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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. cj says:

    my absolute fave ice cream is tiger tiger lol (the brite orange and black stripes mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm good ) finding it tuff to make raw tho lol hahaha

  2. vogelstar says:

    I grew up on peanut butter chocolate, but I also love rocky road. I love everything with marshmallows. I wonder if you have ever posted or will ever post a smores based recipe. MMM

  3. Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn says:

    YUM. fan.

  4. J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) says:

    So easy, so tasty! I have a Cuisinart too and have only used it once. Shame on me! I love those sprinkles, they make me happy to look at. 🙂

  5. Caryn says:

    Hey Chocolate Katie, have you heard about Cookie butter from Trader Joe’s? This reminds me of one of your recipes, though I’m sure you’d make it better and healthier. Time for a knock off?

    1. LOL I can’t try it! I don’t have a TJ’s here :(. Is it kinda like my gingerbread butter? Maybe with some coconut flour added in for buttery-ness? From what I saw in your link, it’s gingersnaps combined with nuts? In any case, it sounds fun!

  6. Kate says:

    Have you tried making ice cream with frozen bananas as the base? I guess you would have to like bananas for the recipe to be worthwhile, but it is healthy and delicious! I sometimes add peanut butter.

    1. Oh yes, definitely! I always add peanut butter!! And sometimes a little cinnamon :).

  7. Katie @ Nutrition in a peanut shell says:

    My favorite is definitely moose tracks…peanut butter cups, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate chunks and fudge swirls. mmmm.

  8. esmemerrie says:

    who cares that it’s winter! did you know the state that eats the most ice cream is Alaska? ya weird huh? I love chocolate chip cookie dough or brownie chunks in my ice cream! I also like to add some almond butter when I make your recipes 🙂

    1. So weird! I also read that ice cream sales go up in winter months. Maybe because, like another commenter mentioned, more people are eating pie… and ice cream goes so well with pie!

    2. Grizzly says:

      I told my graeomdthnr how you helped. She said, “bake them a cake!”

  9. Tara says:

    I may have spent my allowance on an ice-cream maker today…may your ice-cream-in-the-winter-lovin heart be blessed forever! I can’t wait to try it :D.

  10. I’m almost embarassed to say because it’s probably one of THE. WORST things for you, but Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked. It’s the best of everything: chocolate AND vanilla ice cream. Cookie dough AND brownie pieces. Pure “eat your feelings” heaven

  11. T says:

    Yum yum yum, looks amazing!!!

  12. Yummy! I love cookie dough ice cream and I could eat ice cream anytime of year. I asked for an ice cream maker for Christmas. Here’s hoping I get one so I can make this!

  13. We’ve had good success with rice milk, although it does come out more like sorbet than ice cream, and we’ve had many many compliments on how yummy it was!

    We can ONLY use rice milk as our littlest one is allergic every single other kind of milk….even flax seed milk! Makes life very challenging but I’m up for it!

    1. Ooh good to know! I was afraid ricemilk wouldn’t work because of its low fat content.

  14. Delicious. I have an ice cream maker thanks to the boyfriend! I’ll have to give it a try. I used to be a chocolate-only girl, but I love anything with peanut butter mixed in!

  15. Maya says:

    Be glad you don’t eat meat- arsenic in Chicken!!!!

  16. JGodbolt says:

    That breakfast looks delicious and you made me want to start eating different types of breakfast other than cereal that I eat all the time.

  17. JGodbolt says:

    I love ice cream! dessert can be both delicious and healthy for you!!

  18. Maria says:

    I just finished making this ice cream – SO. GOOD. But I found mine to taste alot more coconutty than vanilla (I just used a regular tin of coconut milk). It still tasted GLORIOUS, but maybe upping the vanilla extract a bit more might achieve a more basic vanilla ice cream.

    1. Yeah, the coconut milk definitely will have a coconut flavor (less so if you make chocolate ice cream). You could always try nondairy creamer instead, for a more plain vanilla.

      1. Maria says:

        Chocolate, now THERE’s an idea 😉

        I’m pretty sure the only nondairy creamers I’ve seen where I live are in those tiny little portable packets, and even then I have to travel to a remote location to get them :/ Still think I’ll try though, haha.

  19. Ilana says:

    ok inspired by you, i just dumped a few cups of SSo Delicious Coconut nog into the ice cream maker and let it run, and wow. Literally just the nog, I didn’t think I needed to add anything because the sweeteners and the thickeners are already in the formula. Yeah, it’s 35 degrees out and I’m facefirst in a bowl of this stuff.

  20. I would add chocolate chunks! Or peanut butter! Or whipped cream!

    Or all 3.

    And I really want an ice cream maker!! 🙂

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