Basic Ice Cream Recipe Examples

Standard Base

All my other recipes derive from this. It’s version #32—a fair amount of experimenting precedes it. It makes ice cream that’s moderately rich (15% milk fat, but with only 2 yolks per liter). It’s smooth, has good body and a creamy melt, great flavor release, no discernible egg flavor, and a cleaner finish than bases that use a lot of custard. No flavoring ingredients are included here.
(Makes about 1 Liter)
360g whole milk (3.3% fat)
360g  heavy cream (36% fat) 
55g nonfat dry milk
2 large egg yolks (36g)
70g granulated sugar 
25g dextrose
15g invert syrup
0.8g locust bean gum 
0.4g guar gum
0.2g lambda carrageenan
0.7g salt
Here’s the composition:
total mass: 908g
total milk fat: 141g / 15% 
total fat: 150g / 16.5%
nonfat milk solids: 113g / 12%
total nonfat solids: 236g / 25%
total solids (fat + nonfat): 386g / 42%
egg fats: 9g / 1%
egg lecithin: 2.9g / 0.3%
total egg solids: 18g / 2%
sugars (non-lactose): 110g / 12%
stabilizers (non-egg): 1.4g / 0.15%
And a close look at the sugar blend:
Sucrose 60%
Dextrose 26%
Invert Syrup 13%
It has the typical complications that separate pastry chef recipes from home recipes: added milk powder, a blend of different sugars, gum stabilizers. 
In addition
it uses fewer eggs than most: just 2 yolks per liter. This is between a half and a quarter of what’s typical (I don’t like to taste eggs in my ice cream, and I don’t like their effect on flavor release—but I like what a couple of yolks can do for texture and stability, with help from other ingredients).
The sugar blend is light on table sugar, but makes up for this with dextrose and invert syrup. So it’s low on sweetness, but without sacrificing freezing point suppression.
It uses a custom blend of gums. Most home cooks and pastry chefs who use non-egg stabilizers either use starches or a commercial product. There’s very little information available on constructing stabilizer blends outside the context of industry. In later posts I’ll share some of what I’ve learned about varying individual gums in order to fine-tune texture.




French Variation

For those who disagree with me on eggs. You want custard, dammit.
360g whole milk (3.3% fat)
360g  heavy cream (36% fat) 
15g nonfat dry milk
6 large egg yolks (108g)
75g granulated sugar 
35g dextrose
15g invert syrup
0.6g locust bean gum
0.3g guar gum
0.15g lambda carrageenan
0.7g salt
Here’s the composition:
total mass: 970g
total milk fat: 141g / 15% 
total fat: 166g / 17%
nonfat milk solids: 68g / 7%
total nonfat solids: 243g / 25%
total solids (fat + nonfat): 409g / 42%
egg fats: 25g / 2.5%
egg lecithin: 8.7g / 0.9%
total egg solids: 59g / 6%
sugars (non-lactose): 125g / 13%
stabilizers (non-egg): 1.05g / 0.1%
The biggest change we made here adding four egg yolks, tripling the original number. We could have left it at that, but we’d be introducing some problems:
-The solids levels would be very high, giving us what many would consider too much body. The ice cream would likely be chewy.
-Because the whole recipe is now bigger, the sugar percentages would be lower. The result would be less sweet than before, and harder. The eggs themselves will contribute some hardness, because egg fats freeze harder than milk fat.
-Since egg custard is itself a stabilizer, we would have more stabilizing ingredients than necessary. The melted texture might be too viscous, or even pasty.
So we made the most straightforard changes possible: reduced the nonfat dry milk, reduced the stabilizers, and slightly increased the sugars. With the sugars, we increased the sucrose, for maximum effect on sweetness, and the dextrose, for maximum effect on freezing point.
The result is composition numbers that are quite close to the first version, with the exception of total fats and total nonfat solids. The latter number is up to 42% from 40%—still within the ideal range of values, and a reasonable increase, since the whole point of all that custard is to make a thicker, richer product.

Light Variation

Here’s one if you’re looking for a cleaner, lighter ice cream, with the most vibrant flavors possible. There’s less milk fat and no egg. This version is ideal as part of a complex plated dessert, for incorporating delicate flavorings, or for after a heavy meal. [stabilizer blend edited 10-2018]
480g whole milk (3.3% fat)
240g  heavy cream (36% fat) 
85g nonfat dry milk
70g granulated sugar 
30g dextrose
15g invert syrup
2g lecithin
0.8g locust bean gum 
0.6g guar gum
0.4g lambda carrageenan
0.7g salt
Here’s the composition:
total mass: 916g
total milk fat: 102g / 12% 
total fat: 102g / 12%
nonfat milk solids: 141g / 15%
total nonfat solids: 258g / 28%
total solids (fat + nonfat): 360g / 39%
sugars (non-lactose): 115g / 13%
stabilizers (non-egg): 2.1g / 0.2%
The biggest changes this time are the reduced cream-to-milk ratio and the elimination of eggs. If we did nothing to compensate, we’d encounter a few problems:
-Because of the lower milk fat levels, the ice cream would lack creaminess.
-Because of the reduced total solids, there would be proportionally more water, leading to iciness.
-Because of the reduced total solids (especially milk solids) and because of the lack of all custard, the ice cream would lack body.
-Because there’s no egg lecithin, there are no added emulsifiers to disrupt the millkfat emulsion. So we’ll probably have a hard time whipping air into the ice cream. The resulting fat structure will also likely be grainy and unstable
To compensate, we added 30g of milk dry milk powder, 4.5g lecithin (about equal to what’s in 3 yolks), and increased the stabilizers 50%. 

Closing Remarks

If you’ve worked your way through these examples, you’ll have a pretty good sense of the ice cream designing process. It’s all equations: to change a little on this side of the equals sign, you gotta change a little on that side. 
These examples were about changing the style of the ice cream. In future posts we’ll look at balancing the equations when we add difficult flavor ingredients, like fruits—which mess with the balance of water, solids, and sugars. 
In the next post, we’ll look at techniques. Because once you measure out all these ingredients, you have to do something with them …
A note on ingredients: I’ve been buying my milk and cream from a farm coop called Natural by Nature (awful name, good milk). It’s relatively low-temperature pasteurized, which allows us to cook the milk proteins to just the right degree. More on this in a later post. The cream is also free of gums, so you don’t have to worry about it messing with the stabilizer recipe. In post parts of the country, you can get something similar. Definitely look for milk that’s been pasteurized below 75°C, and cream that has no added gums. Ideally buy from small, cow-friendly farms.
I use Now Organic dry milk powder. It’s 100% nonfat milk solids, spray-dried at low temperature. Significant for the same reasons as the low-temperature pasteurization of the fresh milk. This stuff tastes and smells like fresh milk. Horizon Organic is also good. 
My prefered locust bean gum is TIC Gums POR/A. This version hydrates at 74°C, which is below the temperature I use for cooking the mix. Many varieties of LBG need a much higher temperature. The variety sold by Willpowder dissolves at an even lower temperature than the TIC product, according to the vendor.


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5 years ago

Hi Anon, the nonfat solids is everything that's not water, fat, or alcohol.

When figuring out recipes you should note the fat% and the solids% of each ingredient. When you add these all together you get the total solids and the total fats. Subtract the fats from the total to get the nonfat solids.

Then just calculate what proportion of the total recipe weight this is.

5 years ago

Very subtle difference. You can duplicate the effect of invert syrup precisely by adding appropriate amounts of both dextrose and fructose. This is what I do; I keep invert syrup in the recipes because pastry chefs always have it on hand.

Patrik Svensson
3 years ago
Reply to  underbelly

Hi, love this blog! Lot’s of good stuff.
Exactly how would you replace the the 15g of invert syrup with dextrose and fructose?

5 years ago

I really liked your Basic Ice Cream Recipe, its very tasty and we as a family enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us. I recommend it for everyone to try once its a very amazing.

Milk Powder

5 years ago

Hi, Interesting blog here and alot of good infromation. Would like to know how to calculate the non fat solids?

5 years ago

Hi! Is there much a difference if I don't use invert sugar in my base? If I just put a little bit more dextrose to my base? Is the difference notable?

5 years ago

Also, what are your thoughts on GMS and CMC?

5 years ago

Cool, is there a difference between Dextrose versus Dextrose-monohydrate(or anhydrous)?

Also, how important is it to use nonfat dry milk versus something like standard powdered milk eg. "Nestle's Nido Full Cream Milk Powder"

5 years ago

And yes, for lecithin you want the powdered kind. It should be pure soy lecithin. Not liquid lecithin supplements, which can have who-knows-what in the mix.

It's a good idea to buy a sample and make sure it doesn't have a strong taste or odor. The higher quality lecithins are mostly neutral.

5 years ago

Hi Anon,

dextrose and maltodextrin are completely different; you can't substitute one for the other. Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide with a huge molecule; dextrose is a monosaccharide with a tiny molecule. Maltodextrin is almost flavorless; dextrose is sweet. Maltodextrin has very little freezing point depression; dextrose has tons.

The recipes don't use very much dextrose. I think that at $5.51/kg, you'll find it a minor expense compared with other ingredients. Good quality dairy (including the nonfat dry milk) and the flavor ingredients hit hardest in the bank account.

5 years ago

Hi Anastasia, what do you mean by "stretch?"

5 years ago

When you mention lecithin, can i safely assume "soy lecithin granules"? I am not very familiar with all the products out there..

Also, is Dextrose interchangeable with Maltodextrin? Here in my area Maltodextrin($USD 2.82/kg) is half the price of Dextrose ($USD 5.51/kg)
Does it have a significant difference changing it to Maltodextrin (from what i understand they are both quite similar) or is it worth it even it its double the price?

Been a long time fan using your blog for insights and ideas, but never really came round to making a 100% due to ingredients and budget. I have finally decided to go out of my way and acquire all of them once and for all!

5 years ago

Hi! Many thanks for useful info! You did a great job! I have a question regarding stabilizators. What amount of stretch can be used to substitute gums?

5 years ago

For the Light Variation there is 2g of soy lecithin listed but the description says 4.5g. Also, for the composition stabilizers are listed as 2.1g but actually sum to 1.8g (.8 + .6 + .4).

5 years ago

I've been thinking about trying to create a nondairy and egg ice cream. What are your thoughts on using soy milk and emulsifying it with refined coconut milk to your proportions as well as using soy lecithin as an emulsifier?

5 years ago

I use the following values, which are approximate, and based on what's typical in the US:
-Nonfat milk powder: 100% nonfat milk solids
-Whole milk: 8.8%
-Heavy cream: 5.6%

5 years ago

Hi, how do you calculate the non fat milk solid? Do you use an estimation in milk and cream/100g or using formula such as (total solid- fat content- sucrose)?

genevia chin
5 years ago

Hi, how do you calculate the non fat milk solid? Do you take an estimate value/100g of milk an cream? or using the formula of (total solid- fat content-sucrose content)?

5 years ago

I think there is an error in calculating the total mass of Standard Base ice cream.

5 years ago

hi underbelly,

real fan of your ice cream articles, feel like im sitting back in frozen dessert module during my culinary school days.

I would like to ask, which is a good base recipe for a soft serve machine? i am starting my soft serve business and would really like your help

5 years ago

Good catch, thanks. Fixed.

5 years ago

It looks as though you added 30g of milk powder to your light base compared to the 10g you write in its description (55g to 85g).

4 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Hi Anon, good catch. I’m in the process of updating many of these recipes and will do an audit to make sure everything matches.

5 years ago

I use plain old soy lecithin powder from Willpowder. It comes in a 1lb jar, which will take me close to forever to use, and so far no clumping. But I imagine this would be influenced by your local humidity.

I haven't used liquid lecithin. If you try it, make sure it's pure lecithin (not a nutritional supplement formulated with other stuff). Let us know how it goes.

3 years ago
Reply to  underbelly

I come across many recpies that I skip because they include eggs. Is There a quick rule of thumb to replace the eggs in these recpies with other ingredients?

5 years ago

What do you recommend using for lecithin? Liquid lecithin? Soy lecithin powder? I've found that soy lecithin can form clumps after it's aged.

5 years ago

Hi Yossi,

the closest substitute for LBG is guar gum. It's not quite as efficient at slowing ice crystals, and tends to make the ice cream chewier, but it's pretty close.

5 years ago

What can be used as a substituted for locust bean gum? TNX

3 years ago

Invert syrup is around 20% water, so figure 15g of it is 12g sugars. So it’s 6g fructose, 6g dextrose.

1 year ago

If I only have locust bean gum (no guar gum and no carrageenan), how much do I add in the recipe (how much percent)? Would it still be .8g for your standard recipe? Or do I increase the amount? Please advise thank you 🙂