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Aside from keto cheesecake, the number one keto dessert that people ask me for is how to make keto ice cream. And while there are a million ice cream flavors that you could make, my first priority when making homemade keto ice cream was just a basic sugar-free low carb ice cream recipe — because you can use it as a base for all kinds of flavors. I’ll show you how to make different flavors in the Flavor Variations section below!
This recipe has gone through so many iterations. I’ve tested it dozens of times! After this much (delicious) experimentation, and lots of testing with my kids, I can confidently say that this is the best keto ice cream recipe ever. After you try this latest version, I think you’ll agree. 😉
Is Ice Cream Keto?
No, regular ice cream is not keto friendly. While it does not have grains or other starchy carbs, ice cream is loaded with sugar, so is not suitable for a keto diet. There are a few keto ice cream brands out there, but when you make your own, you know exactly what’s in it. Fortunately, it’s very simple to make keto friendly ice cream at home — and similar to making the regular kind — so you can enjoy ice cream on keto again.
In fact, it’s much easier to make low carb ice cream taste authentic compared to keto baking recipes, because the only swap we need is the sweetener and we’re not trying to make any low carb flours mimic wheat.
The key component in this keto friendly ice cream is the sugar-free sweetened condensed milk. (You can actually use it for many other things, too.) It works in keto ice cream recipes the same way as conventional versions that are not custard-based.
The sweetener you use is VERY important, because most sugar substitutes have a higher freezing point than that of sugar, resulting in rock-hard ice cream. Plus, they don’t dissolve well. This is why I only use Besti Powdered Sweetener for all my low carb ice cream recipes. It dissolves effortlessly for a smooth texture, but even more important, it keeps your ice cream soft and scoopable, just like the kind made with sugar.
Why You’ll Love This Keto Ice Cream Recipe
- Sweet, smooth, and creamy (no gritty texture)
- Soft and scoopable right out of the freezer
- Just 5 simple ingredients
- Only 3.2 grams net carbs per serving
- Low carb, sugar-free, gluten-free, and egg-free
- Basic keto vanilla ice cream recipe that’s easy to customize for different flavors
Low Carb Ice Cream Ingredients
This section explains how to choose ingredients for the best homemade keto ice cream without sugar, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Butter – Use unsalted. This is the base of the keto condensed milk.
- Heavy cream – You’ll need 2 cups for the condensed milk and 1 cup added toward the end. Full-fat coconut cream should work as a dairy-free substitute, but the recipe still won’t be fully dairy-free because of the butter. If you’d like to lighten up the calories in sugar-free ice cream a bit, you can replace some (or all) of the 1 cup heavy cream (the part added toward the end) with coconut milk beverage or almond milk instead.
- Besti Powdered Monk Fruit Allulose Blend – Older versions of this low carb keto ice cream recipe used powdered erythritol, but now I highly recommend powdered Besti to keep your ice cream soft and scoopable, and also to avoid a gritty texture and cooling aftertaste that sugar alcohols (like erythritol) can impart. Straight powdered allulose is also fine to use, but you’ll need 33% more sweetener. Finally, because Besti dissolves so well, you can also use the crystallized version if that’s what you have on hand.
- Vanilla Extract – For keto vanilla ice cream. You can also add a teaspoon of vanilla bean seeds. See below for other add-ins or extract ideas.
- Almond Milk – This was not present in older versions of the recipe, but now I always include it because heavy cream alone can make the low carb ice cream a little too dense and butter-like. You can use store-bought or homemade almond milk, or for a nut-free option, use coconut milk beverage (the kind in a carton in the dairy section, not the thick canned kind).
FYI: Older versions of this recipe included 1/4 cup of MCT oil.
The reason for the MCT oil (aside from the benefits for keto) was to lower the freezing point and help make the ice cream soft and scoopable. However, I no longer include this because: a) using Besti solves the problem of rock-hard ice cream, and b) the oil can make the ice cream taste, well, a little oily. You can still at it if you like, but it’s not my favorite.
How To Make Keto Ice Cream
This section shows how to make low carb ice cream, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique. For full instructions, see the recipe card below.
- Make condensed milk. This is the same process as my sugar-free condensed milk recipe: Melt the butter in a large saute pan or skillet (not a saucepan!) over medium heat. Add powdered Besti and 2 cups of heavy cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick (like condensed milk), coats the back of a spoon, and volume is reduced by half. It will also pull away from the pan as you tilt it.
TIP: Use the largest pan or skillet you have.
More surface area means the condensed milk will form faster. It will typically take 30-45 minutes in a large pan, but can be well over an hour if you use a saucepan.
- Add vanilla. Pour the condensed milk into a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Add milk and cream. Whisk in the almond milk (or coconut milk beverage) and more heavy cream, until smooth.
- Chill. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 4 hours, or overnight, until very cold. (If you skip this step, the low carb ice cream recipe texture will not be as good.)
- Churn. Pour the keto ice cream base into the frozen ice cream maker bowl (I have this one and love it!) and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions, or until the consistency resembles soft serve ice cream.
- Freeze. You can enjoy the sugar-free soft serve ice cream right away, but I prefer firm ice cream. Transfer to a glass container and smooth the top with a spatula. Place in the freezer for 2-4 hours, until firm.
- Enjoy! See storage instructions below for scooping tips.
Can You Make Low Carb Ice Cream Without An Ice Cream Maker?
Yes! You can make this homemade low carb ice cream recipe without an ice cream maker if you don’t have one. To make no churn keto ice cream, transfer the mixture to a freezer safe container, and freeze, stirring frequently until completely solid.
TIP: The key to making no churn sugar-free ice cream is to take it out of the freezer and stir frequently.
Stir every 30-60 minutes for the first 2 hours, then every 60-90 minutes for a few hours after that. This essentially does the work of the ice cream maker. Don’t skip this step, because it breaks up ice crystals and prevents the ice cream from becoming too hard or icy.
Now that you know how to make keto ice cream the basic way, it’s super easy to customize it for other flavors and add-ins. Try these…
Keto Ice Cream Flavors
For these sugar-free ice cream flavors, the ingredients will be fully combined into the ice cream mixture (rather than just pieces of add-ins).
- Chocolate – Whisk 1/4 cup of cocoa powder in at step 4. If it doesn’t want to dissolve, heat slightly to dissolve. I also have a custard-based keto chocolate ice cream recipe that uses egg yolks.
- Strawberry – All the flavor of strawberry almond milk in ice cream form! Use this keto strawberry ice cream recipe.
- Hazelnut – Follow the recipe in my Easy Keto Cookbook.
- Mint Chip – Reduce vanilla to 1 teaspoon, and add 1 teaspoon mint or peppermint extract at the same step. If desired, you can add green food coloring for color. For the chips, see chocolate chip ideas below.
Low Carb Ice Cream Add-Ins
Add these to the ice cream maker in the last few minutes of churning, or if making without an ice cream maker, stir in when partially frozen.
- Chocolate Chip – Try white, milk, or dark chocolate chips. All of them are sugar-free and taste great!
- Cookie Dough – Add chunks of keto cookie dough or keto chocolate chip cookies.
- Sea Salt Caramel – Swirl in sugar-free caramel sauce (add extra sea salt for salted caramel). If you like streaks, stop churning once it gets streaky. This method also works with sugar-free chocolate syrup for chocolate swirls.
- Butter Pecan – Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 cup pecans and 1 tablespoon Besti. Toast pecans for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Cool completely. Follow the sugar-free ice cream recipe as written, and stir the pecans into the mixture afteer the cream and almond milk in step 4. You can also make this caramel butter pecan by swirling in caramel sauce at the end, as described above.
Store this low carb ice cream recipe just as you would any other ice cream — in the freezer.
Using Besti Powdered as the sweetener, it will stay much more soft and scoopable than low carb ice cream recipes using other sweeteners, but these tips can help with scooping:
- Run your ice cream scoop under hot water to warm it up before scooping.
- If the keto friendly ice cream is still a little hard (this can happen if it starts to melt before you place it in the freezer), let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften.
What To Serve With Sugar-Free Ice Cream
This keto-friendly ice cream recipe is delicious on its own, but it’s also great for topping other keto desserts like these:
More Keto Ice Cream Recipes
For even more ways to make sugar-free ice cream, try these recipes:
Tools To Make The Best Keto Friendly Ice Cream
- Besti Powdered – The key for soft, scoopable keto friendly ice cream.
- Large Skillet – For making the condensed milk that is part of this low carb ice cream recipe.
- Ice Cream Machine – You can absolutely make keto ice cream without an ice cream maker, but having one sure does make it easier. This is the one I have and love it.
- Glass Loaf Pan or Glass Meal Prep Containers – These are my go-to options for storing my homemade sugar-free ice cream recipe without taking up too much space in the freezer.
Easy Keto Ice Cream Recipe
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The recipe card is below! Readers that made this also viewed these recipes:
The Best Low Carb Keto Ice Cream Recipe (5 Ingredients!)
Learn how to make keto ice cream that's sweet, creamy, and tastes like the real deal, with just 5 ingredients + 3.3g net carbs! It's the best sugar-free low carb ice cream recipe.
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How To Make Keto Ice Cream:
Melt the butter in a large saute pan or skillet (not a saucepan!) over medium heat.
Add powdered Besti and 2 cups of heavy cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick (like condensed milk), coats the back of a spoon and volume is reduced by half. It will also pull away from the pan as you tilt it. (This will go faster if you use a larger pan.)
Pour the condensed milk into a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Whisk the almond milk and remaining heavy cream, until smooth.
Chill the mixture in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. (You can skip this step if you really want to, but the texture will be better if you chill it.)
Ice Cream Maker Instructions:
Transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions, or until the ice cream is the consistency of soft serve. Mine takes about 20-25 minutes. (If you want to add mix-ins, add them toward the end of the churning process.)
Enjoy immediately, or for firmer, scoopable ice cream, transfer to a freezer container and freeze for 2-4 hours, until firm.
No Churn Instructions:
Transfer the mixture to a freezer container (like a 9×5 in (23×13 cm) loaf pan) and smooth the top with a spatula. Line the surface with a piece of parchment or wax paper to keep ice crystals from forming.
Freeze for 4-6 hours, until firm. Stir the ice cream during the freezing process, every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours and every 60-90 minutes for 2-3 hours after. (If you want to add mix-ins, gently stir them in after the first hour.)
Last Step: Leave A Rating!
Serving size: 1/2 cup
- This keto ice cream recipe was updated several times, the last time in May 2022 to improve texture.
- If you’d like to lighten up the sugar-free ice cream a bit, you can replace some of the heavy cream in step 4 with coconut milk beverage or almond milk instead. However, don’t replace any of the cream in step 1.
- Using Besti is critical for keeping this keto ice cream recipe soft and scoopable. Most other sweeteners will make it very hard.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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