I'm thinking of reducing my dairy intake. For ice cream, I'm thinking of using a milk substitute and wondering what works well.

I'm thinking of:

starch sources for a "roux" like concoction:

potato: flour / starch

rice flour / starch

corn starch


Possible thickener / emulsifier (to add in very small quantities) -konjac


canola oil

coconut oil

I can currently make ice cream with just milk (no cream) by adding another fat (canola oil or coconut oil) but milk has those magical micelle fat globules. In freezing it might not make such a big difference (since things might separate slower in the solid state). What have others tried and what works in terms of flavor?

  • 2
    "ice cream with just milk" Isn't that called Gelato?
    – Kevin
    Jul 17, 2014 at 2:25
  • I add coconut oil and or canola oil, is that part of Gelato? I do this because otherwise I have to get heavy cream... and that's a pain.
    – Dan S
    Jul 17, 2014 at 3:12

4 Answers 4


Ciao Bella has an excellent 'coconut sorbet', that had the creamy quality of ice cream, without any actual dairy.

They released a cookbook a few years ago, and although I don't have it, I did browse through it in a store ... I don't remember the whole recipe, but I recall there being actual coconut meat in it, not just coconut milk. I don't remember there being any other starches or thickeners in it.

  • Had some coconut milk ice cream this weekend, tasted pretty good. I am sure there are plenty of recipes online; here is one I found just typing coconut milk ice cream recipes. There were a few others that looked interesting as well. One suggested adding toasted almonds and some dark chocolate shavings for an Almond Joy flavor :)
    – JSM
    Jul 14, 2014 at 17:07

If you're going for low-fat but still creamy then tapioca starch works very well. I use it for sorbet, so it should work fine with milk substitutes as well.

Use about 1 tablespoon of starch per quart of liquid. Add another two teaspoons if you have no fat whatsoever. Make a slurry, cook to a low boil until thickened, etc. etc.

  • I'm not necessarily going for "low fat". It's mainly I've heard the fats and proteins in milk aren't that great in terms of health.
    – Dan S
    Jul 13, 2014 at 15:06

I am fairly sure this will work. What matters in ice cream is not so much the emulsion, as the ratio of solids to water. Once everything is dispersed finely enough (and in a roux, it is), it should work well. There are ice creams which use starch too, for example gelato. You'll have to boil your sauce though, a simple slurry is likely to have an unpleasant off taste.

If you are making fruit ice cream, you might cook the roux with juice instead of water, for added taste, provided you like your fruit's taste when cooked.

Another option would be to use nut milks. I've read ice cream recipes with these, but never tried.

Take this advice with a grain of salt - I haven't tried it myself. And you won't get the exactly same taste and texture as with real dairy milk or cream, but this is normal for all substitutions. I still think that the result will be scoopable and tasty.

If I get try it, I'll post results.


I was looking online and someone made oat milk without doing any cooking. So I did something like that 1 cup oats (ground to flour). This is probably too much especially since I also used coconut flour (mainly for flavor). It isn't "right" yet, but I think with the right ratios I might be able to do this w/o any cooking. Probably I need to use a blender to mix things properly before I put it in the ice cream machine.

I'll try more experiments with less oat flour, and maybe a little almond flour, and more oil and see how things come out.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.