How to use stabilizers in ice cream

Ice cream stabilizers! They're probably the most controversial part of ice cream science. And they're a source a great agitation amongst ice cream enthusiasts. 

They're denounced by traditionalists who think everything should be “natural”. And lauded by molecular gastronomers who think science has all the answers.

They're a complicated subject. But there's nothing to be scared of here...

Most of them are natural. When you use them correctly, they'll almost certainly improve your ice cream. And in fact, if you've made ice cream, then you've probably used them in some form already.

​So what are stabilizers?

Put simply: stabilizers are ingredients that thicken water. This is also called adding viscosity. The more viscous a liquid is, the “thicker” it is.

In scientific terms, they're hydrocolloids. When hydrocolloids disperse in a liquid they bind to the water molecules, so reducing their movement. This reduced movement appears to us as increased viscosity or thickening.

The most obvious example of using a stabilizer in cooking is when you thicken gravy with flour.

Gravy thickened with flour

Gravy thickened with flour: a stabilizer

Most stabilizers are natural, coming from plant, animal or bacterial origins. However under European Law (at least), they are considered food additives and must be represented by E numbers in ingredient lists.

Why do we use stabilizers in ice cream?​

Stabilizers can improve ice cream in several significant ways:

  • they reduce ice crystal growth
  • they reduce air bubble size
  • they slowdown melting
  • they increase smoothness, body and creaminess
  • they deliver flavor cleanly

OK, so let's have a look at each of these areas in turn...

​How do stabilizers reduce ice crystal size in ice cream?

First of all, why do we want to reduce ice crystal growth in our ice cream? Well, ice crystals are an important part of ice cream. But if the crystals get too big, they are detectable by the tongue and give the ice cream a coarse, grainy texture and a cold mouth-feel. So, smaller crystals = smoother ice cream!

Ice crystals are only formed in the ice cream maker. Once the ice cream is transferred to a freezer, the existing ice crystals may get bigger, but no new ones are formed.

But ice crystals can grow anywhere there are temperature fluctuations that cause existing crystals to melt and then re-freeze. Because when they re-freeze, rather than creating new crystals, the water migrates to join existing crystals, so increasing their size.

Ice crystal growth in ice cream over time

Over time ice crystals grow as they melt and re-freeze (a to c)

Such temperature fluctuations can actually occur in both the ice cream maker and in the freezer...

Ice crystal growth in the ice cream maker​

Ice crystals are initially formed against the super cooled sides of the ice cream maker. The rotating dasher then scrapes them from the sides and moves them into the center of the mix...

Ice crystals move from colder sides to warmer center

Newly formed ice crystals can melt when they move from cold sides to warmer center

Here, temperatures are warmer and the crystals may melt and then re-freeze later as the temperature of the whole mix decreases.

Ice crystal growth in the freezer​

During storage there can be many temperature fluctuations that cause the ice crystals to melt and then re-freeze. For example when the freezer door is opened and then closed. 

Softened ice cream

Ice crystals that melt here will re-freeze and get bigger back in the freezer

Or when the ice cream is taken out to soften (before serving) and then placed back in the freezer.

So the challenge for all us ice cream enthusiasts is to make ice crystals as small as possible in the ice cream maker and to stop them getting bigger while the ice cream is being stored in the freezer.

​While there's plenty of material that suggests stabilizers only restrict ice crystal growth during storage, there are other studies that show that the initial size of the ice crystals formed during batch freezing are smaller in mixes that use stabilizers.

In my experience, when they come out of the ice cream maker, mixtures made with stabilizers are definitely smoother than the same mixtures made without stabilizers.

How do they do this? The science is not clear here. But it seems likely that by restricting the free movement of water, stabilizers prevent melted ice crystals from finding and joining existing ice crystals when they re-freeze.

How do stabilizers reduce air bubble size in ice cream​?

Why do we want small air bubbles in ice cream? Because (just like small ice crystals), lots of small air bubbles make the ice cream smoother!

Air bubbles in ice cream

Air bubbles in ice cream: the smaller the better!

How do stabilizers keep the air bubbles in ice cream small? Again, the science is not totally clear here. We know that stabilizers make base mixes more viscous. And more viscous base mixes produce smaller air bubbles.

But why do viscous mixes produce smaller bubbles? One theory is that the greater shear stress (force) that's applied to more viscous liquids when they are being churned in the ice cream maker, reduces the size of the bubbles more.

Just like ice crystals, air bubbles can grow in size and reduce in number during storage. This happens in two ways:

  1. Disproportionation occurs when air transfers from smaller to larger bubbles.
  2. Coalescence happens when two bubbles come into contact and join.

The increased viscosity from the stabilizers protects against these processes too, by thickening the films around the air bubbles which keeps neighboring bubbles away from each other.

How do stabilizers slow down melting?

Ice cream that melts too quickly is no fun to eat! Stabilizers can help here too, by both slowing the rate at which ice cream melts and maintaining it's shape better as it does melt.

Meltdown in ice cream

Top: fast melting ice cream. Bottom: slow melting ice cream

This is partly due to the water binding qualities of stabilizers: viscous mixtures simply melt slower.

But it's also due to the smaller air bubbles. Ice cream with many small air bubbles melts significantly slower and retains it's shape better that ice cream with fewer, larger bubbles. And as we already know: stabilizers promote smaller bubbles!

How do stabilizers increase smoothness, body and creaminess?

So we've seen that by reducing the size of ice crystals and air bubbles, stabilizers produce smoother ice cream and slow meltdown.

But they also add body and give a creamy mouth-feel and a silky finish. These qualities are largely a result of the added viscosity that stabilizers produce...

Stabilized ice cream

Stabilized ice cream

Less free flowing water produces a more solid ice cream that tastes creamier and silkier because it's less watery.

Why are people suspicious of stabilizers?

Despite the benefits of stabilizers, many people are either suspicious of, or outright hostile towards their use in ice cream. I think there are two main reasons for this...

  1. bad experiences with over stabilized ice creams
  2. the unfamiliar names, chemically appearance and E numbers seem "unnatural"

Over stabilized ice creams are horrible! They may have a gummy or excessively chewy texture. They can exhibit extremely unnatural melting (maybe they don't melt!). And they often leave a pasty after-taste in your mouth.

Cheap ice cream stall

Cheap ice cream stall

But that's stabilizers used badly. When stabilizers are used well, you don't even realize they're being used at all. You're just amazed by how good the ice cream is!

However, the very concept of using stabilizers is too much for some people. This tends to be down to the idea that they are somehow unnatural, that they're chemicals added to reduce costs rather than improve quality, and that they're unhealthy or even unsafe.

But as I mention above, most stabilizers come from natural sources. And most of them have been used in cooking for hundreds of years.

It's true, they're often used in cheap, commercial ice creams to cut corners and save money. But it's all a matter of intent. If people are using them to save money, we should be wary. If they're using them to make better ice cream, then we should be curious!

Besides, if you've already made ice cream at home, you've probably already used stabilizers.

Stabilizers you're using already


Yep, egg yolks act as a stabilizer. So if you're making egg custard mixtures, you're already stabilizing your ice cream. The stabilizing chemical is egg yolk is called Lecithin and it even has it's own E number: E322.

Egg yolks will give your ice cream fantastic texture and body. They'll emulsify your mix. And they'll also reduce the growth of ice crystals and air bubbles.

Egg yolks will stabilize ice cream

Egg yolks will stabilize ice cream

So why not use egg yolks all the time? Well, they're good, but they're not great. They're just not as good at slowing ice crystal growth as other stabilizers. And over time, they let water escape, which re-freezes and makes the ice cream icy.

They subdue other flavours (especially lighter flavours like herbs and water based flavours like fruit). And add their own eggy flavour, the strength of which depends on how many eggs you use and for how long and to what temperature you cook the base.

So yes, egg yolks will stabilize your ice cream pretty well. But they're not the best performing stabilizers available.


If you've ever tried to make a Sciilain Gelato then you may have used corn flour or tapioca flour. In southern Italy they don't use eggs (or much cream) in ice cream. Instead they use these starches to stabilize their milky gelatos.

Corn flour

Corn flour

Corn flour and tapioca flour work quite well as stabilizers. They don't subdue other flavours like eggs and impart much less flavour themselves.

However, I can often detect them, whether it's through a light flavor trace or a slightly pasty texture. And again, there are other stabilizers that perform much better.


While you almost certainly have some experience of the thickening properties of egg yolks and corn flour, you're less likely to have used gums before. But when people talk about the stabilizers used in ice cream, it's gums they're usually thinking about.

Gums are the most powerful, flexible and the most useful stabilizers that are available to us. They suppress the growth of ice crystals better than any other ingredient. They can be used to alter the texture of ice cream in many different ways. They don't suppress other flavors and are almost flavorless themselves.

What's more, they are so powerful that we only need to use them in tiny amounts. Typically gum stabilizers would only make up 0.1 – 0.5 % of the base mix!

Xanthan gum

Xanthan gum

Most gums appear as off white powders. In fact, they're all just complex sugars, also known as polysaccharides. And they're almost all derived from natural products.

Different gums have subtlety different chemical structures that will have very different effects on the texture, body and sensory qualities of ice cream. And even used alone, they're very powerful.

However, if you combine two or more gums together, the effects of each can be amplified. Or nullified. Or you might get a whole new set of effects! So it is worth experimenting with different combinations of gums to see what effects you find pleasing.

Thickeners vs Gels

While all gums will thicken a liquid, some of them also form gels. Gel are substances that exhibit the characteristics of both a liquid and a solid. Food technologists define a gel as "a high moisture food that more or less retains it's shape when released from it's container". And that definition's good enough for us here!

A carrageenan gel

A carrageenan gel

While some gums always form gels, some will only form gels in dairy based mixtures. And others will form gels only when mixed with other gums!

And different gels have different characteristics. For example they might be strong or weak, brittle or elastic etc.

When we're making ice cream, gels are generally harder to work with than mixes that are simply viscous. They can be difficult to get in the ice cream maker cleanly, so you often have to attack them with a blender to break up the gel.

However, if you're making low fat ice creams or sorbets, they're really useful because they add a creamy texture and substantial body that you wouldn't get otherwise.

Gums that form gels by themselves


Gel qualities

Locust bean gum


Iota Carrageenan

Soft, elastic gel with dairy 

Kappa Carrageenan

Stiff, brittle gel with dairy

Sodium Alginate

Rigid, brittle gel with dairy


Brittle, unstable


Brittle, slightly sticky gel

Gums that form gels with other gums

Gum combinations to form gels

Locust bean gum + Xantham gum

Locus bean gum + Kappa Carrageenan

​Carboxymethyl cellulose + Guar gum

​Carboxymethyl cellulose + All Carrageenans

Plant based gums​

​Most of the gums we use in ice cream are derived from plants. What sorts of plant? Well, generally they're extracted from seeds or seaweeds!

​Locust bean gum (E410)

Locust bean gum (LBG), is also known as Carob Bean Flour and is made from the seeds of the Carob Tree. This tree is very common in Mediterranean countries and LBG has been used as a thickener in cooking for thousands of years.

Locust bean gum

Locust bean gum, made from the seeds of the Carob Tree

LBG is a very popular stabilizer in ice cream. It has some of the best ice crystal size reducing powers of all the gums. And it produces, a smooth texture, a creamy mouth-feel and a silky finish. It also works well with other gums, especially Guar and Carrageenan.

The great thing about ice creams stabilized with LBG is that usually they don't seem like they've been stabilized at all. It gives ice cream a very natural feel. This is because although it forms a weak gel when frozen, that gel disappears when the ice cream melts.

Il Gelato Di San Crispino

The incredible Il Gelato Di San Crispino uses LBG

​However, LBG is not without it's disadvantages. It needs to be heated to fully hydrate and different types of LBG hydrate at different temperatures. But it's typically around 185°F  (85°C), which is higher than ideal when making ice cream.

​Used alone it can also cause wheying off, which is when milk proteins come out of solution to form crystals that are detectable by the tongue and give the ice cream a grainy texture.

​Guar gum (E412)

Guar gum is also derived from a seed, in this case the seeds of the guar plant which is a legume, like a bean. Guar beans have been eaten in India for thousands of years but guar gum has only been used as a stabilizer since the 1950's.

Guar gum

Guar gum, made from guar beans

Guar gum doesn't reduce ice crystal size as well as LBG, but it adds much more viscosity to the mix, which gives more body to the final ice cream. Unlike LBG, it also hydrates at low temperatures.

​But Guar works well with LBG, with each amplifying the powers of the other. So they are often used in combination.

​Used in high quantities, Guar can give ice cream a chewy texture like toffee, which may be desirable or not depending on how you like your ice cream!

Some Guar gums have a strong "beany" flavor that is detectable in ice cream and obviously undesirable. So you may have to shop around to find a brand that doesn't have that taste!

​Carrageenans (E407)

Carrageenans are extracted from seaweeds. Originally these were Irish Moss seaweeds and Carrageenans have been used as thickeners in Irish cooking for centuries.

Carrageenan from red seaweed

Carrageenan is made from red seaweed

However, nowadays they're extracted from other types of red seaweeds that are grown in the Philippines, Tanzania and Indonesia.

​Carrageenans perform pretty averagely at reducing the size of ice crystals. But they have a strong effect on texture, producing a rich and creamy mouth-feel that's similar to egg custard ice creams.

​They also help prevent wheying-off (see above) so are often used in conjunction with LBG which can cause this defect.

​There are three different types of Carrageenans that are used in cooking, each of which varies slightly in their molecular structure:

  1. Lambda
  2. Iota
  3. Kappa

Iota and Kappa Carrageenans form gels with milk so are more commonly used in sorbets and low fat ice creams. While Lambada is used in ice creams with sufficient fat to stabilize without gelling.

​Sodium Alginate (E412)

Sodium Alginate is also extracted from seaweed, this time the brown ocean kelp that's found in cold water areas.

Brown Kelp Seaweed

Sodium Alginate is made from Brown Kelp Seaweed

​It dissolves in cold water but hydrates best at temperatures between 155 and 160°F (68 - 71°C). It's pretty good at keeping ice crystals small. Add contributes a texture and body to ice cream that other gums can't replicate.

​Sodium Alginate forms a gel with milk, so it's popular in low fat ice creams. And it's the way in which the rigid gel breaks into a fluid gel when it's being churned that gives the finished ice cream it's unique sensory qualities.

​Carboxymethyl cellulose (E466)

Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) is also know as cellulose gum and is synthesized from plant cellulose.

Carboxymethyl cellulose

Carboxymethyl cellulose

It's probably better at suppressing the growth of ice crystals than LBG. It adds body and chewiness to ice cream to the same degree as Guar. And it forms a gel when combined with LBG, Guar and Carrageenans, which may or may not be desirable.

Since Carboxymethyl cellulose is a synthesised product that's extracted from cotton and wood pulp, it pushes the boundaries of what many people would call “natural”. However it's perfectly safe and is commonly used in ice cream production.

Fermented gums

Xanthan gum (E415)

Xanthan gum is a product of fermentation and is created when the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris feeds on sugar. This might sound weird. But it's just like yeast in beer!

Xanthan gum

Xanthan gum

It's an extremely versatile stabilizer. It dissolves in (and thickens) hot or cold water. The viscosity it produces doesn't vary with temperature. It's highly resistant to freeze/thaw cycles. It works at a wide range of acidities. And it combines well with other gums.

It's not the best gum at suppressing ice crystal growth. But it's really easy to get hold of in health food stores (because vegans use it as an egg substitute). And this ready availability, it's ease of use and it's versatility make it a great gum to experiment with.

Other stabilizers​

​Gelatin (E441)

Gelatin is derived from animal collagen, usually pork or beef. And it's what they used to stabilize ice cream in the old days.


It suppresses ice crystal growth really well and gives ice cream a very nice, smooth texture. It's also very easy to get hold of.

​However, it has largely fallen out of favour, because it's expensive and because it's an animal product.

​Pectin (E440)

Pectin is extracted from citrus peel and apple pomace. It's been used for many years as the gelling agent in jam.


There are two types: “low methoxy”, which requires calcium to gel and “high methoxy” which will gel at low pH with loads of sugar.

​Denatured Whey Proteins

​When we heat the ice cream mix, some of the whey proteins in the milk undergo partial unfolding and begin to form a network similar to those formed by hydrocolloids. This process in called “denaturing” and will help stabilize the ice cream in a similar way too.

However, the stabilization is not nearly as powerful as the hydrocolloid's and should be seen as an addition to rather than an alternative.

​How to use stabilizers

So if you're thinking you might like to experiment with stabilizers (and specifically gums), there are three steps that you need to get right:

  1. ​measuring
  2. dispersion
  3. hydration

Measuring stabilizers

Gums are so powerful, that you only need to use a tiny amount: typically between 0.1 and 0.5% of the weight of the base mixture. And if you go just slightly above these proportions, you'll start to get over stabilized ice cream which can be quite unpleasant.

0.1g kitchen scales

0.1g kitchen scales

So, to get your weight measurements right, you'll need some scales that are accurate to 0.1g (or even better 0.01g). 

Quarter teaspoon measurements

Quarter teaspoon measurements

You might have some success experimenting with ¼ teaspoon measures, but it'll be hit and miss. And good quality scales aren't expensive.

My ice cream calculator can help you work out how much exactly you need to add to your mix.

Dispersing stabilizers

Once you've measured your stabilizer, you'll need to mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Gums tend to clump together and won't disperse properly if you dump them straight into a liquid. And if they're not dispersed properly, they don't work!

The best way to get an even dispersion is to add the stabilizer to the other dry ingredients and then mix them all thoroughly with a fork or a whisk. Spend a good 5 minutes on this to make sure it's thoroughly mixed.

Mixing stabilizers

Mixing stabilizers with the other dry ingredients

Once it is mixed, add the liquid and give it a proper going over with a hand blender. Again spend a good few minutes on this.

Blending dry ingredients with milk

Blending dry ingredients with milk

Some people suggest using a blender to form a vortex in the center of the liquid and then pouring the dry ingredients into the middle of the vortex for the best dispersion. I haven't found this necessary but it might help.

But I can't stress the importance of this step enough. If you don't disperse the stabilizer it will clump together and won't fully hydrate. Which means your mix won't thicken properly. And your ice cream will suffer!

Hydrating stabilizers

In order to be effective, a stabilizer must be hydrated: it must absorb water. Some of them need to be heated, others hydrate in cold water. Some hydrate faster than others. You need to know how to get the best hydration from the stabilizer you're using.

Hydrating the stabilizer with heat

Hydrating the stabilizer with heat

For example, Locust Bean Gum needs to be heated to about 185°F (85°C). While Guar and Xantham gum hydrate at room temperature. And Guar needs up to an hour to fully hydrate. Whereas Xantham gum hydrates much quicker.

So, remember! Make sure you're working with the right amount of stabilizer by weighing it accurately. Properly disperse it by mixing it thoroughly with the other dry ingredients before you add liquid. And treat it with the appropriate amount of heat and time to fully hydrate it. Get these three steps right and you should have great success!

​Wrapping up

​Stabilizers are often treated with great suspicion and even hostility. Generally, I think this is because people are ignorant of what they are and why we might want to use them.

​They're natural and they're safe. Of course some people may be allergic to them. Just as some people are allergic to eggs. If that's the case, they should be avoided.

​However, they can help us make much, much better ice cream. And that's the most important point here. We're not using them to save money. We're not using them to cut corners.

When we use them, we use them to deliver better texture, better body, a more creamy, luxurious finish. And more stability!

As home-made ice cream enthusiasts we're already hampered by shitty machines that take ages to freeze our mixtures and inflexible freezers that are never at the right temperature.​

Stabilizers can help us overcome these disadvantages to make ice creams that rival the professionals. I urge you to at least experiment!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 68 comments
Sasja - November 8, 2017


I have a question.
I am working on a paper about ice cream, and I am wondering if you maybe have got a date of when this was written? I need to cite my sources in teh paper, and so I actually need a surname and the year inwhich something was written. Is this possible? Could you give this to me?

Thank you!


    Carl - November 9, 2017

    Hi Sasja,

    No worries…

    Carl Edwards 2017.


chris - December 1, 2017

I’m fascinated by the explanations of why to use stabilisers in ice creams. Two questions, you did not mention Agar Agar, can that be used and would I have any particular things to consider in using the product. Secondly, is the stabilzing effect of gums for example the same for sorbets?

    Carl - December 2, 2017

    Hi Chris,

    Yes, you can definitely use Agar Agar. I’m not sure why I overlooked it and I’ll definitely add it when I get the chance!

    Things to consider. Agar agar needs to be heated to almost boiling point to work properly (194 F / 90 C). And you only need a tiny amount (0.2% of total weight or less).

    Gums work just as well in sorbets. You just need to experiment. I made a recently made a fantastic Raspberry Sorbet using a stabilizer mix of 4 parts Locust Bean Gum, 3 parts Guar Gum and 1 part Iota Carrageenan.

    I will be updating this page with more practical advice and examples, so keep checking back.

    I hope that helps!


      Chris - December 3, 2017

      Hi Carl,
      Many thanks for your reply, that’s very helpful

Bess - January 12, 2018

Hi, can i use cubic hydric ice in shear mixer to make gelato or italian water ice for industrial scale? It’s simple to break ice crystal structure and reduce it in colloid dimension and homoginize it with yhe others ingridients to make ice cream, thanks

    Carl - January 30, 2018

    Sorry Bess I wouldn’t know about that!

Jai Lurie - January 13, 2018

Hi there,

Thank you very much for this interesting and helpful article.

I would like to try using making ice cream with locust bean gum, xanthan gum, guar gum and Tara gum (?) (not all at the same time, but individually and in different combinations of pairings). I was wondering how you determine how much of each to add? Should some gums be more and others less when using together?

I’d be very grateful for some advice or if you could point me towards where to find the information.

Many thanks,

    Carl - January 15, 2018

    Hi Jai!

    The gum stabilizers you’re talking about would generally make up between 0.1 and 0.5% of your mix by weight.

    You can use my ice cream calculator to work out exactly how much that should be in grams.

    Some gums are complimentary. So if you use them together, their effects will be amplified. For example I’ve used Xanthan and Guar together to try to find a good no-cook stabilizer.

    But there are no hard and fast rules: the only way to know is to experiment!


      Rory - February 5, 2018


      I’m so glad I found this article! Just in time for my own experimentation. So, you have used guar and xanthan gums together. That is also my plan. What proportions to each other? Total proportion of the mix? I’m looking forward to my first batch.


        Carl - February 9, 2018

        Hi Rory,

        The total proportion of the mix will depend on the rest of the ingredients. For my egg-less base I was using 0.3 – 0.5 % of the total base.

        As for the proportions to each other I’d advise experimenting! Start with half and half.

        One of the problems I’ve had is finding Guar that doesn’t have an unpleasant taste. Another is that too much Xanthan will give the ice cream a slimy texture.

        As ever, the best thing to do is experiment!

        It would be great if you could report back with the results (good or bad!).



          Rory - February 12, 2018

          Okie dokie! Served it last night. Used about 18 oz. of evaporated milk, cup and a quarter of baker’s sugar and about a teaspoon and a half of vanilla extract. I used a little more than an eighth of a teaspoon each of guar and xanthan gums (equal amounts). Just as the mixture was really coming together I “swirled” in my own marionberry preserves and let it freeze up.

          Results? KILLER!!! My wife and I had it again tonight. The ice cream didn’t have any objectionable texture or flavor. It wasn’t slimy or “chewy”. It was quite stable. Melt rate was about the same as some of the better name brands.

          Ok, all that being said, minute ice crystals were barely discernible. Discernible but not objectionable. Further mixing should fix that.

          Now my wife wonders why we actually buy ice cream. Next experiment: espresso ice cream.

          Carl - February 15, 2018

          Good stuff Rory! Do you mind sharing which brand of Guar and Xanthan you were using?

          Rory - February 16, 2018

          Bob’s Red Mill.

R.R.Banerjee - January 18, 2018

Can you suggest /recommend a formulation of Stabilizer Cum Emulsifier(combined )
which can be used for making Icecream with Milk Fat and or Vegetable Fat ?

I have Guargum, Locust Bean Gum , CMC ,Xanthan Gum ,Carragenan, GMS & Sodium Alginate .
What could be the ratio of blending to get a good product ?

Look forward to your guidance .


Karen - February 23, 2018


Currently i use guar gum in my ice cream mix, but it melts too quickly. I would like to add locust bean gum but it’s quite hard to find in my country. Can you suggest another stabilizer that works well with guar gum and will help with the melting problem?

    Carl - February 28, 2018

    Lecithin should help slow down the melting Karen.

Chris Chin - February 28, 2018

Hi Carl
Amazing insightful article, thank you for sharing!! Do you mind telling me the proportion if I was to use Knoxx gelatin?
Thanks again!!

Tina Tankka - March 2, 2018

Terrific article.

Just wondering have you experimented with arrowroot or tapioca syrup?

Thanks for your reply!


    Carl - March 12, 2018

    Hi Tina,

    I haven’t used arrowroot yet. There seems to be a consensus that it produces a slimy texture when mixed with dairy. But I’ve also read some positive experiences of it being used in ice cream. I guess it’s one to test out ourselves to be sure!

    I’ve used tapioca flour as a stabilizer. It works very much like cornflour. Although it’s supposed to be a bit better. I haven’t used tapioca syrup as a sweetener though.

    If you do use either please report your experiences back here!



Luke - March 4, 2018

Hi there,

Has anybody tried to use flax seed gel as a stabilizer? I came across this video on youtube, and was impressed by the viscosity of the gel, and wondered about the results if used in ice cream.




    Carl - March 12, 2018

    I’d wondered the same thing about flax seed gel Luke! You’ll need a powerful blender to break up the seeds so the mixture is smooth though I think.

Chris - March 23, 2018

I’m Looking to produce a vegan coconut soft serve ice cream (14-17% fat). I’ve been unsuccessful with stabilization over time due to the freeze – thaw nature of soft serve. Any recommendations on stabilizer combinations? I’m trying to stay away from the Carrageenan’s.

Lane - April 9, 2018

I’m new to the game. I just purchased a Spaceman soft serve machine and would like to do soft serve custard. The shipping costs for pre mixed bases is ridiculous to Alaska. I want to just make my own custard base from local ingredients instead. The problem, if I place the base custard mix in the machine it will churn to butter with the amount of milk fats before it gets turned into the frozen custard form. Any ideas of what stabilizers to use with a custard mix to keep from buttering?

    Carl - April 9, 2018

    Hi Lane,

    What percentage is the fat content of your mix? Are you using stabilizers? In fact it would be easier to help if you could post the whole recipe.


Luke - April 23, 2018

Hi Carl,

I have a Cuisinart ICE-30, and of late I have started to work with stabilizers, and of late my ice cream stops churning 8-10 mins after having started, which is very surprising, because this never used to happen before. I am thinking that perhaps the base might be too viscous, because of the stabilizer, and that is why it is not churning. I just made a batch of vegan vanilla gelato with 13% fat, and 19% sugar, and 2%SNF (so 34% solids), and I am surprised that it got stuck while churning. I have made chocolate bases with 42% solids (without stabilizers) and haven’t had churn problems.

Do you have churn problems with the ICE-30?



    Carl - April 23, 2018

    Nope, I’m very surprised to hear that. The proportions look fine to me. Which stabilizers are you using?

    To be honest when I started experimenting with stabilizers I went way over the top on many occasions (with the mixture sometimes looking pretty solid before it went in the machine!). And I was exclusively using the ICE-30 at this stage too.

    But I don’t remember it ever getting stuck while churning. I suppose I could have been taking out as soon as it looked OK visually without checking the time. Certainly I’ve removed mixtures after around 12 minutes because they looked good to me.

    I’m presuming you’re concerned because the mixture’s not yet reached -6 degrees?

      Luke - April 23, 2018

      It is both the draw temperature and overrun I am concerned about. I need air (besides sugar) in my ice cream so it doesn’t harden.

      Could there be aomething wrong with the machine? Is there a test I can do to find out?

        Carl - April 23, 2018

        Mmmm the ICE-30 is such a simple machine and that’s one of the best things about it: there’s very little that can go wrong.

        Presumably the issue (if there is one) will be the motor. But I can’t think of what you could do to test it.

        Were you using the same mixture with no problems previously? I mean it could be that you’re just using too much stabilizer…

          Luke - April 24, 2018

          Hey Carl,

          Yes I am using the same mixture, perhaps lower quantity (400-500 gr) than before and no stabilizer. Could this be the issue (i.e. not enough ice cream mix)?

          I just made a salted caramel batch with 43% solids, and once again, after around 10 mins, it stopped churning (the motor is still whirring, and the bowl is still rotating, but the mix isnt churning). With 12 mins (using a 25 mins recipe), still to go the mix is around -6/-7…so the temperature is dropping well (and quickly), but for about half the time, the mix isn’t churning.

          I can’t figure it out!

    julia gregory - November 12, 2018

    hi luke I had a problem with my Cuisinart when I used the wrong paddle the whole bowl froze solid I had to ring the shop and they told me to check the paddle once I had let the machine thaw out

    kind regards Julia.

    ps I have been unable to find any pectin for Cuisinart gelato recipes
    I live in Perth Western Australia

Luke - April 24, 2018

I think I may have figured out the problem…let me know what you think:

Of late, I have started to age my ice cream in the freezer for 90 mins and not the in fridge for 120+ mins which is what I was doing before.

I noticed that the temperature of the chilled mix is around 0 degrees after taking it out of the freezer and that very quickly after freezing the mix (say 8 mins), the draw temperature of -6/-7 was reached, which I thought was quite quick, when compared to before when it would take a good 25 mins to get the temperature down to -4.

I think the unusually low temperature reached unusually quickly is thickening the mixture well in advance of the time required to aerate it (25 mins). I am thinking that perhaps the 25 minutes churn time is design to coincide with a -4 draw temperature, which gives the base enough time to aerate and cool down.

There is only one way to test this, which is to revert back to a chilling temp of 4, and see what happens. Thoughts?

    Carl - April 25, 2018

    Yes for sure, the ICE-30 is going to struggle once the mixture gets down to -7 as a considerable amount of the water will have turned to ice, thickening the mixture and straining the motor.

    While getting the mixture as cold as possible before you put it in the machine is good idea (since it will reduce dynamic freezing time which reduces ice crystal growth), it looks like you might have gone too far!

    Unfortunately the amount of air the ICE-30 adds to the mixture is quite low compared to other machines so this will be exacerbating the problem.

    I sometimes leave my mixture in the freezer for a short while too, but not to the extent that it reaches 0 degrees. I’d definitely try a shorter period in the freezer.

    Also I don’t think you’re strictly “ageing” it in the freezer for 90 min (or even in the fridge for 120 min). To age (rather than just chill), you’d need to leave it for a longer period (in the fridge).

      Luke - April 25, 2018

      Problem solved! I chilled (not aged, as your rightly say) and it worked. It did start to get stuck at around 20 mins, but that was after it was well aerated.

      By the way, I purchased the dasher from the ice-70 and put it into the ice 30 and significantly reduced the layer of ice cream between the dasher and the barrel wall.

        Carl - April 26, 2018

        Ahh cool! Yes the ICE-70 is definitely a step up in terms of quality. It will also add more air than the ICE-30.

Rhonda Price - April 30, 2018

Hi, Carl, I’m trying to re-create Starbucks’ vanilla yogurt which has locust bean gum and pectin. It has the most heavenly, marshmallowy texture. I can’t find anything online about how to thicken homemade yogurt with these two things. What do you think?

    Carl - May 4, 2018

    Hi Rhonda!

    I haven’t tried Starbucks vanilla yogurt. Is it a frozen dessert, a drink, or just a flavored yogurt? I also haven’t had much experience with pectin.

    A combination of Locust Bean Gum (LBG) and pectin sounds really interesting though!

    In order to get the most out of the LBG you’ll need to heat it.

    I would probably start off with half LBG and half pectin. Total amount: 0.2% by weight.

    Disperse the LBG in some sugar then mix into the yogurt and heat to 185°F (85°C). Take it off the heat then mix in the pectin. Cool it down and see how it ends up!

    If it’s too jelly like (and it may well be!) reduce the amount of LGB and/or pectin.

    I hope that’s helpful! Please let us know how you get on…

Yuta - May 4, 2018

Hi Carl, I’m using ICE-100 and making ice cream with fat about 12% ( cream : milk = 1 : 1.75), using tapioca starch as thickeners, no egg , using less sucrose than most recipe. My ice cream turned out with great flavor; I don’t detect any big ice crystal but it left quite cold mouthfeel . It’s hard to scoop, too! (at -14 degree Celsius).
So I decide to use soy lecithin as emulsifier and gums as stabilizer. I can find Guar, Carrageenan (unknown types) but LBG . I’d like to ask how much guar and carrageenan should I use for 1 liter ice cream like I mention above ?
Thanks alot!!!

    Carl - May 4, 2018

    Hi Yuta,

    Can all the ingredients by weight?

    Generally the gums would make up 0.1 – 0.5 % of the total weight. Since you’re already using tapioca flour I would definitely be at the lower end of that scale.

    Really you should be OK just using tapioca flour though.


Luke - May 5, 2018

Hi Carl,

Multi-part question coming up…thanks for your patience!

Now that mango season is in full swing, I have started to make mango sorbets. A few days ago I made a batch with guar gum and it turned out great (although it did have a very small icy sensation when biting down on the ice cream).

Yesterday I made another batch and skipped the guar gum and noticed that the icy bite sensation was greater and much more perceptible. I think the guar gum must have made the difference, right? Reducing ice crystal size is one of the things guar gum is known for, right?

Is there any other stabilizer that reduces ice crystal size even more? I want to eliminate that icy bite entirely (although I have my doubts if it is at all possible with home ice cream making equipment – I wrote you a note on the troubleshooting section). I think you suggest LBG, but it seems quite inconvenient to work with it because of the high temperature required to hydrating it. How do you hydrate LBG if you are making a sorbet?

Many thanks,


P.S. Have you thought of setting up a PayPal donation option on your site? I would certainly donate! Although I have read your entire website from A-Z, I do value your engagement and the fact that you respond to posts!

    Carl - May 8, 2018

    Yes it will definitely be the Guar Gum that makes the difference.

    You can mix the LBG with the sugar and some water and heat it up to hydrate the LGB. Once it’s cooled it will form a weak gel which you can mix with the fruit puree before you add it to the ice cream maker.

    Guar and LBG complement each other really well, so you could also try a mix.

    Apparently Carboxymethyl cellulose (E466) is even better than LBG at suppressing ice crystal growth. I haven’t tried it yet though.

    I haven’t thought about PayPal donations, no! There are some Amazon affiliate links on the ice cream makers, but that’s all so far.

    Thanks for the suggestions and compliments though, I’m glad you find it useful!

Jaydev Thaker - May 22, 2018

Dear Carl;

Very informative. My question is whether Pysllium Husk can be used as a stabilizer in ice creams. If yes, any disadvantages or caution that you make like to share on the same and how to use it?


    Carl - May 24, 2018

    Hi Jaydev,

    Yes apparently Psyllium can be used as a stabilizer. I haven’t tried it myself, but one of my readers has (see the comments on the emulsifiers page).

    Apparently it works quite well. You’ll probably need to use a little more than you would the gums listed on this page. I would just mix a teaspoon or so with the sugar and then dissolve it in the milk as usual.

    Let us know how you get on it you try it!


Stephanie - May 28, 2018

Dear Carl
I was wondering how much pectin to use. And is pectin recommended?

    Carl - May 30, 2018

    Hi Stephanie,

    Yes you can definitely use Pectin. I haven’t used it myself but I’m planning on giving it a go and I’ll then update the post.


Joe - June 12, 2018

Hello Carl,

I have been making some gelato and using cremodan as a stabilizer but its expensive and would like to try some experimentation with locust bean gum, guar gum, Carragenan, etc., but dont know in what amount should I use them.

Is there any fórmula for the stabilizer and emulsifier you could share in order to make the gelato and Sorbeto.

Thank you

    Carl - June 20, 2018

    It really depends on the recipe and which stabilizers you’re using Joe. But the gums you mention would make up 0.1 – 0.5 % of the total weight. If you’re using Soy Lecithin as an emulsifier then it could be 0.2 – 0.5 % by weight. You can use my calculator to help you here.


Stephanie Connon - July 2, 2018

It is common in the Middle East to use Arabic gum from a local tree sap to stabilize ice cream. I am not able to find out if this needs to be heated in order to work properly. Do you know anything about this thickener?
Thank you,

    Carl - July 3, 2018

    Hi Stephanie,

    You mean mastic? I think you need to heat to dissolve the ground mastic. But you shouldn’t cook it for very long or it won’t work. I read somewhere you add it to the nearly boiling milk, cook for 90 seconds and then remove from the heat.

    I hope that helps!

Morgan - July 9, 2018


Very interesting Reading. Im a beginner in making Home ice cream or Gelato.
To much for me. I read in a recipe use Gelatin

What do you reccomend, easy to find in store and easy to use?

    Carl - July 14, 2018

    Hi Morgan, I’ve replied to you via Facebook

Greg - July 19, 2018

I currently use Tapioca starch ,I’m switching to guns do I still use the Tapioca?

    Carl - July 26, 2018

    You can definitely use multiple stabilizers as they often compliment each other really well. I’ve certainly seen recipes that use Tapioca as well as gums. The only way to find out is to experiment! If the result feels over stabilized, cut back on the Tapioca or cut it out altogether.

    You certainly don’t need to use Tapioca if you’re using gums.

Julia - July 20, 2018

I don’t have any dry ingredients. I’m using glucose as my sweet so when would I add my Avacream ice cream stabilizer? I forgot it in this batch of Bourbon Butterscotch ice cream (Hello My Name is Ice Cream, D.Cree) I guess we will have to see how it turns out.

    Carl - July 26, 2018

    Mmmm tricky. You’ll just have to mix it into the wet ingredients I guess. Try to disperse it as much as possible and give it a really good mix.

David - July 25, 2018


Thank you for the excellent information. Does anyone have a good recipe for sugar-free ice cream made with granulated Sucralose or something similar? I made a few 1.5 qt batches using eggs, heavy cream, cashew milk, vanilla, granulated sucralose, liquid stevia, Hershey’s unsweetened dark cocoa powder, and xantham gum. The consistency straight out of the ice cream machine was fairly creamy, but froze solid as rock after I put it in the freezer overnight. Per your article and many comments here, I am going to experiment with LBG and Xantham Gum, but I was wondering if anyone has a tried and true sugar free recipe.

Thanks again for all of the information!


    Carl - July 26, 2018

    Hi David,

    I haven’t made any sugar free ice cream yet. But I’d imagine that Suralose doesn’t lower the freezing point of water to the extent of Sucrose, if at all.

    I haven’t been able to find any real numbers for this though.

    So you could try adding some vodka (or other alcohol) which will lower the freezing point and therefore keep your ice cream softer.

    I’ve got more information on the contribution that sugar makes to ice cream and when we substitute sugar we need to make up these contributions some how.


      David - July 27, 2018

      I added vodka and more egg yolks on a subsequent batch, which helped slightly, but the overall texture out of the freezer was still hard. If I let it sit out for a few minutes it was ok.
      After reading the “contribution sugar makes to ice cream” I think I am going to have to add some. I am no longer a pre-diabetic, due to my low carb high fat lifestyle, which is why I try to avoid sugar at all costs.
      I will try the Jeni Bauer recipe on my next go around, I think the sugar content should be ok for a small serving.

      Thanks again for this fantastic website!

Jul - August 15, 2018

Hi Carl! Great article! I am wondering if you have experimented with non-dairy icecreams made with for example coconut milk. Which are the best stabilisers to use. Thank you.

    Carl - August 15, 2018

    Hi Julia,

    I haven’t as yet no. Check out some of the other comments though, there’s a few messages (that include recipes) from Luke who’s having great results with non-dairy ice creams.

    Basically the same stabilizers that work with dairy milk should work with non-dairy milks.

    I’ll be updating the site early next year with a ton of new stabilizer content!


Barbara - September 21, 2018

I am venturing into making goat’s milk ice cream in my dairy. Do you have any information on Tara Gum? Also, can LBG be heated in a small amount of milk and then added to the larger amount of milk. I don’t want to heat all of my milk for the ice cream to 185.

    Carl - September 26, 2018

    Hi Barbara,

    No! I hadn’t come across Tara Gum before. It looks really interesting, definitely worth trying.

    Yes you can heat the LBG is a smaller amount of milk and then add it to a larger amount. I’m not sure if it work quite as well, but it will definitely work.

    Let us know if you try Tara Gum, I’d really like to know what it was like.


Shruti - October 11, 2018

I’m trying to make fruit popsicles…. Is there some way you can share a commercial recipe ….. Because my popsicles are totally fruit based…. I do not understand the quantity of sugar or base syrup( water + sugar+ stabilizer)
It would be a great help!!!!
Thank you

    Carl - October 13, 2018

    Hi Shruti,

    I don’t have a commercial recipe for popsicles I’m afraid. Maybe another reader does?


Kelly - November 13, 2018

Hello !
What a great article to read ! I have been struggling to find any info on stabilizers . I have bought a magimix gelato expert and plan to use it for small batches of gelato for my small pizzeria . I haven’t bought a commercial machine because I am not sure the demand of gelato yet and I am also working from home . If I were to start using LBG and guar gum together would that solve my problem of having a gelato that doesn’t melt to quickly or if it does not sell out in the first week it would last in the freezer , I am currently using a recipe that has milk powder and tapioca flour , it worked great! There was no egg and hardly any cream and beautiful texture but I am worried about stability with melting and it froze rock hard and soften once left out for a few min , I’m needing to find something that the gelato can be in a display freezer and not melt too quickly when served .would I take the tapioca flour out if using the LBG and guar ? I would so appreciate any advice as the info on making simple home made ice cream is ALOT but hardly anything on homemade gelato to sell at a shop ..

    Carl - November 13, 2018

    Hi Kelly,

    The LBG and Guar will definitely slow down the melting.

    And while it will also reduce the iciness if you store it in the freezer, once gelato is frozen in a standard freezer, it’s quality does decline markedly.

    If you can, I’d recommend making it fresh every day.

    If you have to keep it in the freezer, try not to disturb it by opening the door again until you take it out to serve it. Unfortunately it still won’t be as good as the day you made it!

    Since the tapioca is used as a stabilizer, then yes if you use other stabilizers you can reduce or remove the tapioca altogether.

    I hope that helps!

Stefan - November 26, 2018

Hello Carl, just a little feedback regarding a recipe I followed from a book that specified 0.5% stabilizer in a fior di latte gelato recipe. I used guar gum as the stabilizer and it came out extremely chewy. I have reduced it to 0.125% for my second run and will make my way up from there. If you have any tips around guar gum that aren’t stated above it would be great if you could share them. If you would like to look at the recipe it’s available here. https://www.goodfood.com.au/archived/gelato-recipe-from-gelato-messina-20131202-2ymr2

    Carl - December 7, 2018

    Hi Stefan,

    Sorry about the delay getting back to you. I’ve made that recipe too!

    That is the problem with Guar: it can make the ice cream chewy. The only advice I would give you is to mix the Guar with another stabilizer. Try Locust Bean Gum which goes really well with Guar.

    I hope thats’s helpful.



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