Traditional ice cream is typically made from dairy products such as milk and cream, so it is not dairy-free. However, there are many alternatives to traditional ice cream that are dairy-free. These are typically made from alternative milk sources such as almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or oat milk, and they are designed to mimic the texture and flavor of traditional ice cream.
These alternatives are a great option for lactose intolerant, dairy allergic, or following a vegan diet. They can be found in many grocery stores, particularly health food stores, and they often come in a wide range of flavors.
So, while traditional ice cream is not dairy-free, plenty of dairy-free ice cream alternatives are available. US FDA defines ice cream as a dairy product. Look for the “non-dairy frozen dessert” label and check the ingredients to ensure your ice cream is 100% dairy-free.
Best Dairy-Free Ice Cream Brands
Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy
Known for its exciting flavors and chunky mix-ins, Ben & Jerry’s offers a variety of non-dairy ice creams made with almond milk and sunflower butter. The taste and texture closely resemble their dairy-based counterparts.
So Delicious Dairy Free
This brand uses a variety of bases, including coconut milk, almond milk, and oat milk. Their products are known for being creamy and satisfying with various flavors, from classics to more unique options.
This is a coconut milk-based ice cream brand that offers a wide array of flavors. They’re known for their creamy texture and commitment to organic, non-GMO ingredients.
Oatly, a Swedish company known for its oat milk, also makes non-dairy ice cream using oat milk. Their ice creams are creamy and slightly oaty, appealing to those who prefer a less sweet dessert.
Häagen-Dazs offers a range of non-dairy ice creams that are luxuriously smooth and rich. They use bases like almond milk, coconut cream, and peanut butter to create delectable flavors.
Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss
This brand specializes in coconut milk-based ice creams. They are known for their organic and non-GMO ingredients and creamy, indulgent flavors.
All these brands offer many ice cream variants. Don’t forget to check the labels and ingredients if you follow a particular diet.
Tips for Buying Dairy-Free Ice Cream
Check the Ingredient List: Even if a product is labeled as non-dairy, always check the ingredient list for hidden dairy products or allergens.
Try Different Bases: Different non-dairy bases (almond, coconut, soy, or oat) can create different flavors and textures. Try a few to see which you prefer.
Consider the Sweetener: Some brands use sweeteners, from cane sugar to agave nectar. If you have dietary restrictions, check the type of sweetener used.
Flavors Can Vary: The flavor profile of non-dairy ice creams can differ slightly from their dairy counterparts. Be open to trying new flavors.
Look for Creaminess: The best non-dairy ice creams have found ways to mimic the creaminess of dairy. Reviews can help you find the most satisfying options
Dairy-Free Ice Cream Recipe
- 1 can (14 ounces) full-fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup sweetener of choice (like maple syrup or agave nectar)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This usually takes about 20-25 minutes.
- Once churned to a soft-serve consistency, you can enjoy it immediately or transfer it to a lidded container and freeze it for 4-6 hours for a firmer texture.
- Before serving, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften.
Remember, you can add in other flavors or mix-ins as desired, such as fruit purees, chocolate chips, or cookie pieces, to make your homemade dairy-free ice cream even more exciting!
Types of Dairy-Free Ice Cream
Almond Milk Ice Cream: This type tends to be lighter and less creamy but offers a subtle nutty flavor.
Coconut Milk Ice Cream: This type is often very creamy and can have a mild coconut flavor.
Soy Milk Ice Cream: This variety can have a creamy texture, but the flavor of soy can be noticeable.
Oat Milk Ice Cream: Oat milk ice cream is creamy with a subtle oat flavor and is great for those who prefer less sweetness.
Cashew Milk Ice Cream: Known for its creamy and rich texture, cashew milk ice cream has a subtle sweetness that works well with many flavors.
Dairy-Free vs. Dairy-Based Ice Cream
Taste: Dairy ice cream generally has a creamier, richer taste. Dairy-free options might have a hint of their base’s flavor, like coconut or almond.
Texture: Dairy ice cream typically has a smoother texture, while some dairy-free ice creams might be less creamy.
Nutrition: Dairy ice cream often has more protein and calcium, but dairy-free ice cream can be lower in fat and calories.
Digestibility: Dairy-free ice cream is easier to digest for lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy.
Environmental Impact: Dairy-free ice cream usually has a smaller carbon footprint compared to dairy ice cream, as plant-based diets require fewer resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is dairy-free ice cream vegan?
Dairy-free ice cream is typically vegan as it does not use animal-derived products. However, always check the ingredient list to ensure it doesn’t contain other animal-derived ingredients.
Is vegan ice cream dairy-free?
Yes, vegan ice cream is dairy-free since it doesn’t contain any animal products, including dairy.
Is dairy-free ice cream healthy?
Dairy-free ice cream can be a healthier alternative if you’re lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy, or following a vegan diet. However, like all desserts, it should be consumed in moderation as it can still be high in sugar and calories.
What are the benefits of choosing dairy-free ice cream over dairy-based?
Dairy-free ice cream is beneficial for those with dairy allergies or lactose intolerance. It’s also a good choice for vegans or those who prefer a plant-based diet. Some people find it lighter and easier to digest.
How long does dairy-free ice cream last once it has been opened?
Once opened, dairy-free ice cream should be consumed within 2-3 weeks for the best quality. Storing it properly in the freezer with a tightly sealed lid is important to prevent freezer burn.