Using coconut milk in ice cream

I have a friend who is lactose intolerant, and I'm considering asking ice cream... I could see that coconut and lime might be tasty, and am reckoning on coconut milk, sugar, and some lime zest going in the machine. My main question is- does anyone ave ny experience f this? Will I get an ice cream texture? Or more of a sorbet?

Esther Plume


Benny July 26, 2012
I have a coconut lime sorbet recipe that I found for the exact same reason. My nephew can't even handle a little dairy. He loved it, and I make it for my wife and myself often too. unfortunately, I'll have to give it to you later tonight when I'm at home :)
boulangere July 24, 2012
Thank you, Esther Plume, for asking a question that's been rattling around in my thoughts for a while. And thank you also, Shuna and beyondcelery for very helpful information. I'm feeling like tackling the project later this week.
Shuna L. July 24, 2012
Depending on the kind of ice cream maker you have, the fat content/ratio will determine how smooth a consistency you achieve. Churning coconut milk is like freezing butter; it can be tricky. I find I get a better coconut flavor when I use non-white sugars like raw, demerara, jaggery {palm or coconut sugar can be found at ethnic grocers such as Indian, Asian, Mexican} or even light brown sugar. Salt is an important factor too, as coconut is basically 100% fat.

A liquid sugar is better than a granulated one. I might make a simple syrup with raw sugar and season to taste, then churn. Agave, malt or rice syrup, even maple syrup, are better for you and for the coconut sorbet/ice cream than corn syrup but you want to be judicious so the coconut flavor still comes through.

You could also put your lime zest in your simple syrup and then strain it out so those bits don't interrupt the mouth-feel of a smooth ice cream/sorbet experience. I like to infuse all sorts of coconut related flavors into my coconut sorbet. The options are endless but a few you may want to think about: crushed pink peppercorns, lemongrass, cardamon pods, curry leaves...
beyondcelery July 24, 2012
If you use a custard base, it'll be creamy and delicious and nearly indistinguishable from regular ice cream. My best result with this was when I made aargesi's Avocado Gelado:

I refrigerated a couple cans (don't shake!) of high-fat coconut milk for about 30 minutes, then skimmed the cream off the top of the cans. Use the liquid in place of the milk. Use the coconut cream in place of the heavy cream. (Equal substitution; I used exactly the same quantities.) Then I basically followed her recipe, infusing fresh basil into the coconut milk because I didn't have a vanilla bean. The avocado guarantees it'll turn out wonderfully creamy, plus it'll have a great exotic flavor with the combination of coconut and avocado (and basil, if you do that).
Esther P. July 24, 2012
That's great - thank you both! I'll try adding some coconut cream into the can of coconut milk to give it a higher fat content, which might help things along too.

Thanks again.
Third F. July 22, 2012
It will, most likely, be a sorbet -like consistency. I compared recipes from Wheeler del Toro's Coconut Ice Cream from The Vegan Scoop (which uses 3.5 cups of coconut milk thickened with 2 tbs arrowroot) and Melissa Clark' Coconut Chocolate Sorbet recipe from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite (which uses a roughly equivalent amount of coconut milk with no thickening agents.) Both are delicious, but the del Toro recipe definitely tastes more like an ice cream.
sdebrango July 22, 2012
I have made ice cream using coconut milk, I used Jenni's splendid Ice cream recipe as a base making a sort of pudding with cornstarch, I also added a little corn syrup to keep it from getting too hard. It was pretty creamy, I used full fat canned coconut milk. Her recipe for lemon ice cream is on this site and she also has a website. I made it for a friend who is vegan so I couldn't use eggs. It might work also making a custard base with egg yolks.
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