November 28, 2022

– by zedek

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What Is In Vegan Ice Cream? It’s Surprisingly Simple.

Making ice cream is quite a simple process that can be broken down into the process of mixing milk, cream and sugar, then simply churning and freezing.

The creation of plant-based ice cream does not stray far from the general process stated above, however, it is important to note that ice cream and vegan ice creams are made in many different ways, and so this article will just be exploring a few, lets dive in!

What Is In Vegan Ice Cream?

Vegan Ice cream is a frozen dessert, made by churning and freezing plant based milk, flavourings, and some times thickeners. The specific ingredients used in each vegan ice cream varies widely, but a general recipe would include, coconut milk or pea milk, coconut cream, corn flour, caster sugar and vanilla.


1) A Non-Dairy Milk Is Selected

The most common way ice cream is made is simply milk, cream and sugar. This produces what is often called a “custard”. However, for us vegans, consuming food that has any animal products in them is a big no-no. Therefore finding a way to consume ice cream is, of course, a top priority!

All jokes aside, the amazing thing about ice cream is how easy it is made irrespective of the different methods and ingredients that are out there, for example, plant-based ice cream can be made using:

  1. Soy milk
  2. Nut Milk (like almond and cashew)
  3. Coconut milk
  4. Oat milk
  5. Hemp milk

And many more, this is because all of these plants have similar properties to cow milk when crushed and boiled into a liquid. These milk alternatives are the foundations that kick off the plant-based ice cream creation process, and the base you choose, whether it be soy milk or something else, will determine the consistency and flavour of the ice cream.

If you would like more information on how plant-based milk is made this article will have you up to speed. Plant-Based Milk: Not Your Average Beverage.

Note: The creamiest and most dairy-like equivalent for ice cream is often said to be pea protein milk, but many different types of plant-based milk are used all over the vegan ice cream industry.

2) Selecting A Thickener (Optional)

Once an alternative to dairy has been selected, usually some kind of thickener is mixed in to manage the consistency and stability of the ice cream. In many cases, an additive like Xantham gum is used, although you can find a few companies like Mr. Deweys who create all-natural vegan ice cream with no additives, so it is definitely possible to make vegan ice creams with no thickeners.

A mixture of tapioca flour, sugar and coconut oil can be whipped together to sweeten, stabilise and thicken the ice cream, it will then be mixed in with the plant-based milk on low heat till it thickens to the desired level.

If you are looking to create stable and solid ice cream then these are some vegan thickeners you can use.

  • Chia Seeds
  • Coconut Flour
  • Oats
  • Corn Flour
  • Tapioca Starch

On medium-low heat, the mixture is poured in with the plant-based milk and continually stirred till it starts to thicken, at which point the heat will be turned off and the “custard” will be transferred into a mixing bowl and cooled.

3) Choosing the desired flavour

Now that you’ve prepared and cooled the essential ingredients in your ice cream the next step is choosing the desired flavours and levels of sweetness. At this stage, you can experiment and throw in different flavours such as mango and passionfruit.

Vegan sweeteners include:

  • Dates
  • Caster Sugar
  • Syrup
  • Vanilla extract
  • Vegan Condensed Milk

4) Making The Ice Cream Solid

Once the ice cream has been cooled and flavoured, it is usually churned by an ice cream machine, this turns the liquid “custard” you made into frozen ice cream through a process of chilling and churning. The alternative method for people who don’t have ice cream makers is to store the mixture in a refrigerator for 24 hours, then beat the mixture again.

Is Vegan Ice Cream Bad For Your Health?

There may be health advantages to choosing plant-based ice cream over ones made with milk and cream. Most notably, they have no cholesterol and contain less saturated fat than the non-vegan alternative.

Consuming ice cream occasionally should generally be okay but it’s good to know what’s going on behind the foods we eat. Conventional ice cream is made using dairy which is high in LDL cholesterol, this type of cholesterol is not necessarily bad, but when there’s too much it sticks to the walls of your arteries leading to possible health complications.

If the ice cream also contains a lot of sugar, the truth is that they’re even worse for your health. Vegan ice cream is not free of this fault either, as many brands are forced to use large amounts of sugar to keep you coming back! It is extremely well-known today the damaging effects high concentrations of sugar can have on your health, so it’s smart to enjoy ice creams only on certain occasions.

So, if you are looking to enjoy a frozen treat that happens to be cholesterol-free and often lower in saturated fat, having vegan ice cream once in a while should be fine.

Honestly not many brands can claim to be a healthy ice cream option, as it is common practice to use many different artificial flavourings, sweeteners, stabilisers and additives in frozen treats. This is done with mostly good intentions in mind, but it is still rather damaging to our bodies. However, there are a few hidden gems that provide quality natural vegan ice cream.

Are Sorbets Healthy Alternatives?

Sorbets are popular frozen treats, created by combining fruit juice with sweetened water. Lemon, grapefruit, and berry blends are some of the most well-known sour flavours, but many people also enjoy mango, banana and even passionfruit-flavoured frozen treats.

Understandably, many people do not consider this type of frozen dessert to be ice cream, but sorbets are generally healthier and easier to make than ice creams, so they’re worth having on your radar if you are health concerned.

Enjoying frozen pureed berries is definitely an interesting way to get your daily intake of vitamin c, but it certainly is a refreshing way.

Since sorbets are essentially just fruit and sugar, the healthiness of this treat is a couple of notches above vegan ice cream. It’s unlikely that you’ll find any saturated fats or

Top Vegan Ice Creams And What They Use

As discussed earlier in this blog, vegan ice cream can be made in a myriad of ways. If you’re looking for a broad overview of what the big guys are using, have a read of this table.

Options were selected by conducting primary research on various online forums to find the most liked Vegan Ice cream.

If you’re on mobile, turn your phone landscape to view the table!

Ice Cream NameGeneral IngredientsPrice & Picture
Ben & Jerry’s Vegan Cookie DoughWater, sugar, coconut, soybean and rapeseed oils, corn starch, pea protein, whole wheat flour,- Stabilisers –  tapioca flour, guar gum, vanilla extract
So Delicious Cashew Milk Vanilla Ice CreamCashewmilk (Filtered Water, Cashews), Cane Sugar, Organic Coconut Oil, Tapioca Syrup, Pea Protein, Sea Salt, Guar Gum, Vanilla Extract, Locust Bean Gum.
Oatly Salted Caramel Ice Cream.Water, Oats, Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Dextrose, Coconut and Rapeseed Oil, Coconut Oil, Tapioca Starch, Natural Flavour, Emulsifiers, Salt, Stabilisers (Locust Bean Gum, Guar Gum), Colour (Beta Carotene), 10% Salted Caramel Sauce
Brave Robot Buttery Pecanwater, sugar, coconut oil, corn syrup, sunflower oil, pecans, non-animal whey protein,  2% maltodextrin, cornstarch, palm oil, calcium potassium phosphate citrate, salt, disodium phosphate, molasses, sea salt, carob bean gum, mono and diglycerides, caramel colour, soy lecithin, carrageenan, malt extract.
Nadamoo Cookies & CrèmeOrganic coconut milk, water, organic agave syrup, organic inulin, organic tapioca syrup, sugar, cocoa powder, rice flour, tapioca starch, arrowroot powder, non-GMO canola oil, coconut oil, sorghum flour, xanthan gum, vanilla extract, organic guar gum, sea salt, organic locust bean gum.

Wrap Up

If you survey the table above you’ll notice a lot of recurring ingredients, most notably coconut oil and tapioca flour. If you are interested in creating your own vegan ice creams there are many great recipe guides out there such as Gaz Oakleys recipe guide. Hopefully, you now understand how vegan ice cream is made, what ingredients you can use and what some of the top-rated brands are using.

Thanks for stopping by ADPB!

Let me know what you think about this article. Leave your thoughts & comments down below, hope you enjoyed it!

8 Comments

  1. pasindu dimanka September 28, 2022 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    Thanks a lot for this valuable and detailed post about Vegan Ice Cream. This is actually a very interesting post. I like to eat ice cream. But I haven’t eaten vegan ice cream. I will definitely try this. You have explained it very clearly. Keep posting like this. I will definitely share this.

  2. Alice September 28, 2022 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    I love ice cream! I mean, who doesn’t? But since I am health-conscious, I prefer a healthier alternative. I am not really sure about the non-dairy ice cream flavors that are sold on the market. They may be labeled “vegan” ice cream but I am not sure they really are.

    I did try Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice cream one time and it tasted really good that I wondered if it was really vegan, lol.

    But since I enjoy making my own homemade ice cream when I’m off-duty, I might as well make a healthier version and share it with my roommate and colleague. Thus, I need a recipe. What’s my “go-to” for a healthy ice cream recipe if not a vegan site? ☺ 

    And waa-laa, here I am on your site and I am so excited to try your vegan ice cream recipe. 

    Hmmm, let’s see … 

    For the non-dairy milk, I would use soy milk or coconut milk, and for the thickener. I think tapioca starch is perfect with vanilla flavor. 

    Thank you, Zedek, for sharing your healthy ice cream recipe. I will definitely come back o check out your other vegan recipes.

    • Zedek Boateng September 29, 2022 at 2:49 pm - Reply

      Same here! I do enjoy a nice ice cream but since I am health conscious, I’ve been steering away from them the last couple of months, since it’s cold over here in London I probably won’t be making ice cream anytime soon, but as soon as summer hits I’m definitely going to be making some of my own healthy vegan ice creams.

  3. Daniella September 28, 2022 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Hi there,

    Thank you for sharing this helpful article. I am just getting started with Vegan, and as I love ice cream, I was wondering if there was such a thing as Vegan ice cream. Your article provided me with all the information I was looking for. I’ll definitely check the Vegan ice cream recipes through the link you shared at the end of the post. Just a question, please. Do you know if there are sugar-free Vegan ice creams? I stopped eating sugar:) 

    Thanks a lot!

  4. Jenny Hennig September 28, 2022 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing how Vegan ice cream is made.  Although I’m not Vegan, I do avoid dairy products and look for alternatives.  That includes alternatives to traditional ice cream.

    I must say there are some really great options out there!  I have tried a few Vegan ice creams, including Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough and So Delicious Vanilla Ice Cream, I was pleasantly surprised by how good they tasted!  Anyone wanting a lower fat and healthier alternative to real ice cream should give the vegan ice cream a try! 

    • Zedek Boateng November 1, 2022 at 10:39 am - Reply

      I use to LOVE ben and jerrys vegan ice cream, it taste amazing, just like the ordinary one!

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