I have been loving making homemade ice cream lately. I’ve made some traditional vanilla ice cream and a little more unconventional ice cream made from frozen bananas. Regardless of the method, it’s all good to me, mostly because I know exactly what’s in it. Dairy free store bought ice cream, although lacking the dairy, typically comes with a whole host of other wonky ingredients like guar gum, soy lecithin, carrageenan, and of course lots of sugar!
One of the problems with homemade ice cream however, is that it can get icy and hard. I certainly haven’t cracked the code on how to prevent this because it’s nearly impossible while keeping the ingredients 100% clean (this is where the refined sugar, stabilizers, and emulsifiers used in store bought ice cream come into play), but here are the tips and tricks I’ve learned during my ice cream making adventures.
Increase the fat. This will help you achieve that nice creamy texture you’re going for and, as fat does not freeze (pure fat anyway), it does not lend itself to ice crystals. So add some egg yolks, full fat coconut milk, heavy cream, or some avocado.
Make sure it starts and stays cold. Ice crystals occur when the water content in the ice cream freezes because of fluctuating temperatures so you want your base to get cold quickly and stay cold. Make sure the bowl of your ice cream maker is fully frozen and your ice cream base fully chilled as well to decrease the chance of forming ice crystals. You also want to make sure your freezer stays really cold too, so no going in and out of it while your ice cream is chilling in there.
Don’t skimp on the sugar. I’m not a big fan of overly sweet desserts so sometimes I don’t exactly follow this rule, but if your goal is to avoid the iciness you want to make sure there is enough sugar. This can mean liquid sugar like honey or granulated sugar like coconut sugar or organic cane sugar. Each will lend a different texture and flavor so play around with it and see what you prefer. Kelly Brozyna (the dairy free ice cream queen) often uses dates as the sole sweetener and has great results with that.
Try using gelatin. Gelatin acts as a stabilizer in the ice cream but is a completely natural (and actually quite beneficial) alternative to those typically used in conventional store bought ice creams. Since it is an animal product, the ice cream will no longer be vegan or vegetarian if that is something that is important to you.
Add a little booze. Alcohol raises the freezing temperature of the ice cream, thus reducing the formation of ice crystals. Add about 1 tablespoon of vodka to every quart of ice cream base to reduce iciness without adding any flavor. Of course, other alcohols can be used to add flavors to your ice cream depending on what you are going for.
Ultimately homemade ice cream will probably never be as soft and creamy as store bought ice cream because most people aren’t going to have the fancy tools and ingredients required for ultimate creaminess. I’m sorry but I’m not spending thousands of dollars on an ice cream maker and a high tech sub zero freezer just so I can have the perfect homemade ice cream. I don’t have that kind of money, nor do I care that much. My ice cream tastes damn good with my relatively inexpensive ice cream maker and my regular ol’ freezer! So just experiment with the tips above and find what works for you. And if your ice cream is a little hard when it comes out of the freezer, just let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes to let the ice crystals melt and you’ll be good to go!
The coconut milk and avocado add that extra fat to the ice cream to give it that creamy texture. Feel free to sub another milk for the coconut milk if you’re not a fan (almond milk, cashew milk, etc.), but with the mint and chocolate I did not detect any coconut flavor. The honey adds that sugar content we need, but I chose to replace some of the honey with stevia in this case to lessen the impact on my blood sugar. Feel free to use all honey if you prefer or another sweetener altogether (I have not tested this though).
The fresh mint leaves impart a slight green color, perfect for mint chip ice cream, but they also add a subtle natural mint flavor that I love. I wanted a little stronger of a mint flavor so I added my favorite Young Living peppermint essential oil, but feel free to sub peppermint extract or add more fresh mint. And of course you can’t forget the chocolate chips! Try my homemade chocolate chunks or feel free to use some quality store bought chocolate chips if you prefer.
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- ½ cup mint leaves
- 1 avocado
- 3 Tbs honey
- 30 drops liquid stevia (or additional 3 Tbs honey)
- 2 drops peppermint essential oil, or more to taste (I use Young Living Essential Oils)
- ½ Tbs gelatin and 1 Tbs warm water (optional but helps reduce the iciness)
- 1 Tbs vodka (optional but helps reduce the iciness)
- ½ batch homemade chocolate chips (or about ½ cup store bought)
- Place coconut milk, mint leaves, avocado, stevia, honey, and peppermint oil in a blender and blend until smooth
- Add more sweetener and/or peppermint oil to taste
- Add vodka if using
- If using, mix ½ Tbs gelatin with 1 Tbs warm water and stir until dissolved
- Add gelatin mixture to blender and blend until smooth
- Place base in the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours to overnight (not necessary but helps decrease iciness)
- Pour into ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions (mine took about 20 minutes)
- In the last 5 minutes, add in chocolate chips
- Serve immediately or place in freezer safe container and store in freezer
If you are looking for more dairy free ice cream recipes I highly recommend the book Dairy Free Ice Cream by Kelly Brozyna. It is full of amazing tips and so many delicious ice cream flavors free of dairy, eggs, and refined sugar! I hope you haven’t gotten in too deep with the pumpkin yet and still have room for some Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream in your life. Let me know if you have any luck using any of the tips above!
In vibrant health,