You sure can—unless you’re set on making a high-fat, superrich ice cream, the kind available in most high-end scoop shops, which do depend on a custard base. Otherwise there are plenty of other homemade ice cream styles that don’t call for tons of egg yolks—or any egg yolks at all.
Some Italian gelato recipes, for instance, rely on cornstarch for thickening. Philadelphia-style ice creams use just milk, cream, and sugar, with no cooking involved—infinitely easier to make than a French-style ice cream, which calls for tempering eggs and cooking the custard base on the stovetop. And then there are vegan ice creams that call for an array of rich, non-dairy ingredients like coconut milk, cashew milk, oat milk, and more (though not all dairy-free ice creams are also free of eggs, so always check your labels).
Pros & Cons of Egg-Free Ice Cream
The downside of non-egg ice creams is that they can be harder to scoop (yolks make ice creams richer and creamier), and ice crystals form more easily. But the upside, according to David Lebovitz in “The Perfect Scoop,” is that flavors will be more intense (yolks can dominate delicate flavors like fresh fruit).
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A go-to resource for everything ice cream, sorbet, gelato, and more, recently revised and updated with new recipes and gorgeous photos.
Adding a bit of alcohol or natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup will help prevent your mix from freezing into a solid, unscoopable mass.
As a pro, an ice cream without egg-yolk richness is one you can eat more of in one sitting, a bonus if ever we heard one!
Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio, uses a mixture of cream cheese, cornstarch or tapioca starch, and corn syrup or tapioca syrup in her homemade ice cream recipe, yielding ice cream that’s perfectly scoopable straight from the freezer. (The recipes for Jeni’s ice cream shops and pints combine the powers of milk proteins and tapioca syrup.)
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Even more ice cream inspiration from the expert.
Keep in mind that ice cream recipes are pretty flexible, and different flavors can taste better with either a purer-tasting, non-egg Philadelphia-style base, or with a rich, eggy, French-style base. If your homemade ice cream base seems lacking in richness and you’re not averse to eggs, add one or two yolks next time. And if it’s too creamy or custardy, next time around hold back a yolk or two until you find your perfect scoop.
Egg-Free Ice Cream Recipes
Try these egg-free ice cream recipes the next time you’re feeling inspired—but not enough to mess with custard. This first batch of egg-free recipes does include dairy like milk, cream, and yogurt, but keep scrolling for vegan and dairy-free options too!
This decadent ice cream gets its richness from whole milk and a whole block of cream cheese. Fresh strawberries and spiced cookie butter add incredible flavor that’ll make this one go fast. Get our Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream recipe.
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The perfect excuse to make multiple batches of ice cream to see which texture you like best.
This egg-free gelato based on whole milk and heavy cream incorporates cornstarch and corn syrup to help keep the texture super-smooth; honey also helps while adding floral flavor, while sesame seeds and sesame oil bring a nice nutty contrast for an uncommonly good scoop. Get our Toasted Sesame Honey Gelato recipe.
Moving into the realm of frozen yogurt, which may not technically count as ice cream but is close enough for us, this one is not what you’d call health food—there’s heavy cream to help enrich the full-fat yogurt, and the creamy peanut butter boosts the body as well as the flavor. A little vanilla, kosher salt, and sugar is the only other help it needs, besides salted roasted peanuts for a crunchy garnish. Get our Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt recipe.
This easy frozen yogurt is a little lighter on the calories, but still plenty creamy thanks to plain whole-milk yogurt and Greek yogurt. Fresh blackberries provide a sweet-tart swirl of fruity flavor and lovely color. Get our Blackberry Swirl Frozen Yogurt recipe.
Ice cream on a stick is a summer staple, but you won’t find this grown-up treat in any ice cream truck. Inspired by sweet Vietnamese coffee, it gets its richness from heavy cream and condensed milk (a staple ingredient in no-churn ice cream recipes, which are also free of eggs). Get our Vietnamese Coffee Ice Pops recipe.
Read More: 7 Ice Pops That Break the Mold
Vegan & Dairy-Free Ice Cream Recipes
No eggs, no dairy, no problem. Because as the old saw goes, we all scream for ice cream.
No matter how skeptical you may be of so-called “nice cream,” whirling frozen bananas in a food processor really does result in a rich, sweet, fluffy, frozen dessert that’s pretty convincing as an ice cream substitute. This version is stripped down to the basics, but you can add whatever mix-ins you please. Get our Banana Nice Cream recipe.
This creamy coconut-based treat is virtually indistinguishable from conventional vanilla ice cream, but it’s completely vegan. Go wild with mix-ins if you want to, or keep it classic. Get the Vegan Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream recipe.
If you’re not a fan of coconut milk, you can swap it out for cashew cream in this chocolatey recipe (and other vegan ice cream recipes too). Get the Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream recipe.
Related Video: A Brief History of Frozen Desserts
What’s your favorite egg-free ice cream recipe? Let us know in the comments!