Welcome! If you’re wanting to get to the sugar free ice cream recipe right away, go ahead and scroll to the bottom of this post. If you want to learn all about sugar free ice cream, who can eat it, and which sugar substitutes to use, keep reading!
You’ll learn the answers to the questions:
Is sugar free ice cream o.k. for diabetics?
Is sugar free ice cream healthy?
Is sugar free ice cream keto?
Which sugar substitute should I use to make ice cream without sugar?
So you want to be more healthy. You are cutting back on sugar. But you still want ice cream.
Is there a viable sugar substitute that will work well in ice cream?
To answer this question, I need to briefly touch on some of the different types of sugar substitutes that are available.
(Note: the information I am presenting here is from my personal research. I understand that new research may come to light that differs from this information. However, at this time, this is what I believe to be true).
Different Types of Sugar Substitutes
Saccharine, Aspartame, and Sucralose
When I think of any of these substitutes, I want to yell, “DANGER DANGER DANGER!” These are commonly known as Sweet ‘N Low, Equal and NutraSweet, and Splenda. Each of these has been shown to have detrimental health effects, such as causing cancer in laboratory animals, causing brain imbalances, and reducing “good” bacteria in your digestive tract.
Whenever I hear my friends talk about drinking diet soda, I want to yell, “Don’t you know you’re KILLING yourself?” That might be a little dramatic. But I still worry for them.
I also personally hate the aftertaste of Aspartame. Whenever I accidentally eat something containing it, I immediately know. It is nasty. Needless to say, I do not recommend any of these sweeteners for your ice cream, or for anything.
Honey and Agave Nectar
While these are considered “natural” forms of sugar, they still contribute as many calories and cause the same kind of insulin response in the body as granulated sugar.
One book I read says that agave nectar is actually highly processed and has even more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup! So putting either of these in your ice cream won’t help you, either.
Additionally, both honey and agave have a high water content and will make your ice cream crumbly.
This is often sold under the name “Truvia.” It is much sweeter than sugar, so you use much less of it. However, some people find that is has a strange aftertaste.
I made a small batch of vanilla ice cream with this, and while it tasted fine to me, it became as hard as a rock after several hours in the freezer. If you are going to make ice cream with Stevia, you will need to eat it soft-serve, straight from the ice cream maker.
Xylitol and Erythritol
Xylitol and Erythritol are “sugar alcohols,” but that is just how they are classified because of their chemical makeup. They are neither a sugar nor an alcohol. They have almost no calories and don’t cause cavities. They are derived from the fiber of various fruits and vegetables.
When baking or making other items, you substitute xylitol for sugar at a 1:1 ratio. In other words, one cup of sugar equals one cup of Xylitol. (Erythritol is 70% as sweet as sugar, so any recipe using erythritol needs to have the amount adjusted accordingly).
There are a couple of drawbacks to Xylitol and Erythritol. One is the price. They are quite expensive, and not super easy to find. (Some health food stores carry it, and you can also order it online. To order from Amazon, get xylitol here, and erythritol here).
Another is that eating too much of it can cause gas and bloating. It’s fine to put a teaspoon or two in your morning coffee, and it’s o.k. to have a scoop of ice cream or piece of cake. Just don’t eat the whole tub of ice cream or five pieces of cake that have been made with either of these, or you’ll be sorry!
I have made ice cream with Xylitol, and it is the only sugar substitute that I currently recommend for making ice cream.
There are a couple of things to consider, however. Xylitol granules are much larger than sugar granules, so you will need to heat your milk and stir it into the Xylitol until it is fully dissolved. Alternately, you can put the Xylitol into a blender and pulse it a few times to make the granules smaller.
Secondly, Xylitol seems to act chemically the same way as alcohol would in ice cream–namely, as an anti-freezing agent. The ice cream I made came out of the ice cream maker as soft-serve consistency, and stayed as soft-serve consistency, even after days in the freezer. It tasted great, with no weird aftertaste, but it never hardened up like normal ice cream.
So Can You Make Ice Cream Without Sugar?
The answer is “yes.” But if you use xylitol, like I suggest, it will be soft ice cream. This doesn’t bother me. And if you are cutting out sugar, you are used to eating lots of things that are way worse than soft ice cream. Am I right?
All Your Burning Questions About Sugar Free Ice Cream
As I answer these questions, keep in mind that I am talking about homemade sugar free ice cream–not sugar free ice cream you can buy in the store.
Does Sugar Free Ice Cream Have Carbs?
Even though your homemade sugar free ice cream doesn’t have added white sugar, it still does have some carbs. That’s because if you use cow’s milk (which I suggest), there will still be some naturally occurring sugar in your ice cream from the milk. You’ll have about one gram of sugar per serving. If you want to go truly sugar-free, you’ll need to use a milk substitute, like unsweetened almond or coconut milk.
HOWEVER, keep in mind that if you use a milk substitute (especially one without sugar or fat), your ice cream will likely become hard as a rock after you freeze it. If you intend on eating the ice cream as soon as it comes out of the ice cream maker (soft-serve consistency), then using a milk substitute should be fine.
Is Sugar Free Ice Cream o.k. for Diabetics?
Yes! Although you should still consider the amount of sugar provided by the cow’s milk in your dietary restrictions. Most diabetics can plan to eat normal ice cream on occasion and in small amounts. Homemade sugar free ice cream with xylitol or erythritol is your best bet if you are diabetic.
Is Sugar Free Ice Cream Keto?
Yes! You just have to make sure to use heavy whipping cream (which has no sugar) along with a sugar-free milk substitute (like coconut milk or almond milk). I’ve got a great list of The Best Keto Ice Cream Recipes from right here for you!
Is Sugar Free Ice Cream Healthy?
Well, that depends on your definition of “healthy.” Eliminating sugar automatically makes things more healthy, unless you replace that sugar with super unhealthy substitutes like aspartame or sucralose. I would consider several of the keto ice cream recipes that I linked to above as “healthy.”
How to Make Ice Cream Without Sugar
Now, would you like a homemade ice cream recipe without sugar? I thought so! Here you go!
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup xylitol
- 1-2 tsp. pure vanilla extract to taste
- In a medium pan on the stove, heat the milk until very warm, but not boiling.
- In a medium-sized bowl, add the 3/4 cup xylitol. Pour the warm milk over the xylitol and use a whisk to combine the milk and xylitol until the xylitol is dissolved.
- Place the milk/xylitol mixture in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to chill. (If you are in a hurry, you can place the mixture in the freezer to speed up the process).
- Just before you are ready to churn the ice cream, add the cream and vanilla to the chilled milk/xylitol mixture and mix well.
- Pour into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's directions. Either eat soft-serve directly from the machine, or transfer to an airtight container and put in the freezer for several hours. Ice cream will not harden, but will maintain soft-serve consistency.