Raw cacao ice cream

Raw cacao ice cream

The days of making raw ice cream with frozen bananas are over. You hear that? O V E R. Because I found a way to make raw ice cream that doesn’t involve it having a weird banana undertone. Unless you like the weird banana undertone – then, by all means, enjoy your banana ice cream. But for those of us who are sick of the freaking bananas, I found a solution. And best part about this ice cream? Only the fact that it doesn’t contain any dairy or refined sugar, but tastes like real ice cream. That alone is reason enough to celebrate.

I had my doubts about this stuff. Especially after the first night of trials had my kitchen floor covered in cashew milk. Yep, all down the stove, seeping into the burners, all over the floor. And me. Off went my pants in the middle of the kitchen. But when I dipped my spoon into the churning ice cream maker (yeah, you probably shouldn’t do that) and had a taste, I completely forgot about my milk soiled pajama pants. It was rich, creamy and flavorful. And considering my Ben & Jerry’s loving boyfriend gave it two thumbs up, I’d venture to say that this stuff rules. It rules so hard, you guys.

Raw cacao ice cream

There’s a lot to say about this ice cream, so follow along. First of all, it’s super versatile. If you prefer a sweeter ice cream, add more dates. Less chocolate? Reduce the cacao! The ice cream base is comprised of the cashews, water and dates – and there are so many flavor possibilities that it makes my head spin. You could ribbon in raw chocolate (cacao + coconut oil), or add cacao nibs and a few handfuls of unsweetened shredded coconut. How about whipping up some raw brownies and adding chunks of that? Completely omit the cacao and cinnamon, and add a vanilla bean for raw vanilla bean ice cream. You could even make a raw version of my blueberry frozen yogurt by adding lemon juice (2 tablespoons) and blueberries. Or any other fruit. AM I BLOWING YOUR MIND OR WHAT?

And don’t think I forgot about you people without fancy mixers or magical ice cream making devices. Because if you don’t have either, you can still make this stuff. Simply blend all of the ingredients together in your blender, then pour the base into ice cube trays and freeze overnight. Once frozen, transfer cubes to a plastic bag for storage, then mix in your blender whenever you get the sudden urge for ice cream (you may need to add a bit of liquid to get things moving). So, kind of like the whole frozen banana ice cream process, minus the whole banana flavor.

*A commenter pointed out the “high” calorie content of this ice cream (about 300/half cup) – so if that bothers you, you can strain out the nut pulp (although I don’t recommend it unless you’re seriously committed to sticking to your calorie counting diet). I, however, welcome high calories and good fat with an open mouth. Isn’t that the point of eating a diet full of mostly plants? So I can eat whatever the hell I want and not feel bad about it?


1 3/4 cups raw cashews
3 1/2 cups filtered water, plus more for soaking
15 medjool dates, pitted
6 tbsp cacao powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (I used Ceylon)

Place the cashews in a small bowl, cover with water and soak for 6 hours, or overnight (if you don’t have a high speed blender, the longer you soak the cashews, the better). Once the cashews have soaked, discard the soaking water and transfer the cashews to the container of a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix. Add the water and blend on high speed for 45-60 seconds. Add the dates, making sure each of them is submerged, then allow to soak for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, blend mixture on high speed for 30 seconds. Add the cacao powder and cinnamon; blend on high speed for at least one minute. ¬†Transfer to the bowl of your ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a container and freeze until ready to consume. Thaw for 20 minutes before serving. I like to top mine with cacao powder and a handful of cacao nibs. I highly recommend it.

Yield: about 1 quart

  • Jessie May August 20, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    Oh my goodness! SO excited to make this, thank you!

  • Laura August 20, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    YES. Go away, banana under/overtone. This is about a jillion times better-sounding than banana soft serve. Yum. Probably gonna make this and shamelessly tuck a bit of brewed espresso in there. PUMPED.

  • Courtney August 20, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    This looks amazing! I’ve made an “icing” for a cake similar to this and have thought about making it into some sort of ice cream. Good to know it works, and without anymore dang bananas!

  • Fanny August 20, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    While I don’t mind the banana at all, this looks awesome and a lot fancier. However, until I can afford cashews without feeling robbed, I’ll stick to the banana.

  • cookingwithlysa August 20, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    the big picture is making me crazy. It looks SO delicious. I will try this for sure :)

  • Amanda August 20, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    I love banana-based ice creams, but I get what you mean about the banana undertones – those can be a little too in-your-face sometimes. Your recipe sounds outstanding! I read your post at super speed so I could get to the recipe and see how you made it without the bananas. :)

  • Kammie @ Sensual Appeal August 20, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    Wow that looks ahhhhh-mazing dear.

  • Allysia August 20, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Nut milk definitely makes the best ice cream ever. Not to mention your pictures are super gorgeous!

  • Fleur De Moi August 20, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Oh my gosh, my mouth is watering. I must try this. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • erin August 20, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    This looks amazing and I love the lack of banana! Can’t wait to try!

  • Richa August 20, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    can i have that whole pan please! love the dates in there and its so well blended and smooth! gotta give this a try asap

  • glutenfreehappytummy.com August 20, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    drooling:) this sounds so creamy and delicious!

  • Diana LaRussa August 20, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    I’m new to raw foods so bananas haven’t made me crazy yet, I actually wasn’t eating bananas BC of the high sugar content (15g) so this is a hearty addition to my growing recipe list.
    I concur, cashews are so over priced, I plan meals around not using them but desert IDK if I can stay away :)

  • Gabby @ the veggie nook August 20, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    Oh yum, so decadent and simple! Perfect :)

  • Hena Tayeb August 20, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    wow.. sounds and looks delicious..

  • Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes August 20, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    Totally mind blowing- pure genius!!

    That is one thing I have yet to master – vegan icecream except the banana style….and you obvisouly have – lessons please!

  • Ashley August 20, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    YOU are amazing. THIS is amazing.

  • Michela August 20, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    That looks delicious! Great recipe!

    I have been following your blog for a while now, but just recently decided to start one myself and comment :)
    I just wanted to let you know that I really like yours, all your recipes look scrumptious :)

  • Chloe August 20, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    I can’t wait to make this! Raw cashews are the secret weapon of vegan cooking.

    For everyone concerned about the price, Trader Joe’s sells a 1 lb bag of raw cashews for $5.49. They also sell medjool dates.

  • Shannon August 20, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    Oh whoa! You are always coming up with the best things.

  • Kristy August 20, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    You beautiful little genius, you! How did you know I had OD’d on bananas and that I was craving a nice chocolatey frozen treat? Well played, my friend. Well played. :-)

  • Dawn August 20, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    And I JUST went to Trader Joe’s on Saturday and I JUST bought a pound of dates (they are only $4.49, total steal) and two pounds of raw cashews (at my TJ’s, 1 lb. of raw cashews is 6.99). But, keep them in the freezer and they last forever.

    AND blueberries, so I’d like to make the blueberry version. Do you think I could just add 2 cups raw blueberries (and the lemon juice) to the cashew base and blend it up in the Vitamix?

    • Ashlae August 21, 2012 at 1:17 AM

      That should work perfect. Hope you love it!

    • Dawn August 21, 2012 at 3:22 PM

      Awesome, I’ll try it, thanks so much!

  • Unknown August 21, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    How would you convert the cashews and water volume to just use store bought Almond Milk?

    • Ashlae August 21, 2012 at 1:16 AM

      I have no idea. The cashews aren’t strained out of the mixture, which results in a very thick cashew + water base.

  • Sophie August 21, 2012 at 2:16 AM

    This looks like a raw cacao ice dream to me! I’m glad you did all of the recipe testing, all I have to do now is to try it. Nice ice dream, nice pix, nice blog!

  • Samantha August 21, 2012 at 6:31 AM

    Lol, I was just glancing at a frozen banana recipe before I found your blog, for this recipe! Hmm… do I really have to decide? Nope. This one wins hands down because it looks so smooth and cocoa-ey :P I don’t eat ice-cream often but for this one, I can make an exception ;)

  • Nicole Marie August 21, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    your food and photography is incredible!

  • sarah@thesweetlife August 21, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    beautiful! It’s so simple too! I make my mousse with cashews and figured there was a way to translate that to ice cream, but I hadn’t tried. And yes, I’m getting sick of the banana undertone! Thanks for the recipe. And as always, beautiful photography!

  • Julia @The Roasted Root August 21, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    I’m amazed by this recipe! It looks so rich and creamy and I’m so impressed that it’s completely raw! Didn’t realize you could make such a tasty treat without using milk and sugar. Yum!

  • Elpoo August 22, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    So amazing looking, but at 300 calories for a half cup, I’d have to walk away weeping.

    • Ashlae August 22, 2012 at 12:42 PM

      Funny, I walk away smiling. But I don’t count calories. If you’re concerned about the “high” calorie content, you can strain the cashew pulp using a cheese cloth. That will greatly reduce the number of calories, but it will also not be as creamy. Or delicious.

  • Oana from dishchronicles August 22, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    I love this! so awesome.

  • sweet road August 23, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    This looks like some sort of death by chocolate… but way healthier. So maybe more along the lines of chocolate of life.

  • Amy August 23, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    this looks so good. I wish I had some now!

  • Hilah August 25, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    I made this last night in my Blendtec. I didn’t have quite enough cashews so I ended up using about 1 1/4 c cashews with 1/2 cup raw macadamias. And I added about 2 tablespoons of maple syrup to sweeten it a tiny bit more. I may have done some sloppy measuring on the cocoa. Whatever, though, turned out yum!

  • Dana @ Minimalist Baker August 27, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    Is there anything dates can’t do?!

  • Anonymous August 28, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    Hi and thank you so much for a wonderful recipe, I dont have an ice cream maker is it necessary? As you wrote (Transfer to the bowl of your ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. )
    Thank you Sharon x

  • Jennifer Chong October 8, 2012 at 11:33 PM

    beautiful photography! so glad i found you

  • Kim February 2, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    Oh my god… this looks amazing. This is a perfect example of why I should keep the ice cream maker container in the freezer, ready to go.

  • Jon Dale March 7, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    can this be done without an ice cream maker?

    • Ashlae March 7, 2013 at 1:36 PM

      Yes, but you’ll have to whisk the crap out of it every 30 minutes until it really starts to freeze. And it’ll also be a bit dense (compared to ice cream churned in a maker).

  • Amelia June 11, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    hey i just wanted to stop in and say THANK YOU you are saving me from the pain of wisdom teeth extraction and this is healthy and so GOOD and yeah thanks thanks thanks

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  • Sue December 12, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    I’m thinking of substituting Dates with Coconut Nectar ! Could you suggest what quantity I will need to use?


    • Ashlae February 7, 2014 at 8:52 AM

      Hi Sue –

      I haven’t tried it so I have no idea. I’d say 1/4 (up to 1/2) cup would be a good place to start, but you’ll want to reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup, too.

  • Laura Clev December 20, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    Made a pumpkin spice version of this today with 1/3 cup pumpkin + 2 tbsp pumpkin spice instead of cacao. So good.

    Also ordered some of your vanilla– it’s unreal. Thank you!

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  • Lindsey May 10, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    This looks amazing! I am wondering if instead of using water you could use coconut milk for that yummy cacao/coconut combo if you think it would work the same? I don’t count calories either so no shame in upping the count right? ;)

    • Ashlae May 10, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      Hi Lindsey,

      It shouldn’t be a problem! No shame. ;)

  • Chris June 30, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    I take it you need an ice cream maker?

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