When I was younger (see also: when I didn’t have to worry about frivolous things like calories) one of my greatest pleasures in life could be found at the local drugstore. It wasn’t until I just typed that sentence out that I realized how ancient it makes me sound. Sadly, it’s true. I grew up in an era in which the local drugstore had an ice cream counter. My friends and I would walk there from my house and pony up our 65 cents for two scoops on a cake cone. Without fail, I’d order chocolate chip on top of chocolate malted crunch. In the years that have since passed, I moved out of California and have not been able to find Thrifty brand ice cream anywhere. And while chocolate chip is an easy enough ice cream flavor to find, chocolate malted crunch is not. So I improvised. I developed a recipe for homemade Chocolate Malted Crunch ice cream that — dare I say — is better than the drugstore version.

Chocolate Malted Crunch homemade ice cream in a glass dish with antique spoon

When it comes to homemade ice cream, my preference is for custard-based recipes. A lot of folks prefer Philadelphia style ice cream recipes (that don’t include egg yolks) because they are super quick and easy to whip up. I find those versions to be a bit too icy for my taste. When I want to dig in to a dish of ice cream, I’m looking to savor something thick and creamy. Where Philadelphia style recipes fall heinously short, custard-based ice cream recipes hit a home run in that department. Especially this one.

Chocolate Malted Crunch homemade ice cream in a glass dish with antique spoon

Unlike some of the other recipes you might find for homemade chocolate malted crunch ice cream, mine does not call for Ovaltine. I opted for plain malted milk powder to contribute the malted flavor you’d expect. The chocolate in my recipe comes from high-quality milk chocolate bars that are finely chopped and stirred in to the warm custard base.

Chocolate Malted Crunch homemade ice cream in a glass dish with antique spoon

And then, of course, we come to the crunch. Chocolate covered malted milk balls are the obvious choice for a reason; they offer a sweet and satisfying crunch within a sea of milk chocolate cream. And when you stir in a smidge of Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) you’ve got yourself the homemade chocolate malted crunch ice cream that dreams are made of.

Chocolate Malted Crunch homemade ice cream in a glass dish with antique spoon
Chocolate Malted Crunch homemade ice cream in a glass dish with antique spoon


Yield: 16
Prep Time: 1 hour
Inactive Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 13 hours


  • 4.5 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cups malted milk powder
  • 6 oz high quality milk chocolate candy bars
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur
  • 2 cups chocolate-covered malted milk ball candies, chopped


  1. Combine 1 1/2 cups of the heavy cream with the whole milk, sugar and malted milk powder in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer. 
  2. While the mixture is coming to heat, finely chop the chocolate bars (I used Theo's brand) and set aside. 
  3. Gently whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
  4. When the cream mixture is steamy and hot, remove about 1/2 cup of the mixture and slowly drizzle it into the egg yolks, whisking constantly as the cream mixture is drizzled in.
  5. Once you've tempered the egg yolks by whisking in the hot cream, slowly add the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan, whisking constantly as you slowly add the yolk mixture.
  6. Bring the cream and egg yolk mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken and coat the back of a rubber spatula when it is done.
  7. Place the chopped chocolate bars in a freezer-safe bowl. Add the remaining heavy cream. Place a fine mesh strainer over the opening of the bowl. Slowly pour the custard mix through the strainer into the cream and chocolate mixture. Stir gently until most of the chocolate is dissolved. It's fine (preferable even) if some chocolate flecks remain.
  8. Stir in the hazelnut liqueur.
  9. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least eight hours.
  10. Freeze according to your ice cream freezer manufacturer directions. When the ice cream is done, stir in chopped chocolate-covered malted milk balls. 
  11. Return the finished ice cream to the freezer for at least four hours before serving.

Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 510Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 171mgSodium: 58mgFiber: 1gSugar: 41gProtein: 5g

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  1. Looks delicious! Is the ice cream freezer the same as an ice cream maker? I don’t have either and was wondering if it is needed for this recipe.

    1. Yeah, you’ll definitely need an ice cream maker (which I sometimes refer to as an ice cream freezer) to make this recipe. It might be worth the investment; homemade ice cream is so yummy and the boys would love it, I’m sure!

  2. This sounds so good! I love malt flavor!
    When I was a teenager the ice cream at Thrifty’s was five cents a scoop. It was a lonnng time ago..I consumed triple dip cones multiple times a week and the word calorie never entered my mind

    1. Right?! I know what you mean, Andrea. I remember that when Thrifty’s opened in my hometown (Paso Robles), each scoop was a nickel (or a dime, maybe?), but that changed over the years.

  3. I clicked on this recipe because I was craving my favorite Thrifty’s flavor, but now live in Oklahoma so I can’t get it here. I had to share that my hometown is Arroyo grande! Sometimes the world seems so big then I see things like this and it feels smaller

    1. Hi Dana! We may very well have practically been neighbors at one point. I grew up in Paso, just up the 101 from Arroyo Grande. Another thing we have in common is our favorite Thrifty ice cream flavor. If you ever get the chance to try this recipe, it will be a very nostalgic taste for you, I promise. Thanks for introducing yourself!

  4. I just made this today. It’s fantastic (as well as nostalgic). My husband says it’s not the same as Thrifty because I didn’t serve it with a cylindrical ice cream scoop. I rolled my eyes. Thanks for posting the recipe. We will be making this again and again. (Btw- grew up in Redlands. )

    1. My birthday was yesterday and my husband bought me a Thrifty scoop for one of my gifts. I squealed. Living in Missouri now, I long for some of my SoCal youth. Now I can try it with this ice cream. :)

    2. I just saw they actually sell the Thrifty scoop on Amazon. Late Father’s Day gift?

  5. Omg my fav also thrifty drugstore to be exact in Southern California now it’s no where to be found sadly. Waaa.. Thank you for your recipe.

  6. Made it this weekend, so so YUMMY!! Love the texture, didn’t have hazelnut liqueur so used vanilla extract and a dash of almond extract.

    1. Isn’t it the absolute best, Renee? It’s definitely our favorite homemade ice cream recipe! Thanks for sharing your substitutions. I’m sure those will be handy for others.

  7. Kelly, you can look for & usually find a good used ice cream maker/freezer at yard sales & thrift stores for a very reasonable price.

  8. @Melissa. One of my daughters live in San Diego and her neighborhood Thrifty Drugstore still scoops and sells Thrifty ice cream in the carton. Also, my son lives in Phoenix AZ, and he found a Water & Ice Store near his house in northwest Phoenix that sells Thrifty Ice Cream in the carton.

  9. @Melissa Oops I made a mistake- it’s actually a Rite Aid Store, 5270 Balboa Ave, San Diego, CA 92117. But it scoops & sells Thrifty ice cream.

  10. Chocolate Malted Crunch had been a family favorite my entire life. Every time I traveled back to the west coast…i had to get another suitcase…and FILLED it with Thriftys Malted Crunch packed with dry ice, to bring some back for the family. Then I see this recipe….and tried it yesterday. All I can say is…..PHENOMENAL!!! Taste is remarkable…memories flooded my mind of past good summers being young… Now….for those reading this…I couldnt follow exactly. I don’t own an ice cream maker. I made mine in a big kitchen glass bowl and mixed accorsing to instructions. Placed in my deep freeze over night….and worked perfect! Also, did not have hazelnut liqueur, and didn’t want to buy something for 1 tbsp. So….I used a single serve hazelnut creamer. Awesome!! Thank you all!

    1. It’s SOOOOOOO delicious, right? Thanks for reporting back, Dawn. I’m glad you were able to modify the recipe to meet your needs. Enjoy.

  11. Even better than my favorite childhood Thrifty’s ice cream!! Batch two of the afternoon is churning now! I can’t wait to share it with friends tonight! Thank you for this delicious recipe!!

    1. When I say heavy cream, divided, I simply mean that you will not use the entire amount that the recipe calls for in the same step. A portion will be heated and the remainder will not. I hope that helps clarify for you!

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