How to Make Dairy Free Ice Cream

By: Bob's Red Mill | September 7 2018
There are a wide variety of reasons why folks are choosing to go dairy free, from allergies to cutting down on saturated fats. However, if you’re thinking of going dairy free, you’re most likely wondering if you can still enjoy your favorite frozen treat!   Luckily, with the rise of dairy free ice cream and non-dairy ice cream alternatives, there are many options for savoring a sweet, frozen treat--without the cow. Even better, there are lots of simple recipes that use dairy free products to create delicious ice cream from the comfort of your own home.

The Basic Formula

The tried and true basic formula for dairy free ice cream is easy to remember and easy to follow.
  • 3 cups dairy-free milk
  • 1/2 cup of natural sweetener
  • Creative flavorings (to taste)
  • Add-ins of your choice
Just pop this mixture into the freezer or use your ice cream maker. The best part is, you can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like. Just know that with this basic formula, the options for dairy free ice cream induced bliss are endless. Let’s take a deeper dive into ideas for the dairy free base, the sweeteners, the creative flavors, and the add-ins, so you can work your ice cream magic in a way that fits your tastes.

Choose Your Dairy Free Base

Today, there are many options for dairy free milk to use as your base in ice cream. Not only do they offer a wide variety of intriguing flavors, but they boast an array of health benefits, too. Whether you’re keeping your ice cream simple and letting the flavors shine, or getting wild with a whole bunch of crazy add-ins, this base is a wonderful starting point. Coconut Milk Coconut milk is the grated pulp of the coconut nut. With a rich taste and creamy texture, it’s the perfectly sweet base for your dairy free ice cream creations. As opposed to other milk alternatives, coconut milk (because of its fat) offers a consistency that’s similar to real ice cream. Try this recipe for Roasted Blueberry Ice Cream if you’re looking to experiment with a coconut-milk base. It’s made with light coconut milk and almond milk, plus tons of fresh blueberries. Almond Milk Almond milk, which is simply a blend of almonds and water, has a nutty and creamy taste. It’s also a great source of vitamins and minerals. It works well with a simple dairy free chocolate sauce or a few spoonfuls of almond butter mixed in. We like to think it’s pretty good plain, too. Cashew Milk If you’re a cashew fan, consider using this tasty nut milk as your dairy free base. For a delicious mix, opt for cashew milk as your base, cashew butter as your add in, maple syrup as your sweetener, and a simple pinch of salt to round out the flavors. It’s an easy ice cream creation, but it’s one that serves as a good dairy free dessert staple in the kitchen. Macadamia Nut Milk This dairy free milk is refreshing and unique in its flavor. For a beautiful ice cream combo, consider adding white chocolate chips and chopped macadamia nuts to your final scoops. Like a white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookie, but in ice cream form. Also, did we happen to mention that dairy free ice cream goes really well with a sip or two of steaming hot espresso? To keep things dairy free, make sure to add a splash of almond milk creamer to your beverage. Rice Milk Rice milk is a perfectly subtle (and not too heavy) base for dairy free ice cream. It works wonderfully with nut butters folded in and a hint of extract, like almond or vanilla.

Choose Your Sweetener

Once of the best parts of ice cream is, of course, the subtle sweetness of flavor. Depending on what base you’re using, opt for sweeteners like maple syrup, coconut sugar and honey. Not only do they make the end result taste incredible, but they also offer an elegantly nutritious touch to your dairy free ice cream creations.

Add Creative Flavors

To get super creative with your dairy free ice cream base, add in flavor options. You can experiment with spices like cinnamon and cardamom or extracts like vanilla, peppermint, and lemon. Cacao powder and maca are fun, too — as is a drizzle of orange liqueur once the ice cream is already formed and scooped.

Mix in Your Add-Ins

Perhaps one of the best parts of the overall act of making ice cream is choosing your add-ins. You can go for fruit options, like raspberries, blueberries, and sliced banana. Nuts serve to complement the flavors of the nut milks, like sliced almonds, cashews, or macadamias. Have any leftover vegan cheesecake in the fridge or cookies on the counter? Perfect! Feel free to throw those in, too! Chunks of chocolate or thinly shaved pieces from your favorite candy bars are a tasty addition as well. You can even opt for fresh herbs, like thinly sliced basil or minced rosemary for a gourmet flare. And if you’re serving ice cream at a gathering, consider a dairy free ice cream bar where guests can choose their own add-ins. It’s a fun, easy, and interactive dessert that works well in the summer months (when you don’t feel like standing over a hot oven).  

Dairy Free Ice Cream Recipes

After you experiment with the base recipe above (and are feeling extra excited about all things ice cream) consider giving these additional recipes a try. Avocado Ice Cream by FeelGoodFoodie Vegan Salted Caramel Ice Cream by 40 Aprons Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream by Detoxinista No Churn Dairy Free Ice Cream by Gluten Free on a Shoestring Paleo + Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream by Paleo Running Mama Coffee Dairy-Free Ice Cream by Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking 5-Ingredient Coconut Milk Ice Cream by My Darling Vegan One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream by That Clean Life Whether you’re turning towards dairy free ice cream for allergy reasons or simply to give something new a try, our hope is that these fun and tasty recipes have inspired your sweet tooth and encouraged you to get to the kitchen and get mixing! Have any favorite dairy free ice cream recipes you like to create? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below. We’re always on the hunt for nutrition packed and delicious desserts. From all of us at Bob’s Red Mill, happy ice cream eating!


  1. James Craw
    I have a couple traditional ice cream recipes I use. One is a strawberry cheesecake and the other a red velvet. Both use milk and heavy cream. They're a custard base so they also use eggs and white sugar. I'm trying to find a simple way to replace the milk and cream without needing to find a whole new recipe. Any suggestions? I'm guessing it's not as simple as replace the totally quantity of cream and milk with almond milk since I'd need a replacement for the fat in the heavy cream.
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi James! You could experiment with replacing the volume of dairy liquid with alternative milks (coconut milk, almond milk, etc) and they will freeze; however, the texture will be the biggest difference. A lower fat content will lead to an icier, rather than creamier, texture. Coconut cream, melted cocoa butter, and nut butter might be good options to increase the fat content.
      1. Stephanie
        I use either 2 tablespoons of brandy or vodka in the mixture to help prevent ice crystals from forming thus creating a creamy texture. It has worked really well for me. The only caution is to not add any more than the 2 tablespoons or your mixture will not freeze properly.
  2. Sharon
    Question: Can I use Brown sugar or regular granulated sugar? Will it change the texture of the ice cream? I'm planning on using coconut milk as my base.
    1. Elisabeth Allie
      Elisabeth Allie
      We haven't tested this recipe, but since it includes coconut sugar as an option, it seems like brown or granulated sugar would work well!
  3. Jean Einhaus
    I have a question about the base recipe and wondering if you use almond milk or cashew milk, is there canned almond milk like the coconut milk or do you use refrigerated milk?
    1. Elisabeth Allie
      Elisabeth Allie
      Almond or cashew milk ice cream recipes typically call for the refrigerated or tetra-pack type of nut milks.
  4. Boomer
    Is there a coconut cream brand that does not have a coconut flavour?
    1. Elisabeth Allie
      Not to my knowledge. :)

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