Frozen Custard Vs Ice Cream

Ice cream, frozen yogurt, custard, gelato… ever wondered what sets them apart? Well, here’s the lowdown!

Differences of frozen desserts

Now, I’m not an expert in this field (although, if eating a frozen treat every night counts, then maybe I am), but I can definitely help break things down for you in simple terms.

Before we dive in, let me emphasize that the nutritional information provided is just an example based on the brand seen in the photo. The nutrition for each type of frozen dessert can vary greatly depending on the brand you choose.

We’ll discuss more specific examples later, but just remember that the exact calories are not set in stone. They’re just meant to give you a general idea!

Regardless, let’s explore what makes each option different, keeping nutrition aside for now, so you can have a better understanding of what you’re indulging in!

Ice Cream

Ice Cream Cone

First things first, let’s talk about classic ice cream, which happens to be my personal favorite.

Ice cream is a delightful blend of milk, cream, sugar, and various flavorings depending on the specific flavor you choose.

In order to be classified as ice cream, it must have a minimum milkfat content of 10%. If it has less than that, it will be labeled as “frozen dairy dessert.”

You may have noticed this label on Breyer’s ice cream. While Breyer’s is made with all the same ingredients as regular ice cream, it falls just short of that 10% milkfat requirement, so it can’t officially be called ice cream according to the FDA.

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Now, the calorie count for a scoop of ice cream can vary greatly. Let’s take Hudsonville Vanilla Bean Ice Cream as an example:

Hudsonville Vanilla Ice Cream

Nutrition of a 2/3 Cup Serving of Ice Cream:

  • 170 Calories
  • 9g Fat
  • 19g Carbs
  • 4g Protein

Keep in mind that ice cream can be made with different ingredient proportions and varying amounts of air whipped into it (also known as overrun). Thus, the calorie content will vary depending on the brand. For instance, a 2/3 cup serving of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food contains 390 calories.

If you’re at a local ice cream shop and want to estimate the calories, check out my tips on estimating when eating out!

Frozen Yogurt

Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt took the world by storm several years ago, with “Froyo” shops popping up on every corner.

We often perceive frozen yogurt as a healthier alternative to ice cream, but what exactly makes it healthier?

Frozen yogurt is made similarly to ice cream, but it substitutes the cream with cultured dairy, like regular yogurt. The reduced cream content results in lower fat and calorie content compared to traditional ice cream.

Additionally, frozen yogurt contains probiotics, although the levels are not as high as in regular yogurt. Nevertheless, it’s a nice health benefit that you won’t find in ice cream.

On the flip side, since yogurt tends to be tart, frozen yogurt often contains more sugar than other frozen dessert options. While some low-sugar or sugar-free options are available, additional sweeteners are usually necessary to balance the tartness.

If you’re following a low-carb diet, be cautious when choosing frozen yogurt!

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Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts for a scoop of Kroger Frozen Yogurt:

Kroger Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

Nutrition of a 2/3 Cup Serving of Frozen Yogurt:

  • 120 Calories
  • 1.5g Fat
  • 24g Carbs
  • 3g Protein

Frozen Custard

Frozen Custard

Where I live, we’re fortunate to have several frozen custard options, one of them being Culver’s.

Until I researched for this article, I never really knew what custard actually was. It always seemed like a more decadent version of ice cream, but I never understood why.

Turns out, custard is quite similar to ice cream, but it contains a higher proportion of egg yolks, which gives it a creamier texture. You’ll notice that custard not only tastes creamier, but also has a more vibrant yellow color due to the added egg yolk.

While ice cream may contain eggs in addition to the milk, cream, and sugar base, frozen custard has a higher overall egg yolk percentage.

The result is a velvety smooth product with a slightly higher fat content compared to ice cream.

Though Edy’s discontinued their Frozen Custard product, we can still use it as a reference to estimate the general calorie content of frozen custard:

Edy's Frozen Custard

Nutrition of a 2/3 Cup Serving of Frozen Custard:

  • 210 Calories
  • 10g Fat
  • 25g Carbs
  • 4g Protein


Case of Gelato

Lastly, we have gelato: arguably the most heavenly option of them all. The Italians truly know how to create perfection.

Gelato is the Italian version of ice cream, so the ingredients are very similar, just in different proportions.

But if you’ve ever tasted gelato, you’ll know just how soft and rich it is. So, how do they achieve that?

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Gelato actually contains less air compared to any other frozen dessert. By incorporating less air, it becomes incredibly dense and creamy, almost like a spread.

Gelato is served at a slightly higher temperature than ice cream. Although it’s still cold enough to remain frozen, the slightly higher temperature contributes to its remarkable smoothness and creaminess.

When it comes to nutrition, a 2/3 cup serving of gelato is not exactly equivalent to the other options, so it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Due to its low air content, gelato is denser and therefore heavier. When comparing the same serving size (2/3 cup), you’ll notice that gelato weighs about 50% more than the other options.

Naturally, it also has the highest calorie content, but its density makes it the most filling!

The nutritional profile may vary for authentic Italian gelato, but let’s consider Talenti’s Organic Gelato as an example (which is about as authentic as it gets around here!):

Talenti Organic Gelato

Nutrition of a 2/3 Cup Serving of Gelato:

  • 240 Calories
  • 11g Fat
  • 31g Carbs
  • 4g Protein

No matter which frozen treat you choose, you’re in for a delightful experience! And if you’re craving homemade ice cream recipes, make sure to check out all the recipes I posted for Ice Cream Week!

Remember to consider your preferences, dietary needs, and the occasion when deciding which frozen dessert to indulge in. Enjoy your treat, and feel free to explore more delicious options at Family Cuisine!

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