Coconut Ice Cream

published Mar 3, 2022
Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

Made up of coconut milk, whole milk, and heavy cream, this ice cream packs both coconut flavor and a smooth texture.


Makesabout 1 quart

Prep15 minutes

Cook8 minutes

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Coconut ice cream on a cone with a hand holding it
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

This creamy coconut ice cream is sweet, tropical, and refreshing. It’s the ultimate warm-weather treat — especially when scooped into a sugar cone and sprinkled with toasted coconut for crunch and extra coconut flavor.

Is Coconut Ice Cream Vegan?

Generally speaking, most ice creams are made up of a combination of whole milk and cream, and sometimes eggs, all of which provide creamy texture. Vegan coconut ice cream relies solely on coconut milk for creaminess, but it can be a little icier and harder to scoop than ice cream made with dairy. This version is made up of a combination of coconut milk, whole milk, and heavy cream for an ice cream that delivers both coconut flavor and smooth texture.

Do I Need Eggs to Make Ice Cream?

Many ice creams involve cooking an egg-rich custard on the stovetop, cooling it, and then freezing it in an ice cream maker. This version is a starch-thickened recipe, following a technique made popular by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. A combination of cornstarch, cream cheese, and corn syrup give you a thick and stretchy texture that melts slowly on the tongue. 

Credit: Meleyna Nomura

How Do I Flavor Coconut Ice Cream?

Coconut milk obviously lends its flavor to the milk base, but a few additional add-ins boost the flavor profile. 

  • Toasted coconut: Toasting some unsweetened coconut and letting it steep in the milk lends a toasty caramel flavor that’s irresistible. You have a bit of freedom with how dark you’d like to toast your coconut. Lightly golden coconut with some untoasted shreds will produce a more subtle ice cream, while a deeper toasted coconut base will bring a lot of roasted notes to your ice cream. Both are supremely delicious.
  • Vanilla: Vanilla extract beautifully highlights coconut’s tropical flavor profile without overpowering it.
  • Cardamom: This is optional, but steeping a couple of cracked cardamom pods with the milk lends a subtle floral note to the ice cream. You can definitely skip this, but if you have it on hand and know you like it, give it a try.

Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

Made up of coconut milk, whole milk, and heavy cream, this ice cream packs both coconut flavor and a smooth texture.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 8 minutes

Makes about 1 quart

Serves 8

Nutritional Info


  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 2 ounces

    cream cheese

  • 2

    green cardamom pods (optional)

  • 1/2 cup

    shredded unsweetened coconut

  • 1 cup

    heavy cream

  • 1 1/4 cups

    whole milk

  • 1 cup

    full-fat canned coconut milk

  • 2/3 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    light corn syrup

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt


  1. If needed, freeze the base of an ice cream maker so that it is ready for churning.

  2. Place 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch in a small bowl. Place 2 ounces cream cheese in a large bowl. If using cardamom, place the flat side of a chef’s knife or the bottom of a pot on 2 green cardamom pods and carefully apply pressure with your hands until they gently crack.

  3. Place the cardamom pods and 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes, reducing the heat as needed if browning too quickly. Carefully pour in 1 1/4 cups whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup coconut milk, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons light corn syrup. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.

  4. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes. Transfer 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the bowl with the cornstarch and whisk until free of lumps, about 30 seconds. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the saucepan and bring back to a simmer. Cook, whisking often, until thickened, about 1 minute.

  5. Transfer 1/2 cup of the milk mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese and whisk until free of lumps, about 1 minute. (A few more spoonfuls of hot milk may be needed to smooth it out.) Whisk in the rest of the hot milk mixture. Let sit at room temperature to steep for 1 hour.

  6. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into another bowl or 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Press on the coconut solids with a spoon or spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

  7. Churn the ice cream base in the ice cream maker according to the maker’s instructions. This typically takes about 20 minutes, or until the consistency looks like soft serve.

  8. Scoop the ice cream into a quart container or a loaf pan. If your container does not have a lid, press a sheet of parchment or wax paper directly onto the surface of the ice cream. Freeze until solid, at least 5 hours or overnight.