Homemade Lactose-Free Ice Cream

Are you a fan of ice cream but suffer from the discomfort of lactose intolerance? Well, fret not! This Lactose-Free Vanilla Ice Cream is here to satisfy your cravings without any tummy troubles. Made with real dairy milk, it offers the same delightful flavor and creamy texture as regular ice cream, minus the lactose!

A scoop of lactose-free ice cream on top of the ice cream container

Understanding Lactose and Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is the sugar present in milk and other dairy products. Lactose intolerance occurs when your body lacks the enzyme called lactase, which helps digest lactose.

How to Make Lactose-Free Homemade Ice Cream

This simple recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream is modified to be lactose-free by using lactose-free whole milk instead of regular whole milk or cream. It incorporates a custard base, enriched with egg yolks for added richness and cornstarch for enhanced creaminess.

  1. Start by adding 6 egg yolks to the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Turn on the mixer at low speed and gradually add sugar while beating.
  3. Continue beating until the mixture becomes creamy and light in color. When lifted off the whisk, it should fall off slowly in a thick stream.
  4. In a saucepan, heat the remaining milk (reserving 2 tablespoons) while splitting and scraping the vanilla bean into it. Simmer the mixture until hot.
  5. Gradually add the hot milk into the egg mixture, tempering it. Pour a few tablespoons of hot milk into the eggs at a time.
  6. Once all the hot milk has been incorporated, return the mixture to the saucepan. Heat it over medium-low heat until it thickens and reaches a temperature of 175°F – 180°F (approximately 4 – 5 minutes).
  7. Just before removing the custard from the heat, pour in the reserved cornstarch slurry to further thicken it.
  8. Remove the custard from the heat, ensuring it coats the back of a spoon. Stir in a pinch of salt and allow it to cool. Refrigerate the custard overnight.
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After refrigeration, transfer the cold custard to an ice cream maker. Churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, typically around 20 minutes until it reaches a soft-serve consistency. Finally, transfer the churned ice cream to an airtight container and freeze it for at least 4 hours before serving.

A scoop of lactose-free vanilla ice cream in an ice cream scoop

Is Lactose-Free Ice Cream Dairy-Free?

While many lactose-free ice creams are also dairy-free, typically utilizing alternatives like coconut milk, this particular recipe for lactose-free vanilla ice cream is made with lactose-free dairy milk.

Where to Find Lactose-Free Milk

You can easily find lactose-free milk at your local grocery store. Brands like Lactaid, Horizon Organic, and Organic Valley specialize in lactose-free products, including milk, ice cream, and cottage cheese. You can also find store-brand lactose-free milk, such as Market Pantry at Target and Lucerne at Vons and Albertsons.

Serving Ideas for Homemade Ice Cream

You can serve this lactose-free ice cream in various creative ways:

  • Top Spicy Stout Brownies with a few scoops of ice cream and drizzle Dulce de Leche over it for a delightful sundae. Don’t forget the whipped cream!
  • Create easy ice cream sandwiches using crackers like Ritz Crackers.
  • Sprinkle crumbled Peanut Butter Cookies or Dark Chocolate Brownie Cookies for delicious mix-ins.
  • Make a No-Bake Ice Cream Pie with an Oreo Crust.

Homemade vanilla ice cream in a sundae cup

Tips for Creamy Ice Cream

If your homemade ice cream tends to be icy, you can take steps to make it creamier. The formation of large ice crystals in the ice cream mixture is the primary cause of iciness. Additionally, increasing the fat content or using ingredients that lower the freezing point of water can help.

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To increase the creaminess of your homemade ice cream, you can:

  • Substitute milk with cream or half and half. However, note that this will result in a non-lactose-free version.
  • Add soft cheese like cream cheese or mascarpone, which provides a creamier texture. Again, this will make the ice cream non-lactose-free due to the lactose content in cheese.

To lower the freezing point of water, you can:

  • Substitute a portion of the sugar with corn syrup. Experiment by using ¼ or ½ of the sugar amount. Adding corn syrup after removing the custard from heat in Step 6 yields the best results.
  • Include cornstarch in your recipe, similar to this one. Add a cornstarch slurry just before removing the custard from heat in Step 5.


If you prefer, you can use regular whole milk, cream, or half and half instead of lactose-free alternatives. However, keep in mind that the resulting ice cream will no longer be lactose-free. Using higher fat content ingredients like half and half or cream will also give your ice cream a richer taste compared to whole milk.

As for vanilla bean, it can be quite expensive. If you’re seeking alternatives, consider using vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract. One tablespoon of either can replace one whole vanilla bean in this recipe. Vanilla bean paste is a more cost-effective option, while vanilla extract should be added to the custard mixture after Step 6.

If you give this recipe a try, please share your feedback! Leave a comment, send a photo, rate it, and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what you’re cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!

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📖 Recipe Card

Originally published on 7/6/2014, this recipe has been updated and republished on 8/6/2019 with additional improvements, tips, and process photos to assist you in the kitchen.

This lactose-free ice cream is made with real dairy milk

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