The Best Vegan Ice Cream
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No dairy? No problem! Have you ever been extremely disappointed with store bought dairy free ice creams? While there are a few that I really love (looking at you, SoDelicious Cashew Salted Caramel Cluster), some are really lacking in the creamy factor that ice cream should have. This fresh churned, easy to make ice cream is the ultimate vegan ice cream. No one will miss the dairy or eggs!
So creamy and rich, this recipe is made with only 5 ingredients and is easy to make so you never have to buy expensive non dairy ice cream again. Blend and churn everything together, freeze, and voila! The best vegan ice cream ready in only a few hours.
I usually eat a bowl with hot fudge, whipped cream, and nuts on top. Lucky for you, there are endless ways to enjoy vegan ice cream. Mix in brownie pieces, chocolate ganache, caramel, or anything else you like to create the ultimate vegan dessert.
What is vegan ice cream made from?
The secret to the best vegan ice cream is cashews and full fat coconut milk. I tried to make it with vegan creamer and soy milk as the base, but the results were never as creamy and rich. If you can’t have coconut, it’s a decent option, but not the best.
If you don’t like the taste of coconut, don’t worry! I added soaked raw cashews, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract to the mix which help tone down the coconut flavor. You really can’t detect it at all.
How to make vegan vanilla ice cream
Remember: Put the bowl of your ice cream maker (<— this is the one I have) in the freezer the night before making homemade vegan ice cream. I like to always keep my bowl in the freezer so it’s always good to go. Once it’s nice and cold, you can begin.
- Start by soaking the cashews in hot water for at least 5 minutes or up to 3 hours.
- Blend the cashews with the coconut milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla.
- The finished mixture should be smooth and creamy, and not have any cashew chunks.
- Pour the mixture into a large bowl and place it in the freezer so it can be ice-cold in time for churning.
Now it’s time to churn! Pour the cold ice cream mixture into the machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After a while, it should start to look just like soft serve. This is the time to add any mix-ins you like.
Transfer the finished churned ice cream to a loaf pan, smooth out the top, cover with plastic, and freeze. After a few hours, the ice cream will be perfectly smooth, creamy, and ready to enjoy! You can actually enjoy it as soft serve right away, if you’d like. I couldn’t stop licking the bowl!
Can I make it without an ice cream machine?
Unfortunately, no. This recipe can only be made with an ice cream maker. There are recipes for no-churn ice cream out there, but they are never going to be as tasty as using an ice cream maker. I highly suggest getting one; they are fairly inexpensive and it’s such a fun family project and tradition.
Mix in any of these sweet add-ins right before the ice cream is finished churning:
- Vegan brownie pieces
- Chocolate chip cookie pieces
- Vegan cookie dough
- Peanut butter cookie pieces
- Chocolate ganache
- Caramel sauce
- Oreo pieces
- Vegan peanut butter cups
- Fresh peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or cherries (fold these in with a spatula)
- Chopped nuts
- Vegan mini marshmallows
- Crumbled up leftover chocolate or vanilla cake
- Smooth peanut butter and bananas
- Mint extract, chocolate pieces, and green dye to make vegan mint chocolate ice cream
A scoop of ice cream is the perfect partner to so many vegan desserts! Serve it with:
- Pies – Add a scoop on top of an apple, pecan, or pumpkin pie, or on a peach cobbler and vegan apple crisp.
- Brownies – Take your eggless brownies up a notch with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
- Cake – It isn’t a birthday party without cake and ice cream! Serve it with my chocolate, vanilla, coconut, or funfetti cake.
- Cookies – Sandwich a scoop of ice cream between two cookies, like oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, peanut butter cookies, or vegan chocolate cookies.
- On its own – With chocolate fudge and sprinkles on top!
How to store vegan ice cream
To prevent ice crystals from forming, place the ice cream in a loaf pan or other container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the ice cream. Place another layer of wrap on the pan and freeze.
Homemade vegan ice cream will last for a few weeks in the freezer. It doesn’t last quite as long as ice cream from the store, so make sure you enjoy it often until it’s gone!
Once frozen, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften slightly before scooping and serving. I do this with store bought ice creams as well.
Craving more summer vegan desserts?
The Best Vegan Ice Cream
- Prepare: Place the bowl for your ice cream maker in the freezer a day before you plan on making it. I like to keep my bowl in the freezer when not in use, that way it's always ready!
- Soak the cashews: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Pour the hot water over the cashews and let soak for at least 5 minutes (or up to 3 hours).
- Blend: Drain the cashews and discard the soaking water. Add them to a high powered blender along with the coconut milk, sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Blend on high speed until very smooth and creamy, a full 3-4 minutes. Don't blend for less time or you may end up with pieces of cashews.
- Chill: Pour the mixture into a large bowl and place in the freezer to chill for about 30 minutes. It can get a bit warm when blending, and we want it to be cold when we churn it.
- Churn: Set up your ice cream maker and remove both the ice cream maker bowl and the ice cream mixture from the freezer. Pour the mixture into the ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer instructions, about 20-25 minutes, until it looks like soft serve ice cream. If using any ad ins, add them in at the very end, once it looks like soft serve.
- Freeze: Transfer the soft serve ice cream to a loaf pan and smooth the top with a spoon. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming. Place another layer of wrap on top of the pan and place in the freezer to set completely.
- This homemade ice cream really can not be made without an ice cream maker.
- If you truly can’t have coconut, you can substitute 2 1/2 cups of vegan creamer. It’s a bit more icy and less creamy due to the decreased fat content, but it’s still quite good.
- I have not tried it without cashews, so I don’t know of a substitute here.
- For add in options, try cookie dough, crumbled cookies, crumbled brownie pieces, sprinkles, fruit, caramel, peanut butter cups and more. See the post above for links and more ideas.
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