Ice cream is too good a thing not to share with everyone, do you agree? Today I would also like to extend the “party” to vegan friends and those who are dairy intolerant (in all their forms) and explain how to make good ice cream without using dairy products and eggs.

Although they are called “milks,” soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, etc., are water-based beverages made by steeping soybeans, rice, ground almonds, etc., respectively, and adding enzymes, sugars or other substances, in common with milk they mostly have color and nutrients values, but not the taste. Technically, vegan ice cream made with these alternative milks cannot be called a true cream ice cream, but rather a “fatty sorbet.”

The term “cream ice cream” (as tradition dictates) does indeed denote a mixture basically based on milk and cream, but when it comes to vegan recipes you understand that we are already in another world.

In this post, however, we will see how to replace every ingredient in a “regular” cream ice cream to make it vegan for all intents and purposes!

Balancing traditional ice cream

To be well-balanced, a milk-based ice cream must meet the following parameters.

  • Sugars should be between 16% and 22%.
  • Fats should be between 5% and 12%
  • Low-fat milk should be between 7% and 12%
  • The other solids (fiber, protein,…) should be between 0% and 5%
  • Total solids should be between 35% and 40%
  • AFP (antifreeze power) should be between 26 and 33
  • SP (sweetening power) should be between 17% and 20%.

These ranges are approximate and each ice cream maker adapts them to his own taste and experience.

A vegan ice cream can meet almost all of these criteria, except for the part about non-fat milk solids, also called “NFMS”, which consist mainly of lactose (the milk sugar), protein and minerals.

What role do NFMS play in ice cream?

Nonfat milk solids, which are represented by low-fat milk powder in recipes, play a key role in ice cream for the following 3 reasons

  1. They help absorb free water molecules by stabilizing the mixture (in this they “lend a hand” to the stabilizers)
  2. They help give structure by imparting creaminess to ice cream
  3. They facilitate the incorporation of air (overrun) during whisking (when the mixture is in the ice cream maker)

How do you substitute NFMS in vegan ice cream?

Milk powder substitutes

We are pretty much at the main problem with our ice cream. Since we do not use dairy products, we will obviate the task of NFMS by using one of the following options (or a combination of them)

  • Plant fibers, which are also increasingly being used by ice cream makers as a replacement for traditional thickeners and emulsifiers.
    • Inulin (2% to 5% use is recommended)
    • Citrus fibers (1-3%)
    • Baobab flour (5-10%)
    • Bamboo fibers (5-10%)
  • Plant protein, often derived from legumes or potatoes.
    • Soy protein (3-5%)
    • Pea protein (3-5%)
    • Potato protein (3-5%)

Of all the alternatives probably inulin is undoubtedly one of the best in terms of availability and also because it does not leave the “cardboardy” aftertaste of pea protein (for example).

As NFMS (recommended percentage between 7% and 12%) are dropped and replaced by fiber and protein (which are considered “other solids”), in balancing a vegan ice cream it will be advisable to have

  • Other solids between 7% and 17% (instead of 0% to 5%)
  • And of course NFMS = 0%
Milk substitutes

Cow’s milk will then be replaced by one of the following drinks

  • Water (the less fatty alternative but one that will not add aftertaste of rice, soy, almonds, etc. and will more enhance the flavor of the main ingredient in your ice cream)
  • Soy milk (a food drink made by steeping soybeans in water and later filtered)
  • Rice milk (food drink by letting rice grains macerate in water and later filtered and enriched with enzymes and thickening substances)
  • Almond (or nuts, cashew or similar) milk (sweet drink made by steeping ground almonds in water and straining afterward)

These milks have % fat and % sugar quite similar to cow’s milk, but the taste alas is not quite the same.

How to bring in fat without cream?

By eliminating cream, we lose a fairly important fat component and will obviously have to appeal to vegetable fats such as cocoa butter or vegetable oils. In ice creams made with cocoa, chocolate, or dried fruit pastes (hazelnut paste, walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, …), it will certainly not be a problem to have enough fat, since these ingredients contain between 40% and 60% fat, and even in traditional recipes little cream is used (or omitted at all).

How do you substitute eggs in vegan ice cream?

Yolks in ice cream have 3 functions

  1. Giving the taste of egg (but for that I would simply say put your mind at rest)
  2. Bring fats (see above how to substitute cream)
  3. Emulsify the mixture, but this function can be obtained from soy lecithin, but is also already obtained from locust bean gum, tara gum, or guar gum, which are found in both vegan and traditional recipes where there is no yolk

How to balance a vegan ice cream with BilanciaLi?

Set “special” configuration parameters

If you have a Pro version of BilanciaLi, you can calibrate the configuration as shown in this table. As explained in the previous paragraphs, we will set NFMS to 0 and increase the % of other solids to replace milk solids.

Balancer configuration for balancing a vegan ice cream

This operation will allow the balancer to consider the absence of NFMS as normal and not show error notifications.

If you have the Home version of Balanciali, you will have to resign yourself to seeing a few more error notifications, but you can still balance the ice cream knowing what to expect in the final mixture values 😉

Don’t know what BilanciaLi is? Go here now to read how it works and download the free version to try it out 😉

Recipe: vegan cashew ice cream

gelato vegano di anacardi
  • Cashew Milk 500 g
  • Sucrose 60 g
  • Erythritol 75g (or dextrose 95 g)
  • Cashew nut paste 70 g
  • Pea protein 15 g (better Inulin 15 g to avoid the aftertaste given by this protein)
  • Tara gum 3.5 g (or locust bean gum 4 g)

Availability of ingredients: both erythritol and pea vegetable protein can be found at Coop (Switzerland). You can get cheap prices on the raw material for ice cream by ordering here online (need an address in Italy for the delivery) through my partnership with Gioia Group.

How to add “new” ingredients into the balancer?

The various alternative milks are already in the balancer (soy, rice, almonds), you can find them in the “Foods” category.

latti alternativi in bilanciali

Look at the label on the package and deduce fats, sugars, other solids. The NFP will be equal to the % of sugars (to simplify).

  • Fat (10.1g) = 10.1%.
  • Sugars (less than 0.1g) = 0%
  • Other solids = 2.2g (fiber) + 80g (protein) + 2.7g (salt) = 85%.

Let’s include it in the food table

proteine di piselli nel bilanciatore
How to put cashew paste into the balancer?

The values on the back of the paste are as follows:

  • Fat = 49g
  • Carbohydrates 20g
    • Of which Sugars = 6.3g
  • Protein = 18.6g
  • Salt = 0.05g

We infer from this

  • Fat = 49%.
  • Sugars = 6.3%.
  • Other solids = Remaining carbohydrates + Protein + Salt = approx. 32%.
  • NFP = 6.3% – 1.4×49% = -62.3%
pasta di anacardi nel bilanciatore

For the NFP, I used Angelo Corvitto’s formula (from the book “Ice Cream Without Secrets”), subtracting 1.4x the percentage of sugars from the percentage of vegetable fat. The resulting negative NFP is used to account for hardening due to vegetable fats.

Okay, on the theory I’d say we’re well versed by now, let’s see how to make our own ice cream!


Combine all the powders (sugars, protein, neutral) in a bowl and mix well. Heat the rice milk and add the powders by sprinkling, stirring well. Add the cashew paste and continue stirring.

If you use tare gum just blend everything when cold. If, on the other hand, you use locust bean gum, you will need to bring the mix to 80-85°C for it to act, always stirring well.

Let the mix cool quickly (refrigerator or blast chiller, depending on what you have) to a temperature of 4°C. The mixture should mature for 6 to 8 hours so that the solids hydrate well and the mix increases in viscosity.

To finish, freeze in the ice cream maker as long as it takes (depending on what machine you have it can take 30 to 60 minutes).

Online courses and combined offerings with BilanciaLi

For a basic or advanced course on artisan ice cream (in italian), check out my online course offerings, also available in combination with BilanciaLi Pro & Home.

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