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The 5 Best Ice Cream Alternatives

ice cream alternative
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / silviarita

While it may seem like a challenge, it’s still possible to enjoy frozen treats as a vegan. Here are some ice cream alternatives to enjoy this summer.

The cool sweet taste of ice cream is one thing we all crave on a hot day. However, traditional ice cream, made from milk, cream, and sugar, is not vegan and many people want a healthier and friendlier alternative.

Sugar is a key ingredient in many frozen deserts as it inhibits the growth of ice crystals and helps create a smoother end result. You can normally use just about any sugar you have on hand, or you can opt to use an natural sweetener such as agave syrup although just bear in mind that it is approximately one-and-a-half times sweeter than cane sugar.

Some of the following suggestions call for the use of an ice cream maker. Although it can make your life easier, it’s not necessary to own one of these and the process can be finished by hand.

Sorbets: Fruit-Based Ice Cream Alternative

Any puréed frozen fruit can become a sorbet
Any puréed frozen fruit can become a sorbet (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / stux)

Fruit-based frozen treats are simple to make and naturally dairy-free. Sorbets are made using fruit or fruit juice and sugar and are a refreshing exhibition of the natural flavors and colors of the fruit. Sorbets can be churned in ice cream makers or by hand using a freezer.

Any puréed frozen fruit can become a sorbet, but here are some recipes which can inspire you:

Strawberry Watermelon Sorbet

  • 3 cups watermelon, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup of strawberries, stalks removed
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  1. Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth
  2. Transfer to the fridge and refrigerate 1 hour
  3. Transfer to an ice cream maker or the freezer, whisking every 20 minutes until the batter becomes thick
  4. Freeze until firm

Peach Melba Sorbet

  • 3 large peaches
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp peach liquor (optional)
  • 1 cup raspberries
  1. Peel and pit the peaches and cut into chunks
  2. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved before adding peaches and simmering until peaches are soft
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla and liquor if using
  4. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating for 2 hours
  5. Transfer to an ice cream maker or the freezer, whisking every 20 minutes until the batter becomes thick
  6. Freeze until firm

Granitas

Granita is more like a slushy.
Granita is more like a slushy. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / orzalaga)

Granita is similar to sorbets in that they are made of a mixture of fruit or fruit juice and sugar. However, you don’t need to churn granita in an ice cream maker. Instead, the mixture is frozen in a shallow dish, intermittently stirred until it is semi-solid, more like a slushy.

Here are some example recipes that you can use as a basis to make create your own:

Pineapple Granita

  • 2 cups chopped pineapple
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth
  2. Pour into a shallow dish and place the dish flat in the freezer
  3. Remove and stir every 20 minutes until it’s completely frozen

Coffee Granita

  1. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved before removing from heat to add coffee
  2. Pour into a shallow dish and place the dish flat in the freezer
  3. Remove and stir every 20 minutes until it’s completely frozen

Popsicles as an Ice Cream Alternative

You can turn any freezable liquid into a popsicle.
You can turn any freezable liquid into a popsicle. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / wanderson91)

Popsicles are a favorite frozen treat, and you can turn virtually any freezable liquid into a popsicle just by pouring it into a mold. If you don’t have popsicle molds handy, you can make your own using anything from small cups to an ice cube tray. Simply pour your liquid into your container and cover with a piece of foil and -poke a popsicle sticks through.

You should always leave a bit of space from the top of each popsicle as water expands when it’s frozen. The easiest way to get your popsicles out of their molds is to dip them in a bowl full of warm water for a few seconds.

You can experiment by adding fresh fruit to the mold before pouring over your liquid or even using your favorite vegan yogurt! Here are a few unusual summer flavors to try and to get you inspired:

Avocado and Lime Creamsicles

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth
  2. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight

Mojito Pops

  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp rum
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth
  2. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight

Oat Drinks

Iced oat drinks are a much healthier alternative to dairy based iced coffees.
Iced oat drinks are a much healthier alternative to dairy based iced coffees. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / freestocks-photos)

While you may be used to just having an oat flat white, you can also use oats and homemade oat milk to make a whole range of vegan summer drinks that’ll give ice cream a run for its money any day!

Here are just two examples of refreshing oat drinks for a hot day:

Horchata

Horchata is a classic Spanish plant-based beverage. Here we’ve used oats, but it can be made from rice, almond or even sesame seeds, almost always combined with cinnamon and a dash of vanilla.

  • 1½ cup oats
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  1. Combine oats and water and refrigerate 1 hour
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend well
  3. Strain the mixture through fine sieve or cheesecloth and refrigerate 4 hours
  4. Serve with ice

Oat Iced Capp

A classic Canadian summer treat, which is super easy to make vegan and at home! For a caffeine-free alternative, you can use chicory coffee syrup as a replacement for both the coffee and maple syrup.

  • ½ cup of strong brewed coffee
  • ½ cup oat milk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • a handful of ice cubes
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth and slightly frothy
  2. Pour into a glass, top with vegan whipped cream or fruit for a luxury cappuccino experience and enjoy

Coconut Based Ice Cream Alternative

Full-fat canned coconut milk is creamy and easy to freeze into an ice cream consistency.
Full-fat canned coconut milk is creamy and easy to freeze into an ice cream consistency. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / ponce_photography)

Coconut milk is a great non-dairy milk for frozen summer treats since it is naturally light, sweet, and refreshing with a beautiful rich texture. Although you can use other non-dairy milks to make ice cream, full-fat canned coconut milk is already creamy, you don’t need to churn it as much as would other milks to make it into a thick, spoon-able consistency. However, you can still use low-fat coconut milk for these purposes.

You can also use coconut ice cream to make delicious vegan ice cream sandwiches!

Here are two flavor examples for you to experiment with:

Vanilla Coconut

  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1½ cup coconut milk
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ tbsp vanilla extract
  1. Roast the coconut on a low heat until it just turns golden and set aside
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth
  3. Transfer to the fridge and refrigerate 1 hour
  4. Fold in the desiccated coconut
  5. Transfer to an ice cream maker or the freezer, whisking every 20 minutes until the batter becomes thick
  6. Freeze until firm

Chocolate

  • 1½ cup coconut milk
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ tbsp cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  1. Combine 1 cup of the coconut milk, the sugar, and the cocoa powder in a saucepan until both the sugar and cocoa powder have dissolved
  2. Whisk the cornstarch and the remaining coconut milk together separately
  3. Add to the saucepan and continue to heat until thickened
  4. Remove from the heat and whisk in salt and vanilla before allowing to cool to room temperature
  5. Refrigerate 2 hours
  6. Transfer to an ice cream maker or the freezer, whisking every 20 minutes until the batter becomes thick
  7. Freeze until firm

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