What Makes Philadelphia-Style Ice Cream Unique

If you're a true ice cream fan, even the cold weather won't deter you from purchasing the creamy dessert. But, depending on where you come from in the world, your go-to flavors or styles of ice cream may differ.

For example, Thailand has i tim pad, a quickly-frozen version of the dessert that is scraped off a cold and flat metal griddle, rolled into a cylindrical form, and placed vertically into cups, per Serious Eats. Purchasing a cup often comes with street-side theatrics and endless toppings. Further west, Turkey's viral stretchy ice cream, called dondurma, is a must. An orchid root native to the country is what provides the unique dessert with its note-worthy elastic qualities.

And, if you're from the U.S., the ice cream you grab from the grocery store or the hard ice cream you purchase from a local dairy stall is most likely made in a French-style. However, this traditional blend may have competition as the fluffier, more delicate Philadelphia-style ice cream may be the preferred frozen treat for some. 

How Philly-style and French-style differ

Philadelphia-style ice cream is also known as New York ice cream or American ice cream, but, oddly, these places have little to do with the ice cream itself, according to Serious Eats. The one aspect of Philly-style ice cream that sets it apart is the absence of just one ingredient: eggs.

The traditional French-style ice cream, seen throughout supermarkets and roadside stalls in the U.S., uses a rich base that usually contains egg yolks. As Today notes, eggs are often included in ice cream recipes because they make the final result desirably thicker and creamier. Alongside eggs, common ingredients in this traditional style include sugar, cream, milk, and additional flavorings.

Philadelphia-style ice cream, on the other hand, showcases just two main ingredients: cream and sugar, along with any additional flavorings. Some argue this simpler recipe makes a more desirable dessert as this style is often much airier in texture and meltier in nature, an ideal trait for those that like licking rather than biting their ice cream. Others enjoy the strong and fresh cream flavor being front-and–center in this icier variation.

How Philly-style ice cream is made

Philadelphia-style ice cream is straightforward to make at home, which is helpful because it is harder to find in grocery stores. The first step is to source your ingredients, ideally being fresh from a local dairy for the best results.

According to King Arthur Baking Company, to make Philadelphia-style ice cream, you will need to pour about a cup of cream into a heated saucepan, along with sugar and a bit of salt. Once the sugar dissolves, additional cups of dairy are added, along with any flavorings you desire, such as an extract. The mixture can then be poured into a pan and frozen. Ideally, you'll end up with a soft-textured, fluffy ice cream that can be stored for about 2 weeks in your freezer.

Serious Eats notes that since the eggs are not present in this style to stabilize and strengthen the ice cream, it may come out a little too runny. In that case, adding stabilizing ingredients, like cornstarch or milk powder, should do the trick.

Now that you know how to make it, you can eat your new favorite ice cream style with a warm baked good or straight from the container, like us.