How to make creamy ice cream

The CREAMIEST Ice Cream Recipe

All the tips you need to make creamy, not icy, Homemade Ginger Lime Ice Cream with simple syrup from Royal Rose Organic Syrup. This ice cream is creamy and full of fresh flavor!

Making homemade ice cream is easier than you think but there are few key points that you should know to get ice cream that is creamy and smooth, not icy and crystallized.

The key to creamy ice cream comes down to three things: a high percentage of fat (using cream vs. milk), churning the ice cream quickly which ensures the smallest possible ice crystals, and the amount and type of sugar used.

Photo by Henrieke Fischer on Unsplash

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Should you use cream or milk to make ice cream?

The answer to this question can be complicated since it depends on the final product that you desire. Using heavy cream in your ice cream base instead of milk will create a richer flavor and texture.

Ironically, heavy cream will also make your ice cream lighter and fluffier because the higher fat content will freeze more quickly when churned. This keeps the ice crystals small, ensuring a creamy texture.

Using milk, which has less fat, will take longer to freeze, expanding the size of the crystals and allowing an icy layer to form faster in the freezer.

If you are looking to save on calories, you can use milk in your homemade ice cream but go for the whole milk – save the skim for your cereal!

My recommendation is to use at least half heavy cream, especially when you first start making ice cream, then experiment with lower fat options.

This recipe contains half milk, which is used in the custard base. Then heavy cream is whipped and folded in just prior to churning. This phased approach ensures a light texture that is to die for!

Chilling your custard base

Most ice cream recipes start with a custard base. The more egg yolks in the recipe, the closer your ice cream will be to frozen custard, which tends to be very rich and almost chewy.

The number of yolks can changed based on your preference as well as your sweetener and mix-ins.

If you are adding fresh fruit, you will be adding moisture, which may require an additional egg yolk to ensure a firm enough set in the final ice cream. (The best way to add fruit to ice cream is to macerate it first. It becomes more syrupy and not as likely to crystallize.)

Making a basic custard base is a quick process that starts with warming the cream and milk with the eggs and sugar. The heating process should be done slowly to avoid curdling the egg yolks. This process is called tempering (a little more on that later).

For now, let’s talk about chilling your custard base and why it is important.

When you make ice cream, you are becoming a scientist! You may not realize it but there are so many reactions that are happening and there are specific methods that produce specific results.

By chilling your custard base, it will be cold when adding to the ice cream machine and will freeze faster. The ice crystals will be created but will stay smaller. So instead of having an icy, you will end up with creamy ice cream.

I have read a lot of debate on this topic but I sit firmly in the ‘chill before churning’ camp. In my experience, the end result is creamier and makes it worth the extra step.

Tips to making the creamiest ice cream at home.
Photo by Michelle Tsang on Unsplash

Using Simple Syrup in Ice Cream

You’ll notice in my recipe below that I use both brown sugar and a flavored simple syrup.

The reason for this is twofold. First, flavor. The brown sugar adds a depth of flavor that you just don’t get from white granulated sugar. It works well in this particular ice cream because you are reminded of key lime pie that normally has a graham cracker crust with a brown sugary flavor.

Second, the addition of simple syrup is known to help with the creaminess of the ice cream while also adding flavor.

Basic simple syrup is a mixture of equal parts sugar and water. It is cooked down a bit until the sugar melts and the mixture becomes thicker.

The Syrups that I have used are from a company called Royal Rose. Their syrups are all organic and they have so many flavors to choose from!

Check out their selection

Making homemade ice cream with simple syrup

First, make the custard base:

Custard is not hard to make but does take a gentle hand. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat to high to speed up the process! Gentle heat and constant stirring are the keys here.

Begin by heating the milk in a saucepan.

When the milk has warmed (but not boiled!!) whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. It is important not to do this step too early! Sugar is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture. If you dump the egg yolks and sugar together and leave them alone while the milk heats up, the yolks will shrivel and coagulate. Yuck!

While continuously stirring the egg yolks and sugar, gently add a little of the hot milk with a ladle or large spoon. Add a little more, stirring constantly. Pour in the rest of the hot milk and stir well.

Clean the pan quickly and then strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer back into the pan. Sometimes you will get small bits of cooked egg yolk so don’t skip this step!

Cook the mixture, while continuing to stir, over low-medium heat until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. When you run your finger through it on the back of the spoon, the line should stay there.

Remove from heat and pour the custard base into a bowl. Cover with cling film, pushing the cling film to lay on the surface of the custard. This will keep a skin from forming on the top of the custard.

Chill the custard for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

Making the Ice Cream

When ready to make the ice cream, whisk the heavy cream until it reaches medium stiff peaks. Set aside for a minute.

Pour the simple syrup into the custard base and mix to incorporate. If you don’t have simple syrup, use 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice mixed with 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar.

Fold the whipped cream into the custard.

Pour all of the mixture into your ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturers instructions.

When the ice cream is at the desired consistency and temperature, add the chopped ginger and lime zest. Churn for 2 minutes to incorporate.

Place the ice cream in a freezer proof container. A flat, thin container is best to keep the best texture and allow for easy scooping.

An extra step you can take to keep ice crystals from forming is to place cling film on the top surface of the ice cream before putting on the airtight lid.

Homemade Ginger Lime Ice Cream Recipe

Serving this ice cream with gingersnaps or graham crackers on top makes it taste like a frozen Key Lime Pie! Give it a try!

Be sure to check out the recipe for my Dark and Stormy Swiss Roll Cake with lime!!

For a dinner recipe with a kick of lime, try my Basil Lime Chicken!

Happy Baking!


Ginger Lime Ice Cream with Royal Rose Hot Ginger Lime Simple Syrup

Recipe by Tanya Ott


Prep time




  • 300mL (1 1/4 cups) whole milk

  • 3 large egg yolks

  • 68 grams (1/3 cup) light brown sugar

  • 300mL (1 1/4 cups) heavy whipping cream

  • 60 grams stem ginger or crystallized ginger, finely chopped

  • 3 Tablespoons Royal Rose Hot Ginger Lime Simple Syrup (see note for substitution)

  • 2 Tablespoons lime zest


  • Pour milk into a saucepan and bring almost to a boil. Remover from the heat. Put the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl and whisk together until pale and the mixture leaves a trail when the whisk is lifted. Gradually add the milk to the sugar mixture, stirring constantly with the whisk.
  • Strain the mixture into the rinsed out pan or a double boiler and cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Do not let the mixture boil or it will curdle.
  • Remove the custard from the heat, press cling film onto the surface of the custard, and chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours.
  • When ready to churn the ice cream, whip the heavy whipping cream until it reaches medium-stiff peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use. Finely chop the ginger. Remove the custard from the refrigerator and stir in the ginger syrup (do not add the chopped ginger yet.)
  • If using an ice cream machine, fold the whipped cream into the cold custard, then churn the mixture in the machine following the manufacturer’s instructions. Just before the ice cream freezes, add the chopped ginger and lime zest.
  • Alternatively, freeze the custard in a freezer-proof container for 1 to 2 hours, until it begins to set around the edges. Turn the custard out into a bowl; stir until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream, chopped ginger and lime zest. Return to the freezer and freeze for 2 to 3 hours more, until firm. Cover with a lid and keep frozen until needed.
  • Scoop and garnish with a graham cracker or gingersnap cookie and additional lime zest if desired.


  • If you do not have pre-made simple syrup, you can make a batch and keep it in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Or just stir together 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice and 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar in place of the 3 Tablespoons organic simple syrup.
Creamy homemade ice cream

One Comment

  1. Great post, Tanya!

    I’ve been enjoying carbonated water with that exact simple syrup – it is lovely! But now I realized the little bottle won’t last me that long….. (sigh)

    nothing wrong with placing another order soon

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