The Ingredient Swap You Should Try For Homemade Ice Cream

Though chocolate and vanilla are perhaps the most popular flavors, ice cream these days is more creative than ever. Vegetable-flavored ice cream and everything bagel ice cream now exist, and there's even a mac and cheese option. You can find many of these novelties in the freezer section of your local grocery store, but if you want to take the customizations into your own hands, it's easy to make ice cream at home too.

Whether you're using a custard base, making it Philadelphia-style without eggs, using an ice cream machine, or just a hand mixer, you'll find that most recipes call for heavy cream. Heavy cream, as Dixie Crystals explains, is usually used in ice cream because of its fat content. The 36% to 40% milk fat allows the liquid to be whipped into a firm consistency to ultimately form a thick and creamy dessert. 

You might assume, therefore, that heavy cream is a must in ice cream, but the truth is you get better results when you swap it for another ingredient.

Use half and half or milk instead of heavy cream

Heavy cream does more than give ice cream its structure. According to Recipe Tips, it also contributes to the flavor — and not necessarily in a good way. The more you churn the heavy cream, the more buttery it'll start to taste and as a result can overpower the other flavors in your ice cream. While one way to avoid this is to simply be judicious about over churning your ice cream, per Taste of Home's suggestion, it's even easier to simply swap the heavy cream with half and half or milk. 

Because milk and half and half don't contain nearly as much milk fat as heavy cream, you won't have to worry about your ice cream turning into butter mid-churn. For the same reason, your ice cream won't leave behind an unpleasant film in your mouth that heavy cream-based ice cream usually does. 

In the end, even without the heavy cream, you'll still end up with a creamy and decadent ice cream with a greatly improved mouthfeel and flavor.