You may find this shocking, but it may very well be easier to make vegan non-dairy ice cream that will blow your mind than it is to make the classic dairy-laden kind. And, it’s good! Not “good for vegan” good — actually good. Even if you don’t own an ice cream maker, you can have great ice cream! All you need is a base recipe to build on, and the willingness to follow your heart and dream big. This ice cream is delicious and empowering. It’s pretty much a miracle.
If you own an ice cream maker…
...full fat coconut milk will be your savior. The key to incredible ice cream is, well, cream, which is rich and luscious because of its luxuriously high fat content. Man-made non-dairy milks like almond, cashew and oat do their best to replicate the creaminess of full-fat dairy, but even their best efforts can never hold a candle to the real thing. Coconut milk, however, is creamy AF, and it pulls that off without human intervention. There’s no need to “hack” coconut milk, no need to tinker with plant based fats or nut butters to make it better. And, making a good thing even better, coconut milk ice cream is so easy to make, you may never buy store-bought again.
All you need to know to make coconut ice cream base: for every 2 cans of full fat coconut milk (about 3 ½ cups), add ⅔ cup sugar. That’s it! You can add white sugar, brown sugar, coconut palm sugar. Pour one can of coconut milk into a saucepan with the sugar and gently heat it until the sugar dissolves; then, pour into a bowl with the other can of coconut milk and refrigerate until cold.
Flavoring your ice cream is up to you: add a bit of vanilla extract, a few tablespoons of Dutch process cocoa powder, a scoop of instant espresso grounds or peanut butter powder. As for measurements, they don’t need to be all that precise — when adding flavoring, do it by taste, just as you’d so with a buttercream frosting.
Once an ice cream is frozen, its flavors are dulled since the cold desensitizes the tastebuds, so permit yourself to be aggressive when adding flavoring.
Once your ice cream base is thoroughly chilled, put it in your ice cream maker and run to your manufacturers instructions. When it’s thickened up quite a bit you can add mix-ins to the machine, like crushed up cookies, toasted nuts, fudge ripples, caramel swirls, chopped up candy bars — let your imagination run wild. As long as you’ve got that simple coconut milk base down pat, you can choose your own adventure and create the ice cream of your dreams.
If you don’t own an ice cream maker…
...you’re not left out in the (pardon the pun) cold. No-churn vegan ice cream does exist! It, too, is made ultra creamy with the addition of coconut milk which, when super chilled to almost freezing, whips up just like heavy cream. No churn vegan ice cream has a second secret ingredient for success: pureed dates, which provides both sugar and stability.
Take one cup of chopped Mejdool dates and heat them in a saucepan with one cup of your favorite vegan milk — soy, almond, oat, or coconut. Once simmering remove the pan from the heat and cover it; let the dates steep until cool. Pour into a food processor or high powered blender and puree until smooth, then move to a bowl and refrigerate.
Take a well-chilled can of full-fat coconut milk and pour it into a bowl. Use your mixer’s whisk attachment to beat the coconut milk to stiff peaks — about 5-7 minutes. Whip in the cold date mixture and any flavorings you like. Once well combined, fold in any mix-ins with a rubber spatula, then pour the ice cream into a loaf pan and wrap in plastic. Freeze for 3-4 hours until set and scoopable.