Healthy Kids and Teens Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Homemade Date Sweetened Ice Cream :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

June 2, 2021

Naturally sweeten your favorite frozen treat with homemade date sweetened ice cream! You’ll never guess this ice cream is also dairy free, egg free, and gluten free too!

Homemade Date Sweetened Ice Cream :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

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18 summers…

We get 18 summers with them. Sure, the kids don’t just disappear as soon as they turn 18, but for the most part, we get 18 summers with them under our care, and under our roof…and my goodness is that a wake up call when 2 out of your 3 kids is already halfway through those 18 years. Those baby and toddler summers…are exhausting to say the least. And I’m not going to be the veteran momma that says to the young moms, “oh just enjoy it – it goes by so fast!” Because, dear momma, I’ll call it like it is…babies are beautiful and amazing, but that season of life will suck every last ounce of energy from you, as wonderful as those sweet cherubs are! I cherished the girls as babies and toddlers…But THIS age! These in between ages were they aren’t quite off with friends everyday, and you don’t need to make it home for naptime…this is the sweet spot. And I’m so here for it all summer. I am determined to enjoy every last minute of the remaining 18 summers that we have, including extra beach days, last minute road trips, Lego villages spanning the length of my living room for a week…and saying yes to ice cream!

Homemade Date Sweetened Ice Cream :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

Summer Ice Cream Sweetened with Whole Fruit!

Over the past 6 months I’ve been playing around with sweetening some of my recipes that need sweetening with whole fruit, and I made a goal to work on some new ice cream recipes for the summer. We live in Michigan, so dear friends, that means we get this super amazing 3 months of serious paradise weather. It truly doesn’t get any better than summer on Lake Michigan! Last year, we got into a bit of a “habit” of popping into the local ice cream shop for dairy free ice cream, and while I think the summer of 2020 totally deserved that, I really want to replace that habit with something a little better in choice. Will we pop into the ice cream shop this summer? You bet! But probably more like a couple times versus every other week. Our family is completely obsessed with this homemade, whole fruit, date sweetened ice cream, and it is such a fabulous swap for your summer ice cream!

Homemade Date Sweetened Ice Cream :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

Looking at “natural sweeteners” in a new way

If you follow my Instagram account, you’ll know that earlier this year I read through the book Sugarproof Kids. The authors sent the book to me for review, and while I’ll be the first to admit that there is no way I know *everything* there is to know about sugar and feeding kids, I remember thinking there probably wasn’t too much in the book that would be “new” information to me. Sugar is still sugar, and it truly does effect so many things for kids, but reading through this book did make me re-think how I am “naturally” sweetening things. Learning about how even natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup attach to our taste receptors effecting the way our brain sees “sweet,” and spikes blood sugar similar to plain sugar was a really good reminder. I remember when the girls were very little, I used to sweeten everything from their oatmeal to their treats with whole fruits only. As they got older the ease and convenience of honey or syrup won me over, and I figured a little dash here and there each week won’t matter. There is nothing wrong with a drizzle of honey over oatmeal, or a little splash of syrup in a muffin recipe, but reminding myself that the fiber in whole fruits helps the sweet spike to blood sugar slow down…well let’s just say I’ve been challenging myself to use whole fruit to sweeten things where I can! I’ve even gone back to just blending fruit to stir into the girls’ oatmeal instead of a few slices of fruit and drizzles of honey. (The book Sugarproof Kids is really excellent – I do highly recommend it regardless of where you are in your real food journey. It is gentle and non-condemning enough for newer friends to whole foods, and clearly was a good read for even this seasoned real food writer!)

Homemade Date Sweetened Ice Cream :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

So let’s make some {date sweetened} ice cream!

Just a handful of simple pantry ingredients is all you need for this dairy free, egg free, gluten free ice cream recipe! I like to use simple canned coconut milk. And don’t skimp on the fat – get the full fat version of whatever can of coconut milk you can find. The kind of fat in coconut milk is so good for your children’s growing brains and ever changing hormones! I don’t mind using the kind that has a little guar gum in the ingredients because when it comes to making ice cream, I find it helps with a creamier texture. The basic cans of Thai Kitchen coconut milk are very budget friendly, and work well for ice cream making. If you have homemade coconut milk, or just plain coconut milk without any thing added in, that will still work too! And of course the star of the show – dates! These dried fruits are packed with natural sweetness and once you soak them a little bit in some water, they blend up super smooth into your ice cream mixture. It really is as simple as putting all of the ingredients into your blender and buzzing it all up until it’s smooth.

Homemade Date Sweetened Ice Cream :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

What’s with the nut/seed butter ingredient?

I have made…a lot of homemade ice cream since having kids in the house. Some batches have been great, and others…well let’s just say a rock hard block of coconut ice is no fun to scoop, and doesn’t really feel like real ice cream. A number of years ago I read about how adding a spoonful or 2 of nut butter to ice cream mixtures helps with texture, keeping the icy crystals at bay, and making the ice cream really scoop-able. If you are a nut free house, seed butters like sunbutter work great too! And if you are completely nut and seed free, simply leave this ingredient out – the dates and thick, full fat coconut milk do make a great texture too.

Homemade Date Sweetened Ice Cream :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

But how does “date sweetened ice cream” taste?!

If I’m gonna have ice cream, I want it to taste and feel just like ice cream! You know what I mean?! Dates have a very neutral sweetness, with a slight hint of warm caramel notes. Since dates are dried and packaged without any added sugar, you are truly just getting the sweetness from the whole fruit. With the added vanilla extract and splash of almond extract to the ice cream mixture, the ice cream really turns out tasting like vanilla ice cream. Stay tuned throughout the summer, as I have some plans to perfect a chocolate date sweetened ice cream, as well aswell you tell me! What is your favorite flavor?! Let me know in the comments below!

Homemade Date Sweetened Ice Cream :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

A note on ice cream makers

One of the greatest investments I’ve make for our kitchen is our ice cream maker! Store bought dairy free ice cream is so expensive. It surely works in a pinch, but over time that is a huge hit to anyone’s budget. And even if you aren’t dairy free, finding an ice cream with a stellar ingredient list is pretty tough. Especially if you want it to be lower in sugar without using questionable low calorie sweeteners. If the ice cream maker doesn’t fit in the budget this summer, be sure to add it to your birthday or Christmas list this year – you will not regret it! I did start out with a cheaper ice cream maker that worked well at first, but did eventually tucker out. We have had this nicer, middle of the road ice cream maker for about 7 years now and it still works like new.

Homemade Date Sweetened Ice Cream :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

Gluten free ice cream cone options

If you are in the mood for a cone, there are a few different options out there now! This has not always been the case! In fact, you can find most of these gluten free ice cream cones right in the baking section of your local grocery store – usually by all of the ice cream toppings. This is the brand that our grocery store carries (it is a much better price at the store for me, by the way, so shop around). The ingredient list isn’t perfect, but we also don’t have cones every time we have ice cream – I save them for special days.

Homemade Date Sweetened Ice Cream :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free
Homemade Date Sweetened Ice Cream :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Homemade Date Sweetened Ice Cream :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free



  • Be sure that your ice cream maker’s freezer bowl has been chilling in the freezer for at least 24 hours.
  • Put the dates in a medium bowl with warm tap water enough to cover the dates. Let the dates soak about 5 minutes while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.
  • Put the coconut milk, nut or seed butter, vanilla extract, almond extract, and sea salt in your high-powered blender. Drain the soaking dates, and add the dates to the blender as well.
  • Blend the ice cream mixture until smooth. I use the ice cream function of my high-powered blender, but you could use any setting as long as the mixture gets smooth. If you do not have a high-powered blender, a Magic Bullet style will help the dates get super smooth, or a food processor will with some extra time.
  • Pour the blended ice cream mixture into your ice cream maker and process for 30- 40 minutes, or according to your ice cream manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream mixture will be thin at first and within 20 minutes get very thick! Transfer your churned ice cream to a freezer safe container and chill.


  • My ice cream maker holds 1.5 quarts. If you have a 2 quart ice cream maker, I think you could get away with doing a recipe and a half of this to get more out of it!
  • I get the big bags of Noor dates at Costco – do some shopping around grocery and online to get the best price!
  • I know the nut or seed butter ingredient is odd, but over the years I have found just that little scoop of nut butter really helps with homemade ice cream texture. It keeps it from getting icy and hard, and makes it super creamy. If you are nut free, use Sunbutter! If you can’t have nuts or seeds, simply leave this ingredient out – you will still get a great ice cream!
  • For my daughter’s birthday last week, I added a bit more almond extract to make the ice cream taste more like “cake batter” and after it churned I folded some naturally dyed sprinkles into the ice cream to make “cake batter ice cream!”
  • Stay tuned this summer for more ways to dress up this basic ice cream recipe! I have plans to perfect chocolate and strawberry for sure!
Homemade Date Sweetened Ice Cream :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

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  • Reply Julie June 3, 2021 at 12:44 am

    I can’t wait to try this! Fingers crossed you’ll do a recipe for chocolate and coffee too!

  • Reply Suzy June 12, 2021 at 9:51 am

    Loved the simplicity of this recipe. I don’t make ice cream often because its usually a lot of steps, ingredients, and dishes. This recipe is awesome!
    I substituted 1 can of coconut milk for 1 can of cows milk and it was amazing! It is the perfect sweetness and texture! Can’t wait to add cacao next time with maybe an extra drizzle of peanut butter!

    • Reply Renee Kohley June 12, 2021 at 10:34 am

      I’m so glad this ice cream recipe felt do-able for you! What a lovely combination!

  • Reply Rachel Free June 19, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    This looks amazing!! I can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply Maggie June 19, 2021 at 5:39 pm

    Loved this recipe! Made it with raw milk instead of coconut milk and it turned out great. Also added a few egg yolks. Love the idea of using dates and it had such a great flavor with the almond extract. Will be making this again on the next sunny day!!!

    • Reply Renee Kohley June 20, 2021 at 4:28 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it Maggie! Thank you for sharing your tips!

  • Reply Jennifer June 19, 2021 at 6:58 pm

    5 stars

  • Reply Emily VH June 19, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    Renee’s recipes rarely disappoint, but I have to say this one was a big winner!! I halved the almond extract and put the mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes before putting it in the ice cream maker as I’ve had some issues in the past with other recipes not thickening if they start too warm. Amazing! I have a great recipe for cinnamon ice cream I might try to incorporate into this one next time. Definitely will be using this all summer long!

    • Reply Renee Kohley June 20, 2021 at 4:27 pm

      Cinnamon sounds amazing! Thank you for sharing your tips Emily!

  • Reply Mandy June 21, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    Hi there! We can’t have coconut milk here at our house. Would oat milk
    Work? Thank you!

    • Reply Renee Kohley June 21, 2021 at 5:39 pm

      Hi Mandy! I think Oat Milk would work ok! I have not tried it before but it seems creamy enough that I would give it a try! Let us know how it goes!

  • Reply April June 24, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    5 stars
    Excellent creamy texture – not icy like the other homemade recipes we’ve tried! I do think the nut butter is the magic ingredient. Usually our homemade ice cream softens upon being left out of the freezer for a little while but typically still has an icy texture. That is NOT AT ALL the case with this one – it was super creamy, I was so impressed. This is now my favorite ice cream recipe!

    • Reply Renee Kohley June 25, 2021 at 12:26 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it April! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Sydney February 17, 2022 at 10:10 pm

    This sounds great! I’m wanting to make an ice cream cake for my daughter’s first birthday. Can I use pureed prunes? Also, did you figure out how to incorporate strawberries into this recipe?

    • Reply Renee Kohley February 19, 2022 at 7:38 am

      I think prunes would work fine 🙂 For the strawberries, I like to either make a strawberry topping, or you can churn the ice cream as is, and then swirl strawberries in afterward.

  • Reply Haley Wong March 24, 2022 at 4:31 pm

    This recipe is amazing! I made date sweetened vanilla ice cream once before with a date caramel swirl and it was brown and not that sweet oddly enough. This one was more brown than your photos but it was the perfect sweetness. The almond extract and almond butter made it taste even sweeter and special. I followed the recipe exactly with medjool dates and no subs. Thanks for making a date sweetened vegan recipe! I cannot have any sweeteners anymore because of IBS but dates seem to be okay for me! So happy to be able to have something sweet every now and then that is also healthier for my family.

    • Reply Renee Kohley March 28, 2022 at 1:12 pm

      So glad to hear that Haley! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream - Raising Generation Nourished August 1, 2022 at 5:54 pm

    […] base with chunks of fudge and swirls of chocolate rippled throughout. Easy right? We made my staple date-sweetened vanilla ice cream base to start. If you are in the market for an ice cream maker for the family, the one pictured […]

  • Reply Hunter October 14, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    Do you know if a can of just coconut cream (like Savoy or Thai kitchen) would work in this recipe instead of the coconut milk? I thought that coconut cream would result in a, well, creamier result, but I wasn’t sure if there was a specific reason you used coconut milk over that in the recipe

    • Reply Renee Kohley October 15, 2022 at 1:26 pm

      Hi Hunter! You can definitely use just coconut cream! I usually only have the milk on hand so I tend to use that.

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