Ice Cream & Frozen Desserts

Frozen Vanilla Custard (Just Like Shake Shack)

4.45 from 9 votes
My homemade Vanilla Frozen Custard recipe is creamy, smooth, cold — and almost indistinguishable from Shake Shack's frozen custard!
Frozen Custard in tubs.

Hi Bold Bakers!

About This Recipe: Making frozen custard just like Shake Shack’s isn’t hard — but you do need an ice cream machine. What you end up with though is almost indistinguishable from the soft, creamy, frozen dessert that’s become famous from Shake Shack. So, if you’ve ever wondered how to make Shake Shack’s Frozen Custard at home, here’s how!

Why I Decided To Make This Recipe: I’ve had so many Bold Bakers (and everyone on the BBB team here!) tell me I had to go to Shake Shack to try their frozen custard for myself. To be honest, it sounded right up my alley. From what I’ve heard, it has everything I want in a dessert: a creamy flavor and a smooth texture. I have no idea why I waited so long to try it!

Long story short, after I finished my burger and fries, and sent Kevin back to the counter to get the frozen custard. I had only one complaint — why did Kevin get one TUB to share!? … He also got the small size. Does he not know me at all?!

Shake Shack’s vanilla frozen custard is absolutely insane! I would say it’s one of my favorite desserts of all time. It’s super-rich and almost has the texture of soft-serve ice cream. And, if you are an ice cream aficionado, then you know it’s best to eat frozen desserts when they are a little soft; the flavor is ten times better. Big bonus points go to Shake Shack for being generous with the vanilla and salt in their custard! 

As Kevin does, he challenged me to try and make the Shake Shack Frozen Custard at home. The results? I’ll let you be the judge, but I don’t think I’ll need to make the long trip across LA to get to the closest Shake Shack for some time.

Two servings of Shake Shack's frozen custard.

What Is Frozen Custard?

The main difference between frozen custard and ice cream is the ingredients. Ice cream is made with milk and cream. Frozen custard is made with milk, cream, and eggs. Those eggs make the custard richer and denser than ice cream. 

Way back in 1919 at Coney Island, two ice cream vendors, Archie and Elton Kohr, realized that adding egg yolks to ice cream helped make a smoother texture and helped make the ice cream stay cold longer. The first weekend on the boardwalk, they sold 18,460 cones!

If you want a creamy ice cream that couldn’t be easier, try my 2-Ingredient Ice Cream recipe!

What You Need To Make Frozen Custard

How To Make Frozen Custard

No need to search for the closest Shake Shack; here’s how you can make your own frozen custard at home. This recipe has been tested over and over, and with all of the kinks worked out, here’s what you’ll be doing (and don’t forget to get all the measurements further down on the page): 

  1. Heat the cream and milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture occasionally to prevent sticking. Heat the mixture until it just starts to simmer, usually around 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together until it becomes pale yellow and fluffy.
  3. Whisk a ladleful of the milk mixture into the egg mixture. Add another ladleful and whisk thoroughly before adding the next. Gradually add the remaining milk mixture and whisk thoroughly. This is tempering and keeps the eggs from cooking. 
  4. Pour the custard base back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the custard thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon, around 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Once thickened, pour the custard through a sieve to remove any lumps. Then whisk in the vanilla extract.
  6. Set the custard aside to cool. Once cooled, cover and refrigerate until very cold, preferably overnight. 
  7. Pour the custard into your ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions until the custard reaches the consistency of soft-serve ice cream, about 20 minutes. 
  8. Transfer the custard to a freezable container and cover and freeze until it is firm enough to scoop for at least 4 hours. 

A hand holding a cup of frozen custard.

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Frozen Vanilla Custard

  • Make the custard up to 2 days in advance; the flavor gets better as it sits.
  • Use full-fat milk and cream for more flavor in your custard. 
  • Have your egg yolks out at room temperature for an hour before you begin to make your custard. You don’t want the eggs to be cold from the fridge before they get blended into hot liquid.
  • When churning the custard base, make sure it is very cold. The cold custard will freeze fast, which will give you better results.
  • Don’t be shy with the salt and vanilla!

How Do I Store Frozen Custard?

You can store your homemade frozen custard in the freezer for up to a week for the best flavor and texture. 

Make More Ice Cream!

And don’t forget to buy my Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook!

Watch The Recipe Video!

Vanilla Frozen Custard Recipe (Shake Shack)

4.45 from 9 votes
My homemade Vanilla Frozen Custard recipe is creamy, smooth, cold — and almost indistinguishable from Shake Shack's frozen custard!
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 2 pints
Prep Time 20 mins
chill 4 hrs
My homemade Vanilla Frozen Custard recipe is creamy, smooth, cold — and almost indistinguishable from Shake Shack's frozen custard!
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 2 pints

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (16floz/480ml) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (8floz/240ml) whole milk
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • cup (5oz/142g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Heat the cream and milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom. Heat just until mixture starts to simmer, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together until pale yellow and fluffy.
  • Whisk a ladleful of milk-cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Add another ladleful and whisk thoroughly before adding the next (this is called tempering and keeps the eggs from cooking). Gradually add the remaining milk-cream mixture and whisk thoroughly.
  • Pour the custard base back into your saucepan and over medium-low heat gently cook until your custard thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon, around 8-10 minutes.
  • Once thickened, pour the custard through a sieve to remove any lumps. Lastly, whisk in the vanilla extract.
  • Set aside to cool down. Once cooled, cover and refrigerate until very cold, preferably overnight. (The custard churns faster the colder it is).
  • Pour custard mixture into ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions until the custard reaches the consistency of soft-serve ice cream, about 20 minutes.
  • Once the custard resembles soft-serve then quickly transfer to a freezable container. Cover the container and freeze until custard is firm enough to scoop, at least 4 hours.

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Debbi S
Debbi S
1 month ago

Hello Gemma!
Wondering…..what if I wanted flavored custard?
Chocolate, strawberry or
Lemon sounds dreamy!
Thanks for what I know
is going to another go recipe.

annkountouris
1 month ago

Just made this recipe and it turned out great, smooth and delicious and easy to scoop!!

shira
shira
1 month ago

I seriously wish I could give more than 5 stars!!! I don’t live in LA & I’m so grateful that you’ve allowed me to experience this amazing dessert at home!!! Thanks for all of your hard work to bring us the best & boldest recipes 😉

Asiya
Asiya
1 month ago

Hi I want to learn how to make shawarma

Asiya
Asiya
1 month ago

Wow I love your recipe for cooking and baking

Asiya
Asiya
1 month ago

I want to learn more.

Asiya
Asiya
1 month ago

Wow I love you recipes for cooking and baking

Kathy
1 month ago

Thanks, Gemma! I was concerned about your salt comment as I am really having to watch my sodium, but 1/4 tsp isn’t bad, and contributes to the sweetness and the texture. I need to have room in my freezer for my ice cream maker’s tub before I do it. I have done ice cream bases with eggs on the stovetop plenty of times, but this time, I want to do the base with my sous vide. I bought a sale model this summer as a get-well/cheer up gift for myself and I have not regretted it. I can easily make… Read more »

Sheila Rebello
Sheila Rebello
1 month ago

Gemma what if one doesn’t have an ice cream maker?? Can I just beat the chilled custard with a hand mixer??

Mila
Mila
1 month ago

Now I have to buy an icecream machine! 🍦😊

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!

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