I have a few questions regarding egg yolk in ice-cream.

I would love to try making homemde ice-cream but a lot of recipes I see have egg yolk. Is there a substitute that I could use or is it possible to just leave out the egg yolk?

I have heard that I could substitute egg yolk with coconut cream or maybe it was coconut milk. Is this true? What is the purpose of egg yolk in ice-cream?

  • 9
    There are roughly 3 types of ice cream - french, philadelphia and gelato. Only the french ones have yolk. Have you tried to make philadelphia instead, or do you insist to mimic a french recipe but without yolks? And if you want to mimic, which qualities of french do you want to keep?
    – rumtscho
    Commented Oct 14, 2011 at 15:03
  • Thank you, everyone for your comments. I will give the cream, strawberries and sugar recipe a go and will also try the flax seed.
    – user7667
    Commented Oct 15, 2011 at 10:08
  • Cross-ref cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/34720/… Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 8:38
  • For reference the french version is called creme anglaise
    – Derpy
    Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 1:41

6 Answers 6


One of my favourite ice creams involves fresh strawberries (just picked), cream, and sugar. That's all. It can be hard finding "recipes" for things that are simple, so when you search for recipes you get all kinds involving you making a custard first and so on. If you've made eggless icecream and don't like something about it, that's one thing, but my guess is you haven't made eggless icecream yet. Try it.

  • This is Philadelphia-style ice cream, as rumtscho mentioned. Sometimes it's also called American-style, I think.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Oct 14, 2011 at 19:15

I know not all people are as in to cookbooks as I am but you should have a look at a book called "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home". None of her recipes use eggs. I bought it a few months ago and it's fantastic. I don't have an ice cream maker at home but all the flavours I've tried so far have turned out really well so far. The book also explains a lot of the science behind ice cream making - which would make experimenting with different ingredients a lot easier.


I have heard that I could substitute egg yolk with coconut cream or maybe it was coconut milk. Is this true? What is the purpose of egg yolk in ice-cream?

Eggs are used to make a custard base, which when frozen has a rich flavor and creamy texture. Egg yolks also contain a lot of lecithin, a natural emulsifier which keeps fat and water from separating. That in turn helps to keep the ice cream smooth, perhaps by helping to keep the ice crystals that form during freezing small.

You don't have to use the eggs, though, and if you leave them out you generally don't need to cook the base first. Ice cream made without eggs (just milk and/or cream, sugar, and flavorings) is often known as "Philadelphia style," and because it omits the cooking step it tends to be very easy to make. It also tends to have a very fresh flavor which is well suited to fruit ice creams.

I've seen some recipes that have no eggs but include some lecithin. You might look into these especially if you want to make a higher fat ice cream with a creamier mouthfeel than you get from Philly style recipes.


If you don't want any yolk in your ice cream or Gelato, then you can use agar-agar powder, which is sold in Asian markets. It is made from seaweed, and 100% vegan (It's usual to add gelatin in ice cream for a better texture, but this makes it unsuitable for vegetarians).

  • 1
    Hello anita, welcome to the site! Thank you for your answer. Please note that health claims are discouraged here - we do not want to go there as we do not give dietary advice or start discussions about health. perhaps you would be willing to remove the bit about agar-agar being healtier?
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 17:09
  • Gelato doesn't use yolk in principle, it uses starch. No gelatine or agar-agar.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 18:47

According to the Army Medical reference;

Egg yolks increase the whipping capability of ice cream and impart a characteristic flavor to the product. They also improve the body and texture ofice cream.

My recommendation would be to go for a flax egg; mill 1 part whole flax seed and stir together with 3 parts water until a nice oozing goo. This will be a bit heavier for the purpose of whipping (it still whips, just takes an extra 5% of the time), and your palette may or may not liken the flavor to egg (I would say for baking I prefer it in batters).

However, the body and texture will be fixed up nicely with this substitute. Your recipes should come out nicely assuming you are sticking to making ice cream to make ice cream, rather than in any other implementations. If you are looking to use it some other way I am not sure how it will interact, but if you add a comment I can try to find out.


I found this link, which lists many different substitutions for eggs, depending on what the egg is being used for in the recipe.

In the case of ice cream, you're making a light custard to thicken the batter before freezing. In that case, you could substitute 2 tbsp cornstarch and 2 tbsp water. I'd whisk this up really well before mixing in, or it will tend to go lumpy.

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