Dairy-free vanilla ice cream recipe

Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

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Updated on April 29, 2024

Summer’s calling and the craving for ice cream is screaming! But what if you can’t indulge in that creamy vanilla goodness because of dairy woes? Don’t fret, fellow ice cream enthusiasts! We’ve got the scoop on creating a dreamy, delicious, dairy-free vanilla ice cream that’ll have your taste buds singing and your worries melting away. 

This easy vegan recipe uses simple, wholesome ingredients to whip up a frosty masterpiece that is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth without sacrificing dietary needs. Plus, making your own ice cream gives you complete control over the ingredients, so you can ditch the hidden sugars and artificial flavours often found in store-bought varieties. 

So, grab your blender and get ready to churn up a summer sensation – dairy-free vanilla ice cream bliss awaits!

The Perfect Milk for Your Dairy-Free Dream

Dairy-free vanilla ice cream recipe
Dairy-free vanilla ice cream recipe

Choosing the right milk is the foundation for a creamy, dreamy, dairy-free ice cream. Here’s a breakdown of some popular options, each with its own unique strengths:

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk, the superstar of the dairy-free milk world, creates the richest, most decadent ice cream. Thanks to its high-fat content, full-fat coconut milk boasts a naturally thick consistency, beautifully mimicking the luxurious texture of dairy ice cream. This tropical milk also lends a subtle sweetness that perfectly complements vanilla.

When it comes to coconut milk, selection is key. Avoid the light coconut milk versions found in cartons – their lower fat content won’t deliver the desired creaminess. Instead, seek out canned full-fat coconut milk, often labelled as “coconut cream” for its thicker consistency. If you find the coconut flavour too strong, dilute it slightly with a splash of your dairy-free milk or water.

Almond Milk

Almond milk, a popular dairy alternative, shines with its mild, slightly nutty flavour that pairs beautifully with vanilla. Its smooth texture adds a touch of creaminess to ice cream, making it a versatile choice. Unsweetened almond milk is the way to go here, as pre-sweetened varieties can throw off the flavour balance of your ice cream.

The downside? Almond milk naturally has a lower fat content compared to coconut milk, which can result in a slightly icier texture. To combat this, you can use a combination of almond milk and another thicker dairy-free milk, like cashew milk, or add ingredients like ripe bananas or avocado for extra creaminess.

Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe with an Ice Cream Maker

Here’s a delicious dairy-free vanilla ice cream recipe that utilises your ice cream maker for a creamy texture:


  • 1 can (full-fat) coconut milk (13.5 oz) – Be sure to shake it well before opening.
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or another dairy-free milk you prefer)
  • ½ cup maple syrup (you can substitute agave nectar for a vegan option)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon almond extract (optional for a richer flavour)
  • Pinch of fine sea salt


  1. In a blender, combine all the ingredients: coconut milk, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, almond extract (if using), and salt. Blend until completely smooth and creamy.
  2. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Depending on your machine, this will take approximately 20-25 minutes.
  3. Once churned, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for at least 4 hours or until completely solid.


  • For an extra special touch, you can add in some chopped nuts, chocolate chips, or swirls of fruit puree before churning in the ice cream maker.
  • If you don’t have vanilla almond milk, you can use regular unsweetened almond milk and add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  • Let the ice cream soften slightly at room temperature for a few minutes before scooping for the best texture.

Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe without an Ice Cream Maker

This recipe is a breeze and uses simple ingredients to create a delicious, creamy, dairy-free vanilla ice cream. Here’s what you’ll need:


  • 1 (14 oz) can full-fat coconut milk (chilled overnight)
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup (or another liquid sweetener)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Chill the coconut milk: Make sure the coconut milk is well chilled, preferably overnight. Separating the cream from the liquid is key to achieving a good texture.
  2. Whip the cream: Open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the solid cream that has risen to the top. Place it in a chilled bowl and whip it with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients: Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt to the whipped coconut cream. Gently fold them in until just combined.
  4. Freeze! Pour the ice cream mixture into a freezer-safe container. Cover it tightly and freeze for at least 6 hours or until completely solid.


To prevent ice crystals from forming, which can make the dairy-free ice cream icy, you can try using a hand blender to break them up every hour or so during the first few hours of freezing. This is called the “no-churn” method.

Once you’ve mastered the base recipe, feel free to experiment with different flavours! Here are some ideas:

  • Chocolate: Add ¼ cup of cocoa powder to the mixture before freezing.
  • Mint chocolate chip: Add a few drops of peppermint extract and some vegan chocolate chips before freezing.
  • Strawberry: Blend in some frozen strawberries before freezing.

Since this is a no-churn ice cream, it might be a bit hard straight out of the freezer. Let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before scooping for a smoother experience.

Beyond Vanilla Bean: A Universe of Flavorful Twists

Now that you’ve mastered the art of basic dairy-free vanilla ice cream, it’s time to unleash your inner ice cream artist! The beauty of homemade ice cream lies in its endless customisation possibilities. 

With a sprinkle of creativity and a dash of your favourite ingredients, you can transform this recipe into a symphony of flavours that tantalise your taste buds. 

Here are some exciting mix-in ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

The Classic Chocolate Fix

  • Chocolate Chips: Chocolate chips are a timeless classic for a reason. They add bursts of rich, decadent chocolate flavour in every bite. Use dark, semi-sweet, or even white chocolate chips, depending on your preference. Fold in chopped chocolate bars or cocoa nibs after churning for an extra chocolatey kick.
  • Chocolate Sauce Drizzle: Elevate your ice cream with a luxurious chocolate sauce drizzle. Make your own by simmering cocoa powder, milk, sugar, and a touch of vanilla extract together. Alternatively, use store-bought vegan chocolate sauce for a quick and convenient option.

Fruity Fanfare

  • Fruit Purées: Fresh or frozen puréed fruits like strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, or peaches can be folded into the ice cream base before churning. This adds vibrant pops of colour, natural sweetness, and a delightful burst of fruity goodness. Remember to thaw and drain any excess moisture from frozen fruit to prevent iciness.
  • Swirled Fruit Compote: Create a fruit swirl for a more visually stunning presentation. Simply layer a spoonful of your favourite fruit compote (made by simmering fruit with a touch of sugar) between layers of ice cream as you freeze it.

Nutty Delights & Beyond

  • Chopped Nuts: Adding chopped nuts like almonds, pecans, or walnuts provides a delightful textural contrast to the creamy dairy-free ice cream. Toast the nuts beforehand for an extra layer of flavour complexity.
  • Beyond Nuts: Don’t limit yourself to nuts! Explore other fun mix-in options like chopped candy bars, crumbled cookies, shredded coconut, or even a sprinkle of edible glitter for a touch of whimsy.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve covered the creamy basics, but conquering the homemade dairy-free ice cream world might leave you with a few lingering questions. 

Fear not, fellow ice cream adventurer! This FAQ section is your personal SOS kit, addressing common queries to ensure your ice cream-making journey is smooth sailing.

Can I Use Frozen Fruit? 

Frozen fruit is a fantastic way to add vibrant flavours and natural sweetness to your dairy-free ice cream. However, a little prep work is key to prevent an icy texture. Here’s how to use frozen fruit effectively:

  • Thaw and Drain: First, thaw your frozen fruit completely. Excess moisture from frozen fruit can lead to ice crystals in your ice cream. Once thawed, use a cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer to remove any remaining liquid. This ensures your ice cream remains smooth and creamy.
  • Folding It In: Once thawed and drained, gently fold the fruit into the ice cream base after churning. Avoid over-mixing, as this can break down the fruit and create a less desirable texture.

How Long Does This Ice Cream Last?

Homemade dairy-free ice cream is best enjoyed fresh but can be stored for future cravings! Here’s how to maximise its shelf life:

  • Airtight Container: Store your ice cream in an airtight container to prevent freezer burn and the absorption of unwanted odours. Invest in a good quality, freezer-safe container with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Freezing Temperature: Maintain a consistent freezing temperature (ideally around 0°F/-18°C) to prevent the formation of large ice crystals. Fluctuating temperatures can affect the texture of your ice cream.
  • Enjoy Within the Window: While appropriately stored, your dairy-free ice cream will be delicious for 2-3 weeks. Remember, homemade ice cream doesn’t contain the preservatives found in store-bought varieties, so enjoy it within a reasonable timeframe.

Can I Use This Recipe with Other Flavors?

The beauty of this recipe lies in its versatility. While vanilla is a classic, feel free to experiment with different flavour profiles! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Chocolate: Add a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to the base for a rich chocolate ice cream. You can also fold in chocolate chips or cocoa nibs for added texture.
  • Coffee: Add a tablespoon of strong-brewed coffee or a shot of espresso to the base for a grown-up twist. Coffee and chocolate make a delightful flavour combination as well!
  • Fruity Fiesta: Beyond mix-ins, explore adding fruit extracts or purees like strawberry, mango, or raspberry directly to the base for a more intense fruity flavour. Remember to adjust the sweetness accordingly.


So there you have everything you need to create a delightful and decadent dairy-free ice cream masterpiece! Remember, the beauty of homemade ice cream lies in customisation. This recipe serves as a springboard for your creativity, allowing you to explore endless flavour combinations. So, grab your blender, gather your favourite ingredients, and embark on a delicious journey of creating your own perfect scoop of dairy-free ice cream bliss!  

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