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.
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!
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.
Prep time:Cook time:Yield:1 1/2 quarts ice cream
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).
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.