The Easiest Dairy Free Ice Cream Recipe (and it’s really yummy too)
This recipe came about because I needed to clean out the freezer. And because sometimes I’m lazy and look for shortcuts.
Our stupid refrigerator looks like it has a large freezer space, but it’s actually quite tiny. With all of our allergies/sensitivities, I do a lot of baking and freeze things to keep them handy. This requires regularly purging things from the freezer. A tub of frozen sliced strawberries has been taking up valuable real estate for several months, and I was annoyed that it was still there. I could have worked on a allergy friendly shortcake recipe so that I could use it to make strawberry shortcake, but that’s like a lot of work. And then it hit me – why not make ice cream with these strawberries??
This recipe is SO SIMPLE, but tastes really good. It involves only two (or three) ingredients, and no need for a stove because you don’t have to cook anything! If you have an ice cream maker and want to make really easy dairy free ice cream, give this a try. You’ll have ice cream in a jiffy. Seriously, this would be my favorite homemade ice cream recipe even if we weren’t avoiding dairy.
Ice cream makers are fun, but there are so many complicated recipes to make ice cream. I tried a bunch of recipes and also created my own. I did a lot of
research about how to make homemade ice cream that wasn’t rock hard and didn’t get icy. The experiments included adding things like xanthan gum and even a little bit of alcohol to improve the texture. When chocolate mint was growing like crazy in the garden, we steeped non-dairy milk with the mint leaves. The chocolate mint ice cream we made was pretty interesting! Making ice cream with real mint leaves rather than mint extract results in a flavor that’s, um, earthy, we’ll call it. We ended up liking it, but it took a couple of bites to get used to. It tasted very plant-like, but it was so cool to use real mint from our garden.
Most ice cream recipes involve dissolving sugar in cream or (non-)dairy milk on the stove, adding other ingredients, and then cooling down the mixture for a long time before making the ice cream. Some other recipes are more simple, but we found that the results weren’t as good.
This time around, I didn’t want to spend so much time making the concoction, I just wanted ice cream! So when I realized that the frozen strawberries are already in a sweet syrup, I knew that it would be a great time-saver for this new recipe. Coconut cream is key – don’t use coconut milk, whether it is in a can or in a carton, because it won’t be the same. Coconut cream has a much higher fat content than coconut milk, which will result in a creamier texture that is not icy. Ice comes from a higher water content in the ice cream mixture. The coconut cream also includes xanthan gum, which helps make for a great texture. If you hate the taste of coconut, you might not want to make this. It does have a coconut flavor to it, but I found that the coconut taste wasn’t nearly as strong the next day. We like coconut, so the flavor was fine with us, and not so noticeable after that first day.
You need to plan ahead to defrost the strawberries and chill the coconut cream, but you have to freeze the ice cream maker tub anyway, so this shouldn’t add any time to your prep. I think this tastes fine without any extra sweetener, but you can add agave nectar or honey if you don’t think it tastes sweet enough. Remember that the finished ice cream won’t taste as sweet as the mixture does before it freezes, so you want it to taste pretty sweet before putting it into the ice cream maker. And don’t add any sort of granulated sugar! The sugar needs to completely dissolve or else the texture won’t be right, so use liquid sweetener, if you choose to add some. Sprinkle some allergy friendly mini chocolate chips on top and you’ll be in dairy free heaven!
P.S. Some of you observant people out there might be thinking, “Why did she choose to make something which takes up more freezer space?” Yes, I was trying to make some space in the freezer, and didn’t quite think it through when I decided to make ice cream. But hey, it’s ice cream. When the thought entered my head, there was no turning back. 😉
The Easiest Dairy Free Ice Cream Recipe (Which Happens to be Strawberry Flavored)
1 (14 oz.) can of coconut cream (I use Trader Joe’s brand)
1 (16 oz.) tub of frozen, sliced strawberries in syrup
1-2 T. agave nectar (or honey or other liquid sweetener), optional
Equipment required: ice cream maker and blender
The day before you want to make this, freeze the ice cream maker tub/insert according to the manufacturer’s directions. (I include this step for dumdums like me who forget to do these things.) At the same time, place the unopened tub of strawberries in the refrigerator to defrost, along with the unopened can of coconut cream. You want these ingredients to be defrosted but cold when you begin. It should be OK if the strawberries are not completely defrosted.
When you’re ready to make the ice cream, place the defrosted strawberries and cold coconut cream into a blender. (The coconut cream will be thickened but not hard, so you can scoop it out of the can with a spatula.) Blend these ingredients until there are no big chunks of strawberries left, unless you like chunks.
Taste the mixture – if you want it to be sweeter, add some agave nectar to taste and blend again.
Place the mixture into your chilled ice cream maker, and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Stand around the ice cream maker with your kids to watch it turn from a liquid into frosty goodness.
Like all homemade ice cream, it will be very soft when it is done, but still delicious. Place the ice cream in a shallow container, cover it, and freeze to get a firmer consistency. I put mine in either a small Pyrex dish or a loaf pan (which is the perfect size). We find that a couple of hours in the freezer makes for the best firmness. If the ice cream is too hard to scoop after freezing overnight (it likely will be), just let it sit out for about 10 to 15 minutes to soften a little.
I really love this simple dairy free ice cream recipe and plan to make it several more times this summer (well, in the winter too, I’m sure). If we experiment with other fruits, I’ll be sure to post an update. Have you tried making ice cream with sweetened frozen fruit? If so, leave a comment and let us know!