This vegan chocolate ice cream recipe is so easy to make because it’s made with only 5 ingredients! Enjoy this uber-rich, thick, and creamy dairy-free ice cream with some vegan magic shell on top. You’ll love that every bite offers the most perfect chocolate flavor! If you love vegan summer desserts, be sure to try this vegan raw cheesecake.
I grew up in a super-small town. One of my favorite summertime activities was to go swimming at the neighborhood pool. Then, if I could scrounge a few coins from around the house (hello seat cushion divers), I’d walk up to the neighborhood cafe, and get a chocolate ice cream cone.
Even though I’m vegan now, I still have some of the same cravings. That means vegan ice cream is one of my favorite treats, especially in the summer months. I even love using it to make my vegan frozen drumsticks!
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Using full-fat coconut milk makes this dairy-free ice cream just as smooth and creamy as if you were using dairy
- Adding tapioca starch makes this the smoothest ice cream possible, almost gelato like
- Natural cocoa powder adds rich chocolate flavor to every bite!
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Vegan evaporated milk — You’ll want to use creamy vegan milk. That can be vegan creamer, or you can make your own vegan evaporated milk.
- Full fat coconut milk — I look for coconut milk with 12+ grams of fat in it. Coconut cream is another great alternative to use here. I find this at Sprouts or Trader Joe’s.
- Sugar — I used granulated sugar for this recipe and it’s important to keep things sweet enough because it keeps the ice cream from freezing too firmly.
- Starch — You’ll want to add a little starch to your ice cream mix — it’s my secret sauce to making a smooth vegan gelato type dessert. I used tapioca starch, but you can use cornstarch.
- Cocoa powder — I used natural cocoa powder (the kind easily available at most grocery stores) and it creates just the right touch of chocolate.
Are you used to seeing vanilla extract? You can add some if you’d like, but I find it unnecessary. My goal is to eliminate all unnecessary ingredients, so no vanilla for me!
How to Make Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream
- Freeze the ice cream maker bowl by placing it in the freezer.
- Make the ice cream sauce by stirring together everything from vegan evaporated milk to cocoa powder in a saucepan.
- Bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat while stirring.
- Thicken the sauce by cooking and stirring for up to 2 minutes.
- Pour the slightly cooled sauce into a food processor (or blender) and pulse in short bursts until smooth.
- Refrigerate several hours or up to overnight in an airtight container.
- Spoon the chocolate mixture into the frozen ice cream bowl and churn until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe, sealable container and freeze immediately.
Here’s a more detailed step-by-step instructions:
Step One: Freeze Your Ice Cream Maker Bowl
Place the freezer bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer. You should do this for at least 6 to 8 hours at the very minimum. I place mine in overnight to have it ready.
Step Two: Make the Chocolate Ice Cream Batter
Add the vegan evaporated milk and coconut milk to a saucepan, along with the granulated sugar, starch, and cocoa powder. Give this all a good stir and then bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Do not obsess over lumps. Or, you can obsess over lumps if that’s your thing. If so, then you can skip the step with the food processor. But I prefer to stay chill in the kitchen, so let the lumps happen!
Continue cooking and stirring for up to 2 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken. Then remove it from the heat.
By the way, this makes an excellent vegan chocolate pudding if you ever want to skip the ice cream part!
Step Three: Transfer to a Food Processor
This is why I don’t worry about lumps, because we’re going to transfer the whole mess into a food processor and pulse for a few seconds. If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender. Either way, pulse it in short bursts until it’s nice and smooth.
Transfer the mixture to a sealable container and refrigerate several hours, up to overnight.
Do NOT proceed without these two things:
- The freezer bowl of your ice cream maker needs to be thoroughly frozen (leaving it in the freezer overnight does the trick).
- The chocolate mixture needs to be thoroughly chilled (again, overnight works). At least several hours in the fridge is required).
Step Four: Make Ice Cream
Once the mixture is chilled and your ice cream maker bowl is frozen, you’re ready to make some vegan ice cream. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the ice cream freezer bowl. Look how thick and fluffy that mixture is! That’s why it’s going to be ultra creamy!
Next, follow the instructions on your ice cream maker and churn until it reaches the desired consistency. This should take 15–20 minutes, but churn it for as long as possible to get enough air in the ice cream to make it light and fluffy.
Transfer the mixture to a freezer-safe, sealable container and freeze immediately.
To serve dairy-free chocolate ice cream, remove the container from the freezer and allow it to sit for several minutes at room temperature. This helps it to soften slowly. Once it’s soft enough to scoop, it’s ready to serve.
Scoop the ice cream into a cone or in a cup. Top with vegan chocolate syrup, chopped nuts, and any of your favorite toppings.
Store ice cream deep in the freezer, as far away from the door as possible. This helps keep the ice cream at a consistent temperature in the freezer. Also, remember that every time you take it out and scoop it, you’re changing the texture of the ice cream. So with each refreeze, there will be a few more ice crystals.
Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream
- Place the freezer bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer.
- Add vegan evaporated milk and coconut milk to a saucepan, along with the granulated sugar, starch, and cocoa powder. Stir to combine. Then turn the heat up to medium-high and bring it to a simmer. The mixture will begin to thicken. Don't worry if there are lumps. Continue cooking and stirring for up to 2 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken.
- Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor (or blender) and pulse in short bursts until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a sealable container and refrigerate up to overnight.
- Two things need to happen before you proceed: 1) the freezer bowl of your ice cream maker needs to be thoroughly frozen (leaving it in the freezer overnight does the trick) and 2) the chocolate mixture needs to be thoroughly chilled (again, the overnight thing does the trick, but at least several hours of time in the fridge is required).
- Once the mixture is chilled and your ice cream maker bowl is frozen, you’re ready to make ice cream. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the ice cream freezer bowl and churn until it reaches a desired consistency. This should take 15–20 minutes, but churn it for as long as possible to get enough air in the ice cream to make it light and fluffy.
- Transfer the mixture to a freezer-safe, sealable container and freeze immediately.
- To serve, remove the container from the freezer and allow it to sit for a few minutes at room temperature to soften. Then serve on a cone or in a cup with vegan chocolate syrup, chopped nuts, and any of your favorite toppings.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Don’t have an ice cream machine? No problem. Here are some tips for making ice cream without a machine.
This post was originally published in 2020 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.