Salted Caramel Ice Cream (Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free)

Vegan Salted Caramel Ice Cream made with Silken Tofu

Last week I told you a little white lie.

It had to do with ice cream.

Now I know it’s not nice to lie about ice cream. Like how would you feel if your hubby promised to bring home ice cream, and he didn’t? Or if your favorite fro-yo shop advertised a favorite flavor, only to be all out of if once you arrived?

Or if your best friend told you ice cream was healthy, when it was actually not?

There are worse things. In that last case, you actually get to eat the ice cream.

And when it’s my Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free Salted Caramel Ice Cream, you can remind yourself of some powerful truths while you eat it:

  • Coconut milk contains lauric acid, which is great for the immune system.
  • Tofu provides protein. Soy protein, specifically, which is good for lowering total cholesterol.
  • Stevia. It’s supers-sweet and won’t give you a nasty sugar rush, but it grows from the ground instead of in a lab. Now doesn’t that sound good to you?

So maybe this wasn’t a lie after all. Maybe being addicted to ice cream can actually work in one’s favor. As long as it’s this ice cream. Which is totally habit-forming, I swear.

Vegan Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Silken Tofu, Coconut Sugar

I know because I made two batches within a matter of weeks. For the first rendition, I rounded up some coconut sugar, full fat coconut milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt to make the the Vegan Salted Caramel from my good friend Kim at Cook It Allery Free. (Warning: don’t plan to make this too far in advance of making your ice cream, otherwise you may end up with nothing left. Hint hint.) I blended this up with the rest of my ice cream base (light coconut milk, silken tofu, more coconut sugar, salt, and stevia), churned it, froze it, and served it atop vegan chocolate chip cookies with hot fudge on New Years Eve. There were so many things I loved about this ice cream that I can’t pick a favorite. Was it the fact that my friends proclaimed their love for it completely unaware of what was in it – and what wasn’t? The ease with which it scooped soft spoonfuls, straight from the freezer? Or the seductively addicting caramelized brown sugar flavor perfectly cut with the bite of salt?

The only thing I didn’t love about it was the nutritional breakdown. Despite being full of healthy things, this ice cream was a wee bit high in fat and sugar. Ok for New Years Eve, but not each and every getting-back-on-track-in-January-eve. I set out to make a second batch, crossing my fingers that reducing those two components wouldn’t interfere with the taste or texture.

Guess what? I did it! Almost. The second batch was devoured just as eagerly as the first, after a short 10 minutes on the countertop. Which is optional in case of I-have-to-have-it-now emergency, but optimal if you’re lucky enough to think ahead. Either way, you’ll love this healthy treat. And no, I wouldn’t lie about that 🙂

In the mood for more sweet treats? Check out my guest post at Fat Girls Can Run for a rundown of my favorite natural sweeteners, and how to use them in place of refined sugar. And, visit the Tales of a Kitchen Misfit Bake Sale to help my girl Amanda raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as she runs the Boston Marathon! There are so many yummy things to bid on, but of course I’m biased towards these rich and chewy chocolate mint chocolate chip cookies which just happen to be vegan, wheat free, and refined sugar free too!

Vegan Coconut Milk Ice Cream

PS: that crumbly stuff on top is The Healthy Foodie’s Pecan Pie in a Jar. I didn’t believe this ice cream could be more addicting, till I combined sprinkled some of that on!

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Salted Caramel Ice Cream (Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free)

Yield: 8 servings, 3.5oz each

You'll love the rich flavor and creamy texture of this vegan ice cream. Tip: remove it from the freezer 10 minutes before serving to make sure it's perfectly soft and scoopable.


Salted Caramel Sauce (adapted from Cook It Allergy Free):
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
3/4 cup (125gm) coconut sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ice Cream:
1 can light coconut milk
1 12oz container firm silken tofu
1/4 teaspoon salt
100 drops liquid vanilla stevia (yes, really, count them out!)
2 teaspoons guar gum


Combine the full-fat coconut milk, coconut sugar, maple syrup, and salt in a small saucepan. Whisking constantly, bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes, whisking often. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Allow to cool, then transfer to a bowl and refrigerate, covered, until cold (may be prepared a day in advance.)

In a blender or food processor, combine the light coconut milk, silken tofu, salt, and chilled salted caramel. Process until smooth. Add guar gum and blend again.

Churn mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Transfer to an air-tight container and freeze for several hours or overnight, until firm.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 161.4
Total Fat 7.0 g
Saturated Fat 2.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 200.2 mg
Potassium 11.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 21.8 g
Dietary Fiber 0.5 g
Sugars 15.0 g
Protein 3.2 g

Cara Lyons,

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56 Responses to “Salted Caramel Ice Cream (Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free)”

  1. 1

    Katrina (gluten free gidget) — January 23, 2012 @ 7:41 am Reply

    I can not WAIT to try your ice cream base! This is totally getting added to my pinterest board!

    • 1.1

      Cara — January 23, 2012 @ 9:35 am

      Thanks Katrina!

  2. 2

    Ricki — January 23, 2012 @ 9:32 am Reply

    Yummy ice cream. Caramel Sauce. Crumbly sweet topping. Oooh, Cara, you’re killing me here!! You know, I never used to like ice cream–UNTIL I started making it vegan and with coconut milk–now we eat it all year round. Thanks for htis amazing recipe! 😀

  3. 3

    Maria — January 23, 2012 @ 9:51 am Reply

    This ice cream will go perfect with my cookie bars:)

  4. 4

    Emily @ A Cambridge Story — January 23, 2012 @ 9:56 am Reply

    This sounds great – I am loving experimenting with coconut milk and silken tofu. But mostly for savory dishes. Must make desserts soon!

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  6. 5

    Ann — January 23, 2012 @ 1:06 pm Reply

    This sounds interesting! Where do you get your coconut sugar from? And do you use canned coconut milk?

    • 5.1

      Cara — January 23, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

      Thanks, Ann! I like Coconut Secret Coconut Crystals, and you can buy it on Amazon if you can’t find it locally (I added the link within the recipe.) And yes, I use canned coconut milk. Full fat in the caramel, and light for the rest. The little bit of full fat makes it softer and creamier overall. Enjoy!

    • 5.2

      Ann — January 23, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

      Oops, I totally missed that link. Thanks!

  7. 6

    janet @ the taste space — January 23, 2012 @ 7:15 pm Reply

    Looks great, Cara… although I have one question – do you actually count out 100 drops of Stevia?? Oh my!!

    • 6.1

      Cara — January 23, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

      hehe Janet, yes, I actually did! Counted till it tasted right 🙂 I should probably get volumetric measurement on that!

  8. 7

    Hannah — January 23, 2012 @ 7:40 pm Reply

    Stevia sweetened ice cream boggles my mind- I knew there had to be a way, but I could never get it quite right! Now this is an awesome recipe, and I just wish I had found it before finishing the manuscript to my ice cream book. 😉

    • 7.1

      Cara — January 23, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

      Well we’ll just have to collaborate next time 🙂 I’m all for using stevia to lower the amount of sugar. I haven’t made it work in ice cream of frozen yogurt entirely on its own, but in addition to another sweetener, its a great option!

  9. 8

    Joanne — January 23, 2012 @ 9:06 pm Reply

    I would NEVER have thought that healthy ice cream could look and sound this good! Most of the soy and coconut milk alternatives have left me less-than-impressed. But if anyone can make my head turn with some vegan ice cream, then it’s you!

  10. 9

    Kate — January 24, 2012 @ 8:26 am Reply

    I wish the weather was warmer. I’m one of those weirdos that can’t eat ice cream in cold weather. As evidenced by the chocolate sorbet that has been sitting in my freezer all month.

  11. 10

    Nancy @Real Food Allergy Free — January 24, 2012 @ 10:33 am Reply

    This looks amazing! My kids would go nuts over it. I’d love for you to share it at our brand new blog hop starting tomorrow. Hope to see you there!

  12. 11

    Nicole, RD — January 24, 2012 @ 11:03 am Reply

    I’m not sure what is more luring…the coconut flavors or the caramel flavors? I need some of this stat! No reason for an ice cream maker to be collecting dust this time of year 😉

  13. 12

    Chrystal in Canada — January 24, 2012 @ 5:31 pm Reply

    Hello! Do you have a suggestion for making this fabulous sounding recipe for someone without an ice cream maker?


  14. 13

    Lexie — January 25, 2012 @ 1:04 am Reply

    Oh my heaven! Beautiful.

  15. 14

    Tessa@TessaDomesticDiva — January 25, 2012 @ 10:54 am Reply

    Looks so delicious, and dairy free caramel sauce is NOT a easy feat! Thank you for sharing at Allergy Free Wednesdays, I am LOVING your pictures!!

  16. 15

    grace — January 25, 2012 @ 3:34 pm Reply

    my entire body has a spontaneous response to the words ‘salted caramel’–my mouth waters, my stomach growls, and my knees get weak. 🙂

  17. 16

    Shannon — January 26, 2012 @ 10:16 am Reply

    seriously been waiting for this one!! can’t wait to give it a try 🙂

  18. 17

    Maria @ The Hypothyroid Athlete's Kitchen — January 26, 2012 @ 9:21 pm Reply

    So glad I found your blog through Wellness Weekend! I am a GF newbiew (like 2 days newbie) and am looking for some yummy recipes, and this looks so
    decadent and delicious. Thanks for sharing!

    • 17.1

      Cara — January 26, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

      Thanks, Maria! I wish you the best of luck and hope you find the solution that works for your symptoms. I see you have the Nourished badge on your blog. Are you going? I am!

  19. 18

    Elina (Healthy and Sane) — February 1, 2012 @ 8:43 pm Reply

    Mmm, this looks amazing (btw, your pictures have been awesome lately!!). Does it freeze well (aka. not come out of the freezer like a rock)?

    • 18.1

      Cara — February 1, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

      Yes if you’re impatient, better yet with a quick 10.minutes on the counter. it’s really creamy and delicious, and I was quite proud of the outcome 🙂

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  21. 19

    Kirstin Dragasakis — February 7, 2012 @ 12:12 pm Reply

    What could I sub for the tofu that is still nondairy? I don’t eat soy.
    Looks delish, thanks!

    • 19.1

      Cara — February 7, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

      Hi Kristin, I don’t know that there is anything you could substitute directly. I’ve tried my hand at a lot of ice cream recipes and I felt lucky that this one didn’t turn out rock-hard, so I can’t guarantee results with a substitution. That being said, there are a lot of recipes for coconut milk ice cream out there. I’ve never tried any with just full-fat coconut milk, but I think they tend to freeze well. Perhaps you could find a basic coconut milk ice cream base and add the salted caramel? Good luck!

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  23. 20

    Alaine — June 11, 2012 @ 10:45 pm Reply

    Tofu in ice cream?? I am intrigued. This is a most try in my book! So innovative. I love it!

  24. 21

    Laurel Alanna McBrine — June 15, 2012 @ 4:55 pm Reply

    Hi there – this looks amazing! Do you happen to know the equivalent of the liquid stevia drops in powdered form? In other words, is the sweetness equivalent to 1/2 c. sugar sweet or 1 c. sugar sweet, etc. I would really appreciate a guideline as I only have the powdered type – thanks!!

    • 21.1

      Cara — June 15, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

      Hi Lauren, I just did out the calcs and I think it is about 7 tablespoons or a little less than a half a cup worth of sugar’s sweetness. You can always taste test to get it where you want it! Remember that when ice cream freezes, it will taste less sweet so when you are tasting at room temp you always want to err on the side of “too sweet.” Hope that helps!

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  26. 22

    nükhet kuzuoğlu — June 23, 2012 @ 9:22 am Reply

    what can i use instead of silken tofu? i cant use soy products.

    • 22.1

      Cara — June 23, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

      I have never made this ice cream without silken tofu, but you could try using an additional can of full fat coconut milk. I am not familiar with replacing agar agar for guar gum. I have seen ice cream recipes that use it, but I don’t know enough about the ingredient to advise you on how much to use. If you try this recipe with changes, I would love to know how it goes. Good luck!

  27. 23

    nükhet kuzuoğlu — June 23, 2012 @ 9:25 am Reply

    can i use agar agar powder instead of guar gum?

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  29. 24

    Donna — November 14, 2012 @ 8:08 pm Reply

    Hello!…Recent discoverer and fan of your blog!…I really must try your salted caramel sauce to drizzle over Leanna’s Caramel Apple Doughnuts (need the lower G.I. numbers!)…but all I could find were the coconut palm sugar “ pucks?!) solid-ish form at our local Asian market!…Could I somehow pulverize them in a food processor ..or melt them for an acceptable alternative? Thanks for any clarity!

    • 24.1

      Cara — November 14, 2012 @ 9:20 pm

      Hi Donna, thanks for the kind words, and welcome! I must admit that I am not familiar with coconut sugar discs. I have only ever seen it granulated and I’m not sure what to do with the discs. I buy my coconut sugar on Amazon, this is the best deal I know of: Madhava Organic Coconut Sugar

  30. 25

    Donna — November 15, 2012 @ 9:11 am Reply

    Thank you so much for the on-line suggestion and brand..Really exceptional blog and healthy, yet elegant and creative cuisine.

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  33. 26

    Chris — February 11, 2013 @ 7:16 am Reply

    This looks sooo good! Do you have a dairy, soy, gluten free susbstitution for the tofu? Thanks!

    • 26.1

      Cara — February 11, 2013 @ 7:54 am

      Thanks Chris! I haven’t tried any substitutions here and specifically developed this with the tofu because I was going for a lower-calorie outcome. However since many vegan ice cream recipes use full fat coconut milk, you might give that a try. Good luck!

  34. 27

    Marla — May 4, 2013 @ 2:54 pm Reply

    I used full fat coconut milk for the ice cream base and my final product came out gummy (chewy and stretchy like chewing gum or melted cheese), but the taste is good. I think I might make a second batch (at some point) without the guar gum and mix it into the ice cream (softened at room temperature) I made today. One thing that may have also contributed to the gumminess was that I refrigerated the mixture before churning it in the ice cream maker. Other changes I made: I used five tablespoons of agave syrup and a tbsp vanilla in place of the vanilla stevia drops and added more salt. I also “gently” boiled the tofu (as recommended on another site) to decrease the the tofu flavor. Thanks for the recipe, I think it’ll be great once I correctly adjust for my taste (I don’t like to wait for ice cream to thaw).

  35. 28

    Cara — May 6, 2013 @ 7:54 am Reply

    Good luck with your next batch! I am sorry it came out so gummy for you, the only other factors I could see making a difference are the perhaps brand of coconut milk or tofu. I use Mori Nu firm silken tofu.

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  38. 29

    Eleanor — October 21, 2013 @ 11:12 pm Reply

    I had high hopes for this recipe but honestly mine tastes awful (though I do like the texture). I am not sure if it is the tofu or the stevia or a combination thereof but it has a horrible after taste I don’t know what to do with. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • 29.1

      Cara — October 21, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

      Hi Eleanor, I’m so sorry it didn’t work out for you. If I had to guess it might be that we used different brands of tofu and/or stevia and there mightbe some variation.

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  41. 30

    Emma — September 6, 2014 @ 9:15 am Reply

    Looks & sounds amazing – although soy/tofu gives me a belly ache, I think I may be allergic. Is there an alternative to the tofu? Or can it be made without?

    • 30.1

      Cara — September 7, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

      Hi Emma,
      I am sorry to hear that! Unfortunately I don’t know of a direct substitution as this recipe was specifically formulated with silken tofu as the bulk of the ice cream. I would suggest making the salted caramel and choosing another favorite ice cream recipe that you’ve had success with, and adding the caramel to it.

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