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This vegan ice cream recipe is impossibly creamy! These tricks make an incredible homemade dairy free ice cream.

Vegan Ice Cream

Craving vegan ice cream? There are lots of great vegan ice cream brands out there these days. But the best we’ve found is actually homemade! Try this Vegan Ice Cream recipe: it’s creamy, delicious, and made with all whole foods: no additives or preservatives. It has a luscious creamy texture and it tastes like real vanilla ice cream (no weird aftertastes, either!). In fact, it’s the best vegan ice cream we’ve tried. Consider the dairy free ice cream code cracked!

Secrets to vegan ice cream

The tricky thing about vegan ice cream is obvious: there’s no dairy allowed. Unfortunately, it’s the milkfat in heavy cream and whole milk that makes the rich, creamy texture to a great ice cream. It’s also what keeps it from turning to a block of ice in the freezer when it’s stored over time.

There are three main bases for vegan ice cream that are dairy free: coconut milk, oat milk, and cashews. The problem? Each base has the flavor of that ingredient, making it have a “not quite right” aftertaste. This vegan ice cream recipe solves all those problems! It’s rich and creamy, it holds up in the freezer, and it tastes like real vanilla ice cream. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Raw cashews
  • Oat milk
  • Cornstarch
  • Full fat coconut milk
  • Agave syrup
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt
Dairy free ice cream

A few ingredient notes

Each ingredient above is essential to the rich and creamy flavor of this vegan ice cream. Don’t be tempted to make substitutes here: each ingredient has a key role to play. Here are a few reasons behind each ingredient:

  • Cashews, oat milk and coconut milk: This combination of cashews, oat milk and coconut milk is why gives this dairy free ice cream its robust flavor. Using them in concert makes none of the flavors stick out or have a funny aftertaste.
  • Cornstarch: Cornstarch is essential to the soft texture of the ice cream after its frozen. It’s what makes it hold up beyond 4 hours in the freezer.
  • Agave syrup and granulated sugar: A liquid sweetener is another way to give the vegan ice cream a soft texture in the freezer. Otherwise, it turns very hard and cannot be saved beyond the day that it is churned.
Vegan ice cream

Required equipment: ice cream maker

The ingredient list is simple, but this dairy free and vegan ice cream recipe does require one piece of special equipment: an ice cream maker! It’s a great investment you can use to make sorbetssherbet and ice cream year round. There are two main types of ice cream makers on the market:

  • Freezer bowl ice cream maker (inexpensive). This type of ice cream maker is the most economical choice. Here’s the 2 quart freezer bowl ice cream maker we use; it’s a little pricier than some but it’s held up well over the years. Be sure to freeze the base of the ice cream maker overnight before making the recipe.
  • Automatic ice cream maker (expensive but easy to use!). Do you make ice cream often? Consider this automatic ice cream maker, which is larger and more expensive. It requires no pre-freezing of the base, so you can make ice cream on a moment’s notice.

How to make dairy free vegan ice cream (basic steps)

This vegan cream recipe uses the classic method for making ice cream: make a custard on the stovetop, chill it, churn it in an ice cream maker, then freeze to “ripen” the texture. (In fact, it’s just like our homemade ice cream, just dairy free.) Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Boil the cashews (15 minutes): First, you’ll boil the cashews to soften them in order to blend them into the base.
  • Make the ice cream base (5 minutes): Meanwhile, simmer the remaining ingredients until thickened.
  • Blend (2 minutes): Blend together the cashews with the ice cream base until fully smooth.
  • Cool the base (1 hour or overnight): Transfer the mixture to a large metal or glass bowl and place the bowl in a smaller bowl of ice water for 1 hour. Or, you can refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight before churning.
  • Churn (25 minutes): Churn the vegan ice cream in the ice cream maker.
  • Freeze or “ripen” for hard ice cream texture (at least 2 hours or overnight): Freeze the ice cream for 2 hours or overnight for a scoop-able, hard ice cream texture.

Important serving instruction

Vegan ice cream

Here’s an important serving instruction. If this vegan ice cream is frozen for over 4 hours, allow it to stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving to soften. It does become hard in the freezer, but a few minutes at room temperature will soften it to a creamy texture. Just make sure to pull it right before serving!

More frozen dairy free recipes

There are lots more vegan frozen treats to try! For example, sorbet recipes are vegan because they contain only fruit and sugar. Here are a few more dairy free and vegan frozen treats to make in an ice cream maker:

This dairy free vegan ice cream is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Vegan ice cream

Vegan Ice Cream (Dairy Free!)


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
  • Yield: 1 quart 1x

Description

This vegan ice cream recipe is impossibly creamy! These tricks make an incredible homemade dairy free ice cream.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup whole unsalted raw cashews
  • 2 cups oat milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 13.66 oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • ½ cup agave syrup
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Place the cashews in a small saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and boil 15 minutes. Then drain and rinse them under cold water until cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix ½ cup oat milk with 2 tablespoons cornstarch and set aside.
  3. Add 1 ½ cups oat milk to a medium saucepan with the coconut milk. Warm the mixture over medium low heat for 2 minutes, whisking to incorporate the solids. Then add the agave syrup and sugar. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and continue on medium low until the mixture just starts to bubble and is thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. In a blender, combine the oat milk mixture with the cashews and blend until completely smooth and no chunks remain. (A high powered blender is best. If you see visible chunks, strain through a fine mesh strainer before going to the next step.)
  5. Transfer the mixture to a large metal or glass bowl. Place the bowl in a smaller bowl of ice water for 1 hour, making sure not to splash any water into the custard, until the temperature drops to 40°F. Alternatively, simply place the bowl in the refrigerator and wait for 3 hours or overnight.
  6. When the custard is chilled, pour it into an ice cream maker and churn according to the ice cream maker instructions, about 25 minutes for soft serve consistency. For a hard ice cream texture, transfer to a loaf pan or sealed container and freeze in the freezer for at least 2 hours (or up to 4 hours). Store in a loaf pan with a parchment sheet over the top or a sealed container for up to 2 weeks. Important: If frozen for over 4 hours, allow it to stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving to soften.
  • Category: Ice Cream
  • Method: Frozen
  • Cuisine: Ice Cream
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Vegan ice cream, vegan ice cream recipe

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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