We Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For…Frozen Custard?

The many, and often subtle, differences between all those frozen desserts you’ve been eating all summer long.

Frozen DessertsIce cream

For a product to legally label itself “ice cream,” it has to consist of at least 20 percent milk proteins and 10 percent dairy fat, or “cream.” (Although the more expensive, tastier brands have as much as 18 percent fat.) Another 15 percent is sugar.

Frozen custard

A variety of ice cream historically most prevalent and popular in the northeastern U.S., frozen custard is basically ice cream with egg yolk added (at least 1.4 percent by total weight), which makes the end product richer and creamier.


Gelato is an Italian variation of ice cream—its name is the Italian word for “frozen.” It’s also traditionally made with milk instead of cream. Gelato is so thick, creamy, and rich because it’s churned in such a way that, unlike ice cream, very little air is added in along the way.


Contrary to popular belief, sherbet isn’t a non-dairy alternative to ice cream. It’s an ice cream-like dessert based on milk and cream and sweetened with fruit juice. (Another myth debunked: it’s sherbet, not sherbert.)


Sorbet is sherbet without the dairy—it’s flavored, frozen water, or frozen fruit juice.

Frozen yogurt

Is it healthier than ice cream? Yes, because of the intestinally-friendly cultures in the yogurt. But it’s not 100 percent better for you than ice cream—“froyo” is often a cream-and-milk ice cream base mixed with the lower-fat yogurt.