This no-churn cherry ice cream is simple, ridiculously easy, and so good! What more could you ask for from a summer dessert? With a dairy-free option that’s vegan and paleo with no added sugar, everyone can indulge.
How do you feel about the dog days of summer? I may be alone in this, but I like them. I find extreme heat kind of comforting. I like how the air is almost palpable when the temperatures get high, as if it’s a blanket wrapped around you providing a bit of pressure. I made it through two Houston summers with no AC in my car (I still miss that ’89 Buick!) and now I’m relishing my first full hot summer here in the Tennessee Valley.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t also like to indulge in frozen treats when it’s hot out. We’re still living in a very small house, so my beloved ice cream maker is in storage. That means I’ve been turning to my favorite no-churn frozen treats time and time again, and this no-churn cherry ice cream is the one I make the most.
It’s unbelievably simple, and it tastes so good. I actually first made and shared this several years ago, but it was buried in the archives with terrible photos, so I know many of you never got to see it.
I took some time off from this ice cream because I always loved it so much made with coconut milk, and about a year ago I discovered that I’m allergic to coconut. However, recently I’ve been making this ice cream with heavy cream, and while it’s much less paleo it is still delicious. It’s hard to do a true comparison since I can’t taste the two versions side by side, but I think the coconut milk version is even a little better. Go for that unless you’re coconut averse or allergic like me! As a bonus, that means the ice cream is vegan as long as you don’t add any honey.
Here’s how we’re making this epic summer treat (it only takes five minutes of prep!): we’re pulsing frozen dark sweet cherries, coconut milk or heavy cream, almond butter, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt in the food processor. That’s IT! If you’d like, you can sweeten it a little more with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, or make a chocolate cherry version by adding a couple of tablespoons of cocoa. Usually I find this is sweet enough just from the cherries! And I’m still on the fence as to whether I prefer this with cocoa or without. There’s no cocoa in the batch pictured here–if you do choose to add cocoa, the color will be a tad less vibrant.
In case you’re wondering, the almond butter doesn’t come through strongly in the finished ice cream. You may taste a hint of it, but it’s mostly for texture and mouthfeel: it makes this ice cream creamier and almost a little chewy, but in a good way. (It’s hard to explain, but I know you’ll like it!) I haven’t tried other nut or seed butters to replace the almond, but I bet they’d work great. I use homemade almond butter or a store-bought unsweetened almond butter with roasted almonds as the only ingredient.
As a last tip, this is hard to scoop if it’s been frozen for a while, so leave it out for 15 minutes or so to warm up before serving. And if you want picture-perfect scoops of no-churn cherry ice cream, the best time to get them is when it has been frozen for just about two hours. It’s no less delicious but a little less pretty when it’s been frozen for longer!
Looking for more no-churn ice cream? Here’s a mocha version that I absolutely love. It’s a spin-off of Nigella’s classic heavy cream + sweetened condensed milk formula, but made with homemade maple-sweetened condensed milk.
- 3 cups frozen dark sweet cherries
- 1¾ cup cold full-fat coconut milk or heavy cream
- ⅓ cups almond butter
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- Process all ingredients in a food processor. Taste and add sweetener and/or cocoa if desired.
- Enjoy right away as soft serve, or transfer to a container and freeze for two hours.
- If the ice cream has been frozen for a while, let it sit out for 15 minutes before serving for easier scooping.
Happy dog days!