Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Frozen Treats: 6 Tips for Success

There’s almost nothing better than a big scoop of ice cream on a hot summer day.

But for someone who doesn’t eat dairy, my options are limited to sorbet. And while delicious, it can get a little boring after awhile.

The beauty of it is that making ice cream at home is a cinch. Especially dairy-free frozen treats. As long as you have an ice cream maker and a few simple ingredients, in a matter of a few hours you can have an ultra-creamy, decadent and delicious dessert to enjoy.

In today’s post, we’re going to share six essential tips for making your dairy-free frozen treats a home run. AND we’re going to give you the basic recipe which you can jazz up as you wish.

So let the brain-freeze party begin!

Tips for: making dairy-free frozen treats

How to pick the right milk for Dairy-Free Ice Cream via @kingarthurflourPicking a base

When you’re choosing which plant-based milk to use when you make your dairy-free frozen treats, there’s isn’t a “best choice.” Really, it’s up to you; but do keep in mind that different milks will have varying effects on the end product. Here are some milks to choose from:

  • Full-fat coconut milk
  • Almond milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Rice milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Soy milk

You can decide by flavor, but also think about texture. If you want a frozen treat that’s ultra-creamy, silky smooth, and fairly decadent, then choosing a milk with a higher fat content – like full-fat coconut milk – is your best bet.

Since fat freezes at a different rate than water, using a higher-fat milk will result in a creamier, less icy frozen treat. But at the same time, these treats will be quite rich and also high in fat and calories, so consider that as well.

My preference is to combine a high-fat milk with a lower-fat option. I find the texture just how I like it, and the result is a bit on the lighter side. I like to use a blend of coconut milk and either almond, cashew, or hemp milk as my base (mainly because I like the taste of these milks the best).

What sugar to use in Dairy-Free Ice Cream via @kingarthurflourChoosing a sweetener

Next up is picking your sweetener. As with any ice cream, you have lots of options. You can go with a granulated sweetener like cane sugar or coconut/palm sugar. Or you can opt for a liquid sweetener like honey, maple syrup, or agave. Both are great options; again, it just depends on what you prefer.

If you’re opting for granulated sugar, just note that you’ll need to dissolve the sugar in the base before churning it, which means you’ll also have to chill the base for longer before being able to make your ice cream. I’ve tested both ways and like them both, but I tend to opt for maple syrup as my sweetener of choice because, hey, I’m a Vermont girl and any excuse to eat maple syrup is a win in my book.

Also, while I haven’t tested this myself, I do think that you could use stevia as a sweetener. I’d start with 1/2 teaspoon and increase it by 1/8 teaspoon until you find your desired sweetness level.

How to make creamy Dairy-Free Ice Cream via @kingarthurflour

Eggs vs. no eggs

This is a common question I’m asked when talking about making dairy-freefrozen treats at home: do we add eggs or not? The answer is… it depends.

When you’re using eggs in your ice cream, you’re essentially just making a custard base which you then churn and freeze. Custards are usually on the thicker side, and have a very creamy, smooth texture.

Egg yolks are primarily fat and protein, and help keep the ice cream smooth (similar to the higher-fat milks). Egg yolks also act as an emulsifier: The proteins in the yolk bind with water and fat molecules in the milk, which results in a more stable and creamy end product. Basically, the ice cream will melt more slowly.

So again, as we did with our milk bases, the dilemma of adding or not adding eggs comes down to texture and personal preference. My best tip is to first use eggs when you’re not using high-fat milks. So if you’re making a frozen treat that’s just soy milk, to get that rich, creamy texture you’re going to want egg yolks in the mix. If you’re making yourfrozen treat with coconut milk (or even cashew cream) as the base, then you probably don’t need the eggs.

And then experiment and find what you like best.

Xanthan Gum from King Arthur Flour

Adding a thickener

While not a required step in the dairy-free frozen treat making process, adding a thickener can help make it more creamy and help reduce the amount of ice crystals that form during the freezing process, especially if you’re not using egg yolks. Even with the higher-fat ice creams using coconut milk that you see at the store, you’ll often find a thickener on the ingredients list because it helps give the ice cream wonderful creamy texture.

Common thickener options include:

Since I’m not using eggs in the recipes in this post, I’ll be adding 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum to each batch of frozen treats.

How to make Dairy-Free Chocolate Ice Cream via @kingarthurflourFlavor options

OK… now the fun part: the flavors! Making frozen treats in tons of different flavors is definitely my favorite part of doing it at home. I can play around with all types of ingredients and find the combination I like most.

Here’s how to make the most common flavors:

  • Vanilla: Blend the seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod OR 2 to 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract into the base before churning.
  • Chocolate: Blend 1/4 to 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder into the base before churning. The more cocoa powder, the darker chocolate the result will be.
  • Coffee: Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee/espresso OR a few teaspoons of instant coffee/espresso powder to the base mixture before churning.
  • Strawberry: Macerate the berries in lemon juice and sugar for 10 to 15 minutes, then blend them into a purée and add them to the base mixture before churning.
  • Mint: Either add 1 to 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract OR blend 1 bunch of fresh mint with a bit of the milk (or water) and add that to the base mixture before churning.

I’m sure you’re starting to notice a theme here. When flavoring the base of your frozen treats, do it before you begin churning. You want to be sure the ice cream base is completely smooth before churning. Check out the image above to see this process in action!

How to make Dairy-Free Ice Cream via @kingarthurflour

Adding extra goodies

Another fun part of making ice cream at home is adding your favorite goodies. Whether you’re a fan of chocolate chips, cookie dough, white chocolate, or any other delicious add-ins, jazzing up ice cream is super easy; same with your dairy-free frozen treats.

Just pick your favorite extras, and add them to your ice cream maker when it’s got about 5 minutes left of churning. You want the base to still be somewhat soft, so all the ingredients are evenly mixed throughout; but not so soft that they fall to the bottom. I like to add any extras when the mixture is the texture of soft serve.

Check out the image above to see the different stages that the frozen treats will go through. I’m adding our delicious chocolate sprinkles to a coffee flavored ice cream!

Perfect Dairy-Free Ice Cream via @kingarthurflour

Dairy-free frozen treats recipes

And now for the recipe! The great thing about dairy-free frozen treats is the base is pretty much the same for each recipe. Head on over to our Dairy-Free Frozen Coconut Milk Treats where we’ll show you the base and give you a few tasty variations for you to try, including this dark chocolate and java chip!

Print just the recipe.

Alyssa Rimmer
About

Alyssa grew up in Vermont, attended the University of Vermont and now lives in New York City, where she bakes and writes recipes for her blog Simply Quinoa. She's been living gluten-free for over four years. Alyssa also authors her own food blog and enjoys ...

comments

  1. Avery Roblow

    Lightly coat the outside of the grater plate with cooking spray so the food glides more easily (this also makes cleanup easier). When you reach the end of a piece of hard cheese, put it in your palm and rub your hand flat against the grater to prevent knuckle scrapes.

    Reply
  2. Susan Stone

    These tips are very helpful. Can you show a recipe that uses eggs and a lower fat non- dairy ‘milk’? How many eggs are added to the basic recipe and when are they added?. Does adding the eggs change the amount of liquid?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hello Susan! It sounds like you’re looking for an entirely different recipe rather than making tweaks to this one, and we can definitely help with that. While we don’t have a recipe for a non-dairy ice cream that includes eggs, we encourage you to experiment with one of our regular ice cream recipes, such as Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, and replace the milk and cream with canned coconut cream. You’ll have to let us know how it turns out! Annabelle@KAF

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *