Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (Dairy-free)

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This coconut milk-based, dairy-free vanilla ice cream is ridiculously creamy, and as smooth as cool velvet. You’ll never miss the dairy!

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  • What’s the Story on this Ice Cream Recipe?
  • What Goes into this Recipe
  • How to Make this Recipe
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  • Dairy-free Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

What’s the Story on this Ice Cream Recipe?

Homemade ice cream is one of our favorite desserts, and this ultra-rich vanilla ice cream recipe is perfect for when we have dairy-free guests over!

Growing up, my mother’s homemade vanilla ice cream recipe set the standard. Churned in our old-fashioned crank-handle machine, it is still the best vanilla ice cream recipe on the planet as far as I’m concerned. (Someday I’ll get around to publishing it here. Pinkie-promise.)

When Mr. B and I set out to create a dairy-free vanilla ice cream recipe, I honestly wasn’t sure we’d be able to come up with something that met our standards without the heavy cream that makes up the base of Mom’s amazing recipe. However, after some trial and error (i.e., taste-testing many, many batches of ice cream) we hit on a dairy-free combination that not only meets, but exceeds our expectations! This delicious coconut milk-based ice cream turns out ridiculously creamy, and goes down as smooth as cool velvet.

What Goes into this Recipe

With just six simple ingredients, this Dairy-free Vanilla Ice Cream recipe is easy to make and requires just a few minutes of hands-on time.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

★ Coconut milk: Use canned, full fat coconut milk.

Substitutions: You can also use 1 can of regular coconut milk and one can of coconut cream.

This recipe has not been tested using lite canned coconut milk. Do not use coconut milk from a carton; it is too low in fat.

★ Egg yolks: Use 4 large egg yolks (UK & Europe: Medium), or 5 medium egg yolks (UK & Europe: Small).

★ Vanilla Bean: Use one whole vanilla bean as instructed in the recipe. If you have a choice, try to use a Madagascar vanilla bean, which are perfect for flavoring things like chocolate, coffee, ice cream, baked goods, and of course, ice cream.

Substitutions: If we don’t have a vanilla bean handy, our substitute of choice is Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Bean Paste. Absolutely amazing stuff!

★ Vodka: Alcohol lowers the freezing point of the mixture and prevents the formation of large ice crystals, resulting in a creamier, smoother, more supple ice cream. With no alcohol added, the ice cream will freeze solid.

Vodka-free Alternative: 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract can be substituted in place of the vanilla bean and vodka.

If you are concerned about using alcohol in your ice cream, here’s just a little reminder: tablespoon for tablespoon, vanilla extract contains almost twice as much alcohol as vodka. (If you are intent on being able to say you never using any alcohol in your cooking, you’ll need to throw out all your flavoring extracts.)

★ Salt: Use table salt or sea salt. Kosher salt doesn’t dissolve as readily in the ice cream mixture.

★ Sugar: Use regular white sugar.

About Ice Cream Makers

Our old-fashioned crank ice cream maker, a survivor from my childhood, is perfect in the summertime when ice cream-making is a family event and we need larger quantities. It is also excellent for making memories.

Nevertheless, there are times when you don’t need a gallon of ice cream, and you don’t want to spend half an hour or more on the back porch cranking the machine.

Mr. B loves ice cream, so a while back I splurged and bought him a new electric ice cream maker for his birthday. Since then, we’ve also grown unexpectedly fond of the simplicity (and instant gratification) that comes with modern technology.

Our “modern” ice cream maker was definitely a great purchase. It makes up to two quarts of ice cream, gelato, and other frozen fare, making it the perfect size for couples or small families.

I do hope to someday to get my dream ice cream maker. Then Mr B and I will sit in our backyard and make music and ice cream with our family and friends. (If I ever get it, I’ll tell you all about it!) Until then, our little electric wonder is a welcome addition to our kitchen!

How to Make this Recipe

Follow the manufacturer’s directions for prepping your ice cream maker’s churning bowl so that it is completely chilled prior to starting your ice cream.

Combine egg yolks, coconut milk, sugar, and salt in a blender and process until smooth.

Pour mixture into a medium sauce pan, and heat over medium low just until steamy. You should see little bubbles forming around the edge of the pan. Do not boil.

Slice the vanilla bean down the middle, and scrape the tiny “vanilla sand” inside into the hot coconut milk mixture. Whisk thoroughly to combine.

For more intense vanilla flavor, put the whole cut vanilla bean pod into the hot ice cream mixture, and then fish it out before pouring the ice cream mixture into the ice cream maker.

Continue to cook the coconut milk and vanilla bean mixture until it has thickened to the consistency of a thin custard that will coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the vodka. The vodka (or vanilla extract) must be added after the mixture is taken off the stove.

Refrigerate the custard mixture for about 2 hours, or until it is very cold.

Pour the mixture into ice cream freezer and prepare according to manufacturer’s directions. It should take about 30-40 minutes.

When done churning, the ice cream will have the consistency of soft serve ice cream.

For soft-serve style ice cream, serve immediately. For a harder scoopable ice cream, place in the freezer for 2-3 hours. Take out and place on the counter for 10 minutes to soften for serving.

Dairy-free vanilla ice cream is scrumptious all by itself; or try it with a spoonful or two of our fresh berry compote!

More Cool, Refreshing Recipes

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Originally published May 17, 2016. This post has been updated with new content, images, and instructions to improve reader experience.

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