With summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to experiment with frozen treats, particularly some delicious and refreshing vegan ice cream. Not sure where to start? Here are four vegan ice cream recipes you can make right in your kitchen — no ice cream maker or hard-to-find ingredients required.

vegan banana ice cream in a metal bowl

Banana-based vegan ice cream

The absolute simplest — and healthiest — vegan ice cream recipe requires just two ingredients: bananas and cocoa powder. This sounds a little far-fetched, but it really works to make a convincing ice cream consistency.

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The recipe from Bowl of Delicious gives the important instruction to slice the bananas first so they don’t break the blades in your food processor or blender. While the recipe says to freeze your banana slices on a parchment covered baking sheet, if you don’t have parchment, you can just put a layer of banana slices in a container to freeze.

slices of banana on a tray

Once the banana slices are frozen, it’s time to make ice cream. The original recipe recommends using a food processor, but a blender should do the trick. If it seems to be having some trouble, add a little non-dairy milk to help the process along. From there, add the cocoa powder and blend until the dessert has a smooth texture.

Sure, it’s not Ben and Jerry’s, but it is more satisfying as a dessert than you would expect. This recipe is your best bet if you want a healthful, low-fat, no-churn vegan ice cream without added sugar. You could jazz it up by adding some nut butter, jam or cinnamon.

vegan chocolate ice cream in two bowls

Tahini-chocolate vegan ice cream

This recipe from Strength and Sunshine suits both vegan and paleo diets. The ice cream is made using only four ingredients: coconut, tahini, cocoa powder and erythritol. Erythritol is a no-calorie sugar substitute, which, according to WebMD, appears to be safe for people with diabetes. I used sugar instead, as I already had that in the pantry, and added cinnamon and a dash of cayenne for a spicy chocolate flavor.

This one is super easy to make in the blender. I didn’t blend the ingredients nearly as long as the recipe instructed — 3 minutes for the coconut milk alone, 5 more minutes for all the ingredients together — because it was sufficiently blended far sooner than that. I poured the mixture into a wax paper-lined loaf pan as the recipe suggested, then covered it with foil. Unfortunately, pieces of the wax paper tore off and stuck to the ice cream as I scooped it, so in the future, I will pour the ice cream directly into the pan. Less waste, less problems!

The chocolate tahini vegan ice cream was my favorite of the four recipes. The tahini gives a slightly bitter flavor, so if you want something sweeter, you could add a little more sugar (or erythritol).

vegan avocado lime ice cream in a colorful bowl

Avocado-lime vegan ice cream

Courtesy of Delish, this is another unique vegan ice cream recipe. Avocado-lime ice cream is simple to make. Just put your avocados, coconut cream, lime juice and other ingredients in the blender, and you’ll soon have a very green substance to freeze in a loaf pan or other freezer-safe container.

vegan avocado lime ice cream in a metal pan

In case you’re wondering what the difference is between coconut milk and cream, the cream is much richer. It’s made by simmering four parts coconut in one part water, making it high-calorie and very high in saturated fat. I used sugar because I didn’t have maple syrup on hand, and the flavor still turned out great. Allow at least 5 hours for your avocado lime ice cream to freeze. It becomes a lovely green color with a bold lime taste.

vegan sweet potato gingerbread ice cream in a colorful bowl

Sweet potato-gingerbread vegan ice cream

This vegan ice cream recipe from Food and Wine is a good balance between the healthful banana-based ice cream and the other more indulgent options with coconut cream. Sweet potato forms the base for this gingerbread-flavored ice cream. It takes only one-half of a cup of coconut milk, plus a frozen banana, a couple of tablespoons of nut butter and a lot of spices. Dates sweeten the mixture.

The main work here involves prepping the sweet potato. The recipe calls for steaming the sweet potato, mashing it up, then freezing it in ice cube trays. However, these blocks of frozen sweet potato can prove to be a real challenge for some blenders. Be prepared to add more coconut milk or other vegan milk to help break down the frozen sweet potatoes.

This one tastes pretty good, but the texture is not totally convincing as ice cream. It needs a lot of blending to avoid rather unpleasant little chunks of sweet potato. Also, it might taste better with more sweetener, or maybe regular sugar, maple syrup or agave instead of dates. If I make this again, I might experiment with blending the mashed sweet potatoes directly with the other ingredients, then freezing the entire mixture. It would also be easier on the blender blades if you made smaller frozen sweet potato cubes by only filling the ice trays halfway.

More vegan ice cream recipes

The internet has plenty more vegan ice cream recipes to try. Here are a few more that sound promising: date-sweetened, five-ingredient chocolate vegan ice cream from Minimalist Baker; raspberry delight from Food and Wine; almond butter-based ice cream from Unconventional Baker; and cinnamon roll ice cream from Blissful Basil. Enjoy!

Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat