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Four Ingredient Ice Cream

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.)

4.71/5 (7)

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Published on December 7, 2011

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  1. 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!!

  2. 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)

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

      • 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.

  7. Kit-Kat says

    I love all flavors!!! The only exception is probably nut-infested flavors…. especially those containing pistachios or walnuts. I’ll have them on occasion, but it’s not a top pic
    My absolute favorite is Baskin Robins 31 Flavors Daiqurie ices (original, watermelon, and raspberry). Other than that, I love cookie dough, peanut butter kinds, brownie or chocolate kinds, cookie crumb kinds, coffee, caramel and toffee….. the list goes on and on!
    Do you like pistachio ice cream??? I only like it in spamoni.

  8. Faith @ For the Health of It says

    I’d always loved chocolate chip cookie dough, but there’s also something to be said about a classic high quality plain vanilla or chocolate

  9. Amanda says

    I crave ice cream more in the cold months than I do in the summer!! I cant wait to try your ice cream your mint chocolate chip is on my long to do list.

  10. Candace says

    Hm… can someone even choose a favorite flavor? i really like coffee or turtle or cappuccino or mint or banana or peanut butter. the list doesn’t end! i really want to try this recipe but don’t have an ice cream maker. is there another way to make it? please say yes.

  11. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga says

    Making nondairy ice cream AND making it in a blender rather than an ice cream maker (which is me)…is definitely an art rather than a science I’ve found. So many kinds of milks/mylks, sugars, i.e. maple, white, agave, etc…and so it’s so hard to get it to the right consistency and texture…bravo to you for keeping on with the experiments. And yes, I would have ruled out cornstarch too! Can’t believe the NYT used that?

  12. Maria @ Beautiful Busy Bee says

    I love gelato! I’m so jealous of you for your trip to Italy! 🙂 When it gets warm again I must make this for my family because we are one big pack of ice cream lovers. Ooh by the way, your photography is AMAZING. I wish I could photograph food like that!

  13. 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!

  14. Heather @ Bake, Run, Live says

    I will eat ice cream even if it’s cold and snowing (as long as I have my electric blanket!).
    My favorite flavor is mint chocolate chip, but as long as it doesn’t have blueberries, pineapple, or coffee- I’m good. Add a brownie to the bowl of ice cream…oh yum!

  15. Amy says

    we have an old fashioned (but with motor) White Mountain ice cream machine. You fill the metal container, pour ice and rock salt around it, plug it in and let it churn til frozen. Do you think your recipe would work in it the same way? No pre-freezing of anything is required and I soooo miss ice cream!

  16. Kathy says

    For me, it would have to be…hm…okay, honestly, I’ll eat anything you place in front of me (unless it’s cockroaches, or rats, or something out of the norm (although, I did eat bear meat once; tasted like pork).
    But, ultimately, I’d have to say cookies n cream!

  17. Anna @ Food Fitness Frolicking says

    This is PERFECT for the icky weather we’ve been having. Seriously though, where are the crisp, beautiful december days I’m used to?

    This icecream looks so delicious though. I mean, mouth watering delicious. I bet it would be good with a spoonful of peanut butter or some of your cookie dough mixed in 🙂

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