Best Coconut Milk Ice Cream (Dairy-Free!) – A Spicy Perspective

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Coconut Milk Ice Cream – This is by far the BEST dairy-free vanilla ice cream recipe out there! Easily make a batch of vegan “nice” cream at home with just 5 wholesome ingredients, and load with all of your favorite sweet mix-ins and toppings for a perfect summer treat.

We love making deliciously cold ice cream in the summer and have quite a growing assortment of frozen treats recipes. How else would we be ok in the south when it hits those 90+ degree temps?!

As much as we enjoy classic ice cream, there are times we need a dairy-free vegan option for friends with food sensitivities and specialized diets.

This is our favorite non-dairy ice cream recipe, also known as nice cream since it is totally plant-based. It’s made with coconut milk, coconut cream, and vanilla extract for a perfectly creamy, smooth, and sweet treat everyone will love!

Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Ice Cream: To Heat or Not to Heat?

It’s SO easy to make Coconut Milk Ice Cream from scratch – and it tastes fabulous! Seriously, you will not miss the cow’s milk one bit.

Typically when making ice cream with dairy and sugar you need to first heat the mixture to dissolve the sugar. But I’ve made this ice cream several times and have discovered that it doesn’t always need to be heated/cooked before churning… Which cuts out a significant amount of time.

How do you know if you need to heat the mixture? Well, it depends on what brand of coconut milk/cream you use and the type of blender you use. You can put all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth to find out. If the coconut ice cream mixture is VERY smooth without ANY chunks, it’s safe to churn it as-is without heating.

However, if there are any coconut cream chunks present, they will freeze into hard waxy clumps in the ice cream. In this case, you need to warm the mixture over medium heat until smooth, stirring regularly. Then chill and cool to at least room temperature before churning.

If you don’t want to “test” the no-heat method, you can simply dump all the ingredients in a saucepot and heat until smooth, so the coconut clumps and sugar dissolve. Then chill and churn.

Ingredients You Need

One of the many MANY reasons we love this vegan nice cream recipe is that it only includes 5 wholesome ingredients. Nice, indeed!

To make the best Coconut Milk Ice Cream you need:

  • Full-fat unsweetened coconut milk – from a can
  • Coconut cream – a thicker and creamier substance, also canned
  • Granulated sugar – white or coconut sugar both work well
  • Vanilla extract – or vanilla bean paste for even more concentrated flavor
  • Salt – essential to make a great dairy-free ice cream that doesn’t freeze solid when churned

Plus your favorite toppings! Keep reading for some sweet ideas.

How to Make Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Whether you plan on heating or not, first prepare the dairy-free ice cream mixture by blending all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Again, if there are any chunks of coconut cream you’ll definitely want to heat the mixture first. Let cool completely before churning.

If the coconut ice cream mixture is smooth without any chunks, it is safe to churn as-is without heating.

Once the ice cream mixture is cold, set out a 1.5-2 quart ice cream machine. Place the freezer bowl in the machine and turn it on. Then pour the very smooth and cold ice cream mixture into the machine.

Churn for 20-25 minutes, until the nice cream is thick, firm, and smooth. Be careful to not over-churn or the Coconut Milk Ice Cream will be hard and brittle.

Get the Complete (Printable) Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Ice Cream Recipe + VIDEO Below. Enjoy!

Serve immediately, or scoop into an airtight container and freeze until ready to enjoy.

Possible Add-Ins and Dairy-Free Toppings

There are endless possibilities for all of the extra yummy goodies that can be added to this Coconut Milk Ice Cream recipe!

We recommend that you first churn the ice cream in the machine per the regular vanilla ice cream below. However, once the ice cream has churned you can fold in or top the ice cream with any sweet treats. Add in your favorite dairy-free delights such as:

  • Coconut shreds
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Chopped nuts like cashews, macadamia nuts, or pistachios
  • Lime zest or lemon zest
  • Crushed pineapple
  • Fresh berries
  • Berry jam

Add fresh homemade dairy-free whipped cream and a cherry on top for a delicious vegan sundae!

Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for More Dairy-Free Dessert Recipes?

  • No-Churn Mocha Mint Chip Vegan Ice Cream
  • Meyer Lemon and Peppercorn Italian Ice
  • Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding (Vegan!)
  • Thai Mango Sticky Rice
  • “Date With Fate” Tropical Smoothies

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