A rich and creamy vegan butter pecan ice cream made with a frozen coconut base and filled with buttered pecans for a healthier spin on a classic favorite. Made with just 6 ingredients!
It is my opinion that far too often the pecan is overlooked. We all love a good pecan pie and, of course, pecans are the only suitable topping for sweet potato casserole but what about the rest of the year? Don't you agree that it is time we celebrate this delicious food all year round?
Yes, yes it is.
Top reasons I love pecans:
- Pecans are super good for you. They are one of the most nutrient-dense nuts available. Pecans are filled with plant protein, essential vitamins and minerals, and "good" fats. Beyond that, pecans are the highest nut in dietary fiber per serving. All while being rich, buttery, and delicious! Delicious flavor and good for you! That's a win-win.
- Pecans are local. Pecans, in fact, are the only tree nut eaten in the U.S. that are indigenous to America. Once grown wild and enjoyed by Native Americans, pecans are now harvested in over a dozen Southern states.
- Pecans are so very versatile. They make a great snack, the perfect topping to salad, they can be added to your morning oatmeal or overnight oats, and baked in your favorite bread - the possibilities are endless. And let's not forget, butter pecan ice cream is one of the best flavors ever invented!
To honor this nutrient-rich nut, I took a classic ice cream favorite and made it a little bit better for you. This non-dairy butter pecan ice cream is made with coconut milk and plant-based ingredients for a non-dairy and gluten-free ice cream alternative.
Let's take a closer look!
Recommended Ingredients & Equipment
This recipe is made with just 5 simple ingredients! Better yet, they are ingredients you likely have on hand.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Vegan Butter - Look for a high-quality non-hydrogenated vegan butter. I recommend either Earth Balance or Miyoko’s.
- Coconut Milk – I have experimented with a lot of different bases for vegan ice cream. When coconut enhances the flavor of the ice cream it is my one of my favorite option for a vegan ice cream base. Full fat coconut milk is rich, thick, and similar in consistency to the heavy creamer. Therefore, it has the most similar texture to that of cow milk ice cream. This recipe calls for full-fat canned coconut milk. Do not mistake this with coconut milk that comes in a carton.
- Brown Sugar – Check out my guide to vegan sugars and alternative sugar replacements. For a healthier sugar alternative, I recommend coconut sugar.
- Vanilla Extract
Most importantly, you will need an ice cream maker. I love my ice cream maker. It is compact and makes the perfect creamy ice cream every time! You should also have a 9×5 loaf pan, ice cream scoop, and a set of reusable pint-sized ice cream freezer containers. (<<affiliate links)
Check out the full list of my recommended kitchen tools and gadgets.
How to Make Vegan Butter Pecan Ice Cream
Step One – Butter the Pecans
In a small saucepan heat the vegan butter over medium-low heat. When it comes to choosing a plant-based butter, quality is important for this recipe. I always use Earth Balance or Miyoko's cultured butter for the best quality.
Once the butter is melted, lightly toast your pecan pieces, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Toast for 3-5 minutes until the pecans are deep brown and fragrant. Remove from heat immediately (they will burn quickly) and set aside.
Step Two - Make the Base
Set aside ½ cup of coconut milk. Heat the remaining coconut milk, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan, whisking until sugar has dissolved.
In a separate bowl, make a slurry with the cornstarch and the reserved coconut milk. Add it to the saucepan and cook, stirring frequently, until the ice cream base begins to thicken, fully coating the back of a wooden spoon.
Step Three – Churn the Ice Cream
Add the chilled ice cream base to the frozen ice cream bowl along with the buttered pecans and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Church until it becomes thick and resembles soft serve. You can serve now or transfer it to loaf pan and store in the freezer until ready to serve.
Serving And Storing
Store the ice cream in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month. I store my ice cream in pint-sized ice cream tubs to keep them fresh and avoid freezer burn.
Serve your ice cream slightly thawed. Allow the ice cream to thaw 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve it in a bowl, in cones, or as part of an ice cream sundae.
Frequently Asked Questions
While I totally recommend getting an ice cream maker ASAP, you can make a creamy custard without the machine.
To do this, make your ice cream base as outlined above. Once it’s ready, transfer it to a baking sheet and place in the freezer. When the ice cream is frozen, break it into chunks and blend it in a food processor until it becomes smooth and creamy. This may take up to 10 minutes. Transfer to a loaf pan refreeze.
You won’t get quite the same creaminess, but it works in a pinch!
Every once and awhile I have a reader who cannot get their ice cream to thicken. There are a few reasons your ice cream never gets thick and creamy. Make sure to:
- Boil your coconut ice cream base for at least 2 minutes. The custard should become thick, fully coating the back of a wooden spoon.
- Freeze your ice cream maker base for at least 8 hours before using it. This is to freeze the center of the base which is essential in getting thick vegan ice cream.
- Chill the ice cream base for at least 4 hours before churning. If the ice cream base is too warm, it will melt the center of the ice cream maker and never harden.
More Vegan Ice Cream Recipes
- Cookie Dough Ice Cream
- Vegan Snickerdoodle Ice Cream
- Turkish Coffee Ice Cream
- Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
- Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream
More Vegan Recipes with Pecans
- Vegan Pumpkin Bread with Candied Pecans
- Spinach Strawberry Pecan Salad
- Curry Apple Pecan Salad
- Classic Sweet Potato Casserole
- 3-Ingredient Mini Pecan Pies
Vegan Butter Pecan Ice Cream
- The night before place the bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer to freeze all the way through.
- Heat butter in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Toast the pecan pieces in the butter for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Measure out ½ cup of coconut milk and set aside.
- Add remaining coconut milk, sugar, and salt to a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add the vanilla extract.
- Stir in the cornstarch to the reserved ½ cup coconut milk until well combined. Add cornstarch/coconut milk mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cornstarch is completely cooked and ice cream base has thickened. Transfer to a shallow container, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Add chilled ice cream base to frozen ice cream bowl and buttered pecans. Churn according to manufacturer's instructions. Church until it becomes thick and resembles soft serve.
- You can serve now or transfer to a pint-size container and store in the freezer until ready to serve. Allow 5-10 minutes to thaw when removing from the freezer.