Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

This coconut ice cream recipe is all about summer – the pina colada in the coconut half-shell, sand between your toes, your legs sticky with sunscreen as you lounge in the shade and listen to the languid roll of the waves on the beach – it all comes alive when you taste your first spoonful of this ice cream, even if you happen to be sitting in front of the fireplace on a winter night.

Some recipes for coconut ice cream call for coconut milk, some for coconut cream, cream of coconut and others still for coconut essence. Coconut milk, cream and "cream of" are three different items entirely. To make matters more confusing, some manufacturers use the terms "coconut cream" and "cream of coconut" interchangeably.

We use coconut cream in our coconut ice cream recipe – it is creamier than the milk, without being cloying and doesn't bring the added sugar of coconut cream. It is the hardest of the three products to find in stores, however. See below for our coconut cream recipe and how to make coconut milk.

This is one recipe where the quality of your basic ingredients will really shine. There's something very pure and clean about this ice cream – it's almost as if you can taste the sharp whiteness of a freshly split coconut, or the brilliance of miles of white sand along a turquoise sea.

coconut ice cream in a blue glass

Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

5 egg yolks

2 cups coconut cream

2 cups cream

¾ sugar

Vanilla bean

2 Tablespoons of rum (optional)

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Set aside.

  • Mix the coconut cream, cream and sugar in a medium-sized pan.

  • Slit the vanilla bean with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds into the pan.

  • Warm over a medium-low flame until just warmed through and sugar is dissolved.

  • Add a ladle of the warm mixture to the egg yolks and whisk. Whisk continuously while adding the rest of the mixture.

  • Return mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring gently and continuously, until custard reaches 185 F. Remove from heat.

  • Place sieve over medium bowl and strain mixture.

  • Add rum, if using, and blend well.

  • Place bowl into a large bowl filled with ice to cool the custard quickly.

  • Chill in refrigerator several hours or overnight.

  • Churn in ice cream maker.

How to Make Coconut Cream Recipe:

To make coconut cream yourself, place 4 parts unsweetened shredded coconut to one part water in a pan. Bring to a simmer until the mixture foams. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain through a cheesecloth. Press to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Refrigerate coconut cream and use within a few days.

If you're lucky enough to have a fresh coconut – or adventurous enough to try this – crack it, peel it, and run the coconut chunks through a Vitamix or juicer. The shredded coconut can be air dried or toasted for later use.

How to Make Coconut Milk

You make coconut milk just like coconut cream, but the ratio of coconut to water is different. Use equal amounts of water and unsweetened shredded coconut. Bring to a simmer in a pan. When the mixture starts to foam, remove from heat, cool, then strain through a cheesecloth.

Cream of Coconut

Cream of coconut is a very thick, heavily sweetened concoction used in mixed drinks. It is available both in liquid and powdered form from liquor stores.

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Best Homemade Ice Cream Recipe: All Flavors

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