Why You Should Always Add Egg Yolks To Homemade Ice Cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ... Well, you know the rest. Ice cream is a frozen treat everyone seems to love, whether it takes the form of a simple scoop of vanilla or is layered into showstoppers such as a hot fudge sundae, ice cream nachos, or a spumoni ice cream cake. And while it's easier than ever to pick up a pint of high-quality ice cream at your local grocery store or scoop shop, it can be a fun change of pace to spin the dessert at home.

If you've ever tackled homemade ice cream, then you know that obtaining a result that's as dense and creamy as store bought versions can be challenging. That's partly due to the superior technology of commercial ice cream makers, according to Serious Eats, with the higher-grade machines able to quickly cool large amounts of custard base, as well as rapidly whip air into it, resulting in ice cream that's smooth and silky, with fewer ice crystals than homemade versions. But if you want to whip up a dense, creamy ice cream at home, there's a must-add ingredient that will help you get there, and that's egg yolks.

Egg yolks add flavor, stability, and texture to ice cream

Did you know that almost every ice cream recipe published in the last 50 years contains egg yolks? Serious Eats explains that's due to the fact that these little yellow powerhouses contain a host of properties that bring flavor, stability, and texture to ice cream — which can be a major advantage when you're making the dessert at home and attempting to contend with high-quality store bought versions.

Let's start with that last factor: texture. According to Serious Eats, egg yolks are full of fat and protein, both of which help thicken ice cream in their own way. Fat freezes softer than water does, helping ice cream remain creamy after freezing, and egg proteins thicken into gel as they cook, which is why we mix yolks into the hot ice cream base — as well as into those of puddings, flans, and curds.

As noted by Chef Works, the magic of egg yolks doesn't end there: They are also extremely effective emulsifiers, binding the fat in an ice cream base to the water in it and helping to provide a creamy texture and lushness. And there's more: Serious Eats writes that egg yolks bring delicious flavor and a wonderful color to ice cream with their deep yellow hue.

So if you haven't tried incorporating them into your homemade ice creams, it might be time to pick up a dozen eggs.