Vegan vanilla ice cream - this rich and creamy vanilla bean ice cream is made with NO coconut meaning it has a pure, unadulterated vanilla flavour. It is rich, creamy, silky smooth and absolutely delicious. The secret ingredient is oats!
A lot of vegan ice creams use a base of coconut milk which works well as it has a high fat content similar to dairy cream. However, it's not great if you don't want an ice cream that tastes like coconut!
I love coconut and have used it to make various delicious vegan ice creams. But when it comes to classic vanilla, I want that flavour to be front and centre and the coconut would simply overpower it.
This vegan vanilla ice cream is totally different in that it uses a base of blended cooked oats, soaked cashews and plant milk.
It may sound weird making ice cream with what is essentially porridge but trust me, it makes for a beautifully smooth and creamy ice cream with a neutral enough flavour that the delicate vanilla isn't overpowered like it would be using coconut milk.
This recipe is also a great base for making your own ice cream flavours, and you can stir through whatever mix-ins you like once the ice cream is done churning.
The idea for using oats in ice cream is inspired by Miyoko Schinner's wonderful book the Homemade Vegan Pantry which is a great cookbook to own if you want to make all of your own staples; I use it loads! (Just to warn my UK readers, all of the measurements are in US cups rather than metric which is a minor annoyance but other than that it's a great book).
Here's What You'll Need To Make This Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream:
Cashews: Unroasted cashews provide creaminess to this vegan vanilla ice cream. They need to be soaked so they are soft enough to blend up to a smooth cream. You can either soak them in boiling water for about an hour, or in cold water overnight.
Porridge oats: regular rolled porridge oats or quick cooking ones are fine. You are going to simmer them with some plant milk until they are soft before blending them.
Plant milk: unsweetened soy milk is the best option here I think as it has a neutral flavour and creamy texture. (I like Alpro Unsweetened Soya milk the best).
You can use any kind of plant milk you like but bear in mind that the flavour of the milk will affect the flavour of the ice cream.
Caster sugar: I use white caster sugar (granulated is fine too) as it has a neutral flavour, I want the vanilla to be the star here! You can swap it for maple syrup or agave if you want but then your ice cream will taste like maple.
Don't reduce the amount of sugar by much or the ice cream won't be as creamy and it won't taste as good.
*Something to note, some white sugars are not vegan as they are processed with bone char. If you are in the UK then pretty much all sugar (except royal icing sugar) is vegan friendly so no worries there.
In the US I believe you may need to purchase organic sugar but check the specific brand to be sure. If the sugar is made from sugar beets then it is vegan friendly, sugar cane maybe not.
Cocoa butter or refined coconut oil: adding a bit of fat to the ice cream helps keep the texture rich, smooth and creamy. Cocoa butter gives it a hint of white chocolate flavour which I like, but if you want pure vanilla then use refined coconut oil (not virgin or it will taste like coconut).
You can omit the fat if you want but the ice cream won't be quite as creamy.
Xanthan gum: Pretty much all commercial ice creams contain some sort of stabiliser such as guar gum. This helps to stop the ingredients from separating and keeps the ice cream smooth and creamy.
Because guar gum is not so easy to get hold of, I used xanthan gum which is sold in most supermarkets and does the same job. You can omit it if you can’t get hold of it.
Vodka: This is totally optional but a bit of alcohol helps stop the ice cream from freezing too solid (it will still be quite firm straight out the freezer however).
Vanilla: obviously to make a vanilla ice cream you are going to need vanilla! You can use either the seeds from two vanilla pods or a tablespoon of vanilla bean paste. It will still work with extract rather than paste if that's all you have but the vanilla paste is nicer.
Salt: A little bit of salt really helps to bring out the flavour and balance the sweetness.
How To Make Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream:
(For ingredients and full instructions see the recipe card below)
Make sure that the bowl of your ice cream maker has been in the freezer for long enough, mine takes 11 hours to fully freeze.
You need to soak the cashews so that they are soft enough to blend to a smooth cream. Either cover them with plenty of boiling water and leave to soak for an hour, or cover with cold water and leave to soak overnight.
Place the porridge oats in a saucepan with half of the soy milk and bring to a gentle simmer, cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent the bottom from catching, until the oats are soft.
Drain the soaked cashews well then place them in a blender with the other half of the milk and blitz until smooth.
Add the cooked oat mixture to the blender along with caster sugar, melted cacao butter or refined coconut oil, xanthan gum, vanilla bean paste or the seeds from two vanilla pods, salt and optional vodka and blend until the mixture is very smooth.
Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely cold; I leave mine in there overnight but it will take at least four hours.
Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled, give it a whisk then pour it into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers instructions until it reaches soft serve consistency.
Transfer the ice cream to a freezerproof container and freeze for about four hours before serving.
Once fully frozen the ice cream will be quite solid straight out the freezer, let it warm up at room temperature for fifteen minutes before scooping.
What If I Don’t Own An Ice Cream Maker?:
If you don’t have an ice cream maker you can still make this vegan vanilla ice cream, it just takes a bit more work and the texture will be a bit more icy.
Once the base is chilled, pour it into a large freezerproof container and pop it in the freezer. Every 30 minutes or so, remove it from the freezer and give it a quick whisk with an electric mixer to break up any ice crystals then return it to the freezer.
Repeat this until it reaches soft-serve consistency then allow to freeze for a couple of hours before serving.
More Vegan Ice Cream Recipes:
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Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream
- 150 g (1 cup) unroasted cashews
- 25 g (¼ cup) porridge oats
- 800 ml (3 ⅓ cups) unsweetened non-dairy milk (soy is best)
- 45 g (1 ½ oz) cocoa butter OR 3 Tbsp melted refined coconut oil*
- 160 g (¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar (granulated is also fine)
- ¼ tsp xanthan gum (optional)
- 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste or the seeds from 2 vanilla pods
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp vodka (optional)
- Make sure that the bowl of your ice cream maker has been in the freezer for long enough, mine takes 11 hours to fully freeze.
- Soak the cashews; either cover them with plenty of boiling water and leave to soak for 1 hour, or cover them with cold water and leave to soak overnight.
- Place the porridge oats in a saucepan with half of the milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent the bottom from catching, until the oats are very soft.
- Drain the soaked cashews well then place them in a blender with the other half of the milk and blitz until smooth.
- Melt the cocoa butter or coconut oil in short bursts in the microwave. Add it to the blender along with the oat mixture, caster sugar, xanthan gum (if using), vanilla, salt and vodka (if using). Blend well until completely smooth.
- Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely cold; I leave mine in there overnight but it will take at least four hours.
- Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled, give it a whisk then pour it into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers instructions until it reaches soft serve consistency.
- Transfer the ice cream to a freezerproof container and freeze for about four hours before serving. Once fully frozen the ice cream will be quite solid straight out the freezer, let it warm up at room temperature for fifteen minutes before scooping.
- *Cocoa butter gives the ice cream a hint of white chocolate flavour whereas refined coconut oil doesn't impart any flavour. You can omit the fat if you want but the ice cream wont be quite as creamy.
- See post above for instructions if you don't have an ice cream machine.