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This vegan cherry garcia could very well change your opinion on dairy-free ice cream. It's sweet, creamy, and loaded with cherries, vanilla, and dark chocolate — everything you want from a delicious ice cream treat!
Psst! You'd never guess the secret to this incredible vegan ice cream is actually in the cashews.
Another non-dairy fave to try is this coconut cherry ice cream!
Whether you're vegan or dairy-free yourself, or perhaps serving this for someone who is, there's no denying that this vegan cherry garcia ice cream recipe is the real deal. In fact, one recipe tester even said “That gives “real” ice cream a run for its money”!
For this recipe, you will need the right tools to get the perfect vegan ice cream. These include a blender or food processor and an ice cream maker.
Ingredients in vegan cherry garcia ice cream
If you're new to the world of vegan ice cream, there's a somewhat surprising secret ingredient in here. And that ingredient is cashews! It's a little bit counterintuitive, but if you want your ice cream to have the same creamy texture as dairy-based ice cream but without any dairy, reach for a bag of raw cashews. There's no other alternative that works as well.
You'll also notice that there is coconut oil in the recipe, too. That's there to make the ice cream extra creamy. Just like with dairy ice cream, the higher the fat content, the creamier it is.
Here's what you need to make vegan cherry garcia:
- Raw cashews: you will need 2 cups of raw cashews, which you will soak for a minimum of 4 hours. If you don't have a high-powered blender you should consider soaking them for up to 24 hours. This will help them soften so you can blend them into a creamy dream.
- Water: You'll use the water for soaking the cashews. It doesn't go directly into the ice cream.
- Coconut oil: As mentioned, coconut oil is used to increase the creaminess of the ice cream. You'll need ¼ cup.
- Maple syrup: This is where the sweetness of the ice cream comes from in this vegan cherry garcia recipe. It's a natural sugar and a wonderful vegan option and the maple won't overpower the other flavors.
- Bourbon: this is totally optional, however, a nice addition if you want to make a boozy vegan cherry garcia ice cream!
- Coconut sugar: Since you've already added sweet maple syrup, you only need 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar.
- Pure vanilla: Use 1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla extract to create the classic vanilla ice cream base.
- Sea salt: Add just ¼ teaspoon to help balance the flavors.
- Dark chocolate shavings: Part of the trifecta of cherry garcia flavors, adding dark chocolate shavings (dark chocolate pieces or chopped dark chocolate, depending on how chunky you want the chocolate) will give those distinct rich, bitter chocolate notes to the ice cream.
- Quartered cherries: for this vegan cherry garcia recipe you'll only need ½ cup of pitted cherries, so don't worry, you won't have to sit there forever removing the pits! Then cut them into quarters or small pieces.
Tools to make vegan ice cream
There are a couple of tools to have on hand to make your life of making homemade ice cream even easier.
- High-powered blender: To bring the ice cream ingredients together into a smooth consistency, a high-powered blender is best. Since you'll be incorporating cashews, you want the blender to be able to work them until a creamy texture is achieved. Because no one likes gritty ice cream!
- Food processor: If you don't have a high-powered blender at home, but you do have a food processor, this can work, too.
- Ice cream maker: Although not necessary to make homemade ice cream, the churning that the ice cream machine will do does make life easy and it makes for really tasty ice cream. This recipe is written using an ice cream maker.
How to make ice cream without an ice cream maker
You can make this vegan cherry garcia ice cream without an ice cream maker. To do this, place the ice cream base in a shallow pan and pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Use a fork or sturdy whisk to scrape and mix up the ice cream. Put it back into the freezer then half an hour later scrape and mix it again. Keep repeating these steps until you have ice cream. It usually takes between 2-3 hours.
How to make look alike Ben & Jerry's vegan cherry garcia at home
A famous flavor of Ben & Jerry's is their vegan cherry garcia – maybe you've had it? Here's how you can make a look alike at home!
- Soak the cashews: Soak the cashews in cold water for 4-24 hours before making the ice cream. Then drain and rinse the cashews.
- Blend: Add the cashews, coconut oil, maple syrup, bourbon (if using), sugar, vanilla, and salt to a blender or food processor and blend on high until smooth, about 3 minutes.
- Refrigerate until cold: Pour the cream into a bowl and refrigerate it until it's completely cold.
- Ice cream maker: Once the cream is cold, process it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Once the ice cream resembles soft-serve, add the chocolate and cherries and let your ice cream maker stir them into the ice cream.
- Freeze: Scoop the ice cream into a freezer-safe container and freeze until it's solid.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will vegan ice cream last in the freezer?
You can store homemade ice cream in an airtight container or jar in the freezer for 2 weeks. After this point, it's still safe to eat, however, it loses some of its texture and flavor.
Can I use frozen cherries to make cherry garcia?
You can! Allow the frozen cherries to thaw, this way you can cut them into quarters before incorporating them into the ice cream.
What type of coconut oil should I use?
It's best to opt for refined coconut oil, which will reduce the coconut flavor and gritty-like texture.
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup bourbon (optional)
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup dark chocolate shavings
- ½ cup quartered cherries
- If you do not have a high-powered blender, soak the cashews in cold water for 4-24 hours before making the ice cream.2 cups raw cashews, 1 cup water
- Drain and rinse the soaked cashews. Add the cashews, coconut oil, maple syrup, bourbon (if using), sugar, vanilla, and salt to a blender or food processor and blend on high until smooth, about 3 minutes. OPTIONAL STEP: if you don't have a high-powered blender, you may want to strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve so that it's super smooth.¼ cup coconut oil, ¼ cup maple syrup, ¼ cup bourbon, 2 tablespoons coconut sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla, ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Pour the cream into a bowl and refrigerate it until it's completely cold.
- Once the cream is cold, process it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Once the ice cream resembles soft-serve, add the chocolate and cherries and let your ice cream maker stir them into the ice cream. Scoop the ice cream into a freezer-proof container and freeze until it's solid.½ cup dark chocolate shavings, ½ cup quartered cherries
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.
For more inspiration, check out all of our vegan dessert recipes!