Vegan Chai Ice Cream 6.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jul 9, 2019

Vibrant chai spices are an ideal way to flavor this creamy, rich and dairy-free ice cream base. We found that adding cornstarch helped improve the texture and cut down on iciness of the finished ice cream.

Make Ahead: To create the chai flavor, you need an hour of steeping time. The base needs to chill in the refrigerator for at least a few hours and ideally overnight.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings; makes 3 cups

  • 2 1/2 cups canned coconut milk, preferably all-natural
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup unrefined cane sugar, preferably organic
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar, preferably organic
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 9 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • One 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, grated (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons loose black tea leaves
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see NOTE)

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Whisk about 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to form a smooth slurry.

Combine the remaining coconut milk, sugar, agave nectar and sea salt in a large (4-quart) saucepan, using an immersion (stick) blender or whisk to thoroughly incorporate. Stir in the cardamom pods, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and peppercorns. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, then remove from the heat, cover and steep for 45 minutes.

Return the coconut milk mixture to a boil, then remove from the heat and stir in the tea leaves. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Pass the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl or large measuring cup, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Return the mixture to the saucepan.

Bring the mixture to a rolling boil again over medium-high heat, then remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Pour the mixture into a container, seal and refrigerate for at least a few hours, and preferably overnight.

When you are ready to churn, assemble your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's directions and turn it on. Pour in the chilled ice cream base and spin until it's thick and creamy -- about the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

Meanwhile, sprinkle about a third of the toasted almonds on the bottom of your storage container. Pack the ice cream into the storage container, alternating with layers of the almonds, with the last layer of almonds sprinkled on top; do not stir (to retain the layering). Press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with a tight-fitting lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

NOTE: Toast the almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant, shaking the pan to avoid scorching. Cool completely before using.

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Recipe Source

Chai method adapted from a recipe on; vegan ice cream base adapted from "Incredible Vegan Ice Cream: Decadent, All-Natural Flavors Made with Coconut Milk," by Deena Jalal (Page Street Publishing, 2019); cornstarch slurry method from "Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts" by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan, 2014).

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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