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Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream (Vegan)

Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream made with three basic ingredients: coconut milk, pure maple syrup and vanilla extract! This easy vanilla ice cream recipe requires zero fancy maneuvers, is egg-free, refined sugar-free and vegan.

Two bowls of vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips and sliced strawberries on top.

After sharing my Dairy-Free Chocolate Ice Cream recipe, I realized I had better follow it up with the vanilla counterpart.

Listen, vanilla ice cream has a reputation for being plain and uneventful, but it serves some remarkably significant purposes in my book.

Namely, to pair alongside warm, gooey, delectable desserts for a creamy counterpart to make a rich dessert taste refreshing. 

In particular, I love a scoop of vanilla ice cream with my Almond Flour Brownies (or any type of brownies for that matter), The Best Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake (or any cake), and my Gluten-Free Apple Cobbler (or any type of fruit cobbler). 

In addition, this easy vegan vanilla ice cream recipe is the perfect gateway to creating many different flavors of ice cream.

You can blend, drizzle, or toss in all sorts of goodies to customize it! Use it as a  base recipe to get creative with your favorite flavors.

All you need in order to prepare this recipe is three simple ingredients: Full-fat canned coconut milk, pure maple syrup, and pure vanilla extract. Oh, and a pinch of salt. 

If you have an ice cream maker, I highly suggest using it to help bring that fluffy airy texture to the ice cream. 

You can still make this a no-churn ice cream recipe if you don’t have an electric ice cream maker by simply freezing the ice cream mixture off the bat.

If you aren’t dairy-free, make my easy 3-Ingredient No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream, which is a reader favorite!

My 3-Ingredient No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream and 4-Ingredient No-Churn Chocolate Ice Cream recipes are amazing dairy-based ice creams as well!

Two bowls of scoops of vanilla ice cream with mini chocolate chips and berries on top. Ready to eat.

Let’s discuss the ingredients for coconut milk vanilla ice cream in detail so we end up with the best vanilla ice cream!

Ingredients for Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream:

Full-Fat Canned Coconut Milk: Canned full-fat coconut milk is the main ingredient here! This ingredient takes the place of heavy cream and milk in a traditional ice cream recipe, as well as eggs.

Because of this ingredient, we are able to make a delicious dairy-free ice cream that is soft and creamy yet lactose-free, egg-free, and vegan. The higher fat content is what generates creamy ice cream.

I know it’s tempting to lower the calorie count of ice cream by using a different dairy-free milk like almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, or cashew milk.

While it is possible to make ice cream with other types of non-dairy milk, you will need to add tempered egg yolks and possibly other ingredients to get the right consistency or else the ice cream turns out lacking in flavor and icy. 

For the best results, stick with full-fat coconut milk that contains an emulsifier like guar gum. This ingredient helps keep the coconut milk soft and creamy texture when frozen. Without it, the consistency will be icy but still delicious. 

The brand of coconut milk does make a difference to the end result. Stick with a quality brand (most organic brands are great) such as Native Forest or Whole Foods 365.

If you can find coconut cream at the grocery store, feel free to pick up two cans of it! Not all grocery stores carry coconut cream, but it will yield an even richer, sultrier non-dairy ice cream. 

Coconut milk does contain a subtle coconut flavor, albeit not as coconutty as artificial coconut flavors.

Pure Maple Syrup: The sweetener here! I find ½ cup of pure maple syrup generates the perfect sweetness for me, but you can increase the amount of sweetener depending on your personal taste.

The liquid sweetener also helps keep the ice cream soft, so for the softest result, stick with maple syrup rather than using a granulated sweetener like cane sugar.

For a sugar-free keto vanilla ice cream, use your favorite sugar-free sweetener. 

Vanilla Extract: A whopping one tablespoon of pure vanilla extract is what is responsible for the deeply warm vanilla flavor.

Any vanilla extract will work, but I recommend using a high-quality vanilla extract such as Simply Organic or Nielsen-Massey for the best tasting results. 

If you have vanilla beans on hand, you can use the scrapings of one large or two smaller vanilla pods. This will result in vanilla bean ice cream!

Sea Salt: A little sea salt enhances the creamy flavors and vanilla flavor of the ice cream. Don’t skip it!

Aside from these easy ingredients, an ice cream machine is recommended in order to make the best dairy-free ice cream. 

I use a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, which I have used for over ten years, and I highly recommend it.

Now that we’re familiar with the basic ingredients for this dairy-free vanilla ice cream recipe, let’s make it!

How to Make Dairy-free Vanilla Ice Cream:

Transfer the bowl of your ice cream maker to the freezer and freeze for at least 24 hours before making the ice cream.

This ensures the ice cream maker does its job properly by thoroughly freezing the base while churning air into it. It looks weird at first…don’t worry, it will look better in a second.

Ingredients for 3-ingredient dairy-free vanilla ice cream in a saucepan

Note: If you don’t own an ice cream maker, skip the ice cream machine directions and simply freeze the vanilla ice cream base in an airtight container once everything is mixed together. 

Add the two cans of coconut milk, pure maple syrup and sea salt to a medium sized saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir and heat the ingredients just until they are well-combined and creamy.

There is no need to heat the ingredients to a boil – we are simply trying to get everything to combine.

Creamy ice cream base in a saucepan with a whisk

Taste test this mixture for sweetness and add more pure maple syrup to your personal taste if desired.

Note: It is typical for canned coconut milk to separate when sitting at room temperature or cool temperatures. We perform this step to help melt the coconut flesh and water together so that we’re left with a creamy consistency. 

Remove the ice cream base from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Pouring a tablespoon of vanilla extract into the saucepan

Transfer the vanilla ice cream base to an airtight container and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2 hours (the length of time depends on how hot your liquid got).

Vanilla ice cream base in a saucepan.

Place the frozen freezer bowl of the ice cream maker into your ice cream machine.

Pour the chilled ice cream custard into the ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer instructions for operating it. 

Allow the ice cream to churn until thick and it reaches a soft serve consistency, about 20 to 30 minutes (or longer if need be).

Ice cream machine with vanilla ice cream churning in it.

Once your ice cream reaches the consistency of vanilla soft serve, you can serve it right away as is or freeze it for a traditional firmer consistency.

Vanilla ice cream in an ice cream maker.

To do so, transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Many people use a loaf pan then cover it with plastic wrap. I like using an airtight container like a glass tupperware container for longer term storage.

Red loaf pan full of vanilla ice cream.

Freeze until completely frozen, at least 2 hours.

When you’re ready to serve the creamy vanilla ice cream, bring it out of the freezer and thaw at room temperature for a few minutes.

Serve vanilla ice cream with any toppings such as fresh fruit (berries are delicious!), chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, The Best Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, peanut butter, caramel sauce, hot fudge, etc.

Homemade vanilla ice cream with an ice cream scoop scooping one scoop out.

And that’s it! The most luscious, decadent ice cream recipe the whole family will love! Put it on repeat all summer long or keep it in the freezer any time you’re looking for a delicious ice cream to pair with cake, brownies, cobbler, or fruit crumbles.

Looking for more dairy-free ice cream recipes? Try out these gems. 

More Dairy-Free Ice Creams: 

Homemade ice cream to go on or around anything!

Two bowls of vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips and sliced strawberries on top.

Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream

Creamy vanilla ice cream made with only three basic ingredients! This delicious vegan vanilla ice cream recipe is easy to prepare and is so lusciously decadent! Pair it with your favorite baked goods like apple pie, chocolate cake, brownies, and more!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
6 Servings

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Transfer the bowl of your ice cream maker to the freezer and freeze for at least 24 hours before making the ice cream. This ensures the ice cream maker does its job properly by thoroughly freezing the base while churning air into it. Note: If you don’t own an ice cream maker, skip the ice cream machine directions and simply freeze the vanilla ice cream base in an airtight container once everything is mixed together.
  • Add the two cans of coconut milk, pure maple syrup and sea salt to a medium sized saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir and heat the ingredients just until they are well-combined and creamy. Taste test this mixture for sweetness and add more pure maple syrup to your personal taste if desired. Note: It is typical for canned coconut milk to separate when sitting at room temperature or cool temperatures. We perform this step to help melt the coconut flesh and water together so that we’re left with a creamy consistency.
  • Remove the ice cream base from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Transfer the vanilla ice cream base to an airtight container and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2 hours (the length of time depends on how hot your liquid got).
  • Place the frozen freezer bowl of the ice cream maker into your ice cream machine.
  • Pour the chilled ice cream custard into the ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer instructions for operating it. Allow the ice cream to churn until thick and it reaches a soft serve consistency, about 20 to 30 minutes (or longer if need be).
  • Once your ice cream reaches the consistency of vanilla soft serve, you can serve it right away as is or freeze it for a traditional firmer consistency.
  • To do so, transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Many people use a loaf pan then cover it with plastic wrap. I like using an airtight container like a glass tupperware container for longer term storage. Freeze until completely frozen, at least 2 hours.
  • When you’re ready to serve the creamy vanilla ice cream, bring it out of the freezer and thaw at room temperature for a few minutes. Serve vanilla ice cream with any toppings such as fresh fruit (berries are delicious!), chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, cookies, peanut butter, caramel sauce, hot fudge, etc.

Video

Notes

Ice cream stays fresh in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 342kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 3gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 22gSodium: 241mgFiber: 1gSugar: 21g
Course: Ice Cream & Popsicles
Cuisine: American
Keyword: coconut milk ice cream, coconut milk vanilla ice cream, dairy free ice cream recipes, dairy-free vanilla ice cream, healthy vanilla ice cream, homemade ice cream, paleo ice cream recipes, paleo vanilla ice cream, vegan vanilla ice cream
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 342kcal
Author: Julia

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Recipe Rating




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Ginger Sharpe

Saturday 2nd of September 2023

How much does the recipe yield? Using a 4-quart churn. Thinking I need to double the recipe???

Julia

Monday 4th of September 2023

Hi Ginger! I use a 2-quart ice cream maker, so doubling the recipe wouldn't be a bad idea. However, if you've tried other recipes with similar quantities of ingredients in the past with success in your ice cream maker, you may not need to make any changes :) Hope you enjoy!

Tina

Tuesday 1st of August 2023

Hi thanks for posting this. Have you ever made your dairy free ice cream without a ice cream maker? I want to try this but dont have a ice cream maker.

Julia

Tuesday 1st of August 2023

Hi Tina! I've made this recipe without an ice cream maker and it turns out great! Simply skip the refrigeration step and the ice cream maker step and transfer the ice cream base to the freezer after all of the ingredients have been melted together. The ice cream won't be quite as fluffy but it still has rich flavor and soft texture. Hope you enjoy! xo

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