This Kefir Ice Cream tutorial will walk you through how to make this customizable, healthy treat using plain milk kefir as your ice cream base. No ice cream maker? No problem!
Guys, I have a confession. An ice cream confession.
As healthy as I try to be, each year-- as the sun starts to warm the air in spring, right up until the cool fall breezes make me grab a jacket-- I crave ice cream sandwiches. (Specifically, these ridiculously delicious organic ice cream sandwiches.)
Every year, I think that I'll tame the ice cream beast inside, only to find myself polishing off another tasty treat. I needed a healthier solution for my ice cream dreams.
And so, a few weeks ago, as I found myself staring at jars and jars of plain milk kefir in my fridge-- a lightbulb went off. An ice cream lightbulb.
This Kefir Ice Cream tutorial is a simple and easy method to turn probiotic-packed milk kefir into a delicious, healthy ice cream.
What is Kefir Milk?
Kefir milk is a lightly fermented milk drink-- and is very similar to yogurt. (Basically, it's a thin, drinkable yogurt.)
Love Kefir?: Learn how to make kefir milk at home!
Where Can I Buy Kefir Milk?
Kefir milk should be in the refrigerated dairy section, right next to the milk, at your normal grocery store. For this recipe, you want the plain, unflavored kefir milk.
Quick Tip: If you make your own kefir, you might accidentally make more than you can drink. This is a great way to use it!
Can I Skip the Sweetener?
Of course! But keep in mind-- food will taste less sweet when cold than at room temperature.
In other words, your taste buds play a little trick on you when you eat or drink something that's chilled or frozen.
What does that mean for this recipe?
It means that when you add sweetener to the kefir ice cream mixture, add enough so that it's just a little sweeter than you'd prefer-- because once it's frozen, the sweetness will be slightly dulled.
Can I Make This Vegan or Dairy-Free?
Yes! You'll need to buy or make a dairy-free plain kefir. You can make it yourself, or look for it with the dairy-free milk at the grocery store.
Does This Really Taste Like Ice Cream?
If you make this recipe as written, it will be a little more tart than ice cream. If you've ever had plain frozen yogurt, that's what it reminds me of, even though we're adding flavorings.
I like it with the mild tartness, because it still tastes like kefir! However, if you prefer a less tart treat, you could add a little more sweetener.
Keep in mind, this recipe is for a light and easy, healthy ice cream. If you want a full-blown, custard-based ice cream, check out this recipe from Cultures for Health.
I Have An Ice Cream Maker — Can I Use It For Kefir Ice Cream?
This ice cream works beautifully in an ice cream maker, and will give you a silky, light, and creamy ice cream.
Shopping for an ice cream maker? I use a Cuisinart ice cream maker with a freezer bowl.
Quick Tip: Keep an eye on the ice cream as it churns-- this ice cream tends to finish churning more quickly than a standard custard ice cream. (The ice cream maker I used said it should take 20 minutes to churn-- but this ice cream was ready in 10.)
I Don't Have An Ice Cream Maker: What Can I Do?
Guys, I don't have an ice cream maker either. (I borrowed one from a friend to test the churned version out-- Thanks Melanie!)
This is how I usually make my kefir ice cream. No churn, no fuss.
Blend the ingredients up in a blender until the mixture is frothy and bubbly. The bubbles are really important! They help incorporate air into the mixture, and will make this easier to scoop out later.
Then, pour it into a freezer-safe container, stir it once about an hour or two after it goes into the freezer. If you totally forget to stir it, it's a-okay.
Stirring will make it easier to scoop later, will make the texture a little silkier, and will make the ice cream scoops hold together better into more perfectly shaped scoops.
This No Churn Kefir Ice Cream will be a little less silky than the ice cream maker version-- but it's still DELICIOUS! The texture will be more like granita (Italian Ice), but the frozen kefir will taste creamy when you bite in.
Quick Tip: Need a blender? Blender shopping? Check out this Blender Review!
Want more fermented ideas? Try these recipes:
Kefir Ice Cream
Ice Cream Base:
- 1 cup plain kefir OR coconut milk kefir
- 1 tablespoon honey, maple syrup, or sugar Sweeten more or less as desired
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Optional, especially if using add-ins
Add-Ins for Fruit Kefir Ice Cream:
- 1 cup frozen or fresh berries
Add-Ins for Peanut Butter Kefir Ice Cream:
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter powder (See recipe notes for regular peanut butter directions)
- 1 banana (optional)
- 1 tablespoon cocoa or cacao powder (optional)
Add-Ins for Chocolate Chip Kefir Ice Cream:
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon cocoa or cacao powder
Ice Cream Maker Directions:
- Blend together plain kefir, desired add-ins, and as much sweetener as desired in a blender or food processor.
- Add mixture to an ice cream maker, following the directions for your ice cream maker. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Use within a week.Tip: If storing in the freezer, ice cream may freeze solid. Allow ice cream to sit at room temperature 20-30 minutes until softened.
No Churn Directions:
- Add plain kefir, desired add-ins, and as much sweetener as desired to the basin of a blender or food processor. Blend until mixture is frothy, with lots of air bubbles. Tip: Air bubbles are easiest to achieve in a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix.) If your blender isn't creating the desired air-bubbles, try pouring the mixture into a mixing bowl after blending, and beat with an electric hand mixer on high until the mixture is bubbling and frothy.
- Taste mixture, and add more sweetener or add-ins if desired. The mixture should be slightly sweeter than you prefer, because it will taste a little less sweet when frozen.
- Pour the mixture about 3" deep into a container until hardened, about 3 hours. Stir the mixture 1-2 hours into the freezing process. Container Tip: If serving immediately, an open container will be fine. If storing, pour mixture into an airtight, sealable container. A long, shallow container will allow the mixture to freeze more quickly (approx. 3 hours), and a deep container will take longer (approx. 6-8 hours). I generally pour my kefir mixture about 3" deep.
- Remove kefir ice cream from the freezer. Use an ice cream scoop to serve, and use within a week. Tip: If the ice cream has frozen solid, let it sit at room temperature 20-30 minutes until softened. Kefir frozen in a large, deep containers could take up to an hour to soften.
- My ice cream isn't sweet enough: Drizzle a little of whatever sweetener you prefer over the ice cream scoops, and/or top with sweet toppings.
- I want my ice cream to be richer: Try stirring in more fat by adding a little heavy cream to the mixture.
- My no churn ice cream falls apart when I scoop it: To help the scoops hold together, stir the mixture (or break up with an ice cream scoop) about 15 minutes before serving. Then, stick it back in the freezer until it's time to serve.
- My ice cream has ice crystals: This can happen if you're using a kefir made with lowfat milk, or if you didn't get a lot of air bubbles in the no churn mixture. Try using a full-fat kefir, mixing until it's frothy, or stir the ice cream every half hour in the freezer while it's hardening, until it's too frozen to stir.
- Add toppings: Top your ice cream with toasted coconut flakes, fresh berries, or mini chocolate chips
- Add a ribbon of sweetener: Only add half the sweetener to the blender, and drizzle the rest in over the mixture after it's poured into the container. This works best with thick sweeteners like honey.
- Add unblended mix-ins: Let the ice cream freeze for about an hour. Then, remove it from the freezer, and stir in extras like chopped nuts, diced or small berries, or coconut chips.