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Coconut Milk Ice Cream 101: Beginner’s Guide

Coconut Milk Ice Cream 101: Beginner’s Guide

There has been a fast-growing demand for non-dairy frozen desserts, with more Americans adopting a more plant-based diet. And coconut has become popular as its saturated fats make rich and creamy vegan frozen desserts.

Of course, buying a tub of ice cream from the store is always convenient. But with four simple ingredients, you can make some homemade coconut milk ice cream that is much healthier, with no artificial additives or preservatives. You also get to play around with other flavors. Our coconut milk ice cream-making recipe is straightforward to follow with or without an ice cream maker. We have also given you essential tips to ensure you achieve the creamy ice cream consistency you desire

What is coconut ice cream made of?

The main ingredient of coconut ice cream is coconut milk. Other ingredients that we use to prepare coconut ice cream include; coconut condensed milk, shredded or sliced coconut, fresh cream, corn starch, sugar, or another alternative. Also, you can play around with other ingredients for enhanced flavors such as strawberry, chocolate, mint.

How to make coconut milk ice cream

The best advantage of using an ice cream maker is churning the ice cream, preventing ice crystals from forming. Churning also gives the ice cream light and airy texture. 


  • 1 1/2 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup additional coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar or pure maple syrup
  • Four tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/8 tsp salt(optional)
  • Shredded coconut


  1. Set aside about half a cup of coconut milk.
  2. Add the sugar or sweetener of choice and the rest of the coconut milk to a pan. Boil the mixture while whisking it until the sugar and salt dissolves, then stir it until it thickens into a syrup.
  3. Empty the syrup into a bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of coconut milk, a pinch of salt, and corn starch in the bowl, then whisk it until it mixes well. Salt helps to balance out the sweetness of the ice cream, but you can always forego it.
  5. Place the ice cream base in the freezer for 30 to 40 minutes until it becomes super chilled.
  6. Plug your ice cream maker, switch it on and set the timer. Next, open the lid and add the ice cream mixture to the ice cream maker.
  7. It is important to pour in the ice cream mixture while the machine is on to avoid the ice cream base setting on the sides and preventing the paddle from moving.
  8. You can add some shredded or sliced coconut and let the machine run for at most 30 minutes until the mixture churns and becomes thick.
  9. If your ice cream is ready before 30 minutes, the machine will vibrate, and you need to switch it off immediately.
  10. Add any solid flavoring like cookie chunks, nuts, or fruits.
  11. You can serve it as it is or scoop it into a container and put it in the freezer until it sets.

How to make coconut milk ice cream without an ice cream maker

The biggest concern with making ice cream without an ice cream maker is achieving an airy and creamy texture. However, we have the recipe for homemade coconut milk ice cream with no churning or ice cream maker that is also creamy and light. Here are some helpful tips to help you achieve this.

  • Use full-fat cream and coconut milk for creaminess. The higher fat content makes the formation of ice crystals almost negligible.
  • Use sweetened condensed milk for added sweetness instead of sugar.
  • Whip the heavy cream until it is light and fluffy to incorporate air into the mixture for soft ice cream.
  • Very little water content in this recipe reduces the chances of ice crystal formation.


  • 1.5 cup coconut cream (cold)
  • ¾ cup sugar or maple syrup
  • One teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Two cups full-fat coconut milk (cold)
  • 200 grams of sweetened condensed coconut milk (cold)
  • ⅛ teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • Other flavorings


  1. Pour cold coconut cream, sugar, and vanilla extract into a big bowl and whip the mixture using a hand blender until it doubles in volume and has stiff peaks.
  2. Add sweetened condensed milk, coconut extract, and coconut milk in another big bowl and mix everything well.
  3. Take a few scoops of cream and mix it with the coconut milk and condensed milk mixture to aerate it.
  4. Pour the mixture into a shallow container.
  5. Cover the mixture surface with some cling wrap or baking paper, and then press gently.
  6. Cover the container tightly with a lid or cling wrap.
  7. Put the container in the freezer for at least eight hours or overnight.
  8. Remove the coconut ice cream out of the freezer and remove the wrap from the surface.
  9. Allow the ice cream to rest for about five minutes, and then scoop and serve.

Is coconut milk ice cream healthy?

Although coconut ice cream contains a healthier type of saturated fat (medium-chain triglycerides), it is still a high-calorie dessert that may cause weight gain. In addition, its calorie content is higher than dairy and other nut milk like almond, soy, and cashew. Therefore, coconut milk ice cream is only healthy when consumed in moderation.

Health experts link high saturated fat content with an increase in harmful LDL cholesterol levels, elevating the risk for heart disease. While there is insufficient research on the health impact of coconut milk ice cream, people at risk for heart disease or with high cholesterol should consult their doctor before indulging in coconut milk ice cream.

On the other hand, coconut milk ice cream is rich in potassium which maintains the health of every cell in the body. Potassium reduces the risk of high blood pressure, fatigue, muscle cramps, and salt sensitivity.

The nutritional content of coconut milk ice cream will vary across brands depending on how they process their products. A regular cup of coconut milk ice cream contains about 150 calories per serving, 2-5 grams of saturated fat, and more than 10 grams of sugar. Some coconut milk ice cream brands contain up to 250 calories, 15 grams of saturated fat, and more than 20 grams of sugar per half-cup serving.

If you want a healthier serving of coconut milk ice cream, choose one with less than 200 calories, 5grams of saturated fat, and not more than 16 grams of added sugars per half-cup serving. Another way to lower your coconut milk ice cream calorie count is to make your own coconut milk ice cream using our recipes in this article. Also, using healthier sugar options like stevia will make your coconut ice cream relatively healthier than one containing processed sugar.

How do you thicken coconut milk into a cream?

To make coconut cream, you need a cold can of full-fat coconut milk. If you need the cream for a recipe, you will need to have more coconut milk than the recipe requires; because the thickening process will take away some of the milk, leaving you with too little cream. Here is how to make coconut cream at home using coconut milk.

  1. Put the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. The milk fat will separate and solidify on top.
  2. Take out the coconut milk from the fridge and turn the can upside down.
  3. Open the bottom of the can with a can opener and pour out the liquid coconut milk.
  4. Alternatively, you can open the top of the can and scoop out the fat into a bowl using a spoon.
  5. Save the coconut milk for sauces.
  6. Whisk the coconut milk fat until it becomes a cream-like consistency.
  7. Taste the cream and add a sweetener like powdered sugar or maple syrup if you have to. Keep in mind that the more liquid you add to the cream, the less thick it will be.

NOTE: Whether it is homemade or store-bought, coconut cream has a relatively short shelf life. That’s why you should use it right away; otherwise, it will start to melt and go bad if left out too long. If you need to use it later, put it in an airtight container, pop it back in the fridge, and it will last between five to seven days and up to two months when frozen.

Can you boil coconut milk to make cream?

Yes, using reduction, you can heat coconut milk into the coconut cream. Follow the steps below to make coconut cream from coconut milk using the boiling method.

  1. Pour your coconut milk into a pan and boil it with the lid off so that the water content can evaporate.
  2. Simmer the milk and stir it until half of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. The remaining sauce in the pan will have a thicker creamy consistency which is the coconut cream.

Can you make ice cream with canned coconut milk?

Yes, canned coconut milk is most preferred to make ice cream since it is widely available and inexpensive. There are two types of store-bought coconut milk; canned coconut milk and carton coconut milk. They are technically both coconut milk, but their manufacturing process and nutritional content are significantly different.

The main difference is the regular carton coconut milk is much more dilute, lower in fat, and less flavorful than canned coconut milk. Carton coconut milk also contains more fillers such as thickeners, sweeteners, preservatives.

Alternatively, you can also use homemade coconut milk to make ice cream if you have access to mature coconuts. Making the milk yourself ensures there are no preservatives, added sugar, or toxic packaging. To make coconut milk, you blend or grate the coconut meat and extract the milk by straining it through a cheesecloth.

Can I freeze coconut cream?

Yes, if frozen correctly, coconut cream can last up to two months in the freezer. It’s good to note that freezing the coconut cream may change its flavor, texture, and consistency, but it will still be good to use. To properly freeze your coconut cream, put it into a freezer-safe container and pop it in the freezer. A more convenient way to freeze coconut cream is to pour it into ice cube trays and only pop out as many as you want to use instead of defrosting the whole container.

How to keep coconut milk ice cream soft

Ice cream is best enjoyed after its first hardening because the consistency will be smooth but also hard enough for scooping and is always fresh. If you cannot finish your coconut milk ice cream at once, you can later leave it in the freezer. Unfortunately, the ice cream will harden more than desired. Below are some tips to help keep your coconut milk ice cream soft.

  • Use less sugar when making your ice cream base. Putting too much sugar will cause it to harden too much during freezing. On the other hand, using too little sugar will make the ice cream too soft or runny.
  • After making the ice cream base, put it in the freezer for half an hour and ensure it is cool enough before the churning process. If the ice cream base does not chill, causing ice crystals to form anytime you freeze it.
  • The churning process has to be fast; otherwise, larger ice crystals will form, causing the ice cream to harden too much when frozen. Rapid churning forces more air into the ice cream, which keeps it soft and fluffy.
  •  If you want your ice cream on the lighter side, you should use more cream than milk. Coconut cream has a higher fat content, and fat does not freeze. So increasing the amount of cream or half and half of milk and cream instead of coconut milk only will keep your ice cream soft even when frozen.
  • You can also add a little alcohol to prevent your ice cream from freezing too hard because alcohol does not freeze. Pour one or two tablespoons of vodka into the ice cream base before churning. Vodka is an excellent option because it is clear and has no taste, but you can use any other alcohol if you do not care for the change in flavor or color.

Making ice cream with coconut milk powder

To make coconut milk ice cream with milk powder, you have to mix the coconut milk powder with hot water and stir it well to turn it into coconut milk, and then follow the rest of the ice cream-making recipe.

Common mistakes to avoid when making coconut milk ice cream

While making ice cream at home is relatively easy, making non-dairy ice cream can be quite the challenge. The main goal for any ice cream is to distribute the ice crystals and air bubbles evenly to form a creamy airy texture. Unfortunately, vegan milk has more water content than dairy milk, making the ice cream icy and runny. Fortunately, coconut’s high-fat content makes it the simplest vegan ice cream to make. Here are the mistakes to avoid to achieve the best results.

1. Not letting the ice cream maker bowl get cold enough.

You need to ensure the ice cream machine container is frozen-solid cold when pouring in your ice cream base. Otherwise, the ice cream will never freeze. Place the bowl in the freezer overnight or for a couple of hours before using it. Also, ensure the sides of the container are dry before connecting it to the machine. The water will freeze onto the sides and prevent the paddle from moving, which also prevents churning.

2. Pouring warm ice cream base into the ice cream maker

Putting a warm or room-temperature ice cream base into the machine won’t freeze. After making your ice cream base, pop it into the freezer for about 30 minutes until it becomes chilled before pouring it into the machine. The colder, the better.

3. Overfilling the ice cream machine

If your ice cream base is too much and won’t fit into the ice cream maker bowl, it is best to churn it in batches or buy a larger machine than overfilling your machine. Overloading the machine with an ice cream base will only end up spilling over the sides as it freezes and expands, causing the rest of the base to under-churn. The best solution is to fill the machine no more than three-quarters full with the ice cream base. Then, as it churns, it has enough room to aerate and fluff up.

Check this too: Why is My Ice Cream Maker Not Working?

4. Over-churning the ice cream

Though the ice cream base starts to freeze while in the machine, churning will not give a firm result. If you keep your churning for longer than recommended, your ice cream will develop an icy texture. Ice cream’s optimal texture and consistency do not happen in the machine; it occurs in the freezer. Churn your ice cream for at most 30 minutes or until it has the consistency of a soft serve, then transfer it to another container and put it in the freezer for a few hours to harden.


Coconut milk ice cream is a great option for anyone who is vegan or has a dairy-sensitive stomach. But portion control is vital when eating it due to its high saturated fat content. So with coconut milk, coconut cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt, you can easily make a coconut milk ice cream that is soft and airy.