Basic Vanilla Ice Cream (Coconut Milk)

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The reason this ice cream is creamy like dairy ice cream is because of using coconut milk (not light) as the milk base. The coconut milk gives the ice cream a great coconut flavor. Other non-dairy milks can be substituted for the coconut milk, but they will reduce the creaminess. In addition, they will also make the ice cream freeze harder when placed in the freezer.

See all basic recipes.

Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream
non-dairy, naturally sweetened

makes 2 quarts

  • (3) 15- or 16-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk (not light) 
  • 1/2 cup raw honey or maple syrup, or 3/4 cup Rapadura or 3/4 cup Sucanat
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • optional add-ins: shaved & unsweetened dark chocolate; toasted, unsweetened coconut; finely chopped nuts; small brownie chunks; a multitude of other possibilities

Combine all ingredients (except add-ins) in blender. Blend thoroughly. Chill in the freezer to make sure it is all quite cold.

Add to ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s directions for churning. Add the add-ins during the last few minutes of churning.

For soft serve ice cream, eat immediately. For harder ice cream, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for several hours to a day, depending on degree of hardness desired.

© Copyright 2007-2009 by Wardee Harmon

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. says

    Wardee, have you tried making the pumpkin ice cream that I made for you guys when you were here? It was dairy-free. If you don’t have the recipe anymore, let me know.

    I have not had any success with non-dairy vanilla ice cream yet.

    Lori, no I haven’t tried pumpkin ice cream. That was so good! I would like to, so could you give me the recipe again? I don’t know what I did with the one you gave me before.

    What have you tried for vanilla ice cream and what makes it not successful? We were talking last night and speculated that we may never get an exact match to the taste and texture of dairy ice cream, but we still can enjoy a really delicious dessert. In other words, because it is different, that doesn’t mean it isn’t any good. I would appreciate hearing your thoughts about what you’ve tried.


  2. Cindy says

    Thanks so much for sharing your vanilla ice cream recipe. I can’t tolerate dairy, so I’m always looking for a substitute. I’d love to make my own since the store is so expensive; I’m going to pop the ice cream maker into the freezer right now!

  3. says

    Yep we need the pumpkin ice cream recipe. I’ve been wanting to get an ice cream maker and I’d love to see if my dd would like pumpkin ice cream as much as pie. 😆

  4. says

    HI all,

    Here’s the link to the Pumpkin Ice Cream.

    And Wardee, about the vanilla ice cream, I’ve only tried soy milk and tofu (to help thicken it) and found that the soy flavor was just too pronounced. I haven’t tried it with other non-dairy milks…maybe I need to try that!

    I do think I’m going to make some of the pumpkin ice cream for a homemade ice cream “contest” at church on Friday night for our Summer Suppers on the Lawn….I know that we have some folks that are allergic to dairy, so that will be a good alternative for them :)

    Lori, the time I made vanilla with soy (this was 5 years ago) I didn’t like it either. It was also really gritty. Give it a try with nut milk and let me know how it turns out.

    How fun to have a homemade ice cream contest! I hope yours’ wins! – Wardee

  5. says

    Wardee, is it working now? It is working for me….are you able to get to any part of my blog?

    I will definitely give the nut milk a try. I’m going to Trader Joe’s on Saturday (have to go to Fresno for a funeral…the husband of one of D’s former co-workers), so I’ll pick up more raw almonds.


    I’m sorry you have to attend a funeral, but glad you get to go to TJ’s. We had chocolate ice cream this evening, made with more almond milk and less coconut milk than the coconut-vanilla ice cream I made last week. It was super good, but less creamy than when the coconut content is higher. So… you might want to get some of that, too. I think even one can of coconut milk (not light) in place of some of the nut milk helps a great deal. Your link works now — yay! Earlier, I couldn’t get to it or your blog. -Wardee

  6. says

    Thank you for sharing this! We made it tonight (my 4 year old was just put on a no dairy, sugar, soy, wheat, egg, blah, blah, blah) diet. This recipe was approved for her to eat and let me just say, she loved it! My whole family loved it! We all wanted seconds LOL!
    Thank you again =)

    Awesome! I’m just thrilled to hear this! Isn’t it great when you have to do something radically different (like change diet) and the results are so encouraging? I thank God for encouraging you in this way. Please let me know if I can help you in the future with your daughter’s diet. It is challenging, but not impossible, and the reward — better health for your daughter — is worth it.

  7. Carol Suderno says

    I just found your web site today 1/05/08, PTL! I’ve been looking for a recipe for ice cream using coconut milk. I’m allergic to glutens and cow dairy, but not goat’s milk products. I would like to try your vanilla coconut Ice cream recipe using goat’s milk instead of the nut milk, and Xylitol instead of the agave syrup. Do you think that would work? Thank you, Carol

    Hi, Carol! I have made the ice cream using goat’s milk and it turns out so nice and creamy. It doesn’t get super hard when frozen long like coconut milk or nut milks do, either. As for the xylitol, I haven’t tried that. The only thing that concerns me is that people say they get the runs when consuming too much xylitol. How much is too much in a serving? I don’t know that. Otherwise, I’d say give it a go, it should work great! I would love to hear how it goes.

  8. Carol Suderno says

    It may be mid-week before I am able to purchase the Goat’s milk. I’m planning on making the ice cream with Goat’s milk and coconut milk. I found a Brand of non-dairy, vegan, low glycemic, soy & gluten free frozen dessert that is delicious. It is Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss (naked coconut). However it is $6.00 for a pint. I thought I would try to try making my own, using the Xylitol.
    Besides my dairy and gluten problems, I have a fungal problem. So I am trying to severely limit my sugar intake. The xylitol that I am using, is non “fungal”, which some xylitol is. It is very expensive, so I’m not using much. I haven’t had any problems so far. I have made strawberry and raspberry jam with it using a pectin made especially for sugar free jams. But I am limiting myself on how much of even these “sweets” so far. I will let you know how it turns out. Carol

    Please do let me know, Carol! For that jam, are you using Pomona’s Pectin? That’s what I use and I really love it! It works regardless of the quantity or choice of sweetener, and that’s why I like it.

  9. Carol Suderno says

    Yes, just before Christmas I found out about Pomona’s Pectin and made it with the Xylitol, it came out suprisingly well. I made the ice cream last night using the goats milk in place of the nut milk and used the xylitol, to sweeten it. It came out great, very flavorable and sweet. It does have a creamy taste, but it starts to melt quickly. It’s been a long time since I’ve made homemade ice cream, is that normal? I have a very old Salton Ice cream maker and it can only use 24 ounces of mix at a time. I forgot about that when I made your recipe, so I’m going to try one or two other flavors. What would happen if I added some of the (Pomona pectin) jam I made?
    I do have some frozen blueberries and raspberries. If I added them would I add them frozen but “broken” into small pieces? Thanks, Carol

    Carol, the reasons I can think that it would melt quickly are: 1) it is supposed to be that way, as usually home ice cream makers make “soft serve” ice cream or 2) if it is too soft, it needed to be churned more in the ice cream maker. I usually put my ice cream in the freezer for a couple hours, because we like it hard. Play around with what you like. I hope it has nothing to do with the goat’s milk. When I made it with goat’s milk I used some goat’s milk and some nut milk. I can’t remember the percentages, but it was quite heavy on the goat’s side.

    If you added pectin, it could make the ice cream thicker from the get go, but it would get even harder when frozen in the freezer. If you’re not planning to have leftovers, this could be an option. What I add sometimes when I know all the ice cream will get eaten is a bit more of guar gum. The coconut milk I get has guar gum already in it so I’m adding a little more.

    If you want the fruit as add-ins, toss them in at the end. If you want the cream to be flavored and/or colored with the fruit, blend the fruit with the entire mixture. You could save little pieces to add at the end, too. I would think it would be best to add frozen chunks, that way there will be less chance of melting your ice cream by adding something warmer.

    I hope this has been helpful. THanks for letting me know how it is going for you.

  10. Carol Suderno says

    I just took my new batch of ice cream out of the freezer.
    I pureed a few frozen strawberries and added that to my mix at the beginning and then sliced some semi-frozen strawberries and added them at the end. Considering that the strawberries were frozen ones from Costco, it tastes fairly good. I didn’t add the jam because I had taken out a jar of regular “sugared” jam from my freezer instead of the sugarless.
    As an avid ice cream lover, I’m thrilled to find recipes I can make without using cow dairy. And it tastes so much better than the rice dream product!

    What you’re doing really blesses me, Carol! I am so excited for you and it all sounds delicious! It does taste so much better, doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing your successes with me.

  11. says

    The ice cream was really delicious. We added a bit of extra vanilla extract and the scrapings from two vanilla beans to get extra vanilla flavor. I’m going to experiment this weekend with subbing in a bit more of the coconut cream (the top half of what is in the jars of coconut milk) and a bit less of the coconut milk as a whole. I may also add an avocado since I was planning to make peach ice cream but am now leaning toward mint. . . . Anyway, thanks for creating and posting this recipe! It’s really wonderful.

  12. ModestlyCanada says

    This is the best dairy free ice cream I have ever had. I’m still searching for one that is not as coconut tasting though but using coconut milk, if that’s possible. I added way more vanilla, a bit of rice milk, 1 tsp guar gum and I used maple syrup to sweeten instead of agave. This would be even better with vanilla bean pieces I think. I’m posting my modified version on, Thanks!

  13. Coconut Fan says

    Just found this recipe–can’t wait to try it! I’ve been looking for Luna & Larry’s in my area and can’t find it… Could someone post the pumpkin ice cream recipe mentioned in the thread? The link doesn’t work. Thanks!!

  14. says

    I just posted a recipe for Dairy Free Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream and linked to this recipe. It is really hard to find coconut milk ice cream recipes, thanks for posting this!


  15. Jaeny says

    Coconut milk of course! I remember visiting the Philippines once and saw a commercial of a local ice cream brand. Apparently they use coconut milk in it instead of the normal dairy and it comes in different flavors, mango, chocolate etc. A dairy free ice cream is definitely possible for people on a dairy free diet

  16. says

    I am soooo looking forward to making this. Am I guessing right that is says 3 cans of 15 ounces each?

    I love pistachios so will crush them up and add them in. Should be delicious.

  17. Aliyanna says

    I was wondering why my coconut ice cream gets gritty? There isn’t any lactose….so I don’t understand. It was my understanding that lactose was the culprit.


  18. Marjorie says

    Thanks for the recipe!! It seem so good!!
    I don’t have a ice cream maker… What will be the difference if I just put the mix in the freezer?
    Thanks!! :o)

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