Dairy-Free Cherry Dark Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream

This is by far the most indulgent ice cream recipe I’ve ever made. And it’s hard to believe that it is completely dairy free.

Vertical image of a spoon in a ramekin bowl with a fruit and cocoa frozen dessert, with text on the top and bottom.

When it comes to chocolate ice cream, I’ve always loved a more bittersweet flavor. As much as I enjoy milk chocolate, it never holds a candle to the dairy-free variety with a higher cocoa percentage.

If you don’t like dark chocolate, I’ll be honest – it’s not likely that you will enjoy this frozen dessert. The beauty of its indulgent quality is that bittersweet flavor in every creamy spoonful.

What goes better with that flavor profile than light and bright cherries? The tartness of the fruit against the richness of the creamy frozen treat makes for a delightful pop of flavor in every spoonful.

There were many years when I didn’t churn up my own frozen desserts at home. It was not for a lack of having an ice cream maker, because I did. But back in the day, those appliances were a pain to deal with, and they never yielded a perfectly creamy result.

Vertical image of two ramekins with scoopfuls of a dark cocoa frozen dessert with spoons and whole cherries.

The store-bought varieties of ice cream or gelato was much easier to enjoy, and my old ice cream maker languished in storage.

Eventually, I realized that a lot of these convenience foods that I so craved contained a bunch of ingredients that really didn’t want to put in my body. Also, I happened to marry a man who cannot eat dairy…

As much as he encourages me to enjoy it myself since I can, I can see the jealousy in his eyes when I indulge in a bowlful of ice cream. It was always his weakness, and he’ll even risk an upset stomach to enjoy some on occasion.

Therefore, homemade dairy-free ice cream recipes have been total saviors in our household. We will enjoy mint chocolate chip together, but sometimes, we want an even crazier chocolate fix.

This chocolate-based recipe is completely dairy free, but even those who have no problem consuming lactose will be unable to resist its deliciousness.

Vertical image of a red ramekin with a frozen cocoa and fruit dessert with a spoon.

When I served him some for the first time, he totally thought that it was made with dairy and looked at me like I had just ruined his entire life. When I told him the good news, he practically fell over himself to hug me in delight.

That was right before he proceeded to finish off half of the container, all by himself.

There’s nothing better than a big old scoop to beat the heat in these late days of summer, but there’s no reason why homemade frozen desserts can’t be enjoyed year round. I love cozying up with a cold bowl in the dead of winter, all snuggled up next to the fire for warmth.

Is this just me? I hope not! If you’re not eating ice cream in January, then I think you’re missing out!

Don’t worry about needing to put a lot of effort into making this recipe. It is incredibly straightforward, and it doesn’t require you to fuss over it.

Vertical image of a spoon on a ramekin with a thick cocoa and fruit frozen dessert.

The only difficult part is going to be waiting for the frozen treat to chill down and become solid enough to scoop out before you can dig in.

If you are like me, the ice cream won’t even make it to the bowl. Eating it straight out of a frosty container that I just pulled out of the freezer, with a glass of red wine in my other hand and a trashy show on TV while I lounge on the couch, is my idea of the perfect night – and I can only hope that soon, it will be yours as well.

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Horizontal image of red ramekins with a dark chocolate frozen dessert surrounded by cherries.

Dairy-Free Cherry Dark Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream

  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Total Time: 9 hours, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 quart 1x


Dairy-free cherry dark chocolate coconut milk ice cream is full of fruity and bittersweet flavors, a decadent blend of creamy goodness.


  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut cream
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 oz 85% cocoa dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cherries, pitted and roughly chopped


  1. Freeze the bowl of your ice cream machine for 24 hours before making the recipe.
  2. Whisk together coconut milk, coconut cream, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Once boiling, cook for an additional minute while whisking.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and vanilla. Whisk until the chocolate has melted completely.
  4. Add the mixture to a blender and blend for 30 seconds on high. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 5-6 hours, or until cold all the way through.
  5. When ready to churn, add base to the ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. In the last 3 minutes of churning, add the cherries.
  6. Transfer to an airtight container or loaf pan. Cover and freeze for 4-6 hours, until firm.


Adapted from Minimalist Baker

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Ice Cream
  • Method: Freezing
  • Cuisine: Dairy Free

Keywords: dairy-free, coconut cream, coconut milk, chocolate, cherry, ice cream

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Freeze Ice Cream Bowl, Chop Dark Chocolate, Pit and Chop Cherries, and Measure Remaining Ingredients

Horizontal image of bowls with assorted ingredients including cherries and cocoa powder.

Be sure to freeze the bowl of your ice cream machine for at least 24 hours before you start the recipe.

Finely chop 8 ounces total of 85% cocoa dark chocolate.

Pit 1 cup of cherries and roughly chop them. Check out our list of the best cherry pitters to make this task a little easier.

Measure out remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list. Open the cans of coconut milk and coconut cream, stirring to combine if the liquids separated from the solids, and measure what you need.

Step 2 – Make Base

Horizontal image of a whisk in a pot with a light brown liquid mixture.

Add the coconut milk, coconut cream, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt to a large saucepan and place it over medium-high heat. Whisk to combine the ingredients, and bring the mixture to a boil while whisking constantly.

Once the mixture is boiling, cook for an additional minute while whisking.

Horizontal image of a whisk in a pot with a dark brown liquid mixture.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the chocolate and vanilla extract until the chocolate has melted.

Horizontal image of a dark cocoa liquid mixture in a blender.

Pour the mixture into a blender. Blend for 30 seconds on high speed. You can also use a handheld immersion blender, like we do in our plain vegan chocolate recipe.

Step 3 – Chill

Horizontal image of a pot with a dark brown liquid mixture.

Transfer the chocolate base to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 5-6 hours or overnight, until chilled all the way through.

Step 4 – Churn

Horizontal image of a frozen dark cocoa dessert in a canister.

Churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions on your machine.

In the last few minutes of churning, add the cherries.

Step 5 – Chill

Horizontal top-down image of two ramekins with a dark chocolate frozen dessert surrounded by fresh fruit.

Pour into an airtight container or a loaf pan. Cover and freeze until firm, about 4-6 hours.

Can I Use Frozen Fruit for This Recipe?

Sometimes you want ice cream in the middle of winter, and at that time, fresh cherries are typically nowhere to be found.

If this is the situation you find yourself in, you can use frozen sweet or tart cherries as a substitute.

Horizontal image of red ramekins with a dark chocolate frozen dessert surrounded by cherries.

To use them, completely thaw the cherries and drain them well. Then you can chop them up and add them into the recipe just like you would with fresh cherries.

Are you looking for more dairy-free dessert recipes? We have plenty to choose from on Foodal, like these favorites:

How do you like to eat your ice cream, in a bowl or a cone? Tell us in the comments below. Once you try this recipe, be sure to come back to rate it!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on June 29, 2012. Last updated: July 7, 2023 at 16:53 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

9 thoughts on “Dairy-Free Cherry Dark Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream”

  1. I have a completely uneventful day tomorrow so I was going to bake something, but I think I shall give this a try. It is crazy hot right now, so I think ice cream would be perfect. And I LOVE cherries.

  2. I was given cherries from my friend’s cherry tree this morning. I do not have an ice-cream maker, but you might have just sold me on buying one. I mean, really, what are friends for if they don’t encourage you in the right things of life! 🙂

    • Are you asking for readers who have, Candy? Because heaven knows, Tim and I loved it, but I’m guessing that’s not what you’re asking… : )


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