The Best Vegan Ice Cream – Nora Cooks

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Video Recipe for vegan ice cream

This is the best homemade Vegan Ice Cream and it’s easy to make with just 5 ingredients! Serve with hot fudge and vegan whipped cream or any number of add ins like cookie dough or brownie pieces.

close up on scoops of vanilla ice cream with sprinkles in a bowl

No dairy? No problem! Have you ever been extremely disappointed with store bought dairy free ice creams? While there are a few that I really love (looking at you, SoDelicious Cashew Salted Caramel Cluster), some are really lacking in the creamy factor that ice cream should have. This fresh churned, easy to make ice cream is the ultimate vegan ice cream. No one will miss the dairy or eggs!

So creamy and rich, this recipe is made with only 5 ingredients and is easy to make so you never have to buy expensive non dairy ice cream again. Blend and churn everything together, freeze, and voila! The best vegan ice cream ready in only a few hours.

I usually eat a bowl with hot fudge, whipped cream, and nuts on top. Lucky for you, there are endless ways to enjoy vegan ice cream. Mix in brownie pieces, chocolate ganache, caramel, or anything else you like to create the ultimate vegan dessert.

ice cream scoop scooping vanilla ice cream out of a glass dish

What is vegan ice cream made from?

The secret to the best vegan ice cream is cashews and full fat coconut milk. I tried to make it with vegan creamer and soy milk as the base, but the results were never as creamy and rich. If you can’t have coconut, it’s a decent option, but not the best.

If you don’t like the taste of coconut, don’t worry! I added soaked raw cashews, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract to the mix which help tone down the coconut flavor. You really can’t detect it at all.

How to make vegan vanilla ice cream

Remember: Put the bowl of your ice cream maker (<— this is the one I have) in the freezer the night before making homemade vegan ice cream. I like to always keep my bowl in the freezer so it’s always good to go. Once it’s nice and cold, you can begin.

  1. Start by soaking the cashews in hot water for at least 5 minutes or up to 3 hours.
  2. Blend the cashews with the coconut milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla.
  3. The finished mixture should be smooth and creamy, and not have any cashew chunks.
  4. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and place it in the freezer so it can be ice-cold in time for churning.
4 images showing the process of blending a soaked cashews and coconut milk

Now it’s time to churn! Pour the cold ice cream mixture into the machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After a while, it should start to look just like soft serve. This is the time to add any mix-ins you like.

overhead view of an ice cream maker with a white creamy mixture inside

Transfer the finished churned ice cream to a loaf pan, smooth out the top, cover with plastic, and freeze. After a few hours, the ice cream will be perfectly smooth, creamy, and ready to enjoy! You can actually enjoy it as soft serve right away, if you’d like. I couldn’t stop licking the bowl!

removing a churning fixture from an ice cream maker

Can I make it without an ice cream machine?

Unfortunately, no. This recipe can only be made with an ice cream maker. There are recipes for no-churn ice cream out there, but they are never going to be as tasty as using an ice cream maker. I highly suggest getting one; they are fairly inexpensive and it’s such a fun family project and tradition.

loaf pan filled with a white mixture


Mix in any of these sweet add-ins right before the ice cream is finished churning:

  • Vegan brownie pieces
  • Chocolate chip cookie pieces
  • Vegan cookie dough
  • Peanut butter cookie pieces
  • Chocolate ganache
  • Caramel sauce
  • Oreo pieces
  • Vegan peanut butter cups
  • Fresh peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or cherries (fold these in with a spatula)
  • Chopped nuts
  • Vegan mini marshmallows
  • Crumbled up leftover chocolate or vanilla cake
  • Smooth peanut butter and bananas
  • Mint extract, chocolate pieces, and green dye to make vegan mint chocolate ice cream
ice cream scoop scooping vanilla ice cream out of a glass dish

Serving suggestions

A scoop of ice cream is the perfect partner to so many vegan desserts! Serve it with:

  • Pies – Add a scoop on top of an apple, pecan, or pumpkin pie, or on a peach cobbler and vegan apple crisp.
  • Brownies – Take your eggless brownies up a notch with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
  • Cake – It isn’t a birthday party without cake and ice cream! Serve it with my chocolate, vanilla, coconut, or funfetti cake.
  • Cookies – Sandwich a scoop of ice cream between two cookies, like oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, peanut butter cookies, or vegan chocolate cookies.
  • On its own – With chocolate fudge and sprinkles on top!
teal bowl with scoops of vanilla ice cream and colorful sprinkles on top

How to store vegan ice cream

To prevent ice crystals from forming, place the ice cream in a loaf pan or other container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the ice cream. Place another layer of wrap on the pan and freeze.

Homemade vegan ice cream will last for a few weeks in the freezer. It doesn’t last quite as long as ice cream from the store, so make sure you enjoy it often until it’s gone!

Once frozen, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften slightly before scooping and serving. I do this with store bought ice creams as well.

close up on scoops of vanilla ice cream with sprinkles in a bowl

Craving more summer vegan desserts?

  • Vegan Lemon Bars
  • Vegan Peanut Butter Pie
  • Key Lime Pie
  • Strawberry Cupcakes

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