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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.

Yeah, 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

(Can be any flavor!)

  • 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 Ice Cream Nutrition Facts

A word about the milk: This tastes delicious if you use only almond milk, but 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. (Brand ideas include: Silk creamer, So Delicious creamer, or Good Karma.) 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.)

Edit: If you are using all almond milk and still want it creamy (not foamy), 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.)

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. Sam says:

    So, I forgot to half the rest of the ingredients (I only had 1 cup of non-dairy vanilla almond milk left), and by following the recipe normally with table syrup (fake maple syrup, basically), it ended with a caramel sugar-y flavor! It was great! :)

  2. Heather says:

    could you omit the extra sweetner if using sweetened cream & the stevia?

    1. Sorry, I have never tried it so I don’t know.

  3. Olivia says:

    I finally got an ice cream maker this weekend and immediately looked up this recipe, because it’s one I’ve been wanting to try for ages. Honestly………….. IT WAS THE BEST DAIRY-FREE ICE CREAM I’VE EVER TASTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    So creamy, smooth, delicious. It’s like heaven in a bowl. My Cuisinart ice cream maker is my new best friend. I can tell were going to be inseparable. :) And I especially thank you for posting this amazing recipe. I’ve struggled to find a good dairy-free ice cream and this definitely makes the cut. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :)

    1. Aw you are so welcome! And you remind me that I need to take my Cuisinart out again. I always forget to use it!

  4. Amy says:

    Hooray!! We have an ice cream maker and I’ve been looking for a lactose-free ice cream recipe so I am so excited to have happened across yours! One question, though: do you have approximations of how much to use for liquid ingredients (like Bailey’s, for example)? I don’t want it to come out too runny. Thanks!

    1. CCK says:

      If you’re using something strong, you only need a little. But if you’re using anything more than a couple tbsp, maybe reduce the milk by that amount?

  5. Ami says:

    My name is Ami and I’m an ice cream addict! This recipe inspired me to request an ice cream maker for Mother’s Day, which I got :) Since then, this has become a staple in my freezer. It’s SO delicious. Thank you for sharing it!

  6. sam says:

    hey katie do u think this would work if i used stevia instead of agave? i attempted to make some just now and it got stuck to the icecream maker like ice!! i used goodkarmas flax milk maybe next time ill try almond breeze?

    1. CCK says:

      Sorry, I haven’t tried it.

  7. sam says:

    hey katie do you think this would work with stevia instead of agave? my body doesnt react well with sugar too much sugar =/ thanks so muc! your seriously an inspiration!! i check your blog more than once a day..embaressed to admit tht but what can i say your amazing!!

  8. Thanks for the great info.! I just bought A NEW ICE CREAM MAKER FOR $10 at Aldi and needed a recipe using almond milk instead of dairy.

  9. Amy Jay says:

    Yum! This is officially the third recipe of yours I have made. I made it with Blue Diamond Original Almond Milk in my Cuisinart Ice Cream maker, and it was awesome! Yes, I’d say it was kind of foamy, or like whipped ice, but MAN is it good! And for the calories, you can’t beat it!

    I found your blog in January, and that was one-month in to a big weight loss venture I am on, and now I’ve lost 70 pounds. :) Thanks, dear, for your great recipes and great help!

    P.S. – I’m an Army wife living in Japan, so I love that you use ingredients that I can (mostly) find even in a very un-Vegan country!

    1. Aw, thanks Amy!
      I actually used to live in Japan… I’m surprised you can even find the Blue Diamond almond milk now. I remember visiting when I lived in China. Feel comforted in knowing at least Japan is more vegan-friendly than China ;).

  10. Amy says:

    Mmm, very simple recipe! I used goats milk (I’m allergic to coconut, and didn’t want to experiment with something I’ve never tried (non-dairy creamer)), more brown sugar than called for, no stevia, and extra vanilla.
    THEN I mixed in 2 packages of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate powder, and threw it in my mixer. I patiently cranked it for about 40 minutes, and when it was juuuust thick enough, I slowly added about 3 tablespoon fulls of smooth creamy peanut butter, a little bit at a time, so I would have soft chunks of it spread throughout.
    It was still a little soft for my liking, so I’ve put it in the freezer to freeze up a little more before eating it…. I’ll stir it with a spoon before I go to bed, and again when I wake up, to make sure it doesn’t turn into a rock, and try it tomorrow evening. The taste testing I did was veeeery good! (I’m a BIG fan of chocolate and peanut butter combined.) So hopefully it’ll be even better when it solidified! :)
    I’ll try making something with almond milk next!! 😀

  11. Jennifer says:

    LOVE this! I’ve had many dietary restrictions recently because of health reasons…dairy being one of those and chocolate and coconut and gluten, soy, rice…just about everything and whatever a suitable substitute would be for that “everything” is no longer allowed. I thought National Ice Cream month would pass without at least one honorary scoop of one of my favorite desserts until I discovered your recipe. I used brown sugar and actually added 1 tsp of tapioca starch with Silk almond milk (and 2 Tbs of granulated sugar instead of Stevia…I’m not afraid of sugar because I need to gain a lot of weight lol). It turned out amazing! I’m thankful for bloggers such as yourself. I know I’m not the only one struggling to make diet changes because of health reasons, and there are many of us who owe you and others like you a “thank you” for helping us make this challenging lifestyle adjustment. So, thank you for creating and maintaining such beautiful blog!

  12. Katie says:

    Hi Katie! I just bought my first ice cream maker (Cuisinart) and I was so excited to try out this recipe- my favorite flavor is good old fashioned vanilla (with sprinkles of course) I made the recipe above with unsweetened almond milk and brown sugar- it was very sweet! I might half the brown sugar next time. I was wondering if you think that adding xantham gum or cornstarch would help thicken and stabilize the texture a little more so it’s not as “icy”? It’s still delicious as it is, but might try to experiment next time..

  13. Julia says:

    This looks so delicious! Why shouldn’t you use Silk almondmilk?

  14. Sam says:

    If I am using brown sugar do I still use the stevia? Thanks!

    1. Yes, or omit the stevia and up the brown sugar by one tablespoon. :)

  15. emaliah82 says:

    This ice cream is INSANELY DELICIOUS!!!!! I paired it with a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie to make the most amazing sundae ever!!! THANK YOU! :)

  16. Mary says:

    Just made this with Blue Diamond almond milk and cane sugar/3 stevia drops. I probably added more vanilla than you said to but it IS AMAZING!!! Yum

  17. CC says:

    Hmmm, I don’t have an ice cream maker & was making icecream in my VitaMix before I went vegan……..

    **Does anyone know if this can b adapted 2 make in the VitaMix or ANY VEGAN ICECREAM! 4 that matter?*** YES, ICECREAM DOES MAKE ME SCREAM, i LOVE IT!!

    1. Yes, I think it would work in a Vita. Just freeze, then blend the frozen mixture in your Vita.

      1. CC says:

        Thank u kindly! This is SO exciting 2 me!!!!!!!!!!! I can have vegan ice cream that actually looks/behaves like icecream!!!!!!!!! And I offer my apologies, I did find another one of your posts detailing that… But only hours (I wish I was kidding! I’m obsessed w/ the discovery here!) into navigating all over your site (the snowball effect! Ooooh, let me see about this, one, then that one, then trying 2 look at nutrition info, oh look I spotted another interested recipe!). So basically I will just blame his website if I never get a job again! Job searching vs. food searching hmm… it’s a shame! Ahhh well, this site is a welcome break !

        I can c how trying 2 tie together related recipes can b a logistical nitemare & cause 4 all these repeated questions…so thank u 4 your patience & perseverance! And 4 sharing your creativity. What a great thing in life, creativity+ eating+good nutrition=bliss! Thanks 4 your hard work & sharing your vegan brilliance!

  18. madi noelle says:

    Perfect ice cream! All my siblings love it!

  19. kevin says:

    i can’t wait to try your goodies. i’ve been searching for homemade yummies and have found you!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Hey, yeah, we have been making ice cream ourselves because we do not use sugar, agave, dairy or artificial ingredients of any kind. We sweeten things with Stevia and/or Xylitol. Anyway, ours is more like more like “ice milk” which disappoints my husband, so prompted by you, we will try freezing the canister before making it again! Thanks so much!

  21. chuck connors says:

    these look so good

  22. chuck connors says:

    These look soo good

    1. jeff connors says:

      I want my wife to make this so bad.

  23. Liz says:

    Hi! I don’t have an ice cream maker but would love to still make this! How would I go about doing this without the maker? Just use a blender?

    You’ve probably answered this already in one of the 1,000+ comments so I’m sorry to ask again!

    1. Chocolate Covered Katie says:

      Hi Liz,
      Scroll down to the bottom of this post:
      Or use this recipe if you have a Vita-Mix:

  24. Erin says:

    Katie, do you know if this works with Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk? I also have the regular kind but I’m wondering if I could use the Light and/or both cans together. Thoughts?

  25. Isabel says:

    I’m always a sucker for a good cookies n creme. With this plus some homemade oreos (WONDER WHERE I COULD GET A RECIPE, HUH? :P) i could make my own! YAY!!

  26. Laura says:

    This is an awesome website! I’m getting ready to try some things….

  27. Heather says:

    Do you know the best way to go about making this chocolate flavored? Syrup vs. cocoa powder? My 3 yr old has had some health issues and needs to gain some weight so I thought I’d try the coconut milk version of this for him. He’s always liked your recipes and isn’t a fan of things that are too super sweet.

  28. yadira says:

    isnt hard

  29. Heather says:

    i loveee your blog… i am a gluten free vegan and i gave up sugar last year due to my energy levels but i love dessert, I love having company and i am obsessed with showing people (particularly my boyfriend!! hehe!) that healthy food can be delicious too! A really easy way to make this icecream if you don’t have have an icecream maker is the “shake” method…. put the icecream ingredients inside a small ziplock bag after you have mixed them all together (make sure you fasten tight!), then put that big into a larger ziplock bag that is approx. half full of icecubes and 1/2 cup of coarse salt (fine grain will work too its just course works better)… close that ziplock up and shake for five minutes ( i like to hold the ziplock bag in a teatowel…. it’s a good little workout!)… then VOILA you have icecream… you can also put it in the freezer after that if you want it to be harder, or keep shaking! …. also i tried this method with 40 calorie coconut milk and it was TO DIE FOR… so there you go. Thanks again for sharing your oh-so-delicious! Keep it up girl and thanks again!!! have a choca-licious day!!!! <3

  30. Theresa says:

    I got an ice cream maker (it’s green!) for mother’s day with the hopes of making allergy friendly ice cream for our family. We used So Delicious coconut milk creamer and it worked beautifully! Since we were planning to put it on pear crisp, I added some cinnamon. We can’t wait to try other flavors! I have a feeling we will be eating lots of ice cream this summer! Now I just need to get one of those super fast popsicle makers.

  31. Amy says:

    Maybe I missed it somewhere, but what do I do if I do not have an ice cream maker? Google?

  32. Rissa says:

    I can’t thank you enough for your recipes. My son has severe dairy allergy. He’s been begging me to make ice cream for so long and boy am I glad to have seen your blog!
    I make home made almond milk for him and when I saw the recipe with almond milk, I was so excited. I making a batch of ice cream with almond milk today. Will let you know how it came out. Thanks a bunch for posting so many recipes.

  33. Glendee says:

    I made this last week using full fat coconut milk, cocoa powder, and xylitol since I am on the ACD…it was heavenly. It was so creamy and satisfying it was like having old fashioned chocolate frozen custard. I only needed about 1/4 cup to “get the monkey” off my back. It freezes very well but make sure you add a layer of plastic wrap to inhibit ice crystals. This quantity will last me at least a month so no worries about calories. Bless you!!!

  34. Your desserts are always the best! You might laugh at my for saying this, but my fave is… vanilla.

  35. lorraine lambert says:

    Can you use canned coconut milk & freeze in freezer then reblend in a vitamix?

    1. Yes. In fact, I usually like the texture of VitaMix ice cream better anyway.

  36. Jill says:

    Have you had trouble with the coconut milk forming a layer on the frozen container because you pour it into a cold container? I have an electric ice cream maker that uses ice and rock salt and haven’t had the issue with a layer of frozen coconut milk forming on the inside of the metal container because the container isn’t as cold when you pour in the milk.

    1. Yes… I’ll tell you what I do if you promise not to laugh ;). I take a knife and gently press along the side for awhile as it churns, kind of like making pottery.

  37. Emma says:

    This recipe is so good! I used it to make chocolate ice cream and topped it with the peanut butter magic shell recipe on this site, this a must try recipe!

  38. Pixie says:

    Hello! Greetings from Ireland! Just leaving a comment to tell you I greatly appreciate your blog! Oh my gosh! I just love everything you make, just made this ice cream this evening and it’s amazing! I like that you give the nutritional info too 😉 and give me so many yummy things I can make (intolerant of so many foods!! and also picky.) So thank you lady , keep workin’ your magic~ ***

  39. Emma says:

    My favorite ice cream is dulce de leche but cookie dough and chocolate peanut butter are close seconds! Ooh chocolate peanut butter mixed with dulce de leche is the best!

  40. Heather says:

    Could you do a 50/50 almond milk/coconut milk blend to make it a bit lighter while still being nice and creamy?

  41. Earl says:

    The calorie info for the almond milk version isn’t adding up right for me. I’m getting about 68 cals for the 85g serving. Are you forgetting the calories for the vanilla extract? That does add about 55 cals to the whole batch. I never used to think vanilla extract used to have cals either so I was thinking maybe you made the same mistake?

  42. Grace says:

    This is the best ice cream recipe I’ve tried so far!! I make this ice cream with my Cuisinart ice cream maker and this is awesome! It freezes and thaws so well and the best part is that it still retains its creamy / sweet texture!! This is going to be my new base recipe and I will try it with adding the “optional” ingredients! LOVE LOVE this recipe and I “liked” your page on FB :)

  43. MJ says:

    What can i use instead of xylitol for a sugar free version, is splenda or stevia ok? and is it possible for me to use non fat dairy milk or will that ruin the texture and become icy? 😛

  44. Barbara says:

    Thank you!! I was searching for an ice cream recipe so I could have some with my homemade blackberry crisp. This was perfect!!! I can’t wait to try different flavors.

  45. sarah says:

    I dont own an icecream maker but I have made icecream using two ziplock bags, ice, and rock salt. I’ll give this a whirl and get back to you if it works :) excited for this one…esp since I just made your crustless pumpkin pie! Yummy dessert for tomorrow! :)

  46. Radiant Health says:

    Hi Katie, if I used sweetened home-made almond milk would the quanity of brown sugar plus the 1 tblsp extra sugar be the same? I’m looking for an easy and non-dairy ice cream alternative for my children.

    1. Unofficial CCK Helper says:

      Yes it would still be the same. But know that with almond milk it will have more of an ice milk texture.

  47. lee says:

    Uhm – that’s FIVE ingredients!

  48. Chava says:

    …and if you don’t have an ice cream maker?

  49. Lily says:

    Hi!!! I LOVE ice cream and I love all the flavours.I am making this 4-ingredient-icecream and it looks fab. <3 :-) 😉

  50. Lily says:

    Hi!!! I LOVE ice cream and I love all the flavours.I am making this 4-ingredient-icecream and it looks fab. <3

  51. Katy says:

    Mmm…Favorite ice cream has gotta be strawberry. SOOOOOO….YUMMY!!!!

  52. demeter says:

    What brand of coconut milk do you recommend?

    1. Thai Kitchen organic is always good. Or Whole Foods brand. Any, really :).

      1. Terry BEar says:

        Whole Foods coconut canned milks are all PBA lined.

  53. chassidy says:

    Made this the other day as the first recipe for my Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Attachment we received for Christmas. We used skim milk and brown sugar. The ice cream was really good, but soft like soft serve. It was a little too soft for us, so we froze it for a bit. It turned out really well after that. It was a bit airy, but I liked the texture, not as thick and creamy as real ice cream though. I’ll definitely try this recipe again with a different kind of milk. Perhaps almond milk since that’s what I have on hand now. :)

  54. I made the Better Butter Fingers..and they are to die for..I didn’t coat them with chocolate….yet, but right from the freezer, they are a great snack. I cut them into small squares and put them in Tupperware..for easy access. Thank you. Now on to the No Sugar Chocolate Chip Pie for my Vegan friends.

  55. Lena says:

    I want to know why you suggested a nondairy creamer is it a health issue or will it affect the ice cream flavor in some way? You said to use 2 cups milk of choice so basically you can still add in dairy right? I want to use a dairy creamer because most nondairy creamer doesn’t have a wide variety of flavors added to their creamer, for example, the brand International Delight carries flavors like Peppermint Mocha & Pumpkin Pie Spice. I want to incorporate these dairy creamer because it got all these flavors & I want to use that to flavor my ice cream instead of having to add in more flavors using extracts & other ingredients. Would you recommend me doing that if so how much of the creamer should I adjust it to since it will be a flavored dairy creamer like Peppermint Mocha I don’t want it to be overwhelming or too little.

  56. Lauren K says:

    I made this with whole milk, maple syrup and blueberries. So good! Thank you for the recipe.

  57. Sarah says:

    I just have a question about transferring to an ice cream maker. When I transferred over after mixing (I used almond milk and stevia), the mixture just got stuck to the sides of the freezer bowl. Could this be because of the low fat content? I’m just not sure how you got it to work with almond milk in an ice cream machine.

    1. This may be a little unsophisticated, but what I often do is hold a knife along the sides (like in doing pottery) for a while as it spins.

  58. Terry BEar says:

    I can’t find a canned coconut milk that is not PBA lined. Do you know any?

  59. Andrea says:

    What model of the Cuisinart Ice cream maker do you have?

  60. AJ says:

    Yumm, can’t wait to try this! :) Can I add half almond milk and half coconut? Wold it come out the same??

  61. Deese says:

    I can’t wait to try this! I have an ice cream maker on my wedding registry. I hope to be spoon deep in homemade ice cream soon! Lately I have been searching for vegan sprinkles, what brand do you use? So far, every jimmy or nonpareil sprinkle I have found is coated in confectioner’s glaze which is from my research isn’t vegan (shellac from beetle secretions). I would greatly appreciate finding some vegan sprinkles and my cupcakes and cookies would too! :)

    1. Unofficial CCK Helper says:

      Try Let’s Do Organic brand.

  62. Thuy Duong says:

    If I use dairy creamer will it still work the same as nondairy creamer? Is it the same amount as the nondairy creamer if I use dairy creamer?

  63. Susanne Mortensen says:

    Another fast way to make it into ice cream if you don’t have an ice cream maker, which is a fun science experiment too and especially fun if you have kids:
    Put the mixture in a small ziplock back. Fill a big ziplock bag halfway up with ice cubes about 1/2 cup salt. Put the small, sealed ziplock bag into the big one, put in a pair of gloves and shake shake shake for about 5 minutes or so. Boom, ice cream has been made! :)

  64. Zoe says:

    I made this at 8:30 in the morning and proceeded to have it for breakfast… So good! I made it with almond milk, blue agave, and a small amount of mint extract. It was delish. Thank you for the great ice cream recipe!

  65. Susan says:

    I created an add-in to ice cream: chop a banana into 1/4 inch bits, sprinkle cocoa over it and mix with your knife until all of the banana pieces are coated. Scrape the whole thing into your soft serve ice cream and stir until it’s swirled well.


  66. Anne Green says:

    Will whole milk work for this recipe?

  67. Amber says:

    I was wondering if it would be okay to use Lactaid (lactose-free milk) in this recipe?

  68. Jane says:

    My favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate. You can never go wrong with chocolate. But in December, I like Blue Bell Peppermint ice cream when it comes in season. Coffee ice cream is good—I made a Mississippi mud pie with coffee ice cream for my birthday this year. Neopolitan is fun to eat, too. I’ve always hated sherbet (why make dessert fruity???).

  69. bethany says:

    hi i dont understand the ice cream base part?

  70. Kim says:

    Does anyone know the macros? I need to log them in and I have no idea what the carbs are in this,

    BTW, LOVED this recipe! Turned out amazing- esp the consistency which is what I was hesitant about.

    1. Unofficial CCK Helper says:

      Do you have her cookbook? If you do, this is one of the recipes in the book, and it lists full nutrition facts in the book :-)

  71. Melissa says:

    Hi! I’m excited to try this recipe, we just inherited a cuisinart ice cream maker. I was wondering what type you have (ie the kind where you freeze the bucket or has its own freezer mechanism?)? I don’t think I need to freeze mine beforehand but want to double check. Thanks!

  72. Brenda says:

    My brother-in-law has cancer and cannot have sugar…I was hoping you might be able to email me your homemade ice cream recipes that are only made with stevia. Thanks so much!

    1. Unofficial CCK Helper says:

      This particular recipe has a stevia option. Here is a link to all of Katie’s ice cream recipes, many of which can be sugar-free:

  73. Carmel says:

    Nice to have found you!!!