7 Types of Ice Cream & What Makes Them Unique – Homebody Eats


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Learn about various types of ice cream and what defines each kind. There are so many varieties of ice cream, and each one is made with unique ingredients, methods, and flavors. If you’re looking to learn about different kinds of ice cream, this is the post for you!

Have you ever wondered what types of ice cream exist in the world? Today, we’ll talk through some of the popular kinds of ice cream and what makes them unique.

Jump to:

  • 1. Custard Base
  • 2. Philadelphia Style
  • 3. Frozen Yogurt
  • 4. Gelato
  • 5. Sorbet
  • 6. Sherbet
  • 7. Ice Cream from Around the World
  • More Ice Cream Recipes

1. Custard Base

French-style custard base ice cream is known for its high percentage of egg yolks and cream. Custard ice creams have a rich flavor and super smooth texture. According to the U.S. guidelines, products labeled as ‘ice cream’ are required to contain at least 10% milkfat and 20% milk solids.

Custard bases offer lots of versatility since you can change up the flavor by adding chocolate, coffee, fruits, nuts, alcohol, and more! The possibilities are endless.

Since eggs are added to the base, the custard needs to be heated to kill any potentially harmful bacteria in the eggs. This takes time and a little practice to learn how to properly temper the eggs and cook the base.

As a word of caution, make sure the base is completely cooled before adding it to the ice cream machine to churn. If the base is too warm, it will have a hard time coming down to the correct temperature and the texture will be incorrect.

2. Philadelphia Style

Philadelphia style ice cream is a great ice cream base for beginners. This is because Philadelphia style ice cream is made without eggs. Meaning, the ice cream doesn’t necessarily have to be heated/cooked (because there are no eggs) before churning.

Since eggs add additional fat and color to the ice cream, Philadelphia style is usually lighter in both appearance and taste compared to custard ice cream. The absence of eggs also means recipe creators need to think through how to make Philadelphia style ice cream smooth and creamy. This can be achieved through stabilizers (like cornstarch or xanthan gum).

This style works well in a couple of different ways. If you’re making fruit-based ice cream, this style can keep things nice and light. Or, if you’re adding in rich, dense mix-ins (like brownies or fudge) you could opt to contrast it with a lighter ice cream base like this.

3. Frozen Yogurt

You may have guessed that frozen yogurt is made using yogurt as the base. Although, be aware that oftentimes whole milk or cream is added in to help with the richness and smooth texture. While frozen yogurt isn’t necessarily always healthier than custard or Philadelphia-style ice cream, it provides a unique flavor profile.

4. Gelato

Gelato is an Italian style ice cream that is classified by its low milkfat content, usually 4-9%. Typically, gelato is made only with milk. Despite the lack of cream in gelato, it’s still denser than American-style ice cream. That’s because less air is incorporated during the churning process.

To make gelato at home with an ice cream machine can be a little tough since it’s hard to control the amount of air incorporated in the gelato with a small, at-home machine. However, you can still achieve the taste by making a recipe only using milk.

There are many flavor varieties of gelato, so be sure to play around with this if you’re making gelato at home.

5. Sorbet

Technically, sorbet would not be classified as ice cream since there is no milkfat present. However, I’m including it in this list to teach you how it varies from ice cream.

Sorbet is a churned mixture of sugar, water, and either fruit juice, wine, or liqueur. Sometimes you’ll even find sorbets made from herbs or vegetables. Savory sorbets are usually served as a first course or a palate refresher in between courses. Sweet sorbets, on the other hand, are typically served as dessert.

If you’re creating your own sorbet recipe, you’ll have to play around with the ratio of sugar, water, and fruit depending on the level of sweetness you prefer. Too much sugar will result in a soft and syrupy sorbet, while too little sugar makes the sorbet hard and grainy.

In addition to the core ingredients, pasteurized egg whites can be added during the churning process to hinder ice crystals and improve the texture.

6. Sherbet

Sherbet is the Americanized version of sorbet. In addition to the sugar and fruit juice, sherbet contains milk that’s added to the mixture prior to churning.

7. Ice Cream from Around the World

We can’t forget that almost every country has its own unique version of ice cream. Rolled ice cream from Thailand/Malaysia, kulfi from India, dondurma from Turkey, and mochi from Japan. Although I’m not personally familiar with some of these types of ice creams, I wanted to point you to authentic recipes that could teach you more about each one. There’s a whole world of ice cream around us, so don’t forget to keep your eye out for these during your travels! I will definitely be trying these recipes soon!

More Ice Cream Recipes

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