LIFESTYLE

The best ice cream without milk


We have long walked the aisles of alternative foods for a variety of dietary needs and taste preferences. With that gluten-free pasta, vegan cheese, alt meats, and chips under the belt, it was time to give ice cream to the freezer. We tried dozens of dairy-free ice creams and reduced them to our twelve favorites. These will be welcome additions to the dessert round: for shakes, ice cream sandwiches, and sundae bars and, perhaps most importantly, serve over a slice of heat apple pie.

It’s worth noting that we weren’t looking for zeto, paleo, or sugar-free ice cream. The chemistry of dairy ice cream (or “frozen dessert” as it should be labeled by the FDA) is a challenge. Removing dairy products affects how the taste, texture, mouthfeel, and dessert freeze. Our focus was on replacing dairy and egg yolks, which are common in natil-based ice cream. Many of the choices here have plain sugar, alone or in combination with some alternatives. They may also have some add-ons. Usually, “the fewer ingredients, the better.” But in this case, the vegetable oils and syrups of ingredients like tapioca and brown rice act as emulsifiers or stabilizers, providing the necessary thickness and viscosity to milk-free bases that would feel thin and frozen in the mouth. Considering that ice cream is sweet and that it is a feat to make it without dairy, we are very good with the exchange.

BASIC ICE CREAM

Oat milk has won a lot of non-dairy fans. It is richer than almond milk, with a more neutral flavor than coconut milk. This is versatile for everyday use and is a great competitor to ice cream.


  1. Oatly vanilla

    Oatly vanilla

    Creamy and very light. Almost airy, with a good and strong vanilla flavor. It has a clean finish and won’t stay on the palate. Even if you’re not a vanilla ice cream maker, you’ll be happy to have something more neutral in warm, crushed cakes, chips, and crackers.


  2. Van Leeuwen Vegan Olo Milk Brown Sugar

    Van Leeuwen beganoa
    Olo Esne Marroia
    Pieces of sugar

    Soft, creamy and sugar-brown ice cream packed with sets of cookies, oats and brownies. Like many of these ice creams, it has some ingredients that make up the base, but oats were listed first, and it has a more neutral coconut flavor.


  3. Planet Oat Coffee Fudge Swirl

    Planet Olo Coffee
    Fudge Swirl

    This one had the best texture of the oat milk options we tested: it’s between compact and light. It also costs more than the many ice creams we’ve tried. It tasted a little sweeter than I liked, but it’s ice cream after all.

BASIC ICE CREAMS IN OIL

We know how weird this is, but since there is no fat in dairy, ice cream needs some source of fat to be creamy. The brands below skillfully use the fats (olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil) in our kitchen to add creamy richness to vegetable-based ice cream.


  1. Wildgood Pistachio

    Wildgood Pistachio

    We heard about finishing ice cream with elegant olive oil, but making ice cream with olive oil is another story. Wildgood’s ice cream texture is beautiful and the flavors are vivid. The pistachio was our favorite, but the chocolate hazelnuts and mango were left behind.


  2. Cado Simply Lemon

    Cado Simply Lemon

    Cado’s avocado ice cream is light and very citrusy, with no trace of the avocado flavor. The texture looked a bit icy than the others we tested, but it was still totally nice.


  3. Ripple Cookies and Cream

    Ripple Cookies
    and Cream

    We’re fans of Ripple’s pea milk and we’re impressed to see how the ice cream could have returned. The brand did a solid job, relying on coconut oil as the main ingredient to achieve this creamy texture. (It also includes some pea protein.) Overall, the combination of soft and silky ice cream was an easy win.

BASIC COCONUT ICE CREAM

Coconut milk has more fat than whole milk, so it’s no surprise that it makes excellent ice cream. But even though coconut-flavored desserts are often delicious, that noticeable flavor doesn’t always play well with others. Overall, we stick to the flavors that complement coconut, and these three brands created round combinations.


  1. Coconut Bliss Dark Chocolate

    koko Bliss
    Dark chocolate

    Coconut Bliss has been around for quite some time, but you may not notice it after the last brand upgrade. The ice cream still tastes great. It is dense and creamy, and the bitterness of dark chocolate beautifully balances the natural sweetness of the coconut. It tastes like coconut, so think about what flavors you have when choosing a pint with coconut.


  2. Sunscoop vanilla bean cream

    Sunscoop vanilla
    Cream of beans

    You know when ice cream is almost chewy, but in a good way? Almost like a fudge. It’s weird in a dairy-free ice cream, but Sunscoop has it. It is likely because it has been crushed instead of blown so as not to ventilate too much. It has the slightest coconut flavor, and is not too sweet.


  3. Nothing Moo Mint Chip

    Nothing Moo Mint Chip

    This is significantly lighter with an almost fluffy texture. It is the ice cream with the least coconut milk, which makes it easy to combine with many different flavors. The mint chip is especially delicious, with a refreshing mint flavor.

ALMOND BASIC ICE CREAM

While almond milk can be a reasonable alternative to whole milk in a coffee shop, the lack of fat in almond milk is a downside to the ice cream department. Most of the almond-based options we tested were thin and frozen. There is only one thing we would recommend.


  1. Ben and Jerry's Netflix & Chill'd
  2. Ben & Jerry’s Netflix and Chill’d

    No one makes almost too much ice cream like Ben & Jerry’s. The almond base is creamy, and the chunky mixes are as generous as ever. There are several flavors without dairy along with some versions of the most popular pints without dairy. We loved Milk Netflix and Chilll’d. (And if you’re so moved by the name, enjoy curling up your balls on the couch while you play a part. Sex, love and goop.)

WITH THE LESS COMPONENTS

As we said, making milk-free ice cream without the help of stabilizers, emulsifiers or syrups is a serious challenge. These ice creams have few ingredients, but they are worth so much.


  1. Frozen Fruit Co.  chocolate

    Frozen Fruit Co. chocolate

    Made with only three ingredients: dates, coconut milk and cocoa powder. It’s light and almost refreshing, and pretty sweet.


  2. The Coconut Cult Vanilla Bean Gelato

    The cult of the coconut
    Vanilla Bean Gelato

    Coconut Cult has loyal followers. Getting all the fermented coconut is our main source. We noticed the brand’s vanilla gelato recently at Erewhon and were intrigued. The ingredients are only coconut (in its various forms, coconut water, coconut cream, etc.), probiotics, only Himalayan sea salt and vanilla. So simple and incredibly good. There may be a deficiency at the time you are reading this; if so, you can check out Coconut Cult’s Instagram to find out about the update and delivery time.



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