Scream for Dairy-Free Strawberry Ice Cream

Dessert,Frozen Desserts,Fruit,Fruit Dessert

If you love frozen desserts, July’s an ideal month to indulge. August isn’t a bad time either. The weather’s hot here in the desert of Arizona (and maybe wherever you live as well), making it an especially refreshing dessert. It’s also National Ice Cream Month, a designation made by president Ronald Reagon in 1984. The third Sunday of the month is National Ice Cream Day. If you missed the chance to observe the event with appropriate ceremonies (I did!), now’s as good a time as any to indulge… after you’ve eaten your protein and veggies, of course.

If you like food trivia, here are some ice cream stats courtesy of The International Ice Cream Association, a constituent of the International Dairy Foods Association (, and Cowabunga Ice Cream. My Ice Dream Cookbook contains some ice cream trivia but these figures are even more current.

Ice Cream Trivia
The average American consumes 23.2 quarts of frozen dairy products per year, including ice cream, ice milk, sherbet, ice milk or other frozen desserts. Yep, that’s about two quarts per person per month. If you’re not eating that much, rest assured someone else is doing it for you.*

For example, people in the Northern Central states consume 41.7 quarts of ice cream and related frozen desserts per person, per year. Hmm, they’re eating almost 3 1/2-quarts per person, per year.*

Kids aged two through 12 and adults in the 45 year-old-and-older group have the highest per capita ice cream consumption.*

Ice cream and related frozen desserts are allegedly consumed by more than 90 percent of households in the U.S.* Is yours one of them?

Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry are the three most popular ice cream flavors in the U.S.* Pretty plain, I know. Homemade strawberry ice cream or ice dream has a lot more fruit in it than store bought. (See recipe below for a dairy-free, fruit-ful version.) You could make it every more fruity by serving it in cantaloupe halves or alongside Avocado, Peach, or Basil Ice Dream with chocolate sauce.

* NOTE: These facts came courtesy of The International Ice Cream Association, and Cowabunga Ice Cream.

Dairy-free ice cream alternatives
If you follow a dairy-free or mostly dairy-free diet, you have a lot of commercial options for ice cream alternatives; however, your best option is to make the frozen dessert yourself so you can leave the ingredients you don’t want and substitute the ones you do. Soy-based frozen desserts sometimes have a beany-aftertaste. Consuming large amounts of soy products may contribute to thyroid problems or hormonal imbalances. Rice-milk based ice creams contain large amounts of refined and polyunsaturated (omeg-6-rich) vegetable oils, which can also leave an unpleasant after taste in your mouth. They’re also very high carbohydrate.

If you want the job done right
You can buy non-dairy coconut-milk based frozen desserts but they’re much higher in sugar than what you could make at home using the recipes from my most recent cookbook, The Ice Dream Cookbook: Dairy-Free Ice Cream Alternatives with Gluten-Free Cookies, Compotes & Sauces. I use a combination of honey and stevia, which lowers the total sugar content by one-third to one-half. My book also includes recipes for flavors of dairy-free coconut milk “ice cream” I’ve never seen in stores, e.g., Date-Rum Pecan, Dried Apricot Pistachio with White Wine, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Macaroon Madness, Basil, Avocado, Pumpkin Pie, and Orange Cream, and gluten-free Vanilla Brownie Crumble.

Got popsicles?
If you want to make your own frozen desserts and you don’t yet have an ice cream maker, you can still use this and other recipes from my book. You can freeze the custard-like mixture in popsicle molds. It won’t turn out as light and fluffy as what you’ll create using an ice cream maker, but it will still taste delicious.

Find a deal
If you belong to Costco, check to see if they’re running a seasonal special on a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker with two pre-chill canisters (so you can make two flavors on the same day) for $40. If you have Bed, Bath & Beyond Coupons, take one to the store nearest you for a $5 off or 20% deal. Or, you can look online for other deals on ice cream makers with pre-chill canisters. Or, if you really want to splurge look for a machine with a built in condenser that doesn’t require pre-freezing a canister. These babies cost more but they don’t require saving freezer space for a canister and they allow you to make a frozen dessert on demand. I describe the various options in the front of my Ice Dream Cookbook.

Strawberry Ice Dream

Hands-on: 25 minutes/ Churning: 20 to 25 minutes/Yield: 4 1/2- 5 1/2 cups; 8 servings

Look for strawberries that smell sweetly aromatic and have dark red skins with moist green leaves.  Avoid berries with white or green shoulders and wilted leaves; they were picked long ago and far away—before they had a chance to fully ripen. For a treat, top this Ice Dream with Hot Fudge Sauce or Chocolate Sauce (see The Ice Dream Cookbook for recipes).

FYI: Ever wonder what it means to hull strawberries? Simply cut off the stems with a small, sharp paring knife. Mystery solved.


  • 2 cups unsweetened, preservative-free coconut milk (regular, not lite), divided
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin or agar agar powder (not flakes)
  • 1/4 cup honey; additional 1 to 2 tablespoons as needed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon clear stevia extract liquid (start with less; add more only if needed)
  • 1/8 teaspoon finely ground, unrefined sea salt(I use Celtic Sea Salt or Redmond Real Salt)
  • 3 heaping cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, drained, and hulled (see notes above)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or alcohol-free vanilla flavoring


  • Add 1/3 cup coconut milk to a small saucepan. Slowly sprinkle with gelatin or agar agar powder. Let stand for 2 minutes until it softens and dry spots disappear. Warm over medium-low heat, without stirring, until gelatin or agar agar dissolves. Scrape the mixture into a blender, Vita-Mix, or food processor. Add honey, stevia, and sea salt. Cover and process until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
  • Purée the strawberries in a blender, food processor, or Vita-Mix. You should have about 2 cups of purée. Combine this with the gelatin mixture, the remaining coconut milk, and vanilla. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape the sides with a spatula. For a sweeter taste, add an additional 1/8 teaspoon stevia and/or 1 tablespoon honey. Blend, taste, and repeat if needed.
  • Pour into one or more wide mouth jars. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before churning or use an ice bath to cool it faster. (The custard-like mixture should feel cold to the touch before it goes into the ice cream maker. Chilled for 6-8 hours it will thicken to a custard or soft Jello-like consistency, creating an even loftier frozen dessert.)
  • Scrape the chilled custard into the canister of your ice cream maker. Churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Serve immediately or spoon into several 8- to 16-ounce freezer-safe containers. Cover and freeze for 3 or more hours for a firmer texture.
  •  often solidly frozen dessert by placing it in the refrigerator for 30 to 45 minutes or on the counter for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

1 serving (regular): 166 calories, 2 grams protein, 17 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams fat, 56 milligrams sodium

1 serving (half lite): 131 calories, 1 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams fat, 47 milligrams sodium


  • Strawberry Almond Ice Dream: Add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract or natural almond flavoring or 1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur with the vanilla. Proceed with the recipe as directed. Add 1 cup toasted, coarsely chopped almonds to the machine when the mixture reaches the soft-serve stage. Run the machine for 1 or 2 more minutes.

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