This is the best homemade Vegan Ice Cream and it’s easy to make with just 5 ingredients! Serve with hot fudge and vegan whipped cream or any number of add ins like cookie dough or brownie pieces.
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
- 1 1/4 cups raw cashews
- (2) 13.5 ounce cans full fat coconut milk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 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.
- Serve: It should be ready in about 4-5 hours as firm ice cream. Remove the container from the freezer, let sit for a few minutes before scooping and serving. Enjoy with vegan hot fudge and whipped cream, if desired.
- 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.
Splendid! Turned out magnificent! I did make a couple modifications: 1 can of full fat coconut milk and 1 can of coconut cream (because that is what I had in my pantry). I also added 1 teaspoon of vodka based on other recipes I researched online. I broke up 8 Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies into tiny pieces and added 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract. The flavor and consistency turned out perfect. I made sure to soak my raw cashew pieces in boiling water for over an hour and blended the base using a Vitamix for over 4 minutes to ensure I had a smooth consistency. Chilled the mixture in the fridge for 4 hours before putting in the ice cream maker.
Hi Alice. Thanks for sharing your great ideas and feedback! I’m thrilled you love the ice cream! Yours sounds delicious!
I followed every step but somehow it came our chunky, as if the cashews didn’t blend enough? Kind of a gross texture.
The ice cream should be smooth and creamy, so it’s very possible that the cashews weren’t blended enough if it was chunky. They need to be completely blended into a smooth sauce (this can take 3 to 4 minutes) before going into the ice cream maker.
Could I substitute date syrup or coconut sugar for the sweetener? I am on a sugar free diet and these are the best options for me as I don’t eat the stevia and erythritol sweeteners.
I think you probably could, but I haven’t tried it to know for sure. I don’t think it will be a problem though. Hope you enjoy!
Nora please delete previous submitted comment due to grammar. This one below is the one for print. Thank-you.
Nora & Leesa, You can use a maple sugar or the maple crunch. If you put the maple-crunch in a small grinder it becomes maple sugar.
How do you make this recipe chocolate (vegan)?
Try adding up to 3/4 cup of cocoa powder. Hope this helps!
Smooth, Silky & Delicious!
This recipe was so easy and quick. I have a vitamix blender, and blended the mixture for 5 minutes. I also used a cuisinart compressor-based ice cream machine. Both worked great.
I am literally crying into my ice cream. I haven’t had ice cream in years. Thank you Nora! What a life changing recipe! ?
Hi Amber. How wonderful that you are able to bring ice cream back into your life! I am thrilled that you loved it, and find it easy! Thank you for sharing g your fabulous feedback and review! Wishing you lots of future ice cream goodness!
I did your NO CHURN ice cream version, and it never got hard enough to make a ball, and the worst part was that it tasted like STRONG coconut made by your recipe for condensed milk. Suggestions???
Hi there! Well I’m a little confused because in my recipe for No Churn Ice Cream (not to be confused with this recipe), there is no ball stage, you don’t use an ice cream maker. You are essentially making a very whipped cream in a bowl with a mixer, folding in condensed milk, then freezing until it hardens. It doesn’t sound like that’s what you did if you were waiting for a “ball” to form. Also, to avoid any coconut flavor, use refined coconut oil (it has no coconut taste at all), and substitute a different milk for the coconut milk in the condensed milk. I used oat sweetened condensed milk and it had no coconut taste at all.
Came out perfectly, thank you!
You are welcome! Thank you for sharing your great feedback!
Hi! Does the coconut milk in this recipe result in the ice cream tasting coconutty? I want to make this for a vegan friend who doesn’t like coconut. Is there a substitute that would provide enough fat without adding a coconut taste?
You really can’t taste the coconut! It’s well hidden behind the cashews, vanilla, salt, and sugar.
This ice cream is the best. I’ve made vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. My family loves it. I make this 2-3 time per week and it never lasts more than 2 days. Thank you!
Wow, that’s so great to hear! Thank you so much for using my recipe and for your review!
Hi! Should I only use the fat part of the canned coconut milk that separates and leave behind the liquid? Or is it two fulls cans of coconut milk liquid included? Thanks 🙂
Use both full cans, including the liquid. Hope that helps!
Creamy, perfectly balanced and so, very satisfying. I am hooked! Definitely one of my absolute favorite vegan ice cream recipes…Thanks Nora, for another phenominal recipe!! You are amazing!!!
Thank you for your wonderful feedback, Leila! I’m so glad you loved the ice cream!
Would it be possible to make this with dates? Like date paste?
I’m not sure, I haven’t tried it. It might work with date paste.
O. M. G. So good! I just bought an ice cream maker and this is the first ice cream I’ve made. And it couldn’t have easier, or a more perfect vanilla ice cream. I separated it into 2 containers and stirred your Oatmeal Chocolate Cookie dough into 1 of them. Baked the rest of the cookie dough to make ice cream sandwiches with ;-). Thank you for always sharing tried and true recipes. I never have to worry they won’t turn out or we won’t love them. Yay for homemade ice cream! Now for sorbet..
That sounds so amazing Shelly! I’m happy you enjoyed the ice cream!
Hi Nora This recipe sounds delicious just wondering if you have tried substituting sugar for maple syrup? Ps I love so many of your recipes.Thank you.
Hi there, I haven’t tried it but it might make it more icy, I’m not sure. Thank you so much!
I used maple syrup as a substitution for the sugar and it came out great! Will definitely make again.
Hi, would this recipe work without the cashews? Or perhaps could I substitute almonds for the cashews? This looks delicious and I’m ready to buy an ice cream maker!
I haven’t tried it without the cashews, or with almonds instead, but it might work with raw slivered almonds. Let me know if you try it!