Dairy-Free Ice Cream

As many of you can relate, so much changed when I hit my 30s. One aspect in particular was my body’s reaction to certain foods. All of a sudden, dairy became the enemy. We now have a love-hate relationship. I love to eat it, it hates my digestive tract.

My husband, on the other hand, can eat cheese and ice cream without the slightest irritation or expansion of the waistline (or as I like to call it, the waste line). Also unlike yours truly, he doesn’t have a sweet tooth except when it comes to ice cream. So when we bought my brother an ice-cream maker for Christmas last December, he immediately added it to his own Christmas wish list.

For Father’s Day, our dog Tucker, bought my husband an ice-cream maker. Since then we’ve tried a few recipes that came with the instruction manual. While the sorbet satiates my sweet tooth, our Gourmia maker can’t seem to get the right consistency of store-bought sorbet. It’s like trying to scoop a solid block of ice. Therefore, today I decided it’s time to try a dairy-free recipe, which I have been avoiding thus far because of stories that homemade dairy-free ice cream just doesn’t taste good.

After consulting my brother and learning from his recipe mistakes, mostly due to using soy and almond milk substitutes, I managed to find a recipe that utilizes full-fat coconut milk. Thanks to theKitchn.com for its Vegan Ice Cream recipe!

The ingredients are fairly simple: 2 cans of full-fat coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of corn starch, 1/2 cup of agave (or maple syrup), 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla.

Coconut Milk Corn Starch Vanilla Agave Sea Salt
Five simple ingredients

Following the directions on combining which ingredients in which order, I heated them on medium to the point of thickening.

Heating Stirring
Thickening the ice cream base on the stove top.

After cooling on the counter for about 30 minutes, I tasted the ice cream base and it reminded me of my favorite pancake syrup from my favorite breakfast spot on Maui, the Sea House Restaurant. Aside from the stunning view of Napili Bay from the retractable wall of windows, the banana macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup is what heaven tastes like. So even if the ice cream doesn’t turn out well, I now know how to make that syrup and give myself a little mental vacation in paradise.

I covered the top of the ice cream base with wax paper and put it in the fridge to chill for four hours. Then I poured the base into the ice cream maker to churn on “soft” consistency for thirty minutes.

Churning the ice cream base in my Gourmia

The recipe called for 10-20 minutes, but the consistency didn’t seem to change much from what went into the churner so I added another 10 minutes. When those extra 10 minutes didn’t change the consistency either, I thought it best to keep to the recipe and make any tweaks in later versions.

So I ladled the ice cream into a glass container and placed in our freezer for another four hours.

Ladling the ice cream base into a glass container.


It was tasty! While there is no mistaking the coconut flavor, it is very creamy and doesn’t taste as strong as the base did pre-freezing. The consistency is comparable to the dairy-bases we’ve made, yet it’s much easier to scoop than the sorbet.

Vegan Ice Cream Scoop
Scoops like homemade dairy ice cream

Next time I’ll play to its strength by adding some chocolate chips and chopped almonds for a variation on the Hershey’s Almond Joy candy. Or, I might add some rum and make a Pina Colada ice cream. If you have suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments!


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