Healthy Ice Cream

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The absolute best Healthy Ice Cream made with wholesome, nutritious ingredients, and no frozen bananas! What are we using instead of bananas? Sweet Potatoes! Don’t worry — you can’t taste them! This recipe can be made dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.

Top this creamy chocolate ice cream with a healthy caramel sauce and finely chopped dark chocolate.

Overhead image of the Healthy Ice Cream

Healthy Ice Cream

This isn’t your typical banana “nice cream” that has taken the internet by storm. Essentially, “nice cream” is blended up frozen bananas with a few other ingredients added and labeled as healthy ice cream.

To me, those concoctions just taste like flavored bananas with a smoothie-like consistency — not a thick and creamy ice cream texture. So today we’ve got a healthy ice cream without bananas and it actually tastes like ice cream. It’s rich, creamy, and deeply chocolate-flavored. This healthy ice cream is made with natural, wholesome ingredients and free of artificial sweeteners. It’s also very easy to make — the mixture can be whipped up and loaded into the ice cream maker in a matter of minutes!

Healthy Ice Cream doesn’t have strange, specialty ingredients — there’s no need to make a trip to a health food store. Everything can easily be found at just about any grocery store. And, there are only six ingredients needed!

So if there are no bananas in this recipe, what exactly are we using? Promise you’ll stay with me here? A sweet potato. More on this below!

Process shots of the sweet potatoes being prepped and the chocolate chips being melted

Let’s start by chatting about ingredients.

Healthy Ice Cream Ingredients

  • Sweet potatoI know, this sounds crazy in an ice cream recipe, so you’ll have to trust me on this. Although you may think there would be a sweet potato flavor of some sort, none of the taste testers (and there have been a lot!) has ever been able to detect the sweet potato in this healthy ice cream. The flavor is masked behind the chocolate, but it gives the ice cream a thick and creamy base, plus loads of nutritional benefits.
  • Dark chocolate chips. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and healthy fats, among other benefits. For the richest and sweetest possible ice cream, I recommend Nestle’s® 53% cacao dark chocolate morsels. For a vegan/dairy-free healthy ice cream, you’ll want to use Enjoy Life® Dark chocolate chips.
  • Coconut milk. To keep this ice cream dairy-free and vegan while ensuring it’s also very creamy, I recommend canned coconut milk. I do recommend Lite coconut milk because it has a less overwhelming flavor that makes the ice cream taste more chocolate-y instead of coco-nutty. (See “quick tip” box below).
  • Coconut sugar. To keep this ice cream on the more nutritious side, I use coconut sugar, which is a natural (not refined) sugar; you can read more about it here. If you’re okay with less-sweet ice cream, you can leave out the coconut sugar. Alternatively, replace it with brown sugar or add some liquid stevia (I’d start with 1/4 teaspoon). For sweeter ice cream, feel free to increase the amount of coconut sugar in the mix.
  • Vanilla and sea salt. These two ingredients enhance and balancing the flavors in this ice cream.

QUICK TIP

Confused about coconut milk options in the grocery store? Look for shelf-stable, unrefrigerated cans of coconut milk. You’ll find canned coconut milk on the international aisle, with Latin or Asian products. For this ice cream, I personally use Lite Thai Kitchen ®Coconut Milk.

Process shots of all the ingredients being added to the blender and being blended and added to the ice cream maker

Let’s talk more about sweet potatoes

  • Red and orange sweet potatoes are often labeled as “yams” at the grocery store, which is actually inaccurate. True yams are starchier and drier than sweet potatoes with thick and fibrous skin. (They’re also very hard to find in American grocery stores.)
  • There are lots of different varieties of sweet potatoes. I recommend skipping tan or purple-skinned sweet potatoes (known as the “dry” varieties) and sticking with orange or red-skinned sweet potatoes. This variety (known as “moist” varieties) is sweeter and has a creamier texture. My favorite sweet potatoes for healthy ice cream are either Red Garnet or Jewel.
  • When picking a sweet potato at the grocery store, look for firm potatoes without growths or discolorations on their skins and avoid soft potatoes.
  • This roasted sweet potatoes recipe describes sweet potato benefits in more detail. If you’d like to avoid using the microwave to cook the sweet potatoes, use the method outlined in this baked sweet potatoes recipe.

Recipe tips

  • Freeze the ice cream insert ahead of time. An ice cream insert takes a good amount of time to be thoroughly frozen, which is a requirement for the ice cream to set up — otherwise, it may never reach the consistency you’re looking for.
  • Chill the mixture. Depending on the quality of the blender used, the blender may warm up the mixture as it works to blend it all together. If this is the case, I’d recommend chilling the mixture for 30 minutes to an hour before adding it to the ice cream maker.

Healthy Ice Cream going into the freezer

Ice Cream Maker

  • For this healthy ice cream recipe, you’ll need an ice cream maker. Here’s the one I use and love. 
  • If you’re determined to try this recipe without an ice cream maker, here’s the method for that. The consistency isn’t quite the same, and it’s a lot of extra work, but you’ll arrive at a similar outcome.

QUICK TIP

In my particular ice cream maker, it takes about 25-30 minutes for this ice cream to set up. If the ice cream is still too soft for you after being churned, you can transfer the contents into an airtight container and freeze until further thickened. We typically put it through the ice cream maker and then freeze it for another 2-3 hours.

Up close image of a bowl of the Healthy Ice Cream

Can I substitute ingredients in this recipe?

Of course, you can always experiment and try any substitutions you’d like, but I likely won’t be able to tell you if your specific substitution will work out. I’ve only tested this recipe as written and can’t say how recipe substitutions will work out.

The most common question on this recipe is how to replace the chocolate chips. There is no substitute I know of that will work for chocolate chips. Cocoa powder won’t work the same in this recipe.

QUICK TIP

One substitute you can make (that we’ve tested) to boost the protein content of this ice cream is to replace the coconut milk with a Premier Protein® chocolate shake. With this addition, you may want to leave out the coconut sugar since the protein shake is fairly sweet.

Image of a bowl of Healthy Ice Cream about to be eaten

Healthy Ice Cream Dietary Concerns

  • Gluten-free: While the ingredients in this ice cream are naturally gluten-free, make sure to check all your ingredient labels to verify they weren’t processed in a facility with gluten.
  • Dairy-free: Use dairy-free dark chocolate chips.
  • Vegan: Use dairy-free dark chocolate chips.
  • Vegetarian: As written, this healthy chocolate ice cream is vegetarian.

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Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream

5 from 6 votes
The absolute best Healthy Ice Cream made with wholesome, nutritious ingredients, and no frozen bananas! What are we using instead of bananas? Sweet potatoes! Don't worry -- you can't taste them. This recipe can be made dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
Print Recipe

Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream

5 from 6 votes
The absolute best Healthy Ice Cream made with wholesome, nutritious ingredients, and no frozen bananas! What are we using instead of bananas? Sweet potatoes! Don't worry -- you can't taste them. This recipe can be made dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword healthy ice cream
Prep Time 25 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 214kcal
Author Chelsea, Adapted from The Vegan 8
Cost $5.81

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato (~1 pound; 500g)
  • 1 bag (10 oz.; 283g) dark chocolate chips (I use Nestle's 53% cacao dark chocolate morsels) Note 1
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1/4 cup (48g) coconut sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • 1 can (13.66 oz.; 403mL) lite coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen)

Instructions

  • SWEET POTATO: Wash and scrub the sweet potato. Pierce several times with a fork. Place on a microwave-safe plate and cook for 5 minutes; flip and microwave for another 5 minutes or until very tender. Set aside and allow to cool.
  • CHOCOLATE CHIPS: Meanwhile, place the bag of chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in increments of 20 seconds, stirring in between each increment for 15 seconds until smooth and melted. Add the melted chocolate to a large blender jar (use a spatula to scrape every bit of chocolate from the bowl). Add in the coconut sugar, vanilla, and sea salt.
  • SWEET POTATO CONT.: When the sweet potato is cool enough to touch, remove the skins and THOROUGHLY mash the potato with a fork. Pack into a measuring cup to get exactly 3/4 cup (180g). Add to the blender along with the canned coconut milk.
  • BLEND: Place the lid on the blender and blend on high for at least 1 minute or until ingredients are completely smooth and incorporated. If the mixture is warm, put in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  • CHILL: Use a spatula to scrape every bit of the mixture from the blender into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer's directions. (I have a Cuisinart and it took about 30 minutes to get to a soft-serve consistency.) Transfer and smooth into an even layer in an airtight container. Place in the freezer to continue firming up, about 2-3 hours or over-night. (We like it best the next day!)
  • NO ICE CREAM MAKER: If you don't have an ice cream maker, it will still work just a little more effort. Place the mixture in an airtight container in the freezer. Stir every half hour for 3-4 hours or until the mixture is ice cream consistency.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Use dairy-free chocolate chips if you want this ice cream to be vegan and/or dairy-free.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 214kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 183mg | Potassium: 334mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 6438IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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A healthy chocolate ice cream made with wholesome and natural ingredients (no added/unnatural sugars) and withOUT frozen bananas! Vegan, vegetarian, gluten free chelseasmessyapron.com
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27 Comments

  1. Ice cream for an after-workout snack? Yessssss! I love that this actually looks like regular ice cream! I love sneaky healthier desserts like that!

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this great recipe.I just made this and it’s fantastic. Made a second ice cream recipe with avocado as the healthy base ingredient. We had a blind taste test just for fun. This one won hands down! Everyone loved it!

  3. Hi! This looks really good and I cant wait to try it. Just a qn though, is it possible to substitute coconut milk with normal milk?

    1. I can’t say for sure without personally testing substitutes, but my concern is that a liquid sweetener could make the mixture too wet.

  4. 5 stars
    What a creative recipe! I love that it has sweet potato in it!

    I tried this over the weekend, and even my VERY picky husband (Ie, he will not eat ONE. SINGLE. PIECE. OF. FRUIT.) really likes it!

    I did make a couple of changes—I could still taste remnants of the sweet potato/coconut, so I added a few tablespoons of brewed coffee, and it seemed to help cover up the flavor a little more. I also used brown sugar (didn’t have any coconut sugar), and used regular coconut milk instead of lite.

    Lastly, I noticed that after freezing overnight, it tasted even better! The hubsters even approves 😉

    Thanks for the neat idea!

    1. I am so happy to hear you loved this! Thanks so much for sharing those suggestions on some substitutions! Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  5. +1. Bananas suck. Can’t wait to try this. Do you think it might work with ube (purple yam)?

  6. 5 stars
    I cannot believe the silky consistency and wonderful flavor of this ice cream!!! I’ve been searching for a healthy ice cream and have tried a few but they had too much fat, banana or coconut flavor. I stopped looking after I made this one. Thank you for sharing it!

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