There are so many amazing dairy-free ice cream recipes, but not everyone has an ice cream maker at the ready. Luckily, you don’t need a fancy machine to make those sweet dreams come true. I have four methods (plus a bonus option!) for making your own dairy-free ice cream without an ice cream maker.
How to Make Dairy-Free Ice Cream without an Ice Cream Maker
Keep in mind, homemade dairy-free ice cream might not be as perfectly processed as store bought versions. They have special equipment, unique ingredients, and laborious processes at the manufacturing level, which are very hard to fabricate at home. Fancy ice cream makers can yield creamier results, but these simple methods produce frozen dessert that’s just as delicious.
Method #1 – Mix, Freeze, Repeat
Equipment: Wide baking pan OR mixing bowl + whisk, spatula, stick blender, OR hand mixer
- Put a baking pan or mixing bowl in the freezer.
- Pour the dairy-free ice cream mixture in the chilled pan or bowl and place it back in the freezer.
- Once the edges start to freeze, about 45 minutes, stir or whisk vigorously, or beat with a hand mixer, until smooth and creamy. Repeat this process 3 to 4 more times – freeze then whisk or beat – until you have soft serve ice cream.
- Serve or cover and freeze until firm.
Method #2 – Food Processor or Blender
Equipment: Shallow pan and parchment paper OR ice cube trays OR silicone muffin pan + food processor OR powerful blender
- Prepare your dairy-free ice cream mixture, and cool it in the refrigerator or in a bowl over an ice bath.
- Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper, or get out ice cube trays or silicone muffin cups.
- Pour the ice cream mixture into the prepared jelly roll pan or fill the ice cube trays or muffin cups half full with the ice cream mixture. Freeze for 1 hour or longer.
- If using a pan, cut the frozen mixture into slices. If using ice cube trays or a mold, pop them out.
- Put the slices or cubes in your food processor blender and blend until creamy and smooth. If needed, add a little liquid to get things moving. If you only want a small amount, you can blend as much as you need, and freeze the remaining slices or cubes in plastic freezer bags.
Method #3 – In a Bag
Equipment: Small and gallon-size zip-top plastic bags
- Prepare your dairy-free ice cream mixture and pour it into a small to medium zip-top plastic bag. Make sure it is very well-sealed. You can even double bag it. Use multiple bags if you have too much ice cream mixture.
- Put 4 cups of ice cubes into a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag. Add ½ cup salt (any type). The salt lowers the freezing point of the ice. Without the salt, your mixture might set up.
- Put one of the small bags of dairy-free ice cream mixture in the large bag with the ice. Zip it closed and wrap it in a towel. Shake the bag for about 5 minutes, or until the ice cream sets up into a soft-serve mixture.
- Serve or place in a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm.
Method #4 – Use Ice Cream-Ready Ingredients
Equipment: Food processor, high power blender, OR hand mixer
This method is more about the ingredients. You’ve probably read about “no churn” ice cream, which uses whipping cream. Unfortunately, coconut cream doesn’t whip up like dairy cream. But it can still be used for making creamy ice cream.
Follow my Dairy-Free Whipped Cream or Chocolate Whipped Cream Recipe, but add more sweetener to taste. The mixture will taste less sweet once frozen. I like to whip it in a mixing bowl placed in an ice bath, so that some air gets in it as it chills. You can then freeze it. For the best consistency, whip it with your hand mixer after it has frozen for about 45 minutes. This will help to ensure a creamier consistency.
Or you can go the “Nice Cream” route. Blend frozen banana, frozen mango, or frozen avocado in your blender or food processor with just enough liquid to create a creamy soft serve base. Do not be tempted to add too much liquid or it will thin out into a smoothie. Blend in any flavors, nut or seed butters, or other frozen fruit, as desired. For a creamier finish, I like to blend in coconut cream instead of milk beverage for the liquid. The cream sets up as it hits the frozen fruit.
Bonus Option: Make Popsicles!
Equipment Needed: Popsicle molds or paper cups and wooden sticks
It isn’t exactly the same as spoonable ice cream, but you can freeze your cool and creamy mixture in popsicle molds for an equally delicious frozen dessert.
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