Anyone who has ever tried to replicate an old family recipe using vegan ingredients knows that the first attempt is not always a perfect success. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find the right balance, and that’s okay!
Vegan ice cream has come a long way over the years. There are now multiple options that are every bit as creamy and delicious as dairy ice cream. Even better, you can make delicious vegan ice cream in the comfort of your own home using plant-based beverages and ingredients.
The short answer is, yes. You simply need to make the right choices along the way to get the best results. Using top-quality ingredients is a must. Choosing the right ingredients can leave you with a satisfying and decadent dessert good enough for even the most discerning audience.
For the ice cream to be vegan, there can be no honey, eggs or dairy. Custard and traditional ice cream rely on these ingredients to supply the creamy, smooth texture of these desserts. They are not the only ways to achieve this, however.
Most vegan recipes rely on either coconut milk, bananas or some type of plant-based beverage, to make a silky, creamy frozen treat. The right combination to make the base of your vegan ice cream depends on the final flavor profile you’re after.
Many recipes rely on bananas to form the creamy base of a vegan ice cream. Bananas have many advantages. They’re relatively inexpensive, readily available in most stores, are easy to work with and naturally sweet. The only drawback, if it can be called that, is the distinctive banana flavor that isn’t right for every type of vegan ice cream.
The reason so many vegan ice cream recipes turn to coconut milk is that the high-fat content replicates the creaminess and mouth feel of ice cream better than any other option.
If the goal is to faithfully replicate a dairy ice cream with vegan ingredients, coconut milk is hard to beat. Again, the only drawback to coconut is that it’s not a neutral flavor. You can taste the coconut in most ice creams that use it as a base.
One great recipe that uses chilled coconut cream with Pacific Foods Organic Coconut Original Plant-Based Beverage as the base for its Raspberry Fudge Swirl Coconut Ice Cream. To keep it vegan, substitute the honey for agave sweetener and use dairy-free chocolate chips.
View the Recipe: Raspberry Fudge Swirl Coconut Ice Cream
Homemade vegan ice cream recipes often call for an ice cream-making machine. However, that’s not always the case. There are many easy vegan ice cream recipes that don’t require a vegan ice cream maker. Below, we explore both types of recipes.
The first step is to cook the base ingredients in a saucepan. Combine your coconut milk, plant-based beverage, sweetener and flavor ingredients like cocoa and vanilla. Simmer and whisk everything together until they are fully combined and start to thicken.
The base must be given ample time to chill in the refrigerator. Most recipes recommend at least three hours of chill time. It’s often better to just let the base chill overnight to ensure that the final product will be as creamy as possible.
This is also a good time to check on your ice cream machine. The base of these machines often need to be ice cold for them to work. If the base of the machine should be freezer cold, now would be a good time to put it in your freezer.
The exact amount of time your ice cream needs to churn depends on your specific machine. Read the directions and let the mixture churn for the appropriate time, usually around 20 minutes.
Ice cream machines might make soft-serve ice cream, but some ask that you freeze your ice cream to reach the right consistency. If you want to add further ingredients such as nuts, chocolate chips or vegan marshmallows, you can fold them in with a spatula before covering the ice cream.
Once you’ve added all the ingredients, try to find an airtight container to freeze your ice cream. Any gaps will likely form ice crystals, which can detract from the eating experience.
If you don’t have an appropriate airtight container, you can scoop the ice cream from the machine into any container and cover it tightly with plastic wrap or wax paper right on the top layer of the ice cream. Once your mixture is covered, place it in the freezer for at least four hours, or better yet, overnight. Then, it’s ready to eat!
As we mentioned before, there are options that don’t require an ice cream maker. Here is one option that can be prepared if you don’t have the time to freeze your vegan ice cream overnight.
The banana-based “nice” cream recipes are generally the place to start if you don’t have an ice cream machine. Nice cream is the term used for fruit-based ice cream alternatives. They’re super easy to make. All you need is a blender and a freezer to enjoy some homemade vegan ice cream!
You don’t need a formal recipe. Just slice ripe bananas and freeze them in an airtight container for several hours. Add your frozen banana slices into a blender with your favorite vegan milk and a tablespoon of maple syrup.
You can also add other flavors, like cocoa powder or some vanilla extract. Blend it all together till you get a creamy consistency, and sprinkle it with your favorite vegan toppings! Try chopped pecans, toasted coconut flakes or dairy-free chocolate chips.
This nice cream recipe uses bananas, raspberries and Pacific Foods Organic Unsweetened Coconut Original Plant-Based Beverage to whip up a quick dessert in the blender. Chill for an hour or two and serve with fresh raspberries, coconut flakes and chopped walnuts.
View the Recipe: Dairy-Free Coconut Raspberry “Nice” Cream
This recipe uses ripe bananas, Pacific Foods Hemp Original Plant-Based Beverage, vanilla, maple syrup and black sesame seeds. It’s sweet, creamy and simple. You can serve it with raspberry preserves to add a tangy edge.
View the Recipe: Black Sesame Nice Cream
Any vegan milk can be used to make ice cream. Homemade ice creams have the same challenge whether they are vegan or dairy. That challenge is fat.
Higher fat ingredients lead to a creamier, thicker ice cream. So in general, when picking a vegan alternative, check the label and go with the highest fat option for creamier desserts.
Vegan ice cream does freeze. Depending on the variety, it may melt faster than dairy ice cream. Vegan ice creams using coconut milk may melt slightly faster than others.
The higher fat and protein levels of regular ice cream lead to the primary differences between them and their vegan counterparts. Those fats and proteins help to bind the ingredients together. They also help prevent ice crystals from forming on the dessert in the freezer.
For homemade vegan ice creams, it’s possible to recreate the creamy texture and flavor of regular ice cream. It’s more difficult to match regular ice cream’s ability to last in the freezer for weeks without forming ice crystals. In general, homemade vegan ice creams should be eaten within two weeks of freezing.
The vegan ice cream recipes above are a great place to start when it comes to trying new dessert recipes. With a bit of help from Pacific Foods plant-based beverages, you can create an ice cream we’re sure you’ll love. Look for our products at your local grocery store.