Custard Gelato

Custard Gelato

One of the most popular flavors in gelaterie in Italy is crema, a simple frozen custard unenhanced by any flavoring. It has a rich yellow color due to the brightness of the yolks of Italian chickens.–Pamela Sheldon Johns

LC No Ice Cream Maker? No Problem! Note

This plain Jane custard gelato is made with just cream, milk, eggs, and sugar. As noted just above, in Italy, it’s known as crema. But in our realm, it’s known as “Oh, God.” If you’ve simply gotta have some of this gelato but simply don’t want to invest in a gelato or ice cream maker, the author says to simply pour the mixture into a stainless steel bowl and stash it in the freezer until partially froze. Beat with a wire whisk until creamy, then repeat the freezing, whisking, freezing thing for at least a couple times. It may not be quite as airy as your customary ice cream, but then, with gelato, isn’t that the point?

Custard Gelato

Custard Gelato
One of the most popular flavors in gelaterie in Italy is crema, a simple frozen custard unenhanced by any flavoring.
Pamela Sheldon Johns

Prep 25 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 45 mins
12 servings
143 kcal
4.5 / 2 votes
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  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • Pinch salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream


  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and salt until bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat and cover to keep hot.
  • In a blender or food processor, blend the sugar and egg yolks together until very thick and smooth. With the machine running, gradually add the hot milk. Return the mixture to the saucepan and gently cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Have ready a large heatproof bowl filled halfway with ice water. Remove the pan from the heat and set it in the bowl of ice water. Stir for 2 minutes to cool the mixture slightly. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.
  • In a large bowl, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the custard mixture. Transfer to a gelato or ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you prefer a stiffer texture, transfer the gelato to a resealable container and freeze for at least a couple hours prior to scooping and serving.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 143kcal (7%)Carbohydrates: 14g (5%)Protein: 3g (6%)Fat: 9g (14%)Saturated Fat: 5g (31%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 112mg (37%)Sodium: 25mg (1%)Potassium: 91mg (3%)Sugar: 14g (16%)Vitamin A: 391IU (8%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 76mg (8%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Wow—absolutely wonderful! And despite there being no vanilla in the recipe, it has a flavor almost like Crème Anglaise. This recipe reads very rich with the egg yolks, but the method of mixing in a blender or food processor creates a perfect emulsion, and the later addition of whipped cream was a completely new process for me. It takes a little over a half hour to prepare the custard, and it’s worth using a mesh strainer to catch any little globs or curdles when you put the custard to chill, as they are always there, no matter how careful you are to stir constantly. I used superfine sugar, which dissolves nicely, and the churning created a soft-serve consistency after 20 minutes in the ice cream maker. I tucked it in the freezer for 3+ hours before serving. This has a gorgeous color and tastes so good there’s on need to apologize for your homemade frozen dessert. I tasted this custard gelato side-by-side with my previous batch of ice cream (my go-to LC vanilla ice cream recipe, made with half & half) and while both tasted beautiful, the distinction between the ice cream and the gelato was clear. It’s a textural thing, and a complete surprise in the flavor you get without the addition of actual vanilla. This is a keeper.

Originally published June 14, 2009


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  1. I made this today and somehow forgot to add the whipped cream before transferring the mixture to the ice cream machine. The frozen custard tasted amazing so I’m left wondering what textural differences would have resulted from the addition of the whipped cream? On the one hand, I imagine the whipped cream might lighten the texture due to the whipped air into the cream but then I imagine the added cream might make it more dense.


    1. Valentina, the cream will give it a richer, creamier flavor and a more airy texture, but if you love the custard as is, that’s great too.

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