This Coconut Ice Cream has been a staple in our house for so many years, and no one ever knows it’s dairy free! It’s super creamy, perfect with so many different baked desserts, and it’s paleo and vegan as well. This vanilla scented version of Coconut Ice Cream is just 3 simple ingredients and all creamy-dreamy texture. It’s the perfect dairy-free and vegan ice cream for everything you can think of all summer long. And don’t miss trying it in my Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwiches!
This ice cream… it’s silky smooth and so delicious. It reminds me of my childhood days getting strawberry sundaes with soft serve at a certain popular chain restaurant. This recipe is also my all-time most popular dessert recipe on the blog. I’ll admit I was a little shocked this is the case considering how many chocolate recipes I’ve made. (But I guess everyone likes ice cream as much as I do!)
Now I know this delectable ice cream bears no real resemblance to the restaurant chain version. But, that’s okay because it’s so much better. Something about the amazingly smooth mouthfeel of this ice cream is so much like soft serve. Just add your favorite toppings, or pile it into cones and enjoy!
Tip: I like using grade A amber maple syrup for the lightest maple flavor. Honey can be tricky to blend in, so I’ve quit using it over time. You can also use powdered sugar to taste for the least intrusive flavor. But I think you’ll find Grade A amber maple syrup to be super yummy here with little to no maple flavor.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Coconut Milk – full fat coconut milk is a must here for the best texture, or go all out with coconut cream for the creamiest texture. Coconut milk overall makes a lower-fat ice cream than traditional dairy. So you don’t want to go with low-fat coconut milk because it will make a much icier texture. Also, don’t sub in coconut milk from the carton because it’s too watery for a nice creamy ice cream. It will give you a texture more like an icy sorbet.
- Sweetener – I like to use Grade A amber maple syrup that I get from Costco for a pretty good price. It has a very light maple flavor that doesn’t overwhelm here, but you can use honey as well. Make sure your honey is fully smooth and not crystalized before blending it with coconut milk. I also recommend blending it together with room-temperature coconut milk so it doesn’t seize up, then chill the mixture before adding it to the ice cream maker.
- Vanilla – extract, vanilla bean paste, or scraping out the center of a halved vanilla bean all work well here. Vanilla extract is the most budget friendly, but vanilla bean paste is convenient and very tasty for special occasions.
- Sea salt – is very important to the overall flavor of this ice cream. Definitely don’t omit it because the ice cream will taste flat.
How to make this recipe step by step
Step 1: Blend all the ingredients listed in a blender at low speeds until smooth. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator if your coconut milk isn’t pre-chilled. If all your ingredients are at room temperature, you can also whisk them together and then chill, no need for a blender if you don’t have one.
Step 2: Churn the coconut mixture according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I like to take the ice cream out when it’s just a firm enough consistency that it sticks to a spoon when you lift some out.
Step 3: Transfer the ice cream to a suitable freezer container, seal it with a lid, and freeze it for a firmer texture if desired.
Important Note: This Coconut Ice Cream will become rock hard when fully frozen. To bring it back to a scoopable texture, place it on the counter for 20+ minutes or for the most even texture place it in the fridge for 45 minutes to soften it.
Ways to serve this
- You can serve this ice cream any way you love to serve vanilla ice cream. We love it over baked fruit desserts like my Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp or my Apple Crisp. It’s also perfect served alongside cake desserts like my Flourless Chocolate Skillet Cake or my Grain Free Raspberry Cake.
- Use this ice cream as a filling for my Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwiches or my Paleo Funfetti Ice Cream Sandwiches.
- Serve in a dish with any kind of fresh berries or stone fruit like sliced peaches. You can also make a fruit sauce like my Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce or my Fresh Peach Topping.
- Pile scoops of this ice cream into cones. The waffle cones pictured here are gluten-free from Let’s Do Organic. I dipped them in chocolate and sprinkled the chocolate with sprinkles from Colored Kitchen, (no artificial dyes). It makes a fun festive look especially good for summer BBQs. These are both linked below along with my ice cream maker.
- The coconut flavor of this ice cream pairs extra well with grilled fruit like peaches or my Cinnamon Glazed Grilled Pineapple.
- Top with flaked coconut or toasted coconut if you absolutely just love coconut!
Coconut Ice Cream like my recipe here is dairy free and often vegan as well. Old Fashioned Coconut Ice Cream is made by infusing coconut into heavy cream and making a custard with eggs and sugar before chilling and freezing it.
Coconut cream is a bit richer with a little more fat in it. It will make a slightly smoother ice cream than coconut cream. Neither coconut cream nor coconut milk should be confused with creamed coconut, a sweetened concoction that won’t work in this coconut ice cream recipe.
Coconut cream is unsweetened and a richer version of coconut milk. Cream of coconut is an entirely different mixture of coconut milk, sweetener, and additives to emulsify it. You definitely don’t want to sub in cream of coconut for this ice cream recipe because it will be way too sweet.
- To store – place any leftovers into a sealed container or bowl suitable for the freezer. Place the container in the freezer and use within 2 weeks for the best texture. This ice cream will last 1 month for sure, but it does get more icy over time in the freezer.
- Refreeze – if you find your ice cream is too icy after some time in the freezer, you can melt it in the fridge and refreeze it in your ice cream machine. The texture is almost as good as the first time around.
Tips & Tricks
- Keep cans of coconut milk in the fridge for quick and easy ice cream at a moment’s notice.
- Make this recipe with cans of coconut cream in place of the coconut milk for an even richer texture.
- Add the sweetener to your taste! The more sweetener you add the softer and smoother the ice cream will be. But getting the right amount of sweetness for you is also important.
How to make this ice cream without an ice cream maker
- First blend together all the ingredients.
- Next freeze the mixture in ice cube trays, keeping back about 1/2 cup liquid.
- When the ice cream cubes are frozen, add them to a high-speed blender with your reserved, (refrigerated) 1/2 cup liquid ice cream base. You can also do this in a food processor, but you may need to do small batches.
- Blend on low speeds using the tamper until you have thick and creamy ice cream.
- Serve immediately, or freeze for a couple of hours for a firmer texture, stirring every 30 minutes to break up the crystals forming.
Notes about blending ice cream in your blender
- This only works with a high-powered blender, and it’s hard work even for them. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, I absolutely wouldn’t attempt to blend ice cream. You can try the same method in a food processor instead – I use my Cuisinart.
- It’s super important to monitor the blending constantly. Don’t step away for a moment because blending ice cream is hard on a blender. By monitoring and using the tamper, everything ‘should’ be fine. I have a Vitamix and it has a safety feature that turns the blender off if it starts to overheat. So that definitely gives me some peace of mind.
More dairy-free ice cream recipe inspiration
- Creamy Coconut Banana Nice Cream
- Coconut Lime Ice Cream
- Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream
- Healthy Chunky Monkey Nice Cream
- Caramelized Banana Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Final tip: It seems like the about the amount of sweetener varies with people liking every amount from 1/4 cup to 1 cup. My advice is to start with a small amount of sweetener, and keep adding until it tastes right to you! Also keep in mind that once the coconut mixture is frozen, it won’t taste as sweet as when it was a warmer temperature.
If you’re looking for more dairy-free ice creams, I wrote a whole book with all the favorites called Inspired Ice Creams! There are 32 recipes + 143 variations which = 175 total frozen treats!
I really hope you enjoy this Homemade Coconut Ice Cream! And if you do get a chance to make it, I hope you’ll leave me a comment/rating below. I always love hearing from you here! Also for even more ice cream and ice cream sandwich recipes, head over to the recipe index.
Coconut Ice Cream
- 2 cans full-fat coconut milk - 403 ml each or 13.66 oz each, see notes
- 1/2 cup Grade A amber maple syrup - start with 1/2 cup and add more to taste, up to 1 cup, see notes
- pinch sea salt
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Blend the coconut milk, maple syrup, or your choice of sweetener, pinch of salt to taste, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.
- If your coconut milk isn’t chilled, chill the mixture for 2 hours in the refrigerator before placing it in the ice cream machine.
- Freeze according to instructions for your ice cream maker, this should take 20-30 minutes. When the mixture begins to look thick and frosty, (you’ll be able to see lines the dasher will make as the ice cream maker turns) spoon out a little and if it sits up on the spoon instead of slipping right off, it’s done.
- The ice cream will be the texture of soft serve when it's done. You can transfer to a container suitable for the freezer, and freeze and additional 4 hours for a firmer texture. A wooden spoon is the best tool I've found for removing the ice cream from the container, spatulas are too flexible and won't clean out the container well.
This post has been updated in 2022 with new photos, information, and lots more new tips.
157 thoughts on “Coconut Ice Cream”
Hi Kari. What make/model of ice cream maker do you use? Thanks.
I use a 2-quart Cuisinart and it’s lasted me for 12 years now!
Hello Kari, In some comments they refer to coconut cream but this recipient calls for coconut milk, two different items. So I’m just a little confused since I am not a cook at all and strictly follow a recipe. Thank you.
You are right that coconut milk and coconut cream are 2 different products, however you can use either as long as the coconut cream you use is the canned type and it’s not sweetened. Coconut cream is a richer version of coconut milk and will produce a richer ice cream. I hope this helps, but be sure to let me know if you have any more questions!
Hi, what can I use as a substitute for maple syrup. I’m not too good with maple syrup.
The best substitute flavor wise would be powdered sugar to taste. You can also use honey, but stronger flavored honey doesn’t pair super well with coconut. You might also try coconut sugar, but I’m not sure it will completely dissolve since I haven’t personally tried it!
Hi! It sounds amazing. Can I make it without an ice cream machiene? Thanks
You can make ice cream without an ice cream maker, but a ice cream maker really does give you the best possible texture. You can just place the blended mixture into the freezer and stir every 30 minutes until it’s frozen. The texture will be a little icy but the flavor will be good. Another thing you can do if you have a high powered blender is to freeze about 2/3 of the mixture in ice cube trays (refrigerating the remaining 1/3), then blend the ice cream ice cubes with the refrigerated mixture until a soft serve forms. I hope this helps and be sure to let me know if you have any more questions!
We are really struggling to get all of the hard coconut cream to blend – we are always left with coconut lumps. Any advice? Also in the can of coco milk there is hard coconut cream and liquid should we be using both? Thanks!
I haven’t ever had trouble with the coconut cream not blending before, but you could try blending all the ingredients with room temperature coconut milk then refrigerate the mixture to chill thoroughly before you freeze it. I wonder if it has something to do with the kind/brand of coconut milk you’re using? I’ve had good luck with both Thai Kitchen and Native Forest. I hope this helps, and be sure an let me know if you have anymore questions!
Are you using creamer coconut and not coconut cream???
I hv made coconut ice cream before to make it super creamy i have added avacodo! Have you tried this before?
Yes and avocado is definitely the best to make it extra creamy, although it does leave a green tinge. I have a recipe on the blog for coconut lime ice cream and a chocolate fudge one that both have avocado in them and they’re nice and rich!
I love coconut ice cream it’s my all time favourite
I want to use this recipe for my food GCSE
For texture I want to add desiccated coconut and dry coconut ..
I am unsure about how much I should use
I would like your opinion
Xx Many Thanks
I’ve never added dried coconut to my ice cream before, but I would just start with a small amount, (maybe 1/4 cup) and then work up from there. Someone wrote once to say they added toasted coconut and it was a huge hit. Also be sure and stir in the dried coconut after the ice cream is out of the machine, if you add anything chunky while the machine is running, it tends to stick. I sure hope this helps, and be sure to let me know how it goes, or if you have anymore questions!
This is definitely a recipe I’d love to try! Perfect for those late night sweet cravings without completely ruining all your self-control for the day haha
Definitely, I love this recipe and all sorts of banana nice creams as well to keep me from getting into too much trouble!
Thank you Kari – beautiful recipe. We folded in chocolate chips and chopped toasted almonds and it was divine.
So glad you enjoyed it, and your additions so fantastic!
does the brand KTC or pride work for can coconut because native forest is not available here to us in the Uk
I’m not sure as I’ve never seen either brand here, but they should work if they’re a full fat canned coconut milk. I hope this helps, and be sure to let me know how it goes, or if you have anymore questions!
So I am loving this thread and the possibilities. I need to not use sweeteners So might i use stevia and if so how much ? powder or liquid?
You can definitely use stevia, but the texture won’t be quite as smooth without the maple syrup. I would just add either the liquid or powder to your taste.
Hi Kari I,m wondering of lite coconut milk will work as well. I want a low-fat ice cream. I never made ice cream before!! Thanks Linda
I wouldn’t use lite coconut milk because it will produce an icy textured ice cream. I haven’t run the calorie count on this ice cream, but coconut milk is already less calories than a traditional ice cream made with heavy cream.
Linda you do not want low fat. There have never been any studies that show that a low fat diet works. This is a great way to get additional good fats. Please do your research. I am going to try this with Monk Fruit .
Monk fruit is a great idea, thanks so much Lisa! 🙂
I’m impressed that you are still answering people on a post from 2015! Someone asked if it can work to use coconut milk from a carton and you wrote back that is will not be as smooth. I’m in rural Spain and we do have the cartons but have not seen the cans. I’m wondering if there is another source of fat that could work to make the coconut milk from the carton richer like the full fat canned version. Maybe heat it up with some coconut oil? Or even with cow’s milk butter? (I’m allergic to the casein in cow’s milk but butter or ghee are fat, not protein, so I tolerate them.) I may try a couple of combinations but I’m not much of an experimenter with food so I thought you might have a better idea of what would work best and how to mix them. Thank you!
Thank you, I always do my best to answer comments! 🙂 I’m not sure what the consistency of cartoned coconut milk is in Spain, (maybe it’s rich enough) I just know it’s a little more watery here. You could try adding some coconut oil or butter, but you would need to make more of a pudding to emulsify the oil with the coconut milk. If you do decided to try that, you could try 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with the maple syrup, then add the coconut milk and fat of choice, and cook whisking constantly until it comes to a boil, (like a pudding). Then fully chill it in the refrigerator before placing it into the ice cream machine. A simpler fix would be to just add some nut butter to your ice cream base just like it’s written. It will obviously taste like whatever nut butter you use, but it does make a wonderfully rich texture. I hope this helps, and be sure to let me know how it goes, or if you have anymore questions! 🙂
Hi Kari. I’d like for it to have less of a coconut flavour. Can I use 1 can of coconut cream and substitute the other can of coconut milk for almond milk?
You can sub in almond milk for part of the coconut milk, but the ice cream will be more icy in texture because almond milk doesn’t have enough fat in it for ice cream purposes. I hope this helps, and be sure to let me know if you have anymore questions!
Looking to purchase an ice cream maker any suggestion on the best model? I make my own homemade coconut milk so thought making ice cream out of it would be a great treat. thank you.
I have the Cuisinart 2-quart ice cream maker and I really love it! It seems to be the perfect size to do any recipe. I’ve had a 1 1/2 quart before and it was too small for some ice cream recipes, so I’d definitely go with the bigger 2 quart because it’s big enough for every recipe I’ve tried, and it still works for smaller batches. I hope this helps, and be sure to let me know if you have anymore questions! 🙂