covered saltines or pretzels


3/4 cup blackberry preserves mixed with 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage

Salted Caramel

3/4 cup pourable salted-caramel sauce

Strawberry-Jalapeño (photo)

1 cup strawberries macerated in 3 tablespoons sugar with 1 teaspoon minced jalapeño

Three Custard Tips

How to Make Ice Cream Custard: Temper the Eggs
1. Temper The Eggs
Gradually whisk the hot cream into the egg yolks to heat them gently and prevent them from scrambling.
© John Kernick
How to Make Ice Cream Custard: Spoon Test
2. Spoon Test
The custard is ready when it lightly coats the back of a spoon and when a finger drawn across it leaves a path.
© John Kernick
How to Make Ice Cream Custard: Strain It
3. Strain It
A well-made custard won’t have bits of cooked egg yolk in it; straining it eliminates the possibility.
© John Kernick

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