Non-Dairy Ice Cream Stabilizers

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The Struggle:

Ice cream is simple to make but extremely hard to perfect. If you take the base ingredients of ice cream and replace them with non dairy alternatives, the challenges compound. The fat of the cream is replaced with coconut oil or other fats. The milk is replaced with soy, oat or nut milks. As the water content increases the harder it is to achieve that smooth rich texture we desire in ice cream. Even if the ratios of fat, water, and sugar are perfect for a non-dairy ice cream it may not work. The method could turn the batch into a crystalline mess that’s more reminiscent of a snow cone than an ice cream cone. The best way to aid a non-dairy ice cream is to add a stabilizer. There are a number of stabilizers that can help everything from ice crystal formation, emulsification, and textural improvements. But it hard to know what stabilizer would work best for your non-dairy ice cream?


“What are the best stabilizers for non-dairy ice cream?” 


Smoooth Sailing

Thankfully there are many ingredients that will help non dairy ice creams. A variety of ingredients prevent ice crystal formation which is the biggest culprit in poor ice cream texture. Other ingredients are strictly emulsifiers, and some add textural improvements. So let’s tackle them in two sets. The first being emulsifiers. 


Why is an emulsifier important in an ice cream? Well first things first we are trying to recreate cream and milk. Both of which are emulsions. Both contain a homogenous mixture of water and fat. So by adding an emulsifier you are creating a bond similar to the one found in milk and/or cream. But what emulsifier is the best to use and how do they differ? An ingredient such as polysorbate 80 is an emulsifier that has no thickening power but will quickly emulsify the fats and liquids in a non-dairy ice cream. This is generally done by blending the ingredients together, whether it be in a blender prior to churning or during the churning process. An ingredient such as Mono & Diglycerides Flakes is a fat based emulsifier and should be melted into the fat in a recipe before mixing. A unique attribute of mono and diglycerides is that it is used to thicken fats. This can add to the texture of fats as well as adding emulsification properties. The emulsification coats the water droplets in a thin layer of fat the stronger the emulsion the smaller the droplets of water will be. The smaller the frozen droplets of water, the smoother the texture of the finished ice cream will be. Other ingredients can be used in place of emulsifiers but to be honest they mostly fit into the next category of thickeners. 


The common thickeners in non-dairy ice creams are guar gum, xanthan gum, acacia gum, carrageenan, and locust bean gum. These ingredients are added to enhance the texture of liquid to mimic the viscosity of a rich creamy ice cream. Guar, acacia, and xanthan gum can all be added to a recipe while cold. They can be blended into a recipe without needing to heat for them to activate. These ingredients are all similar in that they are thickener but they all have slightly different thickening properties. Guar creates a smooth creamy texture. Xanthan gum has a slick, mouth coating effect but if used in too high of a ratio the ice cream can become chewy. Acacia gum is a low viscosity thickener and is best used for minor adjustments in texture and mouthfeel. Locust bean gum and carrageenan are thickeners/gelling agents. When blended into a recipe they will slightly thicken the ice cream base, but the real magic comes when they are heated. Carageenan is a gelling agent that comes in a few different forms. The two we will focus on are Kappa and Iota. Kappa carageenan forms a firm brittle gel and iota forms a soft creamy gel. Each of these can work in non-dairy ice cream or they can be combined to melt the two textures to perfect them for your recipe. Locust bean gum will gel if it is added to a recipe that contains guar gum and then is heated. This is a special synergistic effect that happens between these two ingredients. This will give the ice cream a rich, dense texture. All of these thickeners can be combined to create the perfect gelato or ice cream texture. This issue is getting the ratio correct between these ingredients can be very tough. So thankfully we have done the work for you, Our Perfect ice cream, Perfect gelato and Perfect sorbet all work with non-dairy frozen treats. Perfect ice cream allows for good “overrun” a term used for the addition of air to the ice cream for a smooth light texture. Perfect gelato creates a rich, dense texture. Perfect sorbet covers the ice crystals like a boss for the smoothed fat free frozen treats. We suggest giving these all a try and sharing your results with us. So the next time you are looking to improve your non-dairy ice cream look to this guide as a way to find the best stabilizer for the job.




  • I enjoyed the article Non-Dairy Ice Cream Stabilizers. I was excited to make some non-dairy ice cream but could not find a recipe using your products. Do you have a recipe or a link to a recipe?

  • Good article but I could not find a recipe for non-dairy ice cream using your product. Do you have a recipe or a link to a recipe?

    • stay tuned! We’re going to do another ice cream episode that covers dairy and non-dairy ice creams.

  • I am also waiting on a good non-dairy ice cream recipe.

  • Thank you for this information! I’m new to making ice cream and am only starting because I’m desperate for a Non-Dairy ice cream that doesn’t taste like coconut!! As with most things, no recipe exists for what I need so I’m left to create my own.

    I made my first batch with rice milk and over all, it came out with good flavor, but the texture needs work.

    Since rice milk is so low in fat, would you recommend adding Iota & Kappa carageenan? I’m also thinking I need to add mono and diglycerides flakes to my oil before emusification. Would you agree?

    Lastly, and I know this is a silly question, but I had never heard the word emulsify before learning about ice cream. I haven’t been able to answer this question on my own because all post expect the reader to just know this:

    How do you know when something has been emulsified in a blender enough so it’s good to pour into the ice cream maker?

    Thank you in advance!!

    • You can certainly try to make your own blend of additives or just use perfect ice cream, which can be easily mixed into your existing recipe and used as is. If you use your own you will have R&D the whole process since multiple additives will interact with each other in different ways. Without having blended them ourselves we wouldn’t be able to confirm which ones work best together.

    • Emulsification is basically the mixing of two substances each with different viscosity. For example cooking oil and water. You can blend them together however this is not emulsification as the two liquids will slowly separate and you’ll have the heavy, denser oil at the bottom and the water on top. And emulsifier will stop this separation and allow the two substances to merge without separating by themselves. So to tell if your mixture has emulsified simply leave it and keep an eye out for any layers of separated substances. Hope this helps

  • still waiting for a non-dairy ice cream recipe using perfect sorbet

  • I just bought this product and was hoping to find a recipe. I am open to improvising and would be helpful to know conditions necessary for the product to work. The podcase says dry mix into sugar and heat to 180 degrees. Any other tips? Planning to add alcohol to the ice cream any advice on how to use this product with alcohol? Appreciate your advice.

    • There are recipes on the product page for each ingredient. If you want to add alcohol you want to add the alcohol right before the churn so it doesn’t get burned off when the base is heated.

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