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This recipe for Vegan Sweet Cream Ice Cream is creamy and smooth. It uses coconut milk, sugar, a banana, and vanilla for a delicious dairy-free frozen treat.
Have you ever been excited to find vegan ice cream at the grocery store, brought it home, and eagerly dipped your spoon in for that first taste and been…disappointed? Yeah, me too.
I don’t understand. We’ve got the vegan sour cream down, along with the cream cheese and yogurt. Heck, we’ve even got pretty palate-pleasing vegan eggs and burgers. But the ice cream? That’s a different story with its chalky texture and not-quite-right flavor.
Making a better vegan ice cream:
This vegan sweet cream ice cream was developed after going to the grocery store and buying up all the available vanilla vegan ice cream varieties to test out for pairing with my easy peach dump cake. I didn’t find any I could tolerate and so decided to make my own.
And yeah, it’s pretty perfect!
Ingredients needed to make vegan sweet cream ice cream?
- canned coconut milk – full fat
- white sugar
- corn starch
- ground nutmeg
- a banana (NOT over ripe)
- vanilla extract
- heavy-bottomed saucepan
- ice cream maker or this fancy compressor ice cream maker (it’s what I use)
There is a handy printable recipe card near the bottom of this post. Please read through the following sections to learn a few tips and tricks so that your recipe will turn out as fabulous as mine!Jump to Recipe
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How to make vegan sweet cream ice cream:
Start by making a “custard” with full-fat coconut milk, sugar, cornstarch, and nutmeg. Bring it to a gentle boil and then turn down to gently simmer for 15 minutes.
Why use full fat coconut milk?
You could certainly use low-fat or lite coconut milk and save the fat calories. In fact, I tried out both ways and really debated over that for a while. The flavor is the same whether you use lite coconut milk or full-fat.
The texture is even similar….initially. But after sitting in the freezer for a couple of days and fully hardening, we found the texture to be more creamy and smooth when using full-fat coconut milk.
Why do we use cornstarch?
Again, we are going for the creamiest smoothest vegan ice cream ever. Without using real dairy heavy cream, homemade ice cream can get a little icy.
When we cook the coconut milk with a little cornstarch, it turns it into a thick custard-like cream when fully cooled. This adds to the creamy texture of the ice cream.
Why do we use nutmeg?
Nutmeg is used for a deeper depth of flavor. If you don’t have nutmeg you can make this ice cream without it. But for the best flavor, please beg, borrow, or buy a little ground nutmeg!
Cooling the cooked coconut milk custard:
After bringing to a boil and simmering, you will need to cool your mixture. I stick mine in the freezer for a quicker cooling time.
How long should I cool the coconut milk mixture?
That depends on your ice cream maker. You will need to read your manufacturer’s directions. Some ice cream makers require that the mixture is cold before pouring in. Others, like my fabulous compressor ice cream maker/freezer, does fine even with warm ingredients.
The custard will thicken upon cooling and the texture will be similar to that of a soft pudding.
Blending it all together:
Once your custard has cooled enough, use a rubber spatula to scrape every precious bit into a blender along with the other ingredients.
What type of banana should I use? Should it be overripe as when baking?
No, you are not making banana bread!
Using an overripe banana will give your sweet cream ice cream too much of a banana flavor. Just use a regular just-ripe banana. Also, I try to use a banana without bruising or other blemishes. I don’t mind using a less-than-perfect banana in my baking, but really don’t like the idea of using a yucky banana in smoothies or vegan ice cream.
After blending it up and making sure the mixture is nice and smooth, pour it into your ice cream maker and following manufacturer’s directions, freeze.
It takes about 45 minutes in my ice cream maker. Every machine is different though and yours might be different.
After it is done freezing, spoon the finished sweet cream ice cream into a shallow freezer-safe container to further harden….if you have the patience.
How about the flavor?
The flavor is amazing! This vegan sweet cream ice cream is so tasty, you’ll never buy store-bought vegan ice cream again.
Does it taste like coconuts?
I don’t think it does. The brand of coconut milk I use is very mild and lightly sweet. If your brand tastes strongly of coconut, then that taste might affect the flavor of the frozen ice cream.
Does it taste like bananas?
Honestly? A little bit. I tried using various other ingredients to cover up the banana taste and didn’t really like the results.
So why even use a banana?
To get that creamy smooth texture I was looking for, I found that nothing substituted well for the banana. So…. I will use a banana.
But truly? I don’t like the taste of bananas in my smoothies or smoothie bowls. And I’m not mad at the slight banana taste in this ice cream!!
If you don’t mind soft ice cream you can enjoy this frozen treat right away! But freeze for a few hours or even overnight for the homemade ice cream to fully harden.
Put sprinkles on top along with my coconut milk whipped topping.
You know what’s even better?!?
Homemade Salted Caramel sauce drizzled on top!! This caramel sauce was created just for this sweet cream ice cream!
Ready for the recipe?
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The Creamiest Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Coconut Milk
- heavy-bottom medium saucepan
- ice cream maker/freezer
- 13.5 ounces canned coconut milk full fat
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 medium banana
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Add the coconut milk, sugar, nutmeg, and cornstarch to a medium-sized saucepan. Whisk together.
- On medium/high heat, bring to a boil – stirring occasionally. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally. If the mixture ever stops simmering, turn up the heat slightly.
- Remove from heat and put in the refrigerator to cool. Read the manufacturer's directions for your ice cream maker. If the directions indicate the mixture must be cold before freezing then allow the mixture to fully cool.
- Add the cooled mixture, vanilla, banana, and salt to the blender. Blend on high for a couple of minutes or until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Add to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's directions to freeze.
- Scoop into a freezer-safe container and continue to freeze.