Nice cream is a treat that totally lives up to its name.
What Is Nice Cream?
Nice cream is a sugar-free, dairy-free dessert made by blitzing pieces of frozen fruit in a food processor or high-speed blender. The whole-food vegan ice cream is rich, creamy, and luscious enough for a special occasion (birthday party, anyone?) yet light and easy enough for an anytime indulgence. But don’t take our word for it. Here’s everything you need to know to make nice creams in your own kitchen.
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How to Make Nice Cream
Start with Frozen Bananas
The term “nice cream” was originally coined to describe the soft serve–like confection made by blending chunks of frozen bananas, and the dense, sweet fruits remain the best for obtaining a custard-like consistency.
1) Freeze whole, peeled, ripe bananas until firm. The riper the bananas, the sweeter the nice cream.
2) Break 3 bananas into 1-inch chunks (about 3 cups frozen fruit); then blend the chunks in a food processor or high-speed blender such as a Vitamix until smooth, adding up to ¼ cup plant milk if necessary. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, use a food processor. Frozen fruit may damage a less powerful blender.
3) Serve immediately for a soft-serve texture, or place in the freezer 1 to 2 hours for a firmer consistency. Longer freezing times may require a little room-temperature defrosting to make the nice cream scoopable.
Try the Technique with Other Custardy Fruits
It’s not just about bananas: Other fruits can serve as a nice cream base. But not all fruits have the right balance of natural sugar and moisture to blend up to a perfectly creamy, soft-serve consistency. Here are the fruits that do and how to prep them.
Mangoes: peeled, cut into chunks
Peaches, nectarines: peeled, pitted, quartered
Apricots: pitted and halved
Honeydew, cantaloupe: peeled, seeded, cut into chunks
Hachiya persimmons: peeled, sliced
Once frozen, blend 3 cups of the prepared fruit with up to ¼ cup plant milk until smooth.
Mix and Match with Different Fruits
Frozen berries, cherries, mango, pineapple, kiwi, persimmon, and other fruits can also be blended into your already-blended base fruit. Or, to add chunky texture, try folding in 1 cup chopped fresh or frozen fruit or nuts. Just avoid fruits that brown quickly or are high in moisture, such as apples and pears.
Enhance With Flavorings
Once you’ve got the basics down, there’s no end to the nice cream combinations you can dream up, from classic chocolate (bananas + cocoa powder) and creamy pistachio (banana + pistachio butter) to exotic acai (base fruit + frozen acai purée) or summery strawberry basil (base fruit + strawberries + chopped basil). Here’s a rundown of flavorings you can add to your nice cream.
Flavorings to Try
2 to 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, cacao powder, or carob powder
1 to 2 tablespoons nut butter
¼ cup frozen acai purée
¼ to ½ cup passionfruit purée
½ to 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon or cardamom
1 pinch ground nutmeg
¼ to ½ tsp. almond, lemon, or coconut extract
1–2 tablespoons citrus (lemon, lime, or orange) juice
1–2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, rosemary, mint, or lemon verbena
1–2 teaspoons rose or orange flower water
Looking for more inspiration and instruction? Try one of these nice cream recipes from Forks Over Knives.
Cherry Soft-Serve Ice Cream
Mango Ice Cream
Strawberry-Chocolate Ice Cream
Cherry-Almond Nice Cream
Butternut-Pecan Nice Cream
Mexican Chocolate Nice Cream
Cinnamon Banana Nice Cream with Fruit Compote
2-Ingredient Chocolate Banana Ice Cream
For more delicious plant-based recipes, check out Forks Meal Planner, FOK’s easy weekly meal-planning tool to keep you on a healthy plant-based path. To learn more about a whole-food, plant-based diet, visit our Plant-Based Primer.