Vegan Ice Cream Review and Recipe

Vegan Ice Cream Review and Recipe

Vegan ice cream has risen in the ranks of conventional ice cream competition prompting major ice cream brands to offer one or more dairy-free options. The reason can be broad as some people are lactose intolerant while others refrain from eating animal products. Now that there are many choices of plant milks the opportunity to indulge in products made from these milks is becoming quite vast.

According to Amy Keating, RD, a nutritionist at Consumer Reports:

“With plant milks on the rise, it was only a matter of time before plant-based ice cream was going to be popular,”

Either way, vegan ice cream is a clean, easy to digest option when you may want to divert from a dairy dessert and try something completely made from plants.

The Nuts and Bolts

Dairy ice cream mainly contains milk and sugar while vegan ice cream could contain any number of base ingredients including:

  • Soy
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Coconut
  • Hemp
  • Pea protein
  • Oats
  • Avocados

As surprising as some of these ingredients may sound, each year the vegan food industry has improved the quality and especially taste of this leap into non-conformed foods. However, calling it “ice cream” may not be the best idea.

Robert F. Roberts, PhD, head of the food science department at Penn State University commented to Consumer Report, stating that,

“Calling it ‘ice cream’ can set up an expectation that plant-based desserts can’t truly live up to, Manufacturers can make a very good product, but because plant-based proteins don’t work the same way as milk proteins, it’s not ‘ice cream.’ ”

Could be Healthy, Could be Not

Many people assume that vegan ice cream is a healthy choice but Keating warns the consumer,

“To achieve the taste and texture of regular ice cream, these lighter [vegan] ice creams have a lot of additives – like gums, sugar substitutes, protein concentrates, and even added fiber,” 

Some vegan brands and flavors can contain up to 37 grams (two full teaspoons) of sugar in just two thirds of a cup and ten to twenty-one grams of saturated fat per serving. This is why it is important to check the label of the vegan ice cream you are considering as there are healthier choices with less sugar and saturated fat. Many big brands will disregard the vegan health mission and simply pour in as many ingredients they can leading to a more highly processed product.

Eco Friendly

For the most part, vegan ice cream production has shown to be more environmentally friendly due to the fact that it does not come from the dairy industry which has been negatively affecting climate change for decades.

According to an overview by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF),

“Dairy cows and their manure produce greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change. Poor handling of manure and fertilizers can degrade local water resources. And unsustainable dairy farming and feed production can lead to the loss of ecologically important areas, such as prairies, wetlands, and forests.”

Although vegan ice cream production has its challenges (almonds for instance need a large amount of water to grow), according to D. Julian McClements, PhD, a professor of food science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Consumer Reports,

“Considerable research shows that plant based products are better for the environment than animal-based ones,..Dairy cows and milk processing produce about triple the greenhouse gases as plant-milk production.” 

Churn Away

If you have an ice cream maker this vegan ice cream recipe is a great way to make your own delightful dessert courtesy of the NY Times cooking section.

Vegan Ice Cream


Yield: 1 quart

2cups hemp or cashew milk

1(14.5-ounce) can coconut cream or whole coconut milk (not refrigerated nondairy beverage or light coconut milk)

½cup light corn syrup or substitute ⅓ cup agave syrup

½cup granulated sugar

½teaspoon kosher salt

1tablespoon vodka (optional – to keep ice crystals from forming, giving the smoothest texture)

1teaspoon vanilla extract


Step 1

In a medium pot, combine hemp or cashew milk, coconut cream, corn syrup, sugar and salt, and bring to a simmer. Simmer until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Let cool in the pot.

Step 2

Transfer to a container and stir in vodka, if using, and vanilla. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and chill according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Try making your own vegan ice cream or indulge in good brands that offer non-dairy options such as: 

  • Oatly
  • Halo Top
  • So Delicious
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Wicked Kitchen
  • Van Leeuwen

Give a few different brands a try to see which may resonate with your taste buds and then, keep on spoonin’ into good health!