What is the best carb or protein to replace sugar in an ice cream recipe?

I would like to remove cane sugar, artificial sweeteners, honey, maple syrup, xylitol, stevia, erythritol, etc. from my ice cream recipe.

I read in another forum about unsweetened ice cream that sugar adds “bulk” to ice cream insinuating that it is necessary to make a pleasant textured dessert.

I’m thinking banana, tapioca flour, and/or sweet potato may work well because of their thicker consistencies and starch content. Before I attempt this, I would appreciate any advice or concerns.


Side note: I will use an ice cream maker. I will include egg(s) to the recipe. To prevent an icy texture, I will use some vanilla extract and/or another form of alcohol.

  • 1
    No stevia too ?
    – Daniel E.
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 9:12

2 Answers 2


From a bulk perspective you don't have to replace sugar with anything, you certainly don't need want to add starch to compensate as that will not do favors for your consistency and mouth feel. Sugar helps the consistency of ice cream by reducing ice crystal formation, protein does not, and starch does a bit but makes your ice cream, well, starchy rather than creamy if you add much. Vanilla extract doesn't inhibit ice crystal formation much as it's not enough alcohol unless you add way too much, straight alcohol like vodka is a better choice.

For me the solution isn't bulk, but to make up for the lack of sugar using a stabilizer like guar gum and/or carageenan. Locust bean gum is good for presenting ice crystal formation as well.

Regarding sweetness, fruit isn't a good source of sweetness because of concentration. Most of fruit is water, and to add enough sweetness and fruit flavor you have to add a lot, adding a lot of starch, cellulose and water to your ice cream which isn't good for consistency. When I add fruit for flavor I cook it down into a jam to reduce its water content, this works well for berries, but wouldn't work for starchy fruits like bananas, you might try banana chips instead. I think what without some sort of sweetener it's going to end up pretty bland though.

  • Excellent answer but I would nitpick a little. Starch and protein both are very effective at reducing crystals in ice cream when they are made into gels. Custards are protein gels and starch gels/pudding are also not uncommon as an ice cream base. Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 0:18

Two things: To prevent ice crystals I use Light Corn Syrup. In a recipe calling for wet ingredients of 2.5 cups heavy cream, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, 1, 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk, and 2 tablespoons molasses I used 3 tsp light corn syrup. I made it in the freezer without an ice cream maker and it was very smooth; no ice crystals anywhere.

It appears you are trying to avoid the sweeteners but I am simply trying to give you the proportions of the wet ingredients to the light corn syrup.

This was part of a recipe from Kate Merker and Taylor Murray (and it might have come from "America's Test Kitchen" but I don't remember for sure).

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.