It is National Frozen Custard day here in the United States, and I am reveling in the sweet and buttery goodness. Being a Wisconsin born midwestern girl, custard is all I knew. Grocery store ice cream just didn’t cut it, and what even is a Baskin-Robins? There’s something about the rich taste and texture of Wisconsin frozen custard. During my visit home, I decided to go on a custard tour and discover which is my favorite.
The Big Difference
People who don’t know frozen custard might disrespect it by calling it ice cream. Yet, the two couldn’t be more different. Though they do contain much of the same ingredients, (milk, cream, and sugar) frozen custard takes it one step further by adding egg yolks and a higher percentage of butterfat from milk. While ice cream machines churn air into the dessert, the machines used to make custard include almost no air at all. You’re left with this rich and dense texture in comparison to ice cream’s light and airy feel. Ice cream has to be kept frozen in order to be enjoyed. Most custard is served churned straight from the machine, giving it a soft serve appeal that instantly melts in your mouth. Making it, in my opinion, much more enjoyable to eat.
And the Winner Is…
I was born in Milwaukee, WI and we are the “unofficial” frozen custard capital of the world. There are many frozen custard stands in the city, (per capita we have the highest concentration in the world) but the long standing competition has been between Leon’s Frozen Custard and Kopp’s Frozen Custard. I always loved Kopp’s as a kid, but I took my refined adult palette to both and I gotta say…LEON’S IS THE BEST. Founded in 1945, Leon’s has the classic drive-in restaurant appearance. They also claim to be “Home of the World’s Finest Frozen Custard” as you can see on their signage.
My favorite flavor is butter pecan and Leon’s does me the pleasure of serving it daily all year round due to it’s immense popularity. They add the fresh salted pecans the moment you order your cup or cone. It’s the most brilliant combination of savory, salty, and sweet. You can also get the staples chocolate and vanilla daily, and on the weekends they add a fourth specialty flavor. There’s always a huge line outside and a party in the parking lot. Everyone wants a taste of the world’s finest.
Kopp’s Frozen Custard (founded in 1950) has always been there for me. I wanted them to come out on top, I truly did. One thing I love about Kopp’s is their flavor of the day. They release a calendar every month with unique frozen custard concoctions that suit anyone’s preference. You have to remember to get a wafer with your ice cream. They add the most delicious crunch. Besides custard, Kopp’s has also been voted best burger in Wisconsin by several publications. The burgers are seriously the size of my head. Kopp’s is where I go when I want to be more adventurous in my choice of dessert, but Leon’s is definitely the place to be if you want that authentic and original custard flavor profile.
If You’re Not in Wisconsin
I feel for my readers who haven’t had the pleasure of trying Wisconsin Custard, but there are several places nationwide where frozen custard can be found. Culver’s is a chain that does a great job with their custard, and they are Wisconsin born. You can also find it at Shake Shack, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, and Andy’s Frozen Custard. USA Today posted a list of places that are offering deals on frozen custard in honor of the holiday. Go get served!