The Washington Post

Vegan Coconut Ice Cream Base

Vegan Coconut Ice Cream Base 6.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jul 9, 2019

This vegan ice cream base is smooth and creamy and more than a dairy-free consolation prize. The flavor from the coconut milk is present but not overpowering and may even fade in the background depending on what other ingredients you decide to include. We found that adding cornstarch helped improve the texture and cut down on iciness of the finished ice cream.

You can use this recipe as a blank slate for your preferred ice cream flavor.

Make Ahead: The base mixture needs to be refrigerated for at least a few hours, and preferably overnight. The churned ice cream needs to freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.


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

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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. Bring to a rolling boil 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 for about 1 minute, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, with a consistency close to heavy cream. Remove from the heat. (At this point, you can whisk in flavor add-ins such as fruit purees.)

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.

Pack the ice cream into a storage container, alternating it with layers of your add-ins of choice, if using; do not stir (to retain the layering). Press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

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Recipe Source

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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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 220

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 14g 22%

Saturated Fat: 10g 50%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 100mg 4%

Total Carbohydrates: 21g 7%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 20g

Protein: 0g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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