Vegan coconut avocado ice cream makes a great vegan ice cream base, regardless of what kind of swirl you put in it. You can make the same swirl I did or feel free to swirl in whatever your heart desires!
This base churns up into about 2 quarts of delicious, creamy vegan ice cream.
Don’t miss the round up of all my ice cream recipes. (I have a few more vegan ones. You may enjoy my Vegan Treacle Tart Ice Cream or maybe my Vegan Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream–it has a vegan dulce de leche swirl in it!)
I received free products from the Wild Hibiscus Company. All opinions are my own.
Hi there, friends! This post is long and has a lot of information about how to keep your ice cream creamy in the freezer.
If you’re just here for the recipe, you can jump straight to it by either using the button under the photo or by clicking on “Vegan Coconut Avocado Ice Cream Recipe” in the table of contents.
It Is Possible To Make Creamy Vegan Ice Cream
If you had told me just a few months ago that vegan ice cream would be something I’d actually want to eat, I would have turned my back on you and stalked off.
Then I tried a vegan strawberry ice cream at an ice cream place in downtown Durham. I thought it was good, but not really great.
It was a little icy, although the flavor was good (strawberry and coconut), and I just assumed that folks who choose to be vegan had to resign themselves to a life of icy, not-quite-as-good-as-real, ice cream. After all, how can you achieve creamy without the cream?
And not everyone enjoys banana, so making a banana-based nice cream was out.
How to Keep Your Vegan Ice Cream Creamy
The answer is fat.
And fat lives in both full-fat canned coconut milk and in avocados.
Put them together, and you have a creamy, green base. Vegan coconut avocado ice cream.
The flavor itself is mild enough to layer other flavors in it. I’m sure a creamy, rich chocolate ice cream would work nicely with a coconut avocado base.
I’m not the first person to come up with a coconut avocado ice cream base. But I do have a pretty good understanding of is flavor and how to make ingredients do what I want them to do.
In the case of this ice cream, I wanted super-creamy with no grainy mouthfeel and no iciness. And I knew that the avocado and coconut base would be smooth and mellow and could stand some perking up with a bright–literally and figuratively–swirl and a bit of crunch.
After all, it’s really not an Ice Cream Tuesday unless there’s a base, a swirl, and a mix-in.
Methods for Binding Water in Ice Cream Base
Since I have discovered the amazing Ice Cream Nation website, I have learned so much about different methods for binding up some water in a base to ensure a creamy outcome.
While Jeni of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is credited for using a cornstarch-thickened base, she really is just bringing a Sicilian Gelato formulation to the masses.
I have used cornstarch in several of my ice creams, but I didn’t think I’d need any for the base of this one since a large portion of the volume of base is made up of pureed avocado.
And many vegans find cornstarch problematic because of GMOs.
Of course, another way to bind up some water is to just get rid of it through reduction, or gently boiling to reduce the volume of liquid and to concentrate flavors..
Freezing: Still versus Churned
For this strawberry hibiscus swirl, I reduced it so most of the water was gone.
This makes for both an intense flavor and minimal ice crystals since the water isn’t there to form them.
You have to be careful with a swirl since it isn’t churned but layered in after churning. This means that a swirl is basically “still frozen.” In other words, it freezes untouched since you add it after you finish churning.
Freezing while churning keeps ice crystals small so you don’t feel them in your mouth, but when you freeze something still, the ice crystals just form naturally and are going to be however big they’re going to be, and there’s nothing you can do about it once it’s in the container.
And that means you have to mitigate ice crystal formation before it gets in the container. Hence the reduction.
I also added 2 teaspoons of vodka to the swirl to help ensure it wouldn’t freeze solid. Since alcohol doesn’t freeze at home-freezer temperatures, adding some allows your ice cream (or swirl) to maintain “scoopability” even straight out of the freezer.
Normally, I’d add in a tiny squirt of corn syrup since invert sugars inhibit crystallization, but since I was trying to be good and vegan, I didn’t want to muddy the waters with such a processed product. You could try that trick with a tiny bit of maple syrup, though.
The Hibiscus Rose Swirl
About that hibiscus rose element? I received a jar of hibiscus flowers in rose syrup along with some other hibiscus products from Bonnie Campbell who represents the Wild Hibiscus Flower Company, and I wanted to play.
You can leave them out of the swirl and just make a plain strawberry swirl, but they do add a nice tart/floral element to the swirl, and rose goes really well with pistachio. It’s your call.
Do I Need An Ice Cream Maker to Make This Avocado Ice Cream
I have and use my ice cream maker pretty regularly, but if you don’t have one, it is no problem.
Here’s how to make sure you have creamy, wonderful vegan ice cream even without a churn:
- Once you make your base, chill it down as quickly as you can in an ice bath until it is cold.
- Whisk the cold base very well to aerate it as much as possible. Put it in the freezer.
- Whisk your base every 45 minutes, making sure to scrape all the frozen base off the sides of your bowl and incorporate it into the whole. Put it back in the freezer.
- Continue whisking and incorporating the frozen base into the whole at 45 minute intervals until your base is the texture of soft-serve ice cream. This could take 4-5 rounds of whisking and waiting.
- Cover and freeze until firm, about 4-6 hours. Or layer it into a container with swirls and/or mixins.
TIP: If you don’t have time for all that whisking and waiting, you can let your base freeze solid, cut it into chunks, and then puree it in your blender or food processor.
Once it is the consistency of soft-serve, you can layer it into a container with mixins and/or swirls or freeze it plain.
For convenience, consistency, and accuracy, almost all my recipes are written by weight, either in ounces and/or grams, even the liquids.
I strongly encourage you to purchase a kitchen scale and learn to use it.
This is the one I used for years. I love it and highly recommend it:
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
I really hope you love this avocado ice cream, you guys! It is seriously smooth and creamy. If you make it, please share a photo with me, either in the PCO Facebook Group or on instagram by tagging @onlinepastrychef and using hashtag #pcorecipe. Thanks, and enjoy!
Vegan Coconut Avocado Ice Cream Recipe
For the Base
- 2 13.5 oz cans full fat coconut milk
- 1.5 pounds very ripe avocados (3 medium)
- 8.75 oz 1 1/4 cup vegan sugar
- 1.5 Tablespoons 4 1/2 teaspoons lime juice, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ⅜ teaspoon kosher salt
For the Strawberry Hibiscus Swirl
- ½ pint strawberries , hulled and halved (a generous one cup)
- 6 hibiscus flowers in rose syrup plus 2 Tablespoons of the syrup (optional)
- pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
- 1 Tablespoon vegan sugar (or more, to taste, if you leave out the hibiscus flowers)
- 2 teaspoons vodka
For the Pistachios
- 4 oz roasted pistachios (I used salted), shelled and rubbed to get off most of the papery skins (once shelled, about 1/2 cup)
- 2 Tablespoons hisbiscus rose syrup (or 1 Tablespoon water and 2 Tablespoons sugar)
For the Base
- Heat the coconut milk over medium heat until very warm. This will melt any fatty globs that could feel grainy in the finished ice cream.
- Place the avocados in your blender and puree until smooth.
- With the blender still on slowly pour in the warm coconut milk, blending all the while.
- Add the sugar, acid (lemon or lime juice or ACV), vanilla and salt and blend again.
- Taste and adjust as necessary. If you want a bit more sharpness, add a bit more acid. If you want it sweeter, add another tablespoon or two of sugar.
- Strain into a metal bowl and chill until 40F or colder.
- Churn in your ice cream maker (2 quart capacity or churn in batches) according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Add the chopped nuts during the last 2-3 minutes of churning.
For the Strawberry-Hibiscus Swirl
- Cook all the ingredients together over medium heat until it comes to a full boil.
- Mash the berries and flowers with a potato masher or the back of a fork and let bubble away over low heat until very thick and jammy.
- Taste and add a touch more sugar if you think it needs it.
- Puree (you can also leave it "chunky" if you want. It's up to you) and stir in the vodka.
- Chill until cold (under 40F).
For the Nuts
- Put the nuts and syrup (or water and sugar) in a heavy skillet.
- Heat over medium heat until the syrup boils.
- Turn the heat down to medium low and stir constantly until the syrup is very thick and sticky and starting to caramelize.
- Spread nuts out on Silpat to cool. They will most likely remain a little bit sticky, and that's okay. Chop coarsely and put in the freezer.
Putting it all together.
- Spoon about 1/3 of the strawberry hibiscus puree in the bottom of your container, spreading it out evenly.
- Spoon on 1/3 of the ice cream, covering the puree completely.
- Layer in the rest of the puree and ice cream in 2 more additions each.
- Take a knife and swirl through the container, reaching all the way to the bottom, moving it up and down to swirl the layers together just a bit. Don't be too overzealous or you will end up with gray ice cream. That's no good for anyone.
- Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream and freeze for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight to ripen.
- Let temper on the counter for about 5 minutes before scooping and serving.
Did You Make Any Changes?
So there you have it. Incredibly creamy, non-icy, rich and delicious vegan ice cream. I’m pretty sure you won’t miss the dairy or the eggs. I’m not missing either one, and that’s saying something.