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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. Ohh I was having such an ice cream craving last night so I had some So Delicious Coconut Milk ice cream.. but I’d wish I’d had a homemade one! Turning it into a peppermint one sounds fab– chocolate with peppermint perhaps?? But my all time favorite ice cream flavor is jamoca almond fudge- I grew up ordering it at Baskin Robbins and it kind of stuck!

  2. Melissa says:

    Katie, try making fro yo!

    I just take a big container of Whole Soy unsweetened yogurt, add about 3-4 tbs of Stevia baking blend (it has gums in it that help the texture once frozen. Amazing.) and then whatever extracts I want. I’ve done vanilla, peppermint and pumpkin so far! I loooove it. It’s rich and creamy and tangy. You could easily use a different sweetener or just use the sweetened Whole Soy and not add any extra. Both are so good and so easy.

    I’ve used the Wildwood unsweetened, too, but Whole Soy is my favorite!

    When I make ice cream, I use arrowroot powder and a mix of coconut milk and almond milk. One of my ice cream recipe books (yes, I have more than one!) calls for arrowroot and it works very well with no chalky taste like you can get with other starches. I think it’s Vegan Scoop that I have that calls for arrowroot. Awesome book!

    Vice Cream is the other book I have and that’s more nut based ice creams. I make cashew ice cream like they do in Vice Cream. I blend two cups of raw cashews with two cups of water in my vitamix. Add extracts and sweetener to taste and then process in my ice cream machine once the base mix is chilled. Katie, TRY THIS. It makes the most creamy, rich ice cream ever! 😀

    1. Oh wow, Melissa, thanks for sharing! I’ve always been interested in cashew-based ice cream, but I never had a recipe. Bookmarking your idea!

  3. Ice cream in the winter? Definitely! 🙂

  4. MANDEE says:

    what kind of milk did you use for the ice cream in your pictures? i see that you have a couple of workable options listed. thanks!

    1. Definitely the all-creamer version :).

  5. Amber K says:

    Well it used to be cookies and cream, but I can’t have it anymore (stupid gluten!) Now I’m more likely to just stick to fro-yo in which case I love peanut butter, mint, or just plain vanilla. Although they had pumpkin recently and it was awesome!

  6. I love chocolate chip cookie dough soft serve ice-cream! & I have a question, did you use the sweetened almond milk or unsweetened? I usually get the Unsweetened Vanilla Blue Diamond. (& I just made-up some homemade chocolate ice-cream Monday using leftover chocolate pudding so I’m with ya on the winter ice-cream cravings!)

    Can’t wait to try this now, everybody has so many good ideas!

    1. Unsweetened, like you. Chocolate pudding ice cream??? That sounds SO good!

      1. Awesomeness thanks! We took the leftover chocolate pudding & turned it into more of a ‘mousse’ & then put it in our icecream maker. Probably not the healthiest dessert but it was good lol.

        I can’t wait to try this out!

  7. Katie says:

    I ALWAYS crave ice cream, so this is perfect! 😛 So regular coconut milk (not the full-fat kind in cans, but Silk Coconut Milk) would work? I’ll have to test this out…

    1. I haven’t actually tried that one, but if you do I would love to know if it works!

  8. dara says:

    What is the base then??

    1. Sorry, I’m confused. The base for what?

      1. I think they mean the base that you keep mentioning needs to be “completely frozen”!

        “Warning: Make sure your base is completely frozen before use, or it will NOT work!!”

        1. Ooooh ooh I see! Sorry, I meant the ice cream maker’s base (the metal bowl in which you put the liquid). I fixed the post.

      2. dara says:

        so so sorry, I mis-read your instructions on this. Disregard my question.

  9. Ellen says:

    I’ll have to give the nondairy creamer a try! Cookie dough, mint chocolate chip, and peanut butter probaboly tie as my faces:)

    1. Ellen says:

      Oops, I meant my faves, but I am sure they end up on my face, too;)

  10. Looks delicious! I’m all about eating ice cream in the winter as well, mostly just because I love it so so much. Do you have any techniques to make ice cream without an ice cream maker?!

  11. wow this looks really awesome, and my favorite flavor of ice cream is mint chocolate chip too.

  12. Sarah says:

    Why do you do this to me? Do you always have to tempt my weak self? Do always have to make me lick the screen… which never tastes that good? And then everyone laughs at me! as if they never licked a screen! Well, since they dont read CCK, they probably have no reason to 🙂 Ok, so here is the current scenario. I just finished Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar for 10th grade literature ( not that you care) and am in the middle of a book report on this EXTREMELY boring dude. So i take a break to check CCK, and man oh man was it worth it! Some computer is gonna have ice cream drips all over it real soon…….
    That is all 🙂 Have a chocolate covered day Katie!
    questions for YOU: did you like shakespeare? And on a disconnected note, do you favor vanilla or chocolate?
    My answers: NOT ON YOUR LIFE! and chocolate by far

    1. Well, it depends on the work! For example, I really liked Macbeth… Othello made me cry… Hamlet was way too depressing!
      And do you really not know my answer to the chocolate question? Hint: check my blog title ;).

      1. Sarah says:

        Well, i had a feeling but was wondering why you didnt post a pic of chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla, that’s all 🙂

  13. Val says:

    I love your ice cream posts. I really need to get an ice cream maker!

  14. Looks awesome! I love peppermint, pumpkin, and strawberry.

  15. Sophie says:

    Love this! It already makes me think of the ways to be creative with this and adding things 🙂

    My favorite icecream is the sodelicious coconutmilk ones sweetened with stevia. Yum!!

  16. Ooh yum I need an ice cream maker! 😀

    You actually made me crave ice cream in the winter, which is usually something I only want in hot weather…!

  17. Jane says:

    Do you think Dream Almond soy milk is good for this? And does it taste good in general? (I tend to only drink unsweetened soy milk but want to try something different)

    1. Sorry, I’ve never had Dream almond soy milk. I don’t think I’ve even seen it before.

  18. Ida says:

    Lecithin is magic in ice cream (or homemade chocolate), it makes everything creamy and also gives a slightly thicker consistency. I love it!

  19. Kim says:

    Just curious about your choice of almond milk. I always drank the Blue Diamond 40 calorie unsweetened milk but my fiance bought me Silk unsweetened almond milk and I noticed it had 5 less calories per cup so I’ve been buying that lately. What’s your opinion? I saw you suggested using Blue Diamond instead of Silk in the ice cream recipe (which I will also be making soon!) I have a Cuisinart ice cream maker, also, and tried making a coconut ice cream in the summer and it never came together even though my insert was completely solid. Excited to try yours!

    1. I think the Silk one is thicker, so I like it better if I’m actually drinking the almond milk straight up. But for baking, I like almond breeze better. Plus it can be shelf-stable, which is always a plus!

    2. Asian Chick says:

      Just reduce your gum consumption by 1 stick. It has 5 calories, so you’ll be fine with Blue Diamond.

  20. Rande @ The Vegetable Centric Kitchen says:

    My only preference with ice cream is that it have chunks of anything! Preferably chocolate though of course 🙂 This looks super delish.

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