Butterfat and Ice Cream

Contrary to what you may have heard, fat is good.

One of the biggest factors in ice cream’s texture is the amount of “butterfat” (the fatty part of milk) that it contains.  If there’s not enough butterfat, the ice cream tends to taste icy and not very smooth—which is fine if you’re making a sherbet or a sorbet, but not great if you’re aiming for your own version of Ben & Jerry’s.  On the other hand, if there’s too much butterfat, it starts to taste greasy like lard, and it sticks to the inside of your mouth.  Or in other words, it has bad “mouth feel”.

Another big factor that controls the texture is the amount of air in the ice cream.  Companies with big fancy machines can control the amount of air they introduce into the ice cream, and adjust the mouth feel that way as well.  But since our home machines add a fairly fixed amount of air each time, our main method of controlling the texture is by controlling the butterfat content.

  • Homemade ice cream recipes often contain about 19% butterfat. See my post about Making an Ice Cream Butterfat Calculator for more info.
  • Super-premium ice cream contains about 14-16% butterfat.
  • Premium ice cream like Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs is probably in the 12-14% neighborhood.
  • Ice cream in the U.S. has to contain at least 10% butterfat and less than 1.4% egg yolks, according to the FDA’s regulations.
  • Frozen custard is similar to ice cream, and is defined by the same FDA regulation as ice cream. It also must contain at least 10% butterfat, but must also have at least 1.4% egg yolks. It’s made with a machine that adds less air so it tastes more dense, and it’s served fresh at a higher temperature so it’s usually softer.
  • Gelato isn’t regulated in the U.S., but is usually about 3-8% butterfat and often contains more stabilizers to compensate for a lack of cream and eggs. And like frozen custard, it’s also made with less air, and served warmer, than ice cream.
  • Soft Serve is often around 3-6% butterfat.  Dairy Queen, for example, is 5%.
  • Ice Milk is about 3.5% butterfat, the same as whole milk.
  • Sherbet is also defined by the same regulation as ice cream in the U.S., and must contain 1-2% butterfat.
  • Sorbet usually contains no dairy at all, and is usually just frozen fruit juice, sugar, and water (and a great alternative for people that can’t eat dairy).

The percentages of butterfat listed above are by weight, not by volume.  So if you took a gallon of 16% super-premium ice cream and pumped it full of enough air to make it into two gallons, it’d still be 16% butterfat by weight, but it’d taste entirely different (and terrible, probably).  When you eat a super-cheap grocery store ice cream that tastes like you’re eating flavored air, that’s pretty much what it is.  They’ve put too much air into it, so they can sell more of it without actually adding more dairy ingredients.  Of course, the opposite can happen as well.  If there’s not enough air in the ice cream, it tastes too dense, almost like a frozen block of cream.  There’s a fine line between too much or too little air, and too much or too little butterfat.

The increase in volume of ice cream from adding air is referred to as overrun, and is calculated as a percentage of the original product. So if you started with a gallon of ice cream base and added the same amount of air to double it, it’d have a 100% overrun, which also happens to be the maximum allowed in the U.S. Some countries allow a maximum of 120% overrun.

Gelato and frozen custard are usually sold fresh, meaning they’re not stored like ice cream in a deep-freeze until they harden.  This is partly because the butterfat content is low enough that the water in the mix would freeze into larger crystals, making it taste icy.

Most ice cream recipes I’ve seen use heavy whipping cream, light cream, milk, or half-and-half.  The recipe I mentioned for the Sweet Cream Base uses 2 cups heavy whipping cream and 1 cup whole milk.  Most of the butterfat comes from the cream, and the milk is mostly just to increase the volume.  You could even use skim milk if you wanted, and then just increase the cream a bit to compensate for the lost butterfat.  Or use half-and-half with less cream.  That particular 2-to-1 ratio is just the one Ben & Jerry’s picked because it’s easy to make and it comes out to the amount of butterfat they wanted, which if I calculated correctly, is about 19%.

  • Heavy whipping cream is about 36% butterfat, and is not the same thing as “whipping cream” (which is 30-36%).  In Australia I believe it’s called “pure cream”, although you can also get “thickened cream”, which has gelatin added to raise the viscosity and make it easier to whip.  In the UK it’s called “whipping cream”.
  • Light cream is about 20% butterfat.  I believe it’s “light cream” in Australia and “single cream” in the UK.
  • Half-and-half is typically about 12% butterfat, but can be between 10.5 and 18%.  It’s made from a 50/50 mix of light cream and milk.  If you wanted to make your own half-and-half from heavy whipping cream and milk, I calculate that you’d need to use about one part heavy whipping cream to three parts whole milk.  But 12% is the number that’s important, and the fact that it has about a third of the butterfat of heavy whipping cream.  I believe half-and-half is called “half cream” in Australia and the UK.
  • Whole milk is usually around 3.5% butterfat.  Or in other words, about a tenth of the butterfat in heavy whipping cream.
  • Skim milk has less than 0.5% butterfat.

Whole milk is what recipes usually mean when they say just “milk”.  It has basically the same butterfat as raw milk straight from the cow.  If you let raw milk sit for a while, it separates into milk and cream, which rises to the top.  If you “skim” off the cream, you’re left with skim milk.  If you add more cream to it, you get the creams listed above, with heavy whipping cream being pretty close to pure cream.  If you mix the cream and milk together real well and basically smash all the little fat globules together, it’s homogenized, and won’t separate anymore.  If you heat the milk to a specific temperature for a specific amount of time, it’s pasteurized, and won’t contain bacteria like salmonella anymore.

By the way, ever wondered what 2% milk is two percent of?  Well, it’s not 2% of the butterfat in whole milk, because that’d be 2% of 3.5%, or in other words, white water.  :-)  It’s 2% total butterfat, just like whole milk is 3.5% total butterfat.  2% milk is about 5 grams of fat per cup (240 ml) compared to 8 grams per cup in whole milk.  Drink up.


44 comments for “Butterfat and Ice Cream”

  1. Michael Gilbert wrote:

    I’ve always wondered about the differences between “heavy whipping cream,” “half-and-half,” and the rest. I didn’t realize it makes such a big difference in the texture of ice cream. Interesting read, thanks!

    July 28, 2009, 5:02 pm
  2. Wayne wrote:

    Well, I sort of knew about the butterfat. Having milked cows and then separated the cream with a cream separator it was easy to learn that lesson. I think there is an old ice cream freezer around here somewhere. I may have to get it out and try to make some home made ice cream.

    P.S. I also walked 5 miles to school in the cold snow. :-)

    August 1, 2009, 5:42 pm
  3. Damon wrote:

    When an ice cream has less thank 10% butterfat, can it be labeled as “ice cream”? If not, then what is the correct technical term for this type of product? (i.e. 9% butterfat)

    November 2, 2009, 12:01 am
  4. Russell wrote:

    Hi Damon. Well in the U.S., the FDA has specific requirements for ice cream, saying it has to be a minimum of 10 percent butterfat. They also require sherbet to be between 1 and 2 percent butterfat. But I haven’t found an official regulation for the values in between. I’d guess a 9 percent butterfat ice cream would be called “light” or “low-fat” ice cream, but I don’t know if there’s a specific rule about it.

    November 2, 2009, 9:17 pm
  5. Megan wrote:

    I was so glad to read this. I’m working on making ‘interesting’ flavors of ice cream (though my family tells me I should have started with the plain stuff first until I ‘know what I’m doing’ but whatever) and, like many newbies, am struggling with the icy-factor. So thanks!

    July 22, 2010, 7:31 pm
  6. kym abayomi wrote:

    when i put my ice cream mixture in the fridge to cool down the fat from the cream rises to the top, i dont use eggs maybe i dont need to heat the mixture? i am using full cream fresh cream and 2% MILK.

    when i mix the ice cream it gets clumpy and sticky should i skim the fat from the top?

    February 7, 2011, 10:43 am
  7. paul wrote:

    Actually Ben & Jerry’s has been 12% butterfat ever since they were sold about 10 years ago.

    March 11, 2011, 6:41 pm
  8. paul wrote:

    Kym- You need an emulsifier (like egg yolks) or gelatin in order to keep the products “in suspension”. Of course commercially that is done by 2-stage homogenization of the mix after it has been pasteurized and before it is cooled.

    March 11, 2011, 6:43 pm
  9. paul wrote:

    Kym – When you say “full cream” are you talking an 18% light cream or a 40% heavy cream? If you’re using heavy cream then you have too much fat in the mix. What about your milk solids? You should be using a non-fat skim milk powder for that. You need high solids in the mix. Are you using the “pearson square” for calculating your formula?

    March 11, 2011, 6:44 pm
  10. Zach Harris wrote:

    I own an Ice Cream shop. When we opened 5 years ago we set out to make “super premium” ice cream. There is only one ice cream base supplier in our area, and the highest butterfat base we can get is 14% which puts us below “super premium” quality. Is there anything I can do to bump up the butterfat content of our base, maybe by adding cream? If so, how much should I add? Thanks for the Help! Zach

    April 17, 2011, 11:33 pm
  11. Russell wrote:


    Excellent question! I liked it so much, I made an Ice Cream Butterfat Converter page to help with the calculations. Check it out and see what you think. :-)


    April 18, 2011, 11:37 am
  12. Don Shapiro wrote:

    Overall, this post has a lot of good information except for the butterfat percentages. Sorry, Haagan-Daz and Ben and Jerry’s are about 14% and the others less than that. Those two brands are not super premium ice cream brands at all. They are premium brands. The super premium today is the exclusive province of the smaller creameries primarily in California and Wisconsin which run around 15%. Humboldt Creamery in Northern California is a good example of a super premium ice cream today. The highest butterfat ever available commercially was sold by Wil Wrights Ice Cream Parlor’s in the Los Angeles area in the 1950’s and 60’s. The butterfat would stick to the roof of your mouth for an hour. Haagan-Daz doesn’t even come remotely close to this.

    January 7, 2012, 7:52 pm
  13. KT wrote:

    Actually one of the standards of identity of ice cream is that it MUST be at least 10% butterfat. Also, Haagen Dazs has the highest butterfat today of major ice cream brands at 17%. Ben and Jerry’s has cheapened their mix and now are at 14% (vanilla and chocolate) and some of their flavors are as low as 13%; very naughty! But in their defense B&J’s is also the only national brand that clearly states that they are rbst free that I am personally aware of. I have never heard of a company making more than a 17% butterfat ice cream but I would not be surprised if someone is.

    April 10, 2012, 6:50 pm
  14. Ray wrote:

    We make our own ice cream with raw cream and raw eggs, so we don’t really know the butterfat content, but it is definitely high. Use raw eggs only if you have your own chickens or have access to eggs that were laid the day you make the ice cream. Wash the eggs with soap before breaking them. The cream is skimmed off the top of raw milk after it has settled for 2 or 3 days.

    The recipe is: 1 pint of cream, 3 large eggs, 1/2 cup sugar (evaperated cane juice), and 2 teaspoons of fair trade, organic vanilla extract. This is the right amount for a 6 cup ice cream freezer.

    May 9, 2012, 3:38 pm
  15. Brian Tafoya wrote:

    I am guessing that if I added heavy whipping cream or light cream to my bread recipes, the bread would be creamier?
    Have you ever used butterfat in bread recipes?
    Do you have any bread recipes?
    I’m looking for a way to make my bread creamier.
    Many thanks.

    July 8, 2012, 3:59 pm
  16. john williams wrote:

    Of the people who commented here, how many have a lab?

    Making ice cream can be simple, but it can also be complicated. Dreyer’s claims they have 60 different bases for their over more than 100 different flavors. A typical Dairy has one base and they always make chocolate last because you can’t detect any of the other flavors in the vat.

    Generally Vanilla will have the highest butterfat % and in the case of Dreyer’s the claim was 14% in French vanilla. Their concern was more what the “focus groups” thought than the traditional (more butter is better) I was told if you put more than 8% in chocolate it would taste like lard. The FDA labeling laws have say in order to “label” it ice cream it has to have 10% butter fat and weigh 4.5 lb per gallon. So you have to wonder, does the FDA know enough about “chocolate ice cream” to be imposing these laws? Is the minimum 10% by volume, or by weight? do they watch it?


    April 10, 2013, 7:30 pm
  17. Helen Lim wrote:

    Can you tell me what went wrong when I used ice cream maker for this recipe. After 30 mins 20 – 30 mins churning the ice cream is still watery.

    Strawberry Ice Cream
    1 cup strawberries – puree.
    1 cup milk (i use full cream milk)
    1 cup thick cream (Pauls thickened cream)
    1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk).

    In ice cream maker churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After 30 mins still very watery. I transfer the ice cream to a chilled container and store in the freezer for 24 hrs. It turn out very icy. Please advise. Thks.

    May 4, 2013, 1:08 am
  18. Russell wrote:


    I would guess the problem is with all the water in the strawberries. I’ve had good luck with adding xanthan gum as a stabilizer, to offset some of the water and thicken it a bit. You can see my post about that here:

    Stabilizers in Ice Cream Part 2: Strawberry Ice Cream


    May 11, 2013, 4:31 pm
  19. Urganite wrote:

    I’m surprised so many of you are asking how companies making ice cream can make ice cream and avoid having to actually provide a product with 10% butterfat. If it wasn’t totally obvious to you, the answer is “it’s not ice cream”. It’s usually something like “frozen dessert” or “frozen dairy confection”. Would “ice cream” by any other name taste as sweet? Well, it’s not actually ice cream, but that doesn’t stop people from buying it thinking that it is.

    May 19, 2013, 12:27 am
  20. Jae wrote:

    I made a custard with 5 egg yolks 1.5 cups coconut milk, 1.5 cups heavy whipping cream and a vanilla pod and 1 cup sugar. Came out AWESOME. I have one working now with 2.25 cups coconut milk and .5
    Cups heavy whipping cream with 5 yolks and a vanilla pod. Also 1 cup sugar. Tastes a little greasy. I was thinking of adding a little skim milk to lighten it up. Good idea? It hasn’t gone through the ice cream machine yet so I’m worried the air will fix that and I don’t need the skin milk.

    May 25, 2013, 5:52 pm
  21. Brian Brandt wrote:

    An excellent well-researched article. Years ago I worked at Marshall Field and Company which made its own brand of ice cream. I was told it was 18% butterfat and that was about as rich, i.e., high butterfat as ice cream could get. I am now buying Trader Joe’s Super Premium Vanilla and I would agree, given the texture and mouth feel it must be 16% or more. A great product and on a per pound basis, a good value.

    Separately, ice cream should be sold by the pound not liquid volume. The mass market brands sold at supermarkets are filled with air (overun). Why do you think they are so easy to scoop. Further, the butterfat content should be posted on the package. Then we would know what we are buying.

    June 30, 2013, 12:37 am
  22. Matley wrote:

    I recently made a Philadelphia style ice cream mix – half gallon heavy cream, half gallon whole milk, 4 cups skim milk and 3 cups sugar. I mixed it all together, let it get to 38 degrees and put it in my emery Thompson 12 quart machine. After 8 minutes I turned off the refrigeration and started taking out the ice cream but after a couple seconds of letting it out it got really clumpy and hard and almost became like butter. Eventually I had to stop running the machine and force the rest out. Anyone know what might have happened? This had been my second time making butter and I really would prefer ice cream!

    December 15, 2013, 9:41 pm
  23. Nick wrote:

    Absolutely brilliant information! Thanks.

    May 18, 2014, 8:10 pm
  24. Lauren wrote:

    Hi, Russell, I’m hoping you can give me some advice!

    I have been making ice cream lately from fresh milk and cream – not pasteurized or homogenized – and am having trouble with it freezing rock hard and becoming very icy. When I use commercial cream (pasteurized, homogenized, and sometimes with stabilizers) with the raw milk, I don’t have the problem, or don’t have it nearly as bad.

    I think the recipes I’m using have sufficient sugar and fat to keep them smooth, usually including plenty of egg yolk, but whether I make a custard or go all raw, the problem remains.

    Do you have any thoughts on what could be going wrong? I don’t think (but am not sure) that every time I’ve used store-bought cream that it has had carrageenan or mono/di-glycerides, so I don’t think it’s the stabilizers, and the cream has often been cooked to the same temperature as with pasteurizing during the custard making process, so I don’t think it’s that. My thoughts so far are that the pH is different (if that would affect it) or that there is a change in the way homogenization affects the fat freezing.

    I’d love any help or advice you can give me!


    November 3, 2014, 4:38 pm
  25. emma wrote:


    January 9, 2015, 5:54 pm
  26. Cherie wrote:

    We have an Ice Cream available here in Tennessee called Greater’s that is supposed to be Super Premium. I don’t know if it is or not but it IS delicious. Any of you lucky enough to have it available at your market-give it a try. Expensive but worth it!!

    October 12, 2015, 12:16 am
  27. Frank wrote:

    Hi from South Africa.I have made epic frozen custard style ice cream and wish to move to developing a soft serve style ice cream (home use). When we travel, cooling is sometimes a problem, so, do you have thoughts on UHT (long life milk), also has approx 3% butterfat,to increase should I add a few spoons of butter or maybe coffee creamer which has about 28% by weight? If I can achieve 10% I should be ok???

    February 15, 2016, 5:38 am
  28. Jeanine wrote:

    I used to own an ice cream stand in Connecticut 35 years ago. I didn’t sell “ice cream”. It was the 3.5% and a sign had to be posted saying “ice milk sold here”. At that time anything between 5% and 10% could be labeled as ice cream. I talked with a soft serve truck about 20 years ago and the rules have changed, sorry but I can’tell remember what the new rules are. They are probably what you are stating. Also like all laws, the US government has certain laws but states can make them stricter. I had found that customers liked the soft serve ice milk, during the hot summer months they said it was more refreshing than going to the 10% or higher, like what was stated the heavier, denser, greasy taste in mouth. I looked at this because I now see in stores that a lot are now stating they are a dairy dessert. I think I found my answer here, low butterfat content plus all the other “non dairy ingredients”. Thanks for info.

    July 7, 2016, 2:00 am
  29. LM wrote:

    Wow. Really? How many times have you made ice cream with 100% cream? We have, countless times over the decades. NEVER has the ice cream ever been even slightly ‘greasy’, or had anything but a refreshing mouthfeel.

    Nearly always, the cream has come directly from dairy animals on a pasture-based diet. Never from Holstein cows in industrial confinement dairy farms. We want our cow cream to be ‘cream colored’, not stark white.

    Sometimes we used egg yolks, but most of the time, just cream and whatever flavorings we enjoy. Since we don’t eat a lot of sugar (or starchy foods, either – starches are just sugar molecules linked together) and good cream is so delicious by itself, we find that we enjoy the ice cream we make much more thtn the commercial ice creams –
    – that are too sweet (most are WAY too sweet, overpower the cream with heavy flavorings and /or too much candy or other junk, and nearly all are sticky, with a gooey, gummy texture we find unpleasant.

    Lightly sweet ice cream made with a high % of high quality cream, or 100% cream, has a wonderful, refreshing mouth feel.

    A cooked base with egg yolks makes a ‘heavier’, thicker ice cream, but is not sticky or gummy like the ice creams with guar gum, or carageenen, or similar artificial thickeners.

    Sadly, now many people have never had the opportunity to enjoy REAL ice cream.

    August 1, 2016, 9:45 pm
  30. LM wrote:

    In our experience over the decades, ice cream made with 100% cream is deldightful! NEVER has it been even slightly ‘greasy’ or had anything but a refreshing mouth feel.

    Often the cream has been extra heavy. NEVER from large-scale industrial dairies, or Holstein cows. Always directly from a local, family farm, or our own dairy animals. Always from dairy animals on a pasture-based diet, oftend 100% grassfed. Preferably from Jersey cows! Or other traditional breeds that produce milk high in butterfat and solids-not-fat – richer milk than you can find in the grocery stores.

    Oh, and bottled in glass, so that it does not have that plastic carton taste, (or the chemicals).

    Sometimes we use a cooked base with eggs, but often we just throw the cream in the ice cream maker, add a little maple syrup or other natural sweetener and flavoring, then let it freeze, and maybe toss a few nuts or dark chocolate bits at the end. The lightly sweet, lightly flavored result allows the deliciousness of high quality cream and the flavorings to be enjoyed.

    Commercial ice cream is WAY to sweet for us. And the sticky, gooey texture is… unpleasant. We enjoy creamy ice cream, not frozen gummy goo.

    August 1, 2016, 9:56 pm
  31. Dale Whiting wrote:

    The federal requirements for ice cream is 10%. Is Iowa’s requirement different?

    November 25, 2016, 1:27 pm
  32. Janelle wrote:

    I recently made a batch of coffee ice cream. The original recipe was from Serious Eats and I altered it. I add an additional 3 Tbs coffee grounds, 1/2 tsp vanilla, I substituted half the sugar for light brown sugar and added 1oz cream cheese. After churning and freezing the ice cream has an overwhelming waxy texture. It’s too waxy to even enjoy. We assumed it was from the natural oils in the coffee beans. (FYI: I used whole bean and ground them just before starting)
    Is there a way to eliminate this texture? I can’t seem to find any info online reguarding this issue.
    Thank you!

    January 24, 2017, 10:08 pm
  33. Michael W wrote:

    I worked for Dreyers for years(before they were purchased by Nestle). At that time their standard vanilla, labeled catering vanilla in the three gallon tubs, was 16% butterfat and most others were 12 to 14. Nestle came in and destroyed the product quality, reducing the vanilla from 16 to 10. I’m so glad I left, just prior to the buyout. I would have been very uncomfortable sitting across the table from an executive chef presenting a 10% product at a premium price.

    July 21, 2017, 9:59 pm
  34. Narvel Greene wrote:

    Now I know why I hate Dreyers Ice Cream. They originated in Oakland and had about 16% butterfat. Great taste and texture at the time. Over the years it became some of the worse ice cream. And I could really tell the difference. The sizes also became smaller from the gallons and 1/2 gallons. I think the best textured ice cream I’ve tasted now is Gunther’s Ice Cream from Sacramento, CA. I do suspect that their ice cream is slightly changing from their 16% fat in the downside due to too many hands in the process. I might be wrong but I’ve noticed a lighter texture in my mouth. It’s still the best In my area.

    June 4, 2018, 7:50 pm
  35. Pamela Lippert wrote:

    Thank you for clariying about the “half & half” and it’s butterfat percentages. I always thought it was supposed to be 50% cream and 50% milk and was considering using it as a time saver. Now I know better! It doesn’t seem fair that they can sell it with this name since it is misleading to consumers. They should really be calling it “quarter cream”, not “half & half”!!!!!

    April 19, 2020, 1:33 pm
  36. Alyssa wrote:

    hi friends, I am trying to make clotted cream. yes its not the same as icecream but in order to make it i need my cream to have the butterfat of about 40%-50% and i cant find that in the US anywhere…anywhere.. which means that when i make clotted cream, (heavy cream heated to 180 degrees for 12 hours and voila) it does not “clot” to thick buttery-creamy spread/thickness like its suppose to because the butterfat content isn’t high enough. Any suggestions? if i slowly warmed up heavy cream with butter would it increase my butter fat and get the desired results?

    April 29, 2020, 1:09 pm
  37. IcyTim wrote:

    I’ve been using the butterfat calculator to get all the portions correct, and making everything with individual ingredients. Milk (860g), Cream(800g) Sugar(300g), Egg Yolks(209g), Vanilla(9g), Salt(0.25g). I have a commercial machine, and the beater gets coated with what appears to be butter, and the ice cream final product can leave a film on the spoon when eating. The butterfat is at 15% according to the calculator. Is the yolk content too high? I am not cooking it as all the ingredients are pasteurized. Is that an issue?

    July 27, 2020, 2:50 am
  38. Russell wrote:

    Hi Tim,

    I agree that the main difference between your recipe and Ben & Jerry’s standard home recipe is that you’re using about three times as much egg yolk. You might try cutting the egg yolks down to about a third of that and see how it goes.


    July 27, 2020, 7:38 am
  39. george wrote:

    Saga of the Great and Glorious Las Vegas Ice Cream War
    28 September 2020
    I worked in the Ice Cream Room at the largest dairy in Las Vegas during the summers from 1957 to 1961 as a college student. Nevada law stipulated that “ice cream” had to contain at least 14% butterfat.
    The late 50’s and early 60’s were the hay-day of the Las Vegas Experience: lots of growth, competition, few rules, live music, gorgeous dancers, wonderful food and buffets, small population, relaxed. The Mob ran things in a hidden, ‘beneficent’ way for the most part. The hotel-casinos were overt in their attempts to draw customers so they offered numerous amenities that were difficult or impossible to find elsewhere. One of these was ice cream. Not just ice cream but ICE CREAM!
    It all began with the new Tropicana Hotel. They asked the dairy if they could make exclusively for them, an ice cream that was better than any other ice cream. The dairy was happy to oblige and experimented with various amounts of butterfat in the ice cream mixes – 16, 18, 21, 24, 28%! The Dairy had a degreed Ice Cream Maker heading the department and the milk came from grass-fed Jersey’s from Mormon-herds up-state so the experiments were conducted very scientifically yet with the goal of supreme decadent pleasure in mind. Lots of pleasant testing went on!
    The first ‘special Trop ice cream’ (offered in only French Vanilla, Fresh Strawberry and Dutch Chocolate) was 18% butterfat with reduced Overrun. They only served this ice cream as dessert for the Big Room dinners. This was an exclusive, secret, and proprietary product NOT available to any other customer.
    It took no time for the Desert Inn to do some reverse engineering and come up with an ice cream from another supplier that was 21% butterfat. To counter that the Trop asked for MORE and so we made 24% with still reduced overrun (that was pretty good stuff!). The DI countered and so the Trop asked again and got the richest that could be reasonably made commercially in bulk which turned out to be 28% with very LOW overrun. (The key issue was: can a server dip into a frozen one-gallon tub, plate the scoop and get it to the diner in a such a way that the diner will gain the full decadent experience trying to be offered by the hotel? We found that beyond ~28% butterfat content the consistency quickly became like a chocolate malt, and unable to be served successfully in that commercial dining setting.)
    28% butterfat ice cream with best-quality REAL imported Dutch Chocolate and very low overrun is so damned smooth and luxurious it’s like touching a Las Vegas Showgirl’s thigh! To make the ice cream ‘better’ we reduced the overrun percentage to the point where the ice cream would barely stay up after being scooped from a container; it would slump rapidly. But oh was it good! And still retained the great mouth-feel. The French Vanilla used real 100% Vanilla, not extract, and lots of egg yolks. The Fresh Strawberry used best quality, fresh frozen strawberries. Seems I recall we also used Turbinado Sugar in place of normal granulated white sugar in these Tropicana ice creams to give about the same level of sweetness, but of a more subtle, slightly darker, deeper, richer flavor. God – such wonderful, decadent stuff! And I was only 18-19-20 at the time. Seems like the Hacienda was involved too, but the Trop won the war. I have no idea whether any of that is still offered today and if so by whom, but that was a helluva time in Las Vegas and the Ice Cream Wars were real – and tasty! Done right, low overrun, 28% butterfat ice cream is wonderful!
    Who’da thunk’it – that the mobs would engage in a war – over ice cream!! Only in Las Vegas.

    September 29, 2020, 3:37 pm
  40. Chris Pederson wrote:

    Thanks for sharing that the FDA has said that American ice cream needs to contain at least 10% butterfat. I want to go to different ice cream places to find out which one is the best. People have told me to try other places like frozen yogurt and gelato but I’ll stick to what the FDA calls ice cream.

    October 13, 2020, 3:27 pm
  41. Disappointed in New York wrote:

    After several years of not eating Haagen Dazs, I was floored that the creaminess and mouthfeel was that of ice milk. There is no doubt in my mind that the butterfat content is now near 10%.

    December 27, 2020, 5:35 pm
  42. Stewart Eaton wrote:

    I agree with you 100%. Häagen-Dazs ice cream has gone off the cliff as far as butter fat content is concerned. It’s ridiculous how low they will stoop to hoodwink the public into thinking they’re a premium ice cream. Now that they long ago abandoned the 16 ounce container, there’s nowhere else to go but to up the skim milk (water) percentage relative to the cream content.

    May 9, 2021, 12:50 pm
  43. jaan salk wrote:

    I worked, in Toronto, Canada, at the Neilson Ice Cream plant from 1966 to 1991. The last 10 years we had the exclusive contract for all Haagen Dazs ice cream in Canada. Haagen Dazs always had a butterfat content of 17+%, and each cup always weighed about 454 grams. Only the best ingredients were used-most notably Rum&Raisin using raisins soaked in rum, and additional rum added to the ice cream mix. All of the flavors tasted superb, especially when eaten directly from the freezers before entering the total frozen zone.

    June 20, 2021, 12:20 am
  44. bill shull wrote:

    OMG this is a god sent. I’ve been trying to calculate my butterfat for 7 0r 8 years now. this adds it or takes it away. In the 70’s I was a mgr on the PA turnpike and ran restaurants from, what was then, Blue Mountain. to Brandywine. plus 3 off pike stores. I read Howard Johnson’s ice cream start up intently. He added butterfat to get his creaminess bit he never said what he used to add the fat. so for me it’s been hap hazard at best until this calculator came about. Thank you so much.

    February 4, 2024, 2:09 pm

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