Nice Cream Is Easy, Healthy, and Delicious — Here's How to Make It
Contrary to popular misconception, “vegan” doesn’t always equal “healthy.” But nice cream is a plant-based alternative to traditional dairy ice cream that’s delicious, easy to make, and even wholesome.
In its most basic form, nice cream makes for a simple, one-ingredient recipe that anyone with a bunch of ripe bananas, a freezer, and a food processor can whip up in minutes. From there, you can go — wait for it — bananas with flavor variations and add-ins.
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What Is Nice Cream?
Nice cream is a frozen alternative to ice cream that generally starts with bananas. The name is actually shorthand for “banana ice cream,” but it has since expanded to include other fruits and toppings. It’s vegan, paleo-friendly (depending on which version of paleo you follow), has no added sugar or artificial flavors, and is dairy-, nut-, and gluten-free (as long as you don’t add in those ingredients).
In other words, nice cream is the ultimate healthy crowd-pleaser. And the riper the bananas, the sweeter the nice cream will be. As bananas ripen, the starch within them breaks down into sugar. So a few brown spots can represent prime candidates for nice cream.
What makes nice cream especially nice, though, is that it’s good for you. It has no added sweeteners (unless you throw them in) and boasts all the benefits of bananas, such as a hefty dose of potassium.
Nice Cream Nutrition Facts
A medium-size Cavendish banana, the yellow variety that makes up the majority of commercially sold bananas, has around 105 calories and 422 mg of potassium with only 14 g of sugar.
In contrast, a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey banana ice cream with fudge chunks and walnuts has 400 calories per 2/3-cup serving, 38 g of sugar, and 230 mg of potassium. (Well, at least it has some nutritional value).
Basic Banana Nice Cream Recipe
The most basic nice cream recipe has one ingredient: bananas. One banana equals around one serving, so you can determine how much you want to make from there.
After peeling bananas, you cut them into chunks and freeze them for around six hours. Once frozen, you blend the banana chunks in a food processor or a blender until they’re smooth.
Basic Banana Nice Cream
- 2 large ripe bananas
Peel and slice bananas; place in a plastic bag and freeze for 4 hours or until solid.
Place frozen bananas in a food processor or high-powered blender; cover and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, approx. 3 to 4 minutes.
Serve immediately, or store in the freezer in an airtight container until ready to serve.
- Use ripe to slightly overripe bananas for just the right amount of sweetness.
- Add flavor by blending with ingredients like frozen berries, nut butter, cinnamon, cocoa powder, or pure vanilla extract; or stir in ingredients like nuts or cacao nibs after nice cream is blended.
- Allow nice cream that has been stored in the freezer to sit out at room temperature for approx. 15 minutes to soften before scooping.
The Nutrition Facts box below provides estimated nutritional information for this recipe.
After you’ve blended the bananas, you can eat the nice cream straight away like soft serve or put it in an airtight container, pop it back in the freezer, and then scoop it out like traditional ice cream.
Bananas are especially well-suited to making vegan ice cream because they have a creamy, smooth texture similar to traditional dairy ice cream when blended. To achieve the perfect consistency, you’ll want to have banana in the mix even if you’re using other fruits like mangos or strawberries.
While you don’t need an ice cream machine, if you want to get fancy, you can spring for a Yonanas soft serve maker specifically designed to turn bananas and other fruit into smooth, creamy dessert.
3 Yummy Nice Cream Recipes
Building on a basic nice cream recipe, you can toss in added flavors, such as vanilla, cocoa powder, and other frozen fresh fruits, or toppings, such as nuts, dried fruit, and coconut flakes. (You can even make your own nutritious twist on Chunky Monkey with walnuts and some dark chocolate.) These recipes are good places to start experimenting with frozen, banana goodness.
Tropical Banana Soft Serve Vegan Ice Cream
Gluten-free blogger Lindsay Cotter makes her nice cream extra-creamy and indulgent with coconut milk and coconut flakes. Along with banana, there’s mango and a zesty touch of ginger, as well as an optional dash of maple syrup. Her recipe is also paleo friendly.
Try the recipe here.
Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream
Pinch of Yum combines bananas with natural peanut butter for the ultimate treat with no added sugar. A touch of vanilla, cinnamon, and sea salt makes the flavors really pop — all topped with roasted peanuts for an irresistible crunch.
Try the recipe here.
Fruit-Sweetened Homemade Ice Cream
For a healthy spin on rum-raisin ice cream (with or without actual rum), Cotter has concocted a nice cream with only five ingredients, using coconut cream, a frozen banana, a frozen mango, vanilla extract, and some raisin. It’ll please your sweet tooth — but it’s still vegan.
Try the recipe here.