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 spoonWhen 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


Prep Time 1 hour Total Time 1 hr
Serves 16     adjust servings


  • 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.
4 reviews
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving As Served
Calories 510kcal Calories from fat 336
% Daily Value
Total Fat 37g 57%
Saturated Fat 22g 110%
Cholesterol 171mg 57%
Sodium 58mg 2%
Carbohydrate 43g 14%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 41g
Protein 5g

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs:

Calories 2000
Total Fat Less than 65g
Sat Fat Less than 25g
Cholesterol Less than 300mg
Sodium Less than 2,400mg
Total Carbohydrate 300g
Dietary Fiber 25g

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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. )

  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.

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