The Veggie Table: Dairy-Free Ice Cream

by in The Veggie Table, August 13, 2011
vegan ice cream
Creamy, frosty and dairy-free cookies and cream ice cream.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for…non-dairy ice cream? If you don’t do dairy like me, you may be looking for other cool treats to eat in the dog days of summer. Fortunately, grocery stores now carry a plethora of non-dairy frozen desserts using rice, soy, almond, or coconut milk, and a refreshing fruit sorbet is always dairy free. But ever since I purchased an inexpensive ice cream machine, I’ve been churning my own and the flavor possibilities are endless.

I’ve been starting with a simple vanilla base using light canned coconut milk. It’s rich, creamy, and mild, without that tropical coconut flavor.


  • 2 14.5 ounce cans light coconut milk*
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and chill in the refrigerator for two hours or overnight. Then, follow your ice cream maker’s instructions.

*You can also swap out the coconut milk for a thick soymilk like Silk or even soy creamer.

Some of my favorite summer flavors include:

  • Cookies ‘n Cream – Crush about 25 chocolate sandwich cookies before adding them into the vanilla base while churning.
  • Coffee – add one cup of strong coffee, chilled, into the vanilla base before churning.
  • Blueberry Cinnamon – Towards the end of churning, mix in one cup of fresh blueberries and one teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – Chop four Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Larabars into small pieces. Add Larabar bits and ½ cup of dark chocolate chips into the vanilla base while churning.
  • Peanut Butter – Blend one cup of smooth peanut butter into the vanilla base in using a stand or hand blender. Scoops of peanut butter ice cream can be jazzed up with a drizzle of chocolate syrup, or some fresh strawberry slices on top for a peanut butter and “jelly” flavor.

Ice cream machines also easily make refreshing fruity sorbets, like this two-ingredient Pink Grapefruit Sorbet. Don’t have an ice cream machine? Don’t worry! You can try these delectable sorbet recipes without one.

TELL US: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Janel Ovrut Funk, MS RD LDN, loves experimenting with vegetarian and vegan cooking. Read her food blog, Eat Well with Janel, and follow her on Twitter @DietitianJanel.  Catch up on her previous posts here.

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Comments (1,334)

  1. PBJ says:

    Sounds fabulous – since I'm lactose intolerant, this will be a fantastic way to enjoy homemade ice cream. I love some of the Soy Delicious products available in the store, but it will be fun to experiment with other flavors! Thanks a bunch!

  2. Devika Burman says:


  3. realfunfood says:

    Looks so good. Banana soft serve is also a very popular vegan ice cream treat right now. I have yet to try it though!

    • Dana White says:

      Hi realfunfood –
      We just finished an article on soft serve banana ice cream! We will be posting it shorty – stay tuned!

  4. jessie marie says:

    I can't wait to try this! I never thought of using coconut milk instead of regular. I'll bet mango flavor would be good, too.

  5. […] found the base recipe for this ice cream on the Healthy Eats blog the other day (link is here) and tweaked it slightly.  We have several vegan friends, so I’m always on the lookout for […]

  6. Anna-Marie says:

    Wow! Our ice cream maker has been just sitting on a shelf since we have decided to start eating healthier. Now I have a reason to use it again!

  7. glenda says:

    can anyone help me with butter pecan ice cream. What would I add to get that flavor

  8. Tina Schlissel says:

    This summer Vegan Ice-cream vendor came to our Boardwalk in Rockaway Beach. What a treat! I've enjoyed the coffee cinamon but my favorite is the mint cocao chip. Thanks Steve's Ice-Cream!!!!

  9. Karrin says:

    Awesome post! Sounds so yummy!
    I have just started a blog devoted to homemade non diary ice cream!

    Thanks for sharing!

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