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Four Ingredient Ice Cream

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healthy ice cream



Sweet, drippy ice cream, cascading into a delicious pool of vanilla.

Yes, it’s winter. But I can’t keep this dreamy recipe to myself for the next four months. And actually, I really like eating ice cream in the winter.

healthy vanilla ice cream

One of my favorite memories is of a Christmas my family spent with relatives in Italy. The weather was bitter cold and rainy, and yet we knew it’d be a sin to leave without sampling the famed Italian gelato. Therefore—decked in hats, scarves, and heavy coats—we sat in a little gelateria, clumsily using gloved hands to spoon the rich, creamy dessert into our mouths. I’ve never tasted ice cream as delectable as on that blustery December day.

Perhaps this memory is what prompted me to pull out my ice cream maker a few days ago, in the ugliest weather we’ve experienced so far this year. The frustrating thing about ice cream makers is that you can really only make one batch per day, since the base needs to be completely frozen for optimum performance.

And I am not a patient person! If a recipe experiment doesn’t come out perfectly the first time, I immediately want to try again. My first attempt at making a healthy ice cream was awful. Loosely following a recipe from The New York Times, I mixed cornstarch in with my almond milk. The result was not an ice cream; it was a paste! In my second attempt, I reduced the amount of cornstarch, but it was still pasty. So, on day three, I omitted the cornstarch altogether…


healthy ice cream

Feel free to customize this basic recipe any way you want! Add cocoa powder for healthy chocolate ice cream, berries for a sherbet, or even crushed candy canes and peppermint extract for a Christmas treat.

Four Ingredient Ice Cream

  • 2 cups milk of choice or nondairy creamer or coconut milk (see note below)
  • 1/4 cup sweetener of choice: such as pure maple syrup, brown sugar, or xylitol for sugar-free
  • pinch stevia or 1 extra tbsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • optional ingredients for whatever flavor you desire

Mix all ingredients (except optional ingredients, if they are chunky) in a dish. If you have an ice-cream maker: simply transfer to your ice cream maker and watch the magic! (I have a Cuisinart, and it took 12-14 minutes to turn the liquid into ice cream. Warning: Make sure your ice cream maker’s base is completely frozen before use, or it will NOT work!!) You can eat it straight from the machine, or freeze a few hours for firmer texture. Homemade ice cream is best the day it’s made, but you can technically thaw it out and it will keep for a few weeks. If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, see nutrition link below:

View Nutrition Facts


**A word about the milk: If you use only almond milk, the texture is more foam-y (in a good way, if that makes sense!) than creamy. If you use only nondairy creamer or full-fat canned coconut milk, the texture is more like ice cream. If not serving right away, be sure to thaw a little if your freezer is super-cold. Also, I’d probably stay away from fat-free milks, such as ricemilk.

If you are using all almond milk and still want it creamier, you can freeze the ice cream and then re-blend it in a Vita-Mix for Vita-mix ice cream. The end result is incredibly creamy, without the fat and calories of using the coconut milk or creamer.


Do you have a favorite ice cream flavor?

Mine’s always been mint-chocolate chip. But plain chocolate is a close second. Coconut’s good, too! And cookie dough, peanut butter, cookies-n-cream… probably the only flavors I’m not big on are sorbets or sherbets.

Here’s a list of flavors: Over 100 Healthy Ice Cream Recipes.

(All of the recipes in the above link can be made without an ice-cream maker.)

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Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 
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  1. Ashley says:

    My favorite ice cream flavor has to be java chip or mocha almond fudge! Coffee ice cream is the best:) Except late at night… haha.

    1. Diamond says:

      Coffee is a very good flavour but I think mocha is better!:-)

  2. I think mine has to be mango or vanilla with morello cherries…yum!

  3. alex says:

    bluebell – which is made in Texas – is AMAZING! They have a Christmas Cookies ice cream flavor. It is fabulous. I really enjoy the old school Homemade Vanilla thought. Yum!

    1. Ooh I saw that in the grocery store the other day! It gave me a fun idea, too :).

    2. Lori says:

      Blue Bell is the BEST! I feel sorry for the rest of the country that can’t get it! 🙂 Our favorite it Butter Crunch, with Butterfinger-type candy all in it. We also just tried the Red Velvet Cake. It’s yummy, too!

      1. Vonnie says:

        Gosh, is there any place in the U.S. that doesn’t get Blue Bell? I grew up in Texas and was disappointed when I moved to the Carolinas, but it’s been here about 10 years now. Also, my parents in Phoenix are able to get it.

        Not that it matters. I recently bought an ice cream maker to avoid the junk like carageenan and artificial sweeteners. This recipe is perfect! It’s so easy and delicious. To me, it tastes like Dairy Queen’s soft serve and who knows what’s in that stuff! I also mixed in some fresh strawberries that I had puréed and frozen, and that was also amazing!

        This one’s a keeper! 🙂

  4. mmmm ice cream in december! I love vanilla bean, with specks of real vanilla. With apple pie of course. Ice cream is big for me in the summer but I practically forget about it in the winter!

  5. Demelza says:

    I haven’t eaten ice cream in a long while, but my favorite used to be Baskin Robbins’ bubblegum flavor. I’d often beg my parents to take me after gymnastics practice. :]

  6. 4 ingredients, sounds awesome! you have some amazing ice creams katie! I love classic vanilla and cookies and cream. but all ice cream is delicious! thanks for sharing!

    1. Save me says:

      I love all ice cream flavours especially ones with a bit of crunch.;-)

    2. Save me says:

      I love all ice cream flavours especially ones with a bit of crunch. Katie your recipes are the best!!!

  7. Amanda says:

    I also like eating ice cream no matter the weather. Mint chocolate chip is a favorite, but I also really like pistachio. There aren’t too many flavors I don’t like. 🙂

    Love the addition of the rainbow sprinkles!

  8. I fell in love with mint oreo and then it was discontinued. I was broken-hearted because it was SO fantastic!

    You can’t beat regular vanilla with fresh raspberries over the top in the summer. I’m also a fan of caramel cashew frozen custard.

    Then again… never met an ice cream I haven’t really liked. 🙂

  9. Barb says:

    thank you thank you thank you!!! my boyfriend just got me a cuisinart ice cream maker, but all of the recipes in the recipe book are super fattening and I have been wanted to try a lighter version! this is JUST what I was looking for! you could not have had better timing 🙂

    I’m crushing up candy canes and putting them in mine for a peppermint ice cream tonight 🙂

    1. Just make absolutely sure it’s 100% frozen before you start, or it won’t work! Oh, and be sure to put the turner in before the liquid… that’s another issue I ran into! 😉

  10. How delicious! The sprinkles make it that much better! I’m not patient either, so this is perfect!

  11. Carissa says:

    That ice cream looks fantastic. I’m a chocolate girl but the vanilla even looks amazing. I usually get Blue Diamond almond milk, but you made me curious – why do you say not to use Silk?

    1. LOL I tried it… I’m not sure what happened, but it was awful (both in taste and texture)!

  12. Christa says:

    Can you imagine how good this would be if you used Silk’s “Nog” flavor and added candied (or uncandied…) pecans! Yummy yummy!

    1. Oh wow, I never thought about using flavored milks… what about their chocolate-peppermint flavor?!

      1. Ilana says:

        I just bought some So Delicious nog and it’s DEFINITELY getting used with this recipe…I’m thinking like 1/2 nog 1/2 full fat coconut milk, and maybe almonds or maple sugar candy (!!) spun in at the end. I still haven’t actually tasted the nog yet so I don’t know how much sweetener I’ll need to add.

  13. wow thats brilliant! & looks yummy.

  14. Salted caramel banana soft-serve or peanut butter chocolate HAVE to be the best “ice creams” I’ve ever had. Just wondering – could you make this in a vita with frozen milk?

      1. mrsluckypants says:

        Brilliant! I loved your post about ice cream and it got me thinking. I’ve had family asking what they can get me for Christmas and I’m running out of ideas so your post was wonderful and gave me a great idea, the cuisinart ice cream maker! How fun would that be to make ice cream with the kids? We are dairy free so I’m thinking we could make ice cream cheaper than we can buy it. Would you agree? Also, just read the comment about using the vita-mix for ice cream and I already have one of those, can you tell me how the texture is in the vitamix vs the ice cream maker? Do you freeze the leftovers and if so, do they turn out ok consistency wise? Thanks so much for your help.

        I love pralines and cream from Baskin Robbins but it is full of milk so I don’t get to have it much anymore.

        1. Hmmm… I’ve actually not re-frozen the vita-mix one.
          The texture really does depend, though, on what milks you use. I’d recommend ones with a higher fat content… unless you want the spongey texture, which some people like too!

  15. Coffee! Green tea! Chai! Summer’s here all year round so I’ll be trying it! 😀

  16. I still haven’t tried making my own ice cream! I really want to now. My favourite is, and always will be, cookie dough 🙂

  17. Erin says:

    Do you think this would work for one of those Cuisinart soft serve ice cream machines??

    1. I’m not sure. I’ve never seen one of those… I have a Cuisinart ice cream maker.
      But if you do try it, I’d love to hear how it goes.

  18. Jennie says:

    THIS is the exact reason why I have an ice cream maker. Thanks Katie – putting my base in the freezer now!!!

  19. I love vanilla with things mixed in it, or just strawberry plain! Strawberry was always my go-to growing up! Sooo good.

  20. Megan says:

    I absolutely love gelato! My favorite flavors have been gelato: amaretto chocolate chip, amarena black cherry, nutella swirl, and sea salt caramel. If only I could emulate them at home! What model of Cuisinart do you have? I have wanted an ice cream maker but did not know which brand is best.

    1. Hmmm… I don’t know. It doesn’t actually say! It just says “Cuisinart frozen yogurt, ice cream, and sorbet maker.” It’s a few years old.

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