How To Make Dairy-free Ice Cream! - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

How To Make Dairy-free Ice Cream!

buttered pecan cashew ice "cream" (no milk or cream!) | pamela salzman

Did you notice the exclamation point in the title?  I need you to know how excited I am about this.  !!  I’ll confess right here that ice cream is probably my favorite food.  That I don’t eat.   Ice cream doesn’t agree with me, if I can get personal with you.  But I think this is definitely for the best because it’s just not good for you.  Pasteurized cow dairy + sugar + ice cold = digestive nightmare.  But just because I can’t eat ice cream doesn’t mean I don’t dream about it.  Yes, of course there are alternative “ice creams” made from soy or coconut.  But soy milk is something I avoid (way too processed and hard to digest) and most of the coconut frozen desserts taste like coconut, which I like, but not every time mixed with every flavor.  Just an FYI, you can take two cans of full-fat coconut milk, mix it with sweetener to taste plus a drop of vanilla extract and pour it into your ice cream maker and get coconut ice cream.   That’s the recipe right there!

blend the soaked cashews with other ingredients

But recently I saw a cashew-based ice cream at Whole Foods and a light bulb went off.  Of course!  Why didn’t I think of that?  I use raw cashews all the time in my classes to make non-dairy substitutions for my DF friends.  When you soak raw cashews and then blend them with a little water, you have the beginnings of lots of dairy-free possibilities.  I even made a cheesecake with blended raw cashews that was to die for.  I need to post that one day.  What’s great is that raw cashews are pretty bland tasting, unlike coconut which definitely has a pronounced flavor, even when mixed with other stuff.  Also, soaked, raw cashews are loaded with protein and much more digestible than pasteurized heavy cream and milk.  !!

pour pecans in at the end

I wasn’t sure if you all would be interested in knowing how to make dairy-free ice cream since I can’t assume everyone has an ice cream maker.  But after an unscientific poll on Facebook, it seemed like enough of you wanted to know.  I made three different cashew-based ice creams in the last month and I thought they were all great.  My kids had NO IDEA they were made from cashews.  And to take it one step further (better), I sweetened two of the ice creams with dates.  Dates!  This is an ice cream that is cashews blended with dates.  Are you freaking out right now?  You should beeeeeeee!



buttered pecan cashew ice "cream" | pamela salzman

The three flavors I made were Buttered Pecan (ok, technically not dairy-free because I used butter on the pecans, but you can use Earth Balance), Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Mint Chip.  I loved them all, but let me mention that although these are more digestible and arguably more healthful than regular ice cream, I wouldn’t say they’re low-fat or low-calorie.  And I’m sorry if you’re nut-free or cashew-intolerant because that’s the only way to go here.  I am posting the recipes for Buttered Pecan and Mint Chip and as soon as I find the scrap paper with my notes for the chocolate version I will revise this post and let you know!

mint chip dairy-free ice "cream" | pamela salzman

I’m just sorry that we may only have another month of warm weather and therefore not much time left for ice cream.  Make the most of what’s left of summer, friends.  Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!


dairy-free mint chip ice "cream" | pamela salzman

Cashew Ice Cream
Serves: makes about 1 quart, so if you only want to make a pint, cut all ingredients in half
  • Salted Butter Pecan:
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, or use Earth's Balance to make vegan
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus 1 teaspoon for pecans
  • 4 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least three hours or overnight and
  • drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup Grade A maple syrup (or agave, but I’m not a fan since it’s very
  • processed and high in fructose)
  • 4 vanilla beans, split and scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Mint Chip:
  • 4 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least three hours or overnight and drained
  • 3 cups water
  • 20 pitted dates
  • 2 Tablespoons pure peppermint extract (you may want to start out with 1 Tablespoon and taste the mixture before adding the second tablespoon in case your mint extract is stronger than mine.)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips, or more to taste
  1. Salted Butter Pecan:
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the pecans, tossing to coat. Spread buttered pecans on baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Bake for 6-8 minutes until toasted, but not burned. Set aside to cool.
  4. Place cashews, water, maple syrup, vanilla and ½ teaspoon salt in a high-powered blender or food processor and process until very smooth.
  5. Pour cashew mixture into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions. I use a Cuisinart ice cream maker.
  6. Once the pecans are cooled, place them in a food processor and pulse to make small chunks (about the size of a chocolate chip, or smaller) or chop coarsely on a cutting board.
  7. minutes before ice cream is finished, pour in the pecans.
  8. Store in freezer in airtight container.
  9. Mint Chip:
  10. Place cashews, water, dates, salt and mint extract in a high-powered blender or food processor and process until very smooth.
  11. Pour cashew mixture into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions.
  12. minutes before ice cream is finished, add the chocolate chips.
  13. Store in freezer in airtight container.

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  1. Hi Pamela, just finding this recipe- do you have the chocolate/peanut butter measurements to make that recipe- it’s my family’s favorite. Trying mint chip today!

    • Sadly, I never found the notes I had. I think you can wing it by making the basic cashew ice cream base and adding raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder. Start with a couple tablespoons and just taste it. Then when the ice cream is almost done churning, drizzle in some peanut butter. That’s how I would approach it.

      • Ok will try and let you know!

  2. Wow these recipe’s are amazing thank’s a lot.

  3. Hi Pamela,

    I have never posted comments online, but your recipes have moved me to post!, My son is allergic to dairy and is very picky and your recipes have saved me and enabled me to get fruits and veggies into the little guy! Not to mention provided me the ONLY success I have ever had in the kitchen, so please keep ’em coming!

    With that said – you mention you tried three flavors, but I only see recipes for two. Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream is my personal favorite, so if you could share the recipe that would be great.

    Thank you again for your delicious and healthy recipes that are easy to follow.

    • Awww, such a nice note, Nicole. Thank you. :). I will dig around for that chocolate peanut butter version and post it for you when I find it. xo

  4. I have a question, I don’t have any dates on hand to make the mint chip ice cream, but I do have maple syrup. And I see you used maple syrup for the butter pecan ice cream, so could I use 1 cup of maple syrup instead of 20 dates? And thank you so much for your recipe! I have been looking for a GOOD ice cream recipe forever! And the stuff you buy in stores is just so expensive!

    • I know! The cashew ice cream in the store is outrageously expensive! I didn’t try the mint ice cream with maple so I don’t know how it would turn out. I figured the buttered pecan would be complementary with the maple. If you do try maple syrup with the mint, I would definitely go with Grade A which has a much lighter flavor than Grade B. Obviously you could try white refined sugar, but that’s far less healthful!

  5. Thank you so much for these recipes! I notice when I drain the cashews they are still
    pretty wet. Is that okay or should I reduce the amount of water I add to the recipe? My blended
    mix was pretty liquidity. Thanks for your help!

    • You’re very welcome! Yes, the cashews will be wet, but they should be well drained. The blended mix should resemble a thick heavy cream, but it should become more like soft serve ice cream after you process it in the ice cream maker.

  6. Oh my gosh, this looks so delicious!! I can’t wait to (1) Buy an ice cream maker, and (2) Try these recipes. When I tried to find out which ice cream maker you use, it said “page not found.” Also, I’ve tried the My New Roots recipe for raw cashew dreamcake and it was delicious, but if you posted your recipe, I would HAVE to try it because your recipes never ever fail me!

    • You’re right! The links to the ice cream maker don’t work. I have a Cuisinart — works great. My cashew cheesecake is very similar to the one from My New Roots. Truthfully, they’re all pretty similar since you have to have the cashews and coconut oil for it to work. Most recipes add lemon juice to give it the tang and the only real variable is the sweetener and I prefer honey. Very similar to Sarah’s!

  7. Avocado is another great base for ice cream, I make a mousse with avocado, lemon and honey (a million variations possible), freeze it and then blend it (I don’t have an ice cream machine), delicious!

    • Very true, Ana. Thanks for pointing that out. I haven’t tried that yet, but it’s on my to-do list!

  8. hi Pamela-this looks soo amazing. this family can go thru a tub of ice-cream a night! I would love to try this for them. could you let me know what name of ice-cream makers you have been happy with?

    • I have had two Cuisinarts and they’ve been great. Click on the link in the first or third paragraphs above to find out the model I have. Yum!

  9. If I omit the pecans will this turn out like vanilla ice cream?

    • It should! I would taste the mixture before putting it into the ice cream maker and add an extra drop of vanilla extract to make the flavor more vanilla.

  10. This looks amazing! Thank you for the post!

    • You’re welcome. Hop you try it!

  11. Dear Pamela,
    Thanks for great recipes for non-dairy ice cream. I can’t wait to make it since I try to be diary free. (According to Chinese medicine, diary is not good for us. If one insists, then goat milk/cheese is the only way to go.)
    Another good reason to avoid soy is its high quantity of plant estrogen. Women who have cancer, or had cancer, that is estrogen driven, should avoid soy. With all the chemicals in our foods (that we try to avoid), many mimic estrogen, so this is another good reason for boys and men to avoid soy.
    Be well, and thanks for all your blogs,

    • Hello Richard! So glad you commented — all true about dairy and soy. Although I am ok giving my son raw cow’s milk. Hope to hear from you again :)!

      • Hello Pamela and Richard, Great comment Richard and so true. I made it with the full-fat coconut milk you described; super easy and super delicious. Thank you once more sweet Pamela.

        • How fantastic, Tina. Happy you enjoyed it!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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