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A dairy-free Coconut Ice Cream requires just 6 simple ingredients and your trusty ice-cream maker!
I’ll explain why coconut cream is the best replacement for heavy cream in ice cream recipes, and give you an easy recipe for making a coconut milk ice cream that is bursting with coconut flavor and toasted coconut chips, and easily adapted to create other flavors.
This homemade coconut milk ice cream recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, and easily made vegan too! It’s the perfect coconut cream from ice cream base recipe.
If you’re looking for another dairy-free ice cream, you might like this Oatmilk Ice Cream.
Why You’re Going to Love this Coconut Ice Cream Recipe
Dairy Free or Vegan Ice Cream – As written, this coconut milk ice cream is made with coconut cream and honey, making it a vegetarian, dairy-free ice cream. If you replace the honey with corn syrup or agave nectar, it’s vegan too!
Pure Coconut Flavor – While coconut cream is an ingredient that is needed to make a creamy dairy-free coconut milk ice cream base, it’s also really flavorful! We’ll amp up the coconut flavor by adding toasted coconut too.
An Easy Ice Cream Recipe – Coconut Ice Cream only requires 6 ingredients, and they can all be stored in your pantry! Follow the step-by-step instructions here for amazing ice cream results.
Coconut Cream for Ice Cream Base Recipes
In many instances, coconut cream can be used in place of heavy cream in recipes.
This coconut-flavored ice cream is also made with coconut cream, and without cream or milk, so it is completely dairy-free. It’s the perfect coconut cream from ice cream base recipes.
Coconut cream is the best substitute for heavy cream because it is thick, rich, and creamy. No other vegan milk substitute has all of those descriptors.
The key to making a creamy, rich, dairy-free ice cream that isn’t hard or icy is using canned coconut cream.
While you will likely have decent results simply replacing the heavy cream in your ice cream recipes with coconut cream, this recipe has been specifically formulated to make the best, creamiest dairy-free ice cream possible.
You can adjust this recipe and add other flavors and mix-ins to create all kinds of fancy specialty coconut milk ice cream recipes!
Ingredients in Homemade Coconut Milk Ice Cream
Coconut Cream – For this recipe you’ll need two cans of coconut cream. There’s no need to refrigerate the cans or to separate the cream from the liquid. We’ll use all of it, and we will chill it after mixing everything together.
Granulated Sugar – Most of the sweetness in this coconut ice cream comes from regular granulated sugar.
Honey – The rest of the sweetness comes from honey, or you can use another liquid sweetener like corn syrup or agave nectar. Using at least some liquid sweetener helps to discourage ice crystals from forming in our dairy-free ice cream.
Vanilla Extract – Vanilla is a must for almost all of our ice cream recipes. It elevates the simple flavors of the other ingredients.
Kosher Salt – Just a bit of salt balances the sweetness and makes everything taste a bit brighter.
Coconut Flakes or Chips – These are optional, but they add more coconut flavor and a really nice texture to this ice cream. We will toast them so that they are fragrant and nutty.
How To Make Coconut Ice Cream with Coconut Cream from Scratch
Make sure that you chill your ice cream maker bowl in the freezer for at least 24 hours so that it’s frozen solid before you start.
- In a medium bowl, add the coconut cream, granulated sugar, honey, vanilla extract, and kosher salt.
- Whisk until the sugar has dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. You should not feel any grit when you rub the mixture in between your fingers. Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, until chilled.
- While the ice cream base is chilling, make the toasted coconut. Place the coconut flakes in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Toast for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the coconut is toasted and fragrant.
- Churn the ice cream mixture in the bowl of your ice cream machine according to your manufacturer’s instructions (mine took about 20 minutes), until it is thick and the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.
- In the last two minutes of the churn, add the toasted coconut, reserving one tablespoon for later.
- Spoon the ice cream into a shallow container or a loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with the remaining toasted coconut. Press plastic wrap or wax paper to the surface of the ice cream. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or until solid.
- Let sit at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes before serving. Scoop and serve.
These numbered steps match the numbered photos above and are for illustration purposes.
For the full list of ingredients and instructions for coconut ice cream, see the recipe below.
Tips for Making this Coconut Ice Cream Recipe
Use quality ingredients – When making homemade ice cream, you’ll want to make sure you are using high quality ingredients for the best outcome.
Chill out – If possible, always start with chilled ingredients. This is important for a homemade no-churn ice cream recipe for ice cream maker.
Don’t skimp on the fat – High-fat coconut milk and coconut cream are essential when making homemade ice cream. Opting for a low-fat option often leads to icy ice creams and inconsistency in the texture.
Don’t go crazy with the add-ins – If you’re adding in additional ingredients, pick one or two and make sure they are chopped into pieces no larger than a blueberry or pea.
Don’t skimp on the sugar – Sugar not only adds sweetness to homemade ice creams, it also helps with the texture. Both granulated sugar and some liquid sugar are essential for the creamy texture in dairy-free ice cream.
Make it Vegan: This recipe is dairy-free and can be made vegan if you use a vegan liquid sweetener like corn syrup or agave. Also, make sure that your granulated sugar is vegan, as some sugars are processed with bone-char making them not vegan.
Homemade Ice Cream Substitute Coconut Cream for Heavy Cream
So, can we substitute coconut cream for heavy cream in ANY ice cream recipe?
Maybe, but I suggest that you follow an ice cream recipe made specifically using coconut cream. Here’s why:
Texture: Because coconut cream has a high water content (higher than dairy cream), it can crystalize when frozen. This can make your ice cream more like a popsicle, which is not ideal!
To combat this, we use part granulated sugar and part liquid sweetener to keep the coconut ice cream smooth.
Ingredients: Using coconut cream as a substitute in ice cream recipes will also depend on the original ingredients of the ice cream recipe.
Many recipes call for both heavy cream and milk. For these, you’ll want to use canned coconut cream as well as canned coconut milk.
An all coconut milk ice cream base will not be creamy enough, so be sure to use at least half coconut cream.
Other ice cream recipes use egg yolks to create a custard base. You can use coconut milk and cream in these recipes too, but you may not want to if your goal is to make a vegan coconut ice cream.
For ice cream recipes that use sweetened condensed milk (usually no-churn recipes like my no churn vanilla ice cream), you’ll likely want to purchase sweetened condensed coconut milk to make that substitution with.
No Churn Coconut Milk Ice Cream Directions
You won’t get the same creamy, luscious texture if you make this recipe without an ice cream machine, but it can be done.
Chill a shallow container or a loaf pan in the freezer while you mix the coconut ice cream ingredients.
Pour the ice cream mixture into the prepared pan and freeze for 3-4 hours. Stir the ice cream every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours to help add air. This will help create a creamy, smooth texture.
I suggest adding the toasted coconut on at the very end if you are making this recipe no-churn, or saving it to use as a topping.
Coconut Ice Cream Add-ins
To me, crispy pieces of toasted coconut are the ultimate add-in for this coconut ice cream recipe, but they certainly aren’t the only option.
Treat this coconut cream ice cream base like a blank canvas.
It can be the backdrop for any ice cream add-ins you like and help you to create your own creative, dairy-free ice cream masterpiece.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Chocolate: Chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, a ribbon of chocolate fudge, or chopped chocolate candy bars.
Fruit: Coconut pairs just as well with fruit as it does with chocolate. Try layering the churned ice cream in the pan with thin layers of peach or strawberry puree.
Not too much, or you may end up with too much water in the mix.
Other Popular Add-ins: Some of the favorites are chopped Oreos, walnuts, cookie dough pieces (see my cookie dough ice cream recipe), marshmallows, caramel syrup, and rainbow sprinkles.
Flavorings: Instead of adding vanilla extract to coconut ice cream (or in addition to it), try something else. Rum extract makes coconut ice cream taste like a pina colada!
Other good options include lemon extract, almond extract, and peppermint extract.
What Kind of Coconut Milk Do I Use to Make Ice Cream?
In this recipe, we aren’t using any coconut milk, only coconut cream. For both coconut milk and coconut cream in ice cream recipes, it’s important to use canned coconut products, rather than the drinkable coconut drinks that come in a carton.
You will usually find canned coconut cream in the Asian food section of the grocery store. It’s used frequently in Thai recipes, and most all canned coconut is produced in Thailand too.
Some larger grocery stores might have coconut cream in the natural or vegan baking section.
Does Coconut Cream Ice Cream Taste Like Coconut?
Yes, this dairy-free ice cream will taste like coconut. There’s no real way around that since it’s made primarily from coconut cream.
Add the coconut flakes to make it really taste like coconut, or leave them out if you want this ice cream to be more like a plain vanilla ice cream that’s ready for add-ins.
HOW TO STORE COCONUT ICE CREAM
Store this coconut ice cream in the freezer in an airtight container (we really like these reusable ice cream containers) with a piece of parchment paper or wax paper pressed to the top of the ice cream. It will stay fresh for up to 1 month.
More Homemade Ice Cream Recipes
If you’re looking for more dairy-free frozen treats, check out our sorbet recipes! My favorite is Lemon Sorbet.
If you like coconut ice cream, I have a feeling you’ll like my Coconut Sorbet recipe too.
I like to enjoy a bowl with a scoop of coconut ice cream and a scoop of strawberry sorbet or lime sorbet. The creamy and fruity flavors go so well together, and create a lightened version of ice cream.
Use this dairy free coconut ice cream to make a homemade Ice Cream Cake, Fried Ice Cream, or even a Classic Banana Split!
Want to make a classic ice cream recipe? Start with this easy Sprinkles Ice Cream!
Here are our favorite ice cream making tools!
- Cuisinart 2QT Ice Cream Maker – Works with ice cream, sorbets, and frozen yogurt.
- Loaf Pan – You can use any 9 x 13 loaf pan or a shallow pan, but we like this one.
- Ice Cream Scoop – Make sure you have a good ice cream scoop. This is one of our favorites.
- Ice Cream Bowls – You can use any bowl, but we think these are fun.
- Ice Cream Containers – We love keeping a couple of ice cream containers on hand for when we make homemade ice cream.
Note: Each of these links will take you to the exact product on Amazon. As an Amazon associate, I earn a little from each qualifying purchase.
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