Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream (easy 5-ingredient recipe that’s dairy-free and naturally sweetened)

After years of developing mostly healthy recipes, people logically assume that I am one of those really virtuous eaters. And I truly enjoy lots of wholesome foods. Truth is though, I also have a massive sweet tooth and hardly go a day without satisfying it.  I struggle like everyone else but have managed to control my urges by, for example, counting out a respectable number of peanut M&Ms for my afternoon coffee break.  When it comes to the craving that hits a couple hours after dinner, however, luxuriously creamy ice cream is the only thing I really want.

Trouble struck last year when I had to give up dairy for a while. I was having major GI troubles and my doctor had me eliminate some things to help determine the problem. While I have been able to resume eating dairy in moderation, the hiatus kicked off a permanent love affair with coconut milk-based ice cream. My husband gasped at the price of a measly pint.  It’s a specialty item after all.  Six dollars and change special.  I knew I had to sustain this relationship in a cheaper way.

Extensive experimentation (not a hardship in this case!) led to the following recipe. Freshly made, it’s creamy like soft serve.  Allow it to “ripen” in the freezer and it will freeze hard. Because there are no artificial stabilizers or additives, the ice cream will freeze harder than most commercial brands.  Just let it rest on the counter for a few minutes before serving until it reaches a scoop-able consistency.  I decided that if I was going to all the effort to develop a healthier, dairy-free version of my beloved ice cream, I should pull out all the stops and eliminate refined sweeteners. Of course, it still had to taste great. Based on the quantity that has been consumed in this house, I’m confident in saying it does. : )

Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream
Luxuriously sweet and creamy, it's hard to believe that this ice cream is dairy-free and naturally sweetened--and incredibly easy. An ice cream maker produces exceptional results, but the recipe can be successfully made without one.

Yields 8 servings (approximately 1 1/2 quarts).
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  1. 2 (14-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated until very cold
  2. 3/4 cup cocoa powder (I use regular, not Dutched)
  3. 2/3 cup honey (could use agave or pure maple syrup)
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  1. Place a freezer-safe container in the freezer. (See notes for additional details, but a cold container will prevent the soft set mixture from melting when transferred, thereby preventing ice crystals from developing.)
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth and creamy. Tips: Make sure you scrape all of the hardened coconut cream out of the cans. It can become quite hard, depending on the age and temperature of the can (which is actually a good thing in this case). Also, I find it helpful to stir the cocoa powder into the coconut milk mixture before blending. This will prevent a poof of cocoa powder that sticks to the sides and lid of your blender.
  3. Taste the mixture at this point. In this recipe, the sweetness level is more similar to dark chocolate than milk chocolate. If you prefer a sweeter ice cream, add a little more honey to taste, blending to incorporate.
  4. At this point, you have two options. You can transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker, which will freeze the ice cream in about 20 minutes. Simply follow the manufacturer’s directions. When finished, the ice cream will be soft set. Enjoy immediately or transfer to the container you placed in the freezer for storage.
  5. For a no-ice-cream-maker option, transfer the blended mixture to the container in your freezer and freeze for 4-6 hours, or until firm.
  6. After sitting in the freezer overnight, the ice cream will "ripen" and freeze slightly harder than regular ice cream. Simply allow it to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes or so before scooping.
  1. Refrigerating the cans of coconut milk for several hours or overnight will help the cream portion firm up and allow for faster freezing. I also recommend freezing the container in which you plan to store the ice cream. When not using an ice cream maker, a loaf pan or other container that provides good surface area will allow the ice cream to freeze more quickly and evenly.
  2. When using an ice cream maker, the mixture will be soft set after freezing according to the manufacturer's directions. For harder ice cream, transfer to another container and freeze for several hours. Again, if you think to freeze the container, the mixture will not become soupy around the edges when transferred.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen

Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream

When not using an ice cream maker, I have experimented with freezing the mixture undisturbed and stirring the mixture once an hour for the first three hours in the freezer. The undisturbed ice cream is set and slightly creamier after 3-4 hours. The stirred option is slightly creamier the following day after the ice cream has fully “ripened.” If eating the same day, I don’t bother stirring. I do set my kitchen timer and stir when saving the ice cream for the next day,

For a smaller yield, the recipe can easily be cut in half.

Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Luscious, creamy Chocolate Ice Cream -- dairy-free and naturally sweetened

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  1. Mary Lou Keller

    Good morning Ann! I love that I am the first one to comment on this.. This looks incredible and so EASY!! I am going to try this one this weekend if not sooner.

    By the way, the corn and cucumber salad was a hit last night. I made an enormous mess in the kitchen (corn everywhere) but it was so yummy!

    Have a wonderful day!

    1. Ann

      I am so glad the salad was a hit, messy kitchen and all! I’m excited for you to try the ice cream and hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

  2. Chundy Wright

    I really want to try this chocolate ice cream recipe. It looks divine! How thee ever, I can not have coconut or coconut milk. Any advice on what I can replace it with? I look forward to hearing from you on this issue. Thanks

    1. Ann

      If you can have dairy, I would recommend substituting an equal amount of cream for the coconut milk. You would likely even have success with a combination of half-and-half and heavy cream–you just need enough fat content to achieve the creaminess that the coconut milk provides. I hope that helps!

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  4. Kate

    This is de-freakin-licious as one of my guests said and it didn’t last long! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

  5. Pingback: 5-Ingredient No-Churn Vanilla Bean Ice Cream — The Fountain Avenue Kitchen

  6. Leilapi

    Recipe looks really good. I just want to know, should you shake the can of coconut milk before refrigerating?

    1. Ann Post author

      It doesn’t actually matter. The cream will separate and harden when the milk becomes cold whether shaken or not. Then you scoop it all into the blender. It’s tasty!

  7. Mackenzie

    Just tried this recipe and… WOW! It is so rich and creamy. Absolutely delicious! This will definitely be a new staple in my freezer. Thank you for the recipe!

  8. Felicia

    This ice cream is absolutely delicious! Thank you for this amazing alternative. It is definitely something that I will continue to make for my family. It tastes like a regular chocolate ice cream (even better!) yet contains no dairy or refined sugar and is perfectly balanced. My family always searches for a good dairy-free ice cream as my brother can’t have dairy, but our search has ended thanks to this recipe 🙂

    1. Ann Post author

      I’m thrilled this was a hit and that it also filled a void for your brother. Thanks so much for the thoughtful feedback, Felicia!

  9. Ashley

    I want to make this for my daughter who has a dairy allergy, do I use the whole cans of refrigerated coconut milk or just the cream scooped from the top and leave the water?

  10. Shelly

    The flavor was really great but I had an issue with the texture. I’ve tried this recipe and other ice cream recipes that use coconut milk and every time it comes out very icy and not smooth or creamy at all. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Shelly, Did you use full fat canned coconut milk and scrape all of the hardened milk out of the can? If you happened to use the light version or didn’t use all of the thick cream, the outcome would be icier in this or a similar recipe. My second guess would tie into the ice cream maker you are using. It might be that it’s not making the mixture cold enough or incorporating enough air, and the crystals develop when the freezer takes over. Lastly, are you starting by mixing everything very well in the blender? I hope some of this is helpful. If not, let me know!

  11. Lin Joy

    What healthy additives can we use to stabilize the texture without using electric ice cream freezer or timing and stirring over and over? Could we
    use Xanthum gum, perhaps?
    Also, what other spices compliment dark chocolate if you do NOT like the taste of mocha, coffee or espresso powder? High quality cinnamon?

    1. Ann Post author

      Guar gum is generally used instead of xanthan gum in ice cream and other cold foods. I have not tried it in this recipe, but the general rule of thumb is 1-2 teaspoons per quart of liquid. As for the spice question, I think cinnamon would complement the cocoa powder nicely. If you try the recipe with any of these options, I’d love to know how you make out!