Start to Finish: 60 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

If you’re lactose intolerant or avoiding dairy altogether, you don’t have to give up ice cream. A milk-free version is simple to make and delicious to eat. Canned coconut milk adds richness and a creamy mouthfeel. Stick to classic vanilla or mix in fruit, chocolate or nuts for variety.


  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups vanilla almond-coconut milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


In a large pot over low to medium heat, stir together the coconut milk, almond-coconut milk, egg yolk and sugar.

Stir constantly until the mixture thickens — do not allow it to boil, or you’ll curdle the eggs. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Transfer to bowl set over an ice bath for quick chilling — about 30 minutes — or place the bowl in the refrigerator to cool for several hours.

Pour the chilled base into an ice-cream maker and process according to manufacturer instructions.

Serve immediately for a soft serve-like version. Alternatively, freeze until you’re ready to serve. Let it sit out for 10 to 15 minutes before scooping.

Flavor Varieties

For chocolate ice cream, add 1/3 cup of cocoa powder and increase the sugar to 3/4 cup. You could also puree fresh or frozen fruit, such as mangoes or strawberries, and add to the base while it cooks to create a fruit-flavored ice cream. Vary the flavor of the extract — options include peppermint, almond or coconut — to create a different flavor. Since flavored extracts’ flavors can be quite intense, add just a teaspoon at first; taste and add more if needed. You could also add mix-ins to the ice cream while it’s in the soft serve stage. Chopped nuts, such as almonds or pecans, and chocolate chips are tasty options.

Recipe Considerations

Although this is vanilla ice cream, it does have a distinct coconut flavor due to the coconut milk. Do not attempt to substitute light coconut milk for the full-fat canned milk to save calories and fat. The mixture will be too thin and not form a proper ice cream texture.