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No Churn Dairy Free Ice Cream

No Churn Dairy Free Ice Cream

Smooth and creamy dairy free ice cream made from coconut milk, sugar, and just a touch of powdered gelatin. That’s the secret ingredient that makes it perfect—even though it’s no churn.

Smooth and creamy dairy free ice cream made from coconut milk, sugar, and just a touch of powdered gelatin. That's the secret ingredient that makes it perfect—even though it's no churn!

I love to make homemade ice cream, and mostly without the ice cream machine that I own but never really use. But until this recipe, it was all dairy-full. Since I know some of you are dairy free, I put my nose to the grindstone and finally, at great long last, I present: Gluten Free Dairy Free Ice Cream with no machine! Plus—no mixing it every 30 minutes or something (how is that fun?). And it’s still smooth & creamy & scoop-able.

Smooth and creamy dairy free ice cream made from coconut milk, sugar, and just a touch of powdered gelatin. That's the secret ingredient that makes it perfect—even though it's no churn!

Even though you only see two ingredients shown here, it says “3 ingredients” right there in the photo. There are, indeed, 3 essential ingredients. There are 2 more optional ingredients in the recipe below, but they are truly optional. Oh, and yes, it does taste faintly of coconut. It’s made almost entirely of coconut milk, made this way and that way, silly!

Smooth and creamy dairy free ice cream made from coconut milk, sugar, and just a touch of powdered gelatin. That's the secret ingredient that makes it perfect—even though it's no churn!

I tried this recipe 5 times and failed and failed and failed, sadly, every single time. And until you freeze the ice cream, you can’t really be sure that it’s a fail. That made this a rather time-consuming project of mine. Of course I could have just used the ice cream machine, but that is just.no.fun. Anyway, apparently the sixth time is the charm! As soon as I mixed up the final goods that you see here, even before it was frozen, I knew. Like you know success when you’ve already failed miserably 5 separate times over the course of 3 months. I knew.

This may have indeed become my true love favorite gluten free ice cream. So whether you can have dairy or not, this smooth and creamy homemade ice cream is going to become a family favorite. Oh, and please do add the gelatin. If you omit it, the ice cream really doesn’t scoop and it is icy as can be. Take my word for it. You can replace the gelatin with some gluten free potato vodka, but it just won’t be as creamy—and then it becomes an adults-only treat.

Smooth and creamy dairy free ice cream made from coconut milk, sugar, and just a touch of powdered gelatin. That's the secret ingredient that makes it perfect—even though it's no churn!
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Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 1/2 quarts ice cream

Ingredients

3 cans (14 fluid ounces each) coconut milk, 2 of the 3 refrigerated for at least 24 hours*

3/4 cup (150 g) sugar

1 teaspoon (3 g) unflavored powdered gelatin**

3 ounces dairy-free chocolate chips (optional)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

*You must use full-fat coconut milk. Thai Kitchen brand coconut milk and Whole Foods 365 brand coconut milk both work well consistently for this application. So Delicious brand “Culinary Coconut Milk” also works great for the coconut cream portion.

**The gelatin is what keeps the ice cream from being too, well, icy. You can substitute 1 tablespoon of gluten free vodka for a similar result, but then it becomes an adults-only treat (and the vodka doesn’t work quite as well).

Directions

  • In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the entire contents of the 1 room-temperature can of coconut milk and the sugar, and whisk to combine well. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent it from splattering, until it is reduced at least by half and begins to thicken (about 10 minutes). This is now your dairy free sweetened condensed coconut milk. Remove from the heat and set it aside to allow to cool completely.

  • Remove the remaining two cans of coconut milk carefully from the refrigerator, without shaking them at all. The solid should have separated from the liquid while it was chilling, and you don’t want to reintegrate them. Remove the lids from the cans, scoop out only the solid white coconut (discarding or reserving for another use all of the liquid), and place it in a large bowl. With a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), whip the coconut on high speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy and nearly doubled in volume. The coconut cream must be chilled for it to whip. Place the whipped coconut cream in the refrigerator.

  • Place the gelatin in a small bowl, and mix well with 2 tablespoons of the sweetened condensed coconut milk from the first step. Allow to sit for 5 minutes while the gelatin dissolves. Microwave the mixture on 70% power for 15 seconds to liquify the gelatin, and then add the mixture to the rest of the cooled sweetened condensed coconut milk.

  • Remove the coconut whipped cream from the refrigerator and add the sweetened condensed coconut milk mixture and optional vanilla to it. Whip once more until light and creamy, and well-combined (about one minute more). Fold in the optional chocolate chips, and scrape the mixture into a 2 quart freezer-safe container. Cover tightly and freeze until firm (about 6 hours). Serve cold. If it is difficult to scoop, allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before scooping and serving with a warm ice cream scoop.

  • Recipe originally published in 2013. Photos updated, method updated slightly, recipe otherwise unchanged. 

Love,
Nicole

  • Jennifer Sasse

    We are not dairy free either but sometimes, you just like some alternatives, ya know? Thank you for being so overly accommodating for all of your blog readers! That is why we love you!!!!

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      Thanks, Jennifer! I do know what you mean about alternatives. If nothing else, it’s a nice challenge for me! ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Donia Robinson

    Oh yes, this recipe definitely makes me like you! ;) I was pining after all of those ice creams you made. I find DF ice creams (like anything) can be hit or miss. Some have so much gum in them that they taste like – wait for it – gum. And some DF ice creams I’ve made WITH a machine tasted good as “soft serve”, but got rock hard and icy in the freezer. Thanks for this recipe!

    Oh, and might suggest you do not discard the coconut water! (Hello, shoestring!) It’s still got some good nutrition going for it. You could freeze it into ice cubes and put it in a smoothie, or use it in a recipe that wasn’t picky about its liquid. Personally, it goes in my smoothie!

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      Oh I don’t actually discard the coconut water. I use it rice, in smoothies, in all sorts of things. Just trying to keep the directions simple, Donia. :) And I really think you’re going to love this DF ice cream!
      xoxo Nicole

      • Donia Robinson

        I should have known better than to think you would discard it. ;)

  • Cass

    Holy buckets…you are amazing!! I can’t wait to try this recipe out!

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      Thanks, Cass!

  • nini2033a

    looks great, no problem with the gelatin here,,,, but do you think it would work with stevia instead of sugar? got a diabetic in the family….
    Or does the sugar do something specific like thickening that the stevia would not accomplish?

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      Hi nini, I’m afraid it would be very ice without the sugar. Sugar does not freeze, so it helps keep the ice cream from becoming icy. I don’t think that Stevia will do the same, although I confess I don’t know for sure. Sorry!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Autumn

    Wow! The world needs you. I need you! Thank you.

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      Aw, shucks, Autumn. Thank you for the kind words! And you’re very welcome. I need you right back. :)
      xoxo Nicole

    • http://www.melskitchencafe.com/ Mel

      Amen to this! I love how truly tested your recipes are, Nicole. There’s never any chance you’re going to post it unless it’s perfect, and I think all the additional notes in the recipe (why you use the gelatin, of course it’s going to taste a bit like coconut, etc) are tremendously helpful. I’ve tried the no-churn ice cream trend a few times but have been less than pleased with the results (and am like you, never want to pull out my danged ice cream maker) so I’m excited to give this version a try. Maybe the coconut milk (and gelatin) will do the trick.

  • Anna

    Any chance I could use Agar Agar instead of gelatin?I love that it is dairy free but can I make it fully vegan?

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      I don’t have much experience with agar agar, Anna. Feel free to experiment!

  • Karen

    Just wanted to let you know we’ve tried the vanilla ice cream (very good, a tad sweet) and today I made the chocolate, with the following modifications:

    I didn’t want to have to store 4 oz of leftover condensed milk, so I used the whole can.

    I bought unsweetened chocolate rather than semisweet, since I planned to use the entire can of milk, and when I got home I realized one box is 4 oz, not 5, but it worked well. I think it turned out even better than the vanilla–less sweet because of the chocolate and cocoa!

    Next I’m going to try to figure out how to make a coffee version; I adore coffee ice cream!

  • Cori

    I love you. Thank you!

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      Love you, too, Cori! ;)
      xoxo Nicole
      P.S. You’re welcome.

      • Mare Masterson

        Nicole, Oh my God I was just telling a friend on Friday whose honey is lactose intolerant that I wanted to figure out how to make my own coconut milk ice cream because I absolutely love it, and here’s your post only a few days later! Are you clairvoyant? You truly are a gift to us!

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      Love you, too, Cori! ;)
      xoxo Nicole
      P.S. You’re welcome.

  • Sam

    Okay I’m stuck. I have been trying to get coconut milk to separate for a week now–I tried a few weeks ago thinking your semi-freddo might be great with coconut whipped cream–but after 24 hours the coconut milk hadn’t separated. So when I saw your FB feed about this upcoming recipe last weekend, I put cans of coconut milk in the fridge in anticipation. But it’s been four days and the can hasn’t separated? Does putting it in the freezer work? How can I get it to separate?

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      Hi, Sam! So frustrating, right? It’s probably the brand of coconut milk that you are buying (assuming it is, in fact, full fat canned coconut milk). That’s why I mentioned the brands that I like in the recipe (Whole Foods 365 brand and Thai Kitchen brand), since they always separate (or they always have, for me). Don’t put it in the freezer! Just try another brand.
      xoxo Nicole

      • Donia Robinson

        I find Native Forest almost always works. Frankly, it even separates at room temperature a lot of times!

  • Crystal

    Have a few GFDF kids here doing the happy dance! Thank you!

  • Mare Masterson

    Nicole, Oh my God I was just telling a friend on Friday whose honey is lactose intolerant that I wanted to figure out how to make my own coconut milk ice cream because I absolutely love it, and here’s your post only a few days later! Are you clairvoyant? You truly are a gift to us!

  • Veronica Marth

    I found cans of coconut cream at Walmart. How many ounces of cream do you get from each can of coconut milk?
    By the way, your recipes have given me the confidence to bake again. For about two years after my husband found out he had celiac disease most of my recipes failed. I have been baking with your recipes for over six months now and am even modifying some of the recipes I grew up with to make them gluten and dairy free. Thank you for your cookbooks and blog.

  • Richard A Schmitt

    Amazing! I should have mentioned in on your other 3-Ingredient Ice Cream Recipe that I converted that recipe by using the Coconut Milks! Came out perfect, just didn’t use the Gelatin and use 2 cans for the Sweetened Condensed Milks and 1 for Heavy Whipping Cream. Going to try your version for sure now!

  • Catherine in Portsmouth, NH

    Nicole, We haven recently gone dairy-free at my house and I am very, very excited about this recipe. My spouse came home from Trader Joe’s with 9 oz. cans of “coconut cream” (“Ayam” brand; ingredients: 100% coconut kernel extract). I’m hoping that perhaps there’s just less in the way of liquid in these, and so will be able to use them, but that leaves me with the same question as Veronica, below, to wit: do you happen to know how many ounces of the cream you end up using?

    See that? You go the extra mile and create this astounding recipe, and then you get asked for more, more, more help!
    Gratefully reading you all these years, and still baking 4 loaves of that yummy Tom’s bread per week because I don’t feel like bothering with separating eggs all the time,
    Catherine

    • Nettie

      Nicole is Tom’s bread a recipe of yours? I couldn’t find it under breads on this site.

    • Kay Dorman Berk

      What is Tom’s bread?

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  • http://www.dogpatchpix.com Susan Gertz

    Have you ever tried with coconut sugar instead of cane sugar?

    • Mandy Renfro

      I also need a non-refined sugar option. Have you tried the coconut sugar version yet?

  • Shelley Allen

    Can’t wait to try this recipe as the warm weather is approaching ☺ but what can I do with the gelatin if I don’t have a microwave?

    • youngbaker2002

      I was wondering the same, Shelly.

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      You can simply melt it over very low heat in a small saucepan, Shelley.

  • Wanda Kornosky Buchanan

    Both my son and I are allergic to nuts so coconut milk is not an option for us. Unfortunately many gluten free receipes use some form of coconut As a replacement. Any ideas?

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      Coconut is neither a peanut or a tree nut, Wanda. If you still can’t have a coconut because of a separate allergy, I’m afraid you simply can’t make this recipe. It only has 3 ingredients, and relies heavily upon coconut cream.

      • Wanda Kornosky Buchanan

        Lol thank you Nicole. This is a new diagnosis for the both of us. I will be OK for the ice cream but my son will not as he has a separate coconut allergy. We both have epi pens so I can’t be too careful. I appreciate your help and enjoy your recipes very much!!!

  • Heather Owens simelaro

    I have 8 different brands I can get, but there are about 5 different amounts of fat (even if you make the serving sizes all the same). I like getting high fat coconut milk, but what was the amount of fat per size of serving that you used? I imagine too low or too high would really affect the recipe.
    Thanks!

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      I would focus on the brands I refer to in the recipe, Heather. Good luck!

  • karen_303

    regarding separating the coconut milk – can you carefully pour off the coconut water or use a baster to suction it out? or is the coconut cream very thick? always try to figure this out so i am floundering with the recipe. thanks – looks fantastic!

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      Hi, Karen, the solid separates completely from the liquid, so you can essentially just lift or scoop out the solid. The liquid can be discarded or used for another use, like making a smoothie.

  • Jeanne Hasty

    I tried this over the weekend, I was not able to get the coconut cream to whip as yours did. I used Thai Kitchen brand, whole fat. After being in the refrigerator a few days, the solids came out of the can in a chunk. I used a hand mixer, any thoughts?

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      Did you use only the solid coconut cream, Jeanne, as directed in the recipe? If you included the liquid, that’s certainly the issue. If the solid separated and you used just that, the only reason I can think that it wouldn’t whip would be if you allowed it to become warm before whipping it. I have made whipped coconut cream with both a hand mixer and a stand mixer. Both work fine.

      • Jeanne Hasty

        Thank you for the tips, next time I’ll try popping it back in the refrigerator after separating. It may have gotten to warm. I enjoy your blog and have had great success with your recipes! :)

  • Michelle

    Hi Nicole – I love the blog. Seriously LOVE! Every single recipe comes out perfectly every single time! I am in Europe and can get Thai Kitchen coconut milk, but I’m just wondering about the conversion. When you say 14 oz can, you’re referring to weight? I can get them in 250ml and 500ml cartons. Might you have a weight/fluid conversion handy? Thanks :)

    • Kathleen Harrison

      Michelle, 14 fluid ounces is approximately 400mls

      • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

        Thanks, Kathleen! It is, indeed, fluid ounces. I will update the recipe to clarify!

  • Paige

    By George! You’ve done it again!! This ice cream is smooth and creamy even after 24 hours in the freezer. No more icy chunks. Thanks so much for this delicious and easy recipe. My family loves it. Three cheers for Nicole!!

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      Hip hip hooray, Paige!! 🎉

  • Jessica Barnum

    What brand of gelatin would you recommend?

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole Hunn

      Hi, Jessica. I recommend Great Lakes Brand unflavored beef gelatin. It’s the one in the red can. I’m working on a “shop” for the blog where I’ll have links to all of my favorite products, including an explanation of why I love them. For now, here’s a link to the gelatin on amazon. It’s an affiliate link, but if you don’t want to use that, you can just do a search. It lasts a long, long time, and doesn’t go bad.

  • Kathleen Harrison

    Michelle, 14 fluid ounces is approximately 400mls

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