Sure, buying ice cream is cool and everything. But what’s even cooler is making your very own.
What brings you here? Are you feeling a burst of creativity? Have you reached a new level of boredom? Or are you simply a vegan ice cream enthusiast looking to take this passion to a new, homemade level?
Winter may not be ice cream’s most popular season, but true ice cream lovers know that this is just a big misunderstanding—it’s always a good time to eat ice cream. Winter is actually an especially good time for homemade ice cream because there’s no missing out on time under the sun while you make it (and read articles about how to make it).
Not convinced? Here are three reasons why you definitely should not be discouraged from eating vegan ice cream in the near future (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise):
1) Seasonal flavors bring extra joy. The more, the merrier, and this holiday season offers us no shortage of variety when it comes to seasonal flavors: peppermint, apple pie, candy cane, eggnog, pumpkin spice, gingerbread, and so many more. It’s a winter wonderland of flavors just waiting to be turned into an ice cream creation.
2) Winter desserts aren’t complete without a scoop of ice cream on top. Apple pie, gingerbread, warm brownies, oh my! So many traditional holiday desserts become that much better with a nice, cold, creamy scoop of ice cream on top. Dessert is great, but dessert à la mode? Even better. Or the ice cream can go on the side, of course. To each their own.
3) What better way to soothe a sore throat than with ice cream? Ice cream is a perfect remedy for sore and scratchy throats. It’s cold, meaning it can help numb discomfort and soothe irritation. It also provides calories, containing some calcium and protein, which can help someone who may be having a hard time eating normally. Also, ice cream is just good for the soul.
Are you convinced yet? Probably. So, let’s get into it.
Vegan Ice Cream
We all scream for (vegan) ice cream.
Why Vegan Ice Cream?
Why not? Research from 2019 found that 60% of American consumers are interested in consuming less meat and dairy. And leading the way for this shift towards more plant-based eating is—drumroll, please—ice cream! This is your sign to make homemade vegan ice cream.
On a serious note, there are actually a few reasons why it’s worth considering vegan ice cream over dairy ice cream. We wrote a whole article about it here, but here are some main takeaways:
Environment. Producing vegan ice cream requires substantially less water, less land, and emits way less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional dairy products. A vegan diet may be the easiest, most significant way to reduce your environmental impact.
Animals. Factory farming is one of the cruelest industries to our furry, fluffy, and feathery friends. Each year, billions of animals are subjected to short, brutish lives before they are eventually slaughtered. Buying dairy products directly supports the inhumane practices of the industry itself.
Health. Lactose intolerance is more common than we think; roughly 30 million Americans develop some degree of intolerance by the age of 20. Removing lactose from the diet has also been shown to improve skin condition and digestion.
Now that there can’t possibly be any doubt in your mind that making homemade vegan ice cream is a fantastic idea, let’s get into it for real.
Tips for Homemade Vegan Ice Cream
The decision has been made. You’re getting ready to make some homemade vegan ice cream. Here are our pro tips:
Use the Right Kind of Milk
The type of milk you use will make all the difference. With recipes like vegan ice cream that commonly have very few ingredients, each one counts.
Cashew milk. Cashew milk may be the superior plant-based milk when it comes to ice cream making. Cashews are relatively neutral in their taste, making for a more versatile base compared to more flavorful kinds of milk, such as coconut milk. Also, if you’re going to be making your own nut milk, cashews don’t need to be strained (the way almond milk would need to be). This gives your ice cream some “chew” factor and extra creaminess.
Coconut milk. Coconut milk is one of the most popular when it comes to ice cream making. Its high saturated fat content makes for some of the creamiest ice creams. Keep in mind that with coconut milk, and specifically full-fat coconut milk, the coconut essence will be stronger in your final product. As long as you enjoy the flavor of coconut, carry on!
Almond milk. Almond milk is mostly water, meaning it is much lighter than dairy milk options, but also that it will make ice cream that lacks thickness and richness. Using an almond creamer may seem like the perfect alternative, but most creamers on the market contain thickeners, flavorings, and other artificial additives. Part of the joy of homemade ice cream is ensuring that only wholesome ingredients are going into it, so try to steer clear from long ingredient lists.
There are too many milk alternatives to go over, but you get the idea. Just remember that higher fat content translates into creamier ice cream.
Ice Cream Maker or No Ice Cream Maker?
Most homemade vegan ice cream recipes available online call for an ice cream maker—but not all! An ice cream maker makes the job more comfortable, but it isn’t impossible without one.
The strongest selling points for using a machine is that it requires much less effort and attention on your part, and it helps prevent crunchy crystals and excess air. Unfortunately, ice cream makers can come with a steep price and take up too much counter space to be reasonable for the average household.
A recipe that doesn’t require a machine usually utilizes a metal bowl, blender, and a spatula. It would go something like mixing the base, placing it in the freezer, and taking it out to stir every 15-20 minutes for 2-3 hours. For comparison, a machine can make ice cream in as little as 20 minutes.
Navigating the Mix-Ins
After you’ve mastered—or at least had the first attempt—at making the ice cream base, it’s time for the fun part: adding mix-ins!
Feel free to pull inspiration from your favorite ice cream flavors. Fruit purees, chocolate chips, crushed mint leaves, nuts, and cookie dough are some go-to mix-ins that never fail to impress.
If you’re using an ice cream maker, wait until the last few minutes of churning before adding in the extras. This will prevent the mix-ins from falling to the bottom and gathering in a clump.
Presentation Is Everything
You’ve done it. You’ve made your first batch of homemade vegan ice cream. Now it’s time for the final touches, and as we all know, presentation is everything.
Ice cream in a cone is always a fun option, especially with sugar cones. If you’re following a vegan diet or trying to make this an entirely vegan treat, be sure to read the label to ensure the cones are free from dairy and eggs.
Sprinkles are another fun one that never fails to bring us some good old nostalgia. Most sprinkles are vegan, but again, always check to be sure. Nuts and berries are other classic toppings that are hard to go wrong with. If you’re really feeling like some extra fun, try drizzling peanut butter or maple syrup on top.
Practice Makes Perfect
Honestly, the first few batches you make may not be perfect. But that’s ok: practice makes perfect, remember? Vegan ice cream is one of the relatively healthier treats, so go ahead and eat the less-than-perfect batch—it will still be tasty.
Some of the best advice is, above all else, simply follow the recipe. One more time: follow the recipe. Making ice cream is different from cooking. Seemingly simple modifications can end up ruining the consistency and leaving you with a puddle of, well, something else. Save your creativity for the mix-ins and presentation. Just follow the recipe.
Homemade Vegan Ice Cream
Well, well, well, look who’s picking up a new skill.
Homemade vegan ice cream is the perfect treat for impressing your friends, serving with a warm dessert, or as a healthier option for an after-dinner treat. With an empty container and a bit of freezer space, homemade ice cream is easy to store and keeps for months.
There’s no better time to try making your very own homemade vegan ice cream. By the time summer rolls around, you’ll be a pro!
Try something new and give this shot. What’s the worst that can happen?