This creamy, dreamy, basically mind-blowing ice cream is vegan. It only requires three ingredients (four if you insist on counting the salt) and no cooking. I wouldn't believe it myself if I had been there for the failed recipes that finally led to this triumphant one.
All ice creams require a correct ratio of fat to liquid in order to freeze into tiny crystals that are still soft, pliable, and, most importantly, creamy. Many vegan ice creams use coconut milk to add fat and flavor to non-dairy milks to achieve that creamy result. Here, cashew butter turns the non-dairy milk of your choice into a rich, buttery ice cream. Sweetened with maple syrup to keep it vegan, the resulting ice cream tastes like cashew meets caramel in one smooth, cooling scoop. Here's how to make this cashew ice cream at home.
The Down Low on Vegan Cashew Cream Ice Cream
Many failed attempts at turning cashew cream into ice cream and an attempt at turning almond butter into almond milk led to this ice cream. While cashew cream made a thick, almost pudding-like custard ice cream straight from the ice cream maker, it became hard and brittle in the freezer.
Cashew butter is different. As it turns out, finely processed cashew butter acts as a fat and stabilizer when blended with non-dairy milk. When this combination is churned and frozen, you get a rich and creamy frozen treat.
Make no mistake — the flavor is decidedly nut-forward, although the maple syrup gives it a caramel sweetness. If you're looking for a new way to make vegan ice cream (especially without having to use coconut milk), here's what you need to know.
- The best cashew butter for ice cream.
- Which non-dairy milk to use.
- Why we use maple syrup for sweetening (hint: it's vegan).
Buy Smooth, Unsweetened Cashew Butter for Ice Cream
Many cashew cream lovers swear by raw cashew butter, but it is very expensive for the volume you'll need for this ice cream. Instead look for smooth, unsweetened salted cashew butter for this recipe.
Can I use other nut butters?
This ratio hasn't been tested with other nut butters, but as long as you stick with smooth, unsweetened nut butter without other oils, the ratio should work as written.
Use Almost Any Non-Dairy Milk
Although I consider canned coconut milk a non-dairy milk, its richness would throw off the texture of the finished ice cream here. Instead opt for cashew, almond, rice, or soy milk. Make sure the milk is unsweetened.
Maple Syrup, a Vegan Sweetener and Ice Crystal Inhibitor
Most ice cream bases are sweetened with granulated sugar because it's inexpensive and has a fine grain that easily dissolves into the creamy base. While some vegan eaters are fine with granulated or cane sugar as a sweetener, many do not consider it vegan, as bone char is often used to process the sugar. Instead, reach for maple syrup, which brings a ton of flavor to the finished ice cream and whose texture contributes to a creamy finished ice cream.
How To Make Vegan Cashew Ice Cream
What You Need
16 ounces smooth unsweetened cashew butter (not raw)
2 cups unsweetened cashew, almond, or soy milk
3/4 cup maple syrup
Pinch of salt
Ice cream maker
Measuring cups and spoons
Wax paper, parchment paper, or plastic wrap
- Chill the ice cream bowl, if needed. If your ice cream machine has a bowl that needs to be frozen before churning, put it in the freezer the night before you plan to make ice cream. Unlike other ice cream bases that can chill overnight, you'll want to make this base the same day you plan to churn it.
- Blend the ingredients base. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, about 3 minutes.
- Churn the ice cream base. Transfer the ice cream base to the bowl of your ice cream machine. Churn until the base has thickened to a consistency somewhere between a very thick milkshake and soft-serve ice cream. In most ice cream makers, this takes about 20 minutes — check the instructions for your particular machine.
Freeze until hardened, about 4 hours. Transfer the thickened ice cream to a freezer container. Press a piece of wax paper, parchment paper, or plastic wrap against the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming and freeze until solid before serving, at least 4 hours.
- Storage: The ice cream will keep in the freezer for about 2 weeks before becoming icy.