Ice cream can be a tricky dessert to make. There are many different methods, all with different outcomes and number of ingredients called for. When it comes to vegan ice cream, things get even trickier.
However, today I’ll be sharing a vegan ice cream recipe that is not only simple to make but is also thick, creamy and void of that nasty freezer burn.
Photos via Edible Perspective
Are you ready to learn how to make vegan ice cream? It’s easier than you think and takes just a handful of ingredients to make.
We’re using straight up vanilla beans to give this ice cream a rich and fragrant vanilla flavor. To get even more from the beans, you’ll steep them in the milk mixture. Vanilla beans can be a pricey ingredient to stock your pantry with, so I recommend buying them in bulk online or at stores like Costco. You’ll find a huge savings in comparison to buying 1-2 pods at your regular grocery store.
The next ingredient that is crucial to the texture of this ice cream, is brown rice syrup. It’s the thickest liquid sweetener I’ve ever seen and helps keep the ice cream from freezing to a rock solid state, which also helps prevent ice crystals from forming.
If you don’t have or can’t find brown rice syrup, honey (not vegan) or coconut nectar can both be substituted instead.
If you have the type of the ice cream maker with the removable churning bowl (filled with liquid) you’ll want to make sure this is fully frozen before mixing your ice cream. I keep mine in the freezer at all times when it’s not being used. 24 hours at a minimum is what you need to get the job done. If it’s not fully frozen then your ice cream won’t thicken as much as it should, which causes issues when freezing.
I can’t even get over the vanilla bean flecks.
A few other very important ingredients to make note of:
- Bourbon (or vodka) – Alcohol has an extremely low freezing point. Adding it prevents the ice cream from freezing to a rock solid state. If you skip the alcohol you’ll have to either let the ice cream sit out for 15-20 minutes before scooping or bust out your biggest chisel. The bourbon lends a mild flavor but it’s not overwhelming in the least. Vodka will have a more neutral flavor.
- Tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour) – This starch really helps create a perfectly creamy texture with zero gumminess. I prefer using this starch over others like arrowroot and cornstarch.
- Full-fat canned coconut milk – While you’d think this was the most important ingredient, the recipe wouldn’t work without all of these ingredients working together. However, the fat content in full-fat coconut milk is crucial in creating a creamy ice cream. Trust me when I tell you not to sub the “light” stuff.
Are you ready to dig in yet?
Easy Vanilla Bean Vegan Ice Cream
lightly adapted from my previous version
Yield: 4-8 servings
- 1-2 vanilla beans
- 2 cans full-fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup pure cane sugar
- 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch/flour
- 2 tablespoons bourbon (or vodka)
Trim the ends of your vanilla bean pod(s) and slice down the center lengthwise, cutting through only the top layer. Scrape the vanilla beans from the pod and measure 1/4 teaspoon. Reserve the scraped pods.
Find two large heat-safe (glass and plastic are not recommended) mixing bowls that can nest together and fill the larger of the two about 1/2 full of ice. Place the other bowl on top. Set aside.
Pour all contents (sometimes there will be solid and liquid or two colors of liquid) from the coconut milk cans into a medium sized pot. Place a few tablespoons of coconut milk in a small bowl and whisk with the starch until fully smooth. Add back to the pot.
Add the brown rice syrup, cane sugar, vanilla beans, and vanilla bean pods to the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk frequently.
Let boil for about 1 minute and slowly stir with the whisk while boiling.
Pour entire mixture into the top bowl of your ice bath. Whisk in the bourbon and let the mixture sit until ice cold, whisking every so often. It will take at least 1 hour to fully chill. Discard vanilla bean pods.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your ice cream maker (mine takes about 20min to finish). For a texture like soft serve, serve ice cream immediately.
To freeze: Pack ice cream into an 8×4-inch loaf pan and spread evenly. Place a piece of parchment paper, wax paper, or plastic wrap on the surface of the ice cream and press lightly so it’s fully stuck to the top. Freeze for at least 4 hours before serving for a traditional ice cream texture.
Let sit for a few minutes then scoop, serve, and top however you’d like. Place your parchment paper back on the surface of the ice cream before returning to the freezer.
If storing in a glass/plastic storage container, be sure to still secure the parchment/wax/saran directly on top and then close with the lid.
- Instead of the ice bath you can instead pour the hot mixture into a heat-safe bowl, whisk in the bourbon, and then place in the refrigerator until fully chilled. Whisking the mixture will help speed the cooling process.
- The alcohol is a necessary ingredient to help the ice cream not turn rock hard. If you don’t want any trace of alcohol flavor use 1 1/2 tablespoons of vodka. The bourbon lends a slight flavor. You can leave the alcohol out but the texture is not as creamy and it’s much harder to scoop.
- The tapioca starch and liquid sweetener help the texture and prevent ice crystallization.
- I’ve also used arrowroot starch but prefer the texture when using tapioca.
- Honey (if not vegan) or coconut nectar can be subbed instead of brown rice syrup if desired. Do not use maple syrup or agave (too thin).
- DO NOT use light/low-fat coconut milk or sub with any other non-dairy milk. The fat content is crucial in full fat coconut milk.