This sweet cream ice cream recipe contains no vanilla. And no eggs. Just milk, cream, cream cheese, and sugar. And it tastes just like the rendition at Cold Stone Creamery that started the whole sweet cream sensation. If you’ve not experienced it, think of it as sorta like cheesecake in both its richly indulgent taste and its obscenely smooth texture. Although it’s actually sorta indefinable. Sorta something you need to experience it for yourself.–David Leite

Sweet Cream Ice Cream FAQs

What’s the difference between Light Corn Syrup and High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

Well, they’re both made from corn – but they’re not the same and aren’t interchangeable. Corn syrup (both light and dark) can be easily found in the baking section of nearly any grocery store. It’s generally kept near sugar, maple syrups, and molasses. Some versions of light corn syrup have a bit of vanilla added (Karo brand , for one). Dark corn syrup is enhanced with things to make it taste more like molasses. High fructose corn syrup isn’t something you’ll find in the store for home use because it’s made specifically for commercially processed and produced food items. You’ll see HFCS on food labels.

What can I add to sweet cream ice cream?

Check out the notes below the recipe. Sweet cream ice cream is delicious eaten alone, but it’s also a “blank canvas”, so feel free to add your favorite fruits, nuts, toppings, jams, candies, or whatever else your heart desires. If you love the Cold Stone experience and want to try that out at home, visit our shop and check out this super sweet Parlor Ice Cream Mixing set.

A spoonful of sweet cream ice cream.

Sweet Cream Ice Cream

5 / 3 votes
This sweet cream ice cream recipe contains no vanilla. And no eggs. Just milk, heavy cream, sugar, and cream cheese. And it tastes just like Cold Stone Creamery’s version that started the whole sweet cream sensation.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories332 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time10 hours


  • Ice cream maker


  • 2 2/3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup, [Editor’s Note: Just to clarify, this is different than high-fructose corn syrup and is not nearly as terrible for you. Promise.]


  • In a small bowl, mix about 2 tablespoons milk with the cornstarch to make a smooth slurry.
  • In a slightly larger bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth.
  • Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water.
  • In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar, and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Keep it at a boil for 4 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  • Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon resealable plastic freezer bag, squeezing out as much air as possible before sealing it. Submerge the bag filled with the ice cream base in the ice water and let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes or tuck it in the fridge and let it rest for up to several hours.
  • Process the ice cream base according to your ice cream machine manufacturer's directions. (The ice cream mixture will be very thick even when you begin to churn it. Don't fret. This is okay.)
  • Transfer the churned ice cream into a container with a lid. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface of the ice cream and seal it. Stash the ice cream in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.


Sweet Cream Ice Cream Variation

Sweet Cream Ice Cream With Fruit Swirl Variation
To layer jam or caramel sauce into ice cream, start by drizzling a spoonful of jam or caramel in the bottom of the storage container and spread a layer of ice cream over it. Add a few more spoonfuls of gooey stuff over the nooks of the ice cream. The sauce should not cover the underlying layer of ice cream. Then add another ice cream layer. Continue the sauce and ice cream layering until all the ice cream is used. Note that you do not want to “swirl” the sauce into the ice cream because it will get lost; instead, try to keep it in small pockets throughout the ice cream for a more dramatic presentation and flavor. We also like to add a few final spoonfuls of sauce on the top for decoration, just before covering everything with parchment.
What Else You Can Do With Sweet Cream Ice Cream
This sweet cream ice cream recipe is my classic, creamy, smooth ice cream base for several recipes—it can be used to make any flavor you wish. It’s the ideal blank canvas. It’s wonderful by itself or in a sundae or with any sauce or jam layered throughout. You can customize it with the addition of essential oils and extracts, fruits, herbs, spices, nuts, crumbled cakes, cookies, as well as jams and sauces. One of our all-time biggest hits, and one of my personal favorites, is where the sweet cream ice cream is swirled with blackberry jam.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts Cookbook

Adapted From

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts

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Serving: 0.5 cupCalories: 332 kcalCarbohydrates: 33 gProtein: 4 gFat: 21 gSaturated Fat: 13 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gCholesterol: 68 mgSodium: 109 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 32 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2014 Jeni Britton Bauer. Photo © 2014 Kelsey McClellan. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is an excellent ice cream base recipe that can be used in tons of variations. The basic recipe is just like the title promises—sweet, creamy, and scoopable right out of the freezer.

I had homemade blueberry preserves on hand, so that’s what I went with as an add-in. (Blueberries and cream are a match made in heaven.) I chilled the sweet cream ice cream mixture in the fridge for about 8 hours before churning it as I didn’t have the time to churn it the same day, and ice cream bases benefit from a long rest in the fridge anyway. Adding the blueberry jam by the spoonful worked very well and a final spoonful (or two) on top added a nice touch and made sure there was a burst of flavor with every scoop.

Do not take a shortcut with the 4 minutes boiling time. This is important for the sugars in the milk to fully cook and will improve the texture and flavor of the ice cream.

This sweet cream ice cream recipe works as written EVERY SINGLE TIME! This has been my go-to ice cream recipe for more than a year. One of the many great things about this recipe is the substitution of cream cheese for egg. interestingly, I would say that the flavor of this fabulous ice cream, when served plain, is custard-like. Considering the lack of egg, this seems unusual.

This also has no vanilla, but splitting a whole vanilla bean and scraping the seeds into the mix before you boil it produces wonderful results!

I have made many flavors using this basic recipe and have always been pleased. Just a couple suggestions follow…

When you mix the hot cream with the cream cheese, whisk it well, or you may end up with chunks of cream cheese, which can be delicious but isn’t what you’re looking for.

Also, I like to freeze the finished ice cream for another 5 or 6 hours to make it very solid, although you can eat it immediately after churning and it’s still top-notch. I really love this recipe, and you can make it in a little more than half an hour, about the same amount of time it’d take to drive to the store to buy something that wouldn’t be nearly as good!

I loved the texture and taste of this sweet cream ice cream. It was smooth and creamy. There isn’t any vanilla called for in the recipe, so the taste is pure sweet cream and cream cheese.

I didn’t layer it with a sauce or jam, but I could see adding a strawberry or blackberry coulis to it.

When I’ve made ice cream in the past, it usually froze in 20 minutes, but this sweet cream ice cream took about 35 minutes. I transferred it to a quart container and let it freeze overnight.

One of my favorite ice creams to make is Jeni’s Black Coffee Ice Cream. It was a tester recipe here a few years ago, and it’s a real winner. The cream cheese, the cornstarch slurry, the cooking method, the parchment paper covering the finished product are all similar to this recipe. How could I not try this recipe? This is even easier to make than the black coffee ice cream and is so much easier to make than ice creams that are made with egg yolks. You basically mix up some ingredients, boil them for a few minutes, whisk in the cornstarch slurry, boil for another minute, then mix everything into the cream cheese. That’s it.

As advertised, this ice cream tastes like sweet cream. It’s a great base for add-ins. I treated each pint differently. With the first pint, I poured some dark chocolate sauce in between the layers and sprinkled pistachio toffee over that. After being in the freezer for awhile, the chocolate sauce solidified too much. The ice cream really needed to soften or you had to break through the layers. I would not make this with a chocolate sauce again. (Did I really say that?)

When making the second pint, I found a forgotten jar of brandied cherries that I’d made last summer in the refrigerator. I boiled down and thickened the sauce with a little cornstarch and chopped the cherries. I layered that into one of the pint containers with the ice cream. Really yummy.

Earlier in the day I had made honey nut pralines, which I sprinkled in between layers of ice cream for the third pint. The coating melted a bit and created a tiny bit of sauce here and there. Another winner.

I’m sure that when I make this ice cream again, I will have thought of something else. I must say, however, that the ice cream is also really very good on its own, and that next time I will be sure to let more of the base shine through.

I never put my ice cream mixture into a plastic bag as the recipe directs you to. When making Jeni’s ice creams, I always put my mixture in a deep bowl (this saves you a bowl to wash if you have the cream cheese in that bowl) and then place this bowl in a larger bowl which is filled partway with ice water. I then put that into the refrigerator. It cools down beautifully.

I was not able to process my ice cream after the 30 minutes called for in the recipe. I was delayed, and the mixture ended up sitting in the refrigerator for 5 1/2 hours. I have never found it to be a problem having it spend some extra time in the fridge.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. Where can I find the Culinaria ice creams? I can’t find it at Culinaria in downtown St. Louis.

    1. Lavern, thanks for writing. We’re not associated with the Culinaria market in St. Louis. We’re a food website, and this recipe comes from a cookbook. Sorry I can’t help more.

  2. This is also my go-to recipe for ice cream. It’s delicious and works every time. I like to serve it plain, or with instant espresso powder sprinkled on top, or with a shot of espresso (at night decaf) for a traditional affogato. I also like a small scoop on top of a piece of Alice Medrich’s Almond Cake with a Crunchy Crust from her book Pure Desserts.

    I agree with Jackie G. and never put the hot mixture in a plastic bag. I use a small stainless steel bowl fitted into a larger bowl and make an ice bath. I then put both bowls in the refrigerator for two hours before proceeding with the ice cream and have always had luck with this method. In fact, I make this so often I keep the stainless steel bowls in the refrigerator all the time so they are already cold when I start the recipe.

    This recipe is really sublime, and I thank Jeni for being so generous as to share it. I have – and love – both her books.

    1. I see we have a mutual love of both Jeni and this ice cream. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your suggestions. Love them.

  3. I went to a book signing/demo last year with Jeni of Jeni’s Ice Cream. First, she is super fun and an inspiring business woman! But this Sweet Cream ice cream was my hands-down favorite treat we tasted. (It was particularly scrumptious with her perfect, easy Blueberry Cobbler—a classic recipe for her high school Home Ec class.) The simplicity of the Sweet Cream ice cream really lets so the pure sweet flavor of high quality cream shine through brilliantly. It was eye-opening to taste how much vanilla masks the flavor of cream—something I never noticed until it wasn’t there. This is a great one to add to your repertoire!

    1. Couldn’t agree with you more, Alex. On all counts. We so appreciate you taking the time to comment. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next!