15 Easy and Delicious Ice Cream Substitutes


My grandmother had two favorite ice cream methods. The first involved cream, sugar, egg yolks, and fresh vanilla, combined with just-picked peaches. The second one was to scoop vanilla ice cream into a bowl and top it with Metrecal. She knew it defeated the purpose, but she said it "made the Metrecal taste better."

Grandma loved ice cream, and so do I. I don't usually have the time to drag out our ice cream maker, though, so here are some recipes for "ice cream" that are a lot easier, very interesting, and healthy. I think Grandma would approve.

1. Bananas

Frozen bananas make amazing "ice cream." I like bananas, so I was fine with plain old banana flavor, but then we monkeyed around (sorry) with different flavorings like chocolate syrup, caramel, and coconut. What I found to be interesting was that the banana flavor isn't that strong, so if you aren't crazy about bananas, just add flavors. And, bonus: I didn't feel guilty after polishing off a bowl of… bananas.

2. Bananas, Even Better

Buoyed by our frozen banana success, my husband tried something he'd read online, which was slicing bananas horizontally, freezing for an hour, then coating with Magic Shell chocolate and refreezing. These were delicious. I wanted to renew our marriage vows, they were so good. I ought to make things like vegan seeded gluten-free high-protein banana bread from our bananas, but I am busy coating them in chocolate now.

3. Coconut Milk

Upon discovering this coconut milk technique, I immediately dove into my pantry. I was delighted to find cans of coconut milk, which I put into the refrigerator (always start with cold coconut milk). Also, note that you want full-fat coconut milk, not "lite." This works either by hand, with a whisk, an emulsifying blender, or in a traditional ice cream maker. I happen to love coconut flavor, so plain, sweetened coconut ice cream was fine by me. If you'd like to jazz it up, though, try adding:

4. Greek Yogurt

I always have a tub of plain Greek yogurt in my refrigerator, so this ice-cream-from-yogurt recipe was one I could try right away. I think it's much better than any store-bought yogurt I have ever had. Try adding:

  • Peaches
  • Blueberries
  • Mango

5. Sweetened, Condensed Milk

People frequently get confused about evaporated milk and sweetened, condensed milk. You will need sweetened, condensed milk for this no-churn ice cream. This one is not dairy-free, so you are forewarned. However, I think it's the creamiest, most truly ice-cream-like of the bunch, and also quite versatile. Try adding:

  • Chocolate
  • Caramel
  • Butterscotch
  • Fruit

6. Almond Milk

This almond milk recipe makes an ice cream which is a little more granular than creamy, but I sort of like that texture. It is not vegan, as it contains egg yolks. The chocolate is really irresistible.

7. Hawaiian-Style

Shaved ice is an extremely popular treat in Hawaii. I like mine with vanilla frozen yogurt in the middle of the shave ice. You pick various flavors, such as coconut, lilikoi, cherry, lime, etc., which are squirted onto the top of the fluffy ice. If you are feeling really adventurous, add azuki beans, which are sweet little beans. I'm not making this up!

8. Creamy Sorbet

Getting a sorbet to be creamy is a good trick, and this sorbet recipe tells you how to get it the consistency of soft snow. One of my friends does this every Christmas, and it makes a very festive-looking dessert.

9. Tofu Ice Cream

Okay, tofu-lovers, give this dairy-free ice cream a whirl. I passed on testing it because I'm a big weenie, but you can comment and tell me how great it is. (The recipe says the flavor is "slightly bean-y.")

10. Pudding

If "creamy" is your thing, then you might want to give pudding ice cream a try. The pudding mix contains thickeners, which adds to the stability of the dessert.

11. Avocado

Remember, avocados are technically fruits. The creamy texture we love in guacamole totally works in ice cream. You can make either a vegan version or a more traditional milk-and-cream recipe.

12. Cashews

Oh, you crazy vegans and your cashews. This cashew recipe actually produces a sort of nutty, delicious ice cream. Who doesn't like cashews or maple syrup? I do.

13. Cashews No. 2, Vegan Chai

Although a little more complicated than some of the recipes above, if you are a fan of chai, you will love this creamy concoction.

14. Cool Whip

I had this Cool Whip ice cream years ago at a friend's and had forgotten all about it. It goes together really fast and freezes to a soft-serve consistency in only four hours.

15. Let it Snow

Yes, ice cream made from snow! Just, y'know, be careful about where you get your snow...

There you have it! Next time you are craving ice cream, consider making your own from one of these interesting ingredients.

What's your favorite ice cream substitute?

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