A decadent chocolate gelato made with just 5 ingredients, and prepped in just 5 minutes! Dairy-free, nut-free, sugar-free, and vegan.
If you know my work, you know ice cream is my favorite treat. Favorite.
If there is another dessert to be had – cake, pie, cookies – it better be paired with ice cream!
In my early cooking days I watched a lot of Bobby Flay cooking episodes. I’ve heard him express a similar sentiment about ice cream, that he would choose ice cream anytime over any other dessert.
I do buy a lot of vegan ice creams. Coconut Bliss is one of my favorite brands (hello salted caramel chocolate), but I’m also very fond of Amy’s, So Delicious, and Nada Moo.
There’s something special about making your own ice cream, though. It tastes – well – homemade. You can customize to your sweetness and ingredient preferences, and you can taste the love!
Tricky thing is most homemade ice cream recipes require an ice cream maker, and many of us don’t have this appliance (or we may not want to pull it out any given day)! I have a full ice cream chapter in LTEV, but most of those recipes do use the ice cream maker.
This Chocolate Gelato needs no ice cream maker. It benefits from a high-speed blender, but more of us in the vegan and plant-based world have a rambo blender!
This is also one of those gem recipes that just “came together”. I tested it one day as a pudding, throwing a few ingredients together, and using dates as the sweetener (with my chocolate chia pudding in mind). It literally took 5 minutes to make. I decided to freeze it, just to see how it would turn out. To my delight it froze beautifully. With 5 simple ingredients, and 5 minutes of prep (excepting freezing time), I was happy to retest. And retest. And retest this chocolate gelato. 😉
I think I’ve said enough. Time to make the ice cream! Happy scooping…
Vegan Chocolate Gelato Recipe
- 1 cup refrigerated coconut cream (from can of regular coconut milk, see note)
- 1 cup (packed) pitted dates (see note)
- 1 cup frozen overripe sliced banana
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder or seeds from one vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (see note) optional
- In a high-speed blender (I use Blendtec and the twister jar), combine all ingredients (see note if using a standard blender). Puree until very smooth. Transfer to a container to freeze (see note for mousse/pudding ideas). It will take 4-5 hours to freeze to a firm set, but will soft-set like a gelato in less time (about 2-3 hours). Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
- Coconut Milk Note: Use regular coconut milk (rather than light) from a can in this recipe. Before using refrigerate it overnight, or for a few days. The thick cream will rise to the top and be easy to scoop and measure. Use only the thick cream.
- Date Note: Dates must be soft to easily puree. Some pitted dates can be old and dry. If your dates aren’t soft, try presoaking them in non-dairy milk for a half-hour or so until they soften. Vanilla Note: I prefer the flavor of vanilla seeds or pure ground vanilla bean, but you can also use vanilla extract if you want to add that touch of flavor.
- Blender Note: A standard blender may have difficulty churning the dates and frozen bananas into a smooth mix. You might want to first process the bananas and dates in a food processor, adding a small amount of the milk and then transferring to a blender to achieve a smoother puree.
- Idea: As a mousse, try serving topped with fresh fruit or layered in a parfait glass with Vanilla Cashew Yogurt!
Share your feedback anytime about this recipe, love to hear from you!
Katherine Joyce says
Absolutely love this gelato.
Super rich and creamy.
Hi is there something O can substitute dates with? I really do not like them
Hi Claudia, you don’t taste the dates strongly in the gelato. However, if you want to substitute, you’ll need to use about an equivalent amount of sweetener – I’d combine half dry and half liquid.
I just made this recipe this morning, so I only have comments on the taste and not how it freezes but my kids were very skeptical but then scraped the blender clean. Delicious! I saw some comments about banana, and if it’s a taste issue and not allergies – I couldn’t taste the banana at all. Just chocolatey and slightly coconutty. I used cheap dates from the drugstore, so I soaked them in a cashew/almond milk overnight before using. (the leftover milk made great oatmeal for breakfast!)
Just fabulous! Thanks for the note, Tracy. So glad the wee ones enjoyed it too!
Vanessa Orjeda says
Please please tell me what i can use to substitute coconut cream… extremely allergic.. Cashew Milk in a can maybe or Soy milk???
Hi Vanessa, yes, a cashew substitute would be great – but not storebought cashew milk. Rather, I’d use a cashew “cream”. This would work well: http://bit.ly/1qymNTN
Fran Cikk says
thanks for this recipe! what happens if it freezes for more than 12 hours before using it? Can it still be scooped out or does it get hard as a rock? and if it does, how can it be saved without re-whipping it? Thanks!
Todd Kelly says
I have a 12oz can of “coconut cream” from Trader Joes, so does that mean I can just use the whole can? It is not the same thing as coconut milk right?
Hi Todd, yes, you can use coconut cream – that’s what we’re trying to get from the coconut milk by refrigerating it. However, you only need 1 cup of the cream, so that’s about 8oz – don’t use full can.
This recipe is very similar and doesn’t use bananas. 🙂
I have made this twice and love it. I didn’t use as many dates as the recipe says as I didn’t feel I needed that much sweetness but my gelato was definitely not scoopable once it had been in the freezer a few hours so I wonder if the dates made the difference. It was too tiresome taking it out and waiting for it to soften so turned it into a frozen chocolate tart making a chocolate ‘cheesecake’ base then spreading the softened mixture over the top and refreezing. This made it thin enough to cut and eat straight from the freezer. Second time I made it I added 2 tbsp peanut butter to it and had to resist eating half of it before it even hit the freezer. This time I froze it in a 3/4inch thick sheet so I can slice it for serving- not sure what to pair it with this time though. Any other suggestions for flavour combos to try next time?
I wandered here from HHL blog this looks amazing and easy. I can’t wait to try it.
This sounds fantastic, and super easy!! Definitely on my list of recipes to try!
Jenifer, is it still the same taste/quality after a day or two in the freezer?
I’ve used frozen avocado as a substitute or in addition to the bananas. It makes things a lot ‘fattier’ but it does work. just add a few more dates, and you should be good to go.
Claudia Earhart says
Hi, Dreena, and thanks for the super website. The chocolate gelato sounds amazing, and I wish that I could eat it.
Like many folks, I have an extreme latex allergy, which means that I cannot eat bananas. This makes a LOT of vegan deserts and smoothies impossible, since they rely on bananas for creamy texture and sweetness. Have you found any reliable subsititutes?
Hi Claudia, that’s true, many healthy ice creams contain bananas. Are you able to eat mango? I wouldn’t sub it in this recipe, but I do use frozen mangoes in place of bananas in smoothies and other blends. Also, sometimes you can use soaked cashews with additional sweetener, and also extra coconut milk. If other ideas come to me, I’ll add another note!
I’m with you. Latex allergy not extreme but anaphylacticreation to banana. Can’t eat avocado either.
Thank you for this delicious recipe! It is yummy! I used Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream, which worked well.
I made this per the recipe and it turned out fantastic. My first vegan ice cream! Thank you for your work to develop recipes!!
We’re set for some hot weather down here tomorrow, so I know what I’ll be making 😀
Please ignore my question – I just re-read your recipe and it says 1 cup coconut cream. Lol. Sorry!
This recipe looks amazing! If I was to use coconut cream instead of opening up a can of coconut milk to separate the cream, how much coconut cream would you suggest I use for this recipe?
Caroline T. says
I cannot eat pitted dates. Is there anything I can substitute them with?
They are a key ingredient here, but I have other ice cream recipes that don’t use dates at all. I’d recommend one of those. I have a couple here on my blog, and a full chapter on ice cream in ‘Let Them Eat Vegan’. Plenty of other recipes that will work well w/o guesswork of substitutions.
Could this be done in a food processor? I don’t have a blender and am not sure what the difference would be. Thanks!
Hi Robin, a high powered blender works best here because it pulverizes the dates. I do have a banana ice cream recipe on my blog here that uses a food processor – and it’s awesome!
I have seen many questions regarding eliminating the banana and have seen no response. Do you need the banana or what can be substituted? Thanks. Can’t wait to try this.
Thanks Debbie. I don’t always see the comments days or weeks after a post, so easy to miss questions. The banana adds a textural component as well as sweetness. I haven’t tested it without banana, either something needs to stand in for the banana (frozen mango might work) or the liquid needs to be adjusted or both. I don’t like to guess and then have ppl try something that won’t work, so instead I’d recommend a different ice cream recipe, not using banana. I have a couple more on my blog and a chapter dedicated to ice cream in “let them eat vegan”. Hope that helps!
Was wondering if I can eliminate the banana or you need it? I was also wondering when you refrigerate the milk overnight will it prevent the ice cream from getting icy?
Recipe sounds delicious!! Was wondering if I can eliminate the banana I don’t love tasting banana?…. I also have been having a hard time with my ice cream it’s been very icy.. Is the problem solved by refrigerating the coconut milk beforehand??
Hi Danielle, pls see my reply to Debbie about the bananas. As for the icy Q, most recipes will be icy unless you use an ice cream maker. Do you use one? I have a kitchenaid attachment to my stand mixer – very handy. This recipe doesn’t get too icy, but usually that’s the culprit, not churning while freezing. Also, yes, ice creams need a higher fat content to be creamy.
This is seriously amazingly yum! LTEV is our fave cookbook and whenever someone asks me about family friendly plant based recipes I send them straight to your website. Thanks for sharing Dreena 🙂
Yay, stoked to hear you love it Amanda… and I really appreciate that feedback, thank you. <3
Jacky Hood says
I made this for my friend’s bbq and it was a huge success! I used cacao as I prefer that to cocoa and doubled the amount called for. Delicious! And soooo easy! I have a ninja blender and left it to blend for a few mins. Worked well. Thanks!!!
Oh, bet it was uber-chocolately! Glad it worked well, thanks Jacky!
This recipe sounds amazing and dreamy! I do not have an ice cream maker and have been lusting after vegan ice cream concoctions all summer. I hope to try this out soon!
Hi, this would sound great, except for the bananas. Any suggestions for replacing those?
This sounds so delicious! Thank you
I. Have a question: how much coconut milk do you refrigerare overnight to get 1 cup Of coconut cream?
Hi Vanessa, I use 1 can, they can vary in terms of how well they separate – I find the Thai Organic brand works very well!
Nina bean says
Dreena, Thank you for another inspiring recipe.
Looking forward to trying it.
Just a question about your books.
I see you have 3.
Does the book: Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family
have all the recipes in it that are in your other books?
Just wondering if I need all 3 or this one covers most of your recipes?
Hi Cheryl, I have 4 printed cookbooks and 1 ebook. They all contain original recipes. Let Them Eat Vegan is quite popular (as is eat, drink and be vegan). LTEV uses all whole foods ingredients, no white flour, no processed meat substitutes, etc. ed&bv also uses mostly whole foods (as do my other books), but a few processed exceptions. My ebook is also entirely whole foods, and is also oil-free and has photos for all the recipes (my printed books have a selection of photos). Hope that helps some!
It does help.
Thanks for your help:)
Anne Ricci says
Hi Dreena, great recipe. I also use coconut milk and banana to make popsicles for my kids, it’s a great combination. I’ll make your gelato today and I think it will be a hit 🙂
I bet they love that! Nice idea, thanks Anne – hope you all enjoy this gelato too!
I was wondering if I could use coconut cream instead of opening a can of coconut milk and taking the cream off the top.
Thanks it looks good
Yes, I think that should work fine, Christine! It’s essentially what we get from refrigerating and skimming the cream from regular coconut milk. If you use cream of coconut, it’s often sweetened, just to note that would play into overall sweetness. Enjoy, enjoy! 🙂
Hi. What if you are allergic to coconut? Is there another option? Soy milk perhaps? I love ice cream. Love it. However I have so many allergies it’s hard to find anything that I can eat without almost killing myself.
Germaine, I wouldn’t sub standard soy milk as it doesn’t have the same fat content. You could try a soy creamer instead, or better, a blend of non-dairy milk with cashews to make a cashew cream. Have you ever made a cashew cream? This would work best.
I just made this and I’m eagerly waiting for it to freeze. 🙂 I didn’t have any coconut cream so I used a cup of silken tofu. I expect it may take a bit longer to soften up to a scoopable consistency given the lower amount of fat, but either way I love the sweet and chocolatey flavor! Thanks for all your inspirational posts, Dreena – you’re certainly keeping us well-fed! 🙂
Awesome! Def let me know how it turns out, Lynn. Agree, it will likely be harder after freezing, and more icy without the same fat content. But wondering how the flavor works for you, fill us in when you can. Thanks for that sweetness. 🙂
I’m no ice cream connoisseur, but it seemed to turn out just fine! Less creamy no doubt than your version but still very good!! It was in the freezer for about 16 hours before I tried it, and by then it was firm but still easy to scoop. I will absolutely be making this one again! 🙂
Oh great! Good to know – thanks Lynn! 🙂
Hi Dreena! This looks amazing! Question: What brand of coconut milk do you use? I’ve had a terrible time lately trying to find a brand where the cream actually separates. I’ve been buying full fat coconut milk and refrigerating but no luck with getting it to separate. Help?
Hi Kelly, good question – yes, one of my fave brands is Thai Organic – it separates very well!
Thanks for asking this. I’ve had awful times lately. I tried full fat non-guar gum coconut milk. I tried coconut creme by itself in a can (was sweetened) and a whole host of different brands with no luck.