I scream, you scream, we all scream… ICE CREAM! But for real, though, how many of you guys love (or used to love) ice cream? I’d be lying if I said that ice cream was one of the few non-vegan items that I was reluctant to give up on.
From childhood memories to late-night ice cream dates, there were a few problems that a good soft serve couldn’t solve…
When I first went vegan seven years ago, veganism wasn’t anywhere near as popular as it is today, and there were very few vegan-friendly options on the market. Just recently, though, I found out about vegan soft serve ice cream!
So, being a proper ice cream lover, I bought myself a small soft serve ice cream machine and stocked up on a few bags of soft serve mix. Now, I can eat delicious, cold, creamy, dairy-free, vegan soft serve, whenever I please (and you’d better believe I take full advantage of it).
For all of my fellow vegan ice cream lovers out there, this post is dedicated to you. Below, I’m about to show you the best vegan soft serve ice cream that you can make at home! The only question is, are you ready for dessert?
What Makes Vegan Soft Serve Different From Ice Cream?
If you thought that ice cream needed to be dairy-based to taste good, think again. While ice cream may imply the use of cream, I like to think of it as a cold “creamy-textured” treat.
While there are a number of vegan-friendly hard ice cream options on the market, there are very few vegan soft serve options.
The main difference between traditional hard ice cream and soft serve is that soft serve is a lot creamier, smoother, and doesn’t require as much hard work with a spoon to eat.
Unlike traditional dairy-based soft serve, vegan soft serve ice cream is made without any milk, cream, or other dairy-based products. Additionally, you won’t find any other animal-based products or by-products that could give you a moral dilemma!
What Is Vegan Soft Serve Made Out Of?
So, if it’s not made with any dairy, just what the heck is vegan soft serve made from?
One of the most popular dairy alternatives used for vegan ice cream is coconut milk, which is very similar to real cream.
Like dairy cream, coconut milk is thick, has lots of fat, and has a creamy texture that comes out in the resulting ice cream or soft serve. It’s also incredibly healthy for you!
Other common base ingredients used to create vegan soft serve include:
- Cashew milk
- Almond milk
- Soy milk
- Soy protein
- Cane sugar
- Sea salt
- … And a few other compounds (both natural and artificial) designed to create the perfect texture
While the taste and texture are slightly different from sugar-loaded dairy-based ice cream, vegan soft serve is close enough to satisfy anybody’s taste buds.
It also tends to be a bit lighter, lower in fat and isn’t so calorie-heavy, so I’m not complaining!
If you’re interested in learning more about vegan milk, check out my list of the top five best vegan milk alternatives here!
Can I Buy Vegan Ice Cream Online?
After failing to find any vegan soft serve at my local grocery store, I had to turn to Amazon to find some good quality vegan ice cream. At first, the thought didn’t occur to me, since I didn’t think frozen goods could be shipped.
Then, I realized that the soft serve mix itself was dry! It’s designed to be shelf-stable and the ingredients aren’t activated until they’re mixed down and cooled in a soft-serve machine.
So, yes, you can certainly buy vegan soft serve online.
You can also order regular frozen vegan ice cream online as well. It will be delivered in a thermal package designed to keep the ice cream as cool as possible for a few hours.
You’ll just need to make sure that you’re home (or close to home) around the time it gets delivered, so it doesn’t get too warm sitting out!
Do I Need To Buy A Soft Serve Machine?
If you want the best vegan soft serve, then you’ll want to buy a small home soft serve machine. These machines will churn your soft-serve mix with the liquid base, cooling it at the same time.
Then, when you’re ready to eat it, you’ll just need to pull the handle down and swirl your cup or cone up!
That being said, most soft serve machines are a bit of a hassle. You’ll need to clean them regularly, and they can be a bit bulky and heavy. So, unless you’re eating soft serve every single day or plan on throwing a big party, it’s better to get a tiny home model like the ones I’ve mentioned below.
If you’re in a pinch, you can also use a blender or whisk. This method takes some time though, and you won’t get that signature swirl.
To make soft serve without a machine, simply blend your soft-serve mix and liquid base and then freeze the resulting mixture. It won’t be quite as soft, but it will still be just as delicious!
The Best Soft Serve Machines For Making Vegan Soft Serve
Like I said, if you want the best vegan soft serve, you’re going to want to invest in a small home soft serve machine. They’re small, affordable, and can easily fit on your countertop.
They’re also a lot quicker and easier to clean than large commercial-grade machines. Take a look!
1) Cuisinart ICE-45P1 Mix Serve 1.5-Quart Soft Service Ice Cream Maker (link)
I’ll start by showing you the soft-serve ice cream maker that I have in my own home! Cuisinart is a well-known, reputable brand, so you shouldn’t have any reservations about purchasing this unit.
Unlike some of the cheaper, Chinese-manufactured soft serve machines, Cuisinart’s ICE-45P1 Soft Serve Machine is built to last and has great reviews.
I purchased mine about one year ago, and I’ve been incredibly happy with it. It’s about the size of a coffee maker, and most of my house guests mistake it for a coffee maker until I spill the beans and tell them what it’s really for. Then they get interested.
This machine makes everything super simple. All you have to do is mix your soft serve ingredients together and pour them into the 1.5-quart freezer bowl at the top of the machine.
Once you turn the machine on, the mixing arm will begin churning and cooling the mixture to create some of the smoothest vegan soft-serve you’ve ever had.
Although it doesn’t have an industrial-grade motor, I haven’t had any issues with this machine. In the six months I’ve had it, I’ve used it at least sixty times. It’s never stuttered once.
It takes about half an hour for your soft-serve mix to become fully emulsified and frozen. After that, all you need to do is put your cone or cup under the dispenser and watch as it swirls out.
This Cuisinart unit also features a built-in topping dispenser that holds three separate toppings. After you’ve finished dispensing your vegan soft serve, just press the button and your favorite toppings will be automatically dispensed on top!
All in all, it’s the perfect home soft serve machine.
- Features a large 1.5-quart freezer bowl, so it can churn enough vegan soft serve for several large servings.
- Features a built-in topping dispenser with three separate containers.
- Features a built-in ice cream cone holder.
- Makes vegan soft serve in less than 30 minutes.
- Made by Cuisinart – one of the best home cookware companies on the market.
- It is a little bit pricey, but it’s worth the smiles and great ice cream!
2) Yonanas Classic Original Healthy Dessert Fruit Soft Serve Maker (link)
Yonana’s Classic Fruit Soft Serve Maker was recently given to me as a Christmas gift. When I first opened it, my first response was, “I really appreciate this, but I already have a great soft-serve machine!”
My friend told me that this was different and explained that it’s not designed to make traditional soft serve. Instead, this machine grinds and emulsifies frozen fruit and turns it into a soft-serve that looks just like ice cream!
So, I did a little bit more research on the machine, figured out how to use it, and tried it out. The whole process is remarkably simple.
All you have to do is plug the machine in, turn it on, and proceed to feed small chunks of frozen fruit down the top chute. Then, you press them through the machine and let it do its work.
Within seconds, I had some of the best tasting soft-serve I’d ever had.
The best part is that it’s 100% fruit! You don’t need to add any salt, sweetener, vegan cream, or any of the other additives that most home ice cream setups use.
Plus, unlike pre-mixed vegan soft serve, you don’t have to worry about consuming any of the added chemicals and preservatives! Pretty cool, right?
Plus, it significantly reduces food waste, which is something I’m very passionate about. Whenever I see a piece of fruit going bad or find a banana that’s too ripe to enjoy, I quickly cut it up, put it in a freezer-safe container and save it until the next time I want to make a fruity soft serve!
- Turns old frozen fruit into great-tasting vegan soft serve.
- Makes 100% plant-based soft serve, without any need for salt, sugar, or additives.
- It’s easy-to-clean and the entire machine can be broken down and cleaned in less than 5 minutes.
- It’s small and fits under my cabinet when I’m not using it.
- It’s very affordable for the value it provides.
- It can’t make creamy vegan soft serve, just fruit-based soft serve.
If you want to learn more, here’s a quick demo of how it works:
The 3 Best Vegan Soft Serve You NEED To Try
Okay, so now that you’ve got all of the equipment you need to make your very own homemade vegan soft serve, it’s time to get your main ingredient!
Namely, your vegan soft serve mix. Although there aren’t a ton of options when it comes to vegan soft serve brands, I’ve found that the following are some of the best vegan soft serve options that you can buy online!
3) Dole Mango Soft Serve Mix (link)
Flavor Rating: 10/10
The first time I ever had “Dole Whip” was on a trip to Disneyland. As it turns out, Dole’s Mango Soft Serve Mix is one of the main attractions at Disneyland, and there was a line of about ten families in line to get a cone of it when I last visited.
So, I figured that I’d wait out the line and see what all of the hype was about.
It was incredible. On that steaming-hot Florida summer day, that little cone of mango-flavored Dole Whip was the best thing that I could have possibly purchased. After that, I really didn’t care about all of the rides and attractions as much!
When I got home, the first thing I was craving was another cone. Unfortunately, I was nowhere near close to Disneyland.
So I did a bit of searching online and found out that I can buy the dry vegan soft serve mix (that’s right, it’s 100% vegan) on Amazon!
After doing a bit of research, I purchased the Cuisinart Soft Serve Machine that I mentioned above and two bags of dry Dole Mango Soft Serve Mix. Now, I could eat all of the Dole Whip I wanted.
The main thing that I absolutely love about Dole’s soft serve mix is how creamy it is.
When I first tried it, I thought that it had to have cream in it and double-checked with the clerk. They told me not to worry and that it contained no dairy or milk by-products whatsoever. It sure did taste like it, though! I discovered that coconut oil is the secret ingredient that makes it so creamy.
Although it doesn’t contain real mango puree, it is naturally flavored with mango extract, so the flavor actually tastes authentic.
Between the texture, creaminess, and real mango flavor, this is easily the best vegan soft serve that I’ve ever had.
What I Like About It:
- It has a super-creamy texture thanks to the added coconut oil.
- It’s naturally flavored with real mango extract.
- It’s naturally low-fat.
- It’s 100% vegan and contains no dairy or lactose.
What’s Not So Great:
- It’s a bit more expensive than regular dairy soft serve mix.
4) Dole Pineapple Soft Serve Mix (link)
Flavor Rating: 10/10
Dole’s Pineapple Soft Serve is easily my second-favorite vegan soft serve. This flavor features the same exact creamy texture and a rich, natural flavor, except it’s made with pineapple extract instead of mangos.
As far as the flavor goes, I’d say that this is slightly less sweet than the mango flavor.
However, if you’re looking for something that’s super-light, relatively low-sugar, and won’t bog you down with extra calories, this is a great alternative or addition to Dole’s Mango Soft Serve.
What I Like About It:
- Smooth, creamy texture.
- Naturally flavored with real pineapple extract.
- Light and low-fat.
- 100% vegan and dairy-free.
What’s Not So Great:
- Like Dole’s Mango Soft Serve, this mixture is on the more expensive side.
5) Soft Serve Alternative – So Delicious, Dairy-Free Cashew Milk Very Vanilla Frozen Dessert (link)
Flavor Rating: 9/10
Okay, so this one isn’t exactly “soft serve,” in the sense that it comes out of a soft-serve machine. However, the texture is really soft and is quite similar to soft serve.
So, if you’re looking for an easy vegan soft serve that doesn’t require you to buy a separate machine, this is a great alternative.
It has an incredibly simple, mostly-natural recipe. It’s made with real cashew milk, natural cane sugar, sea salt, acacia gum, guar gum, real vanilla extract, and natural vanilla flavoring.
Compared to dry soft serve mix, this vegan ice cream is a lot more natural, and therefore a good bit healthier.
The flavor is excellent and the combination of cashew milk and vanilla go really well with each other.
The vanilla flavor is my favorite, but if you’re looking for something with a bit more fruit, then So Delicious has an entire line of dairy-free vegan ice cream!
What I Like About It:
- It’s 100% vegan and made with all-natural products.
- The softness and texture are very close to soft serve ice cream.
- No artificial flavors or preservatives.
- Made with non-GMO ingredients.
- Super creamy and very similar to the taste of real ice cream.
- You don’t need a soft serve ice cream machine.
What’s Not So Great:
- It will be delivered frozen, which means you’ll need to watch out for the delivery.
Conclusion – Where’s The Best Place To Buy Vegan Soft Serve?
If you’ve been looking for the best vegan soft serve mix, then Amazon is going to be your best bet.
Although I’ve found it at some restaurant wholesale stores, you usually need a retail license and have to create an account to shop there.
Whether you end up buying a soft-serve ice cream machine or doing the blend-and-freeze method, the result will be some truly delicious vegan soft serve!
If you liked this article and have a sweet tooth, then you’ll love my breakdown on Dippin’ Dots and which flavors are vegan-friendly!