This ultra-chocolaty, dairy-free Sicilian-style gelato--made without eggs or cream--is relatively lean but still creamy-smooth and flavorful. The coconut milk used for the base gives it a silky, rich mouthfeel and a subtle coconut flavor.

Alice Medrich
Source: EatingWell Magazine, January/February 2011


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

4 hrs 30 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Put cocoa in a medium bowl and whisk in enough coconut milk (about 2/3 cup) to make a smooth paste. Stir in vanilla.

  • Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in the remaining coconut milk. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, until the mixture begins to barely simmer around the edges. Then, stirring constantly and scraping the sides and corners of the pan to prevent scorching, let the mixture simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes to fully cook the cornstarch. Scrape the hot mixture into the bowl with the cocoa mixture. Whisk until well blended. Let cool, undisturbed, for about 45 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.

  • Pour the gelato mixture into the canister of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions.


Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 2; refrigerate for up to 1 day. Store gelato in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 week. For the best texture, let soften slightly before serving.

Equipment: Ice cream maker

Note: Cocoa powder comes in two styles: natural and Dutch-processed. Dutch-processed cocoa has been treated with alkali, or "Dutched," to neutralize the natural acidity of cocoa, while natural has not. For this recipe, we prefer the taste of natural cocoa powder, although either type can be used.

Nutrition Facts

186 calories; protein 2.7g; carbohydrates 30.4g; dietary fiber 2g; sugars 22.2g; fat 7.3g; saturated fat 5.4g; folate 1.7mcg; calcium 7.2mg; iron 0.8mg; magnesium 27mg; potassium 83.2mg; sodium 64.2mg; added sugar 22g.

Reviews (9)

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9 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 5
  • 4 star values: 2
  • 3 star values: 2
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 3 stars
I was very excited to find a gelato recipe without eggs or cream. I just purchased the Cusninart ICE-70 ice cream maker. I followed this recipe but substituted the sugar with STEVIA sugar powder (only 1/2 tsp because I read you have to use very little stevia sugar compared to regular sugar). I churned the gelato for 30 minutes (suggested time). It came out somewhat creamy but parts of it were very hard and stuck to the bottom of the freezer bowl. I scooped out what I could and put in a freezer tight container. I took this out and let it sit room temperature for about 20 minutes. This was still very hard. The taste was not very good either. If anyone has suggestions on how to resolve this hardness I would appreciate it? Also how to improve the taste? Read More
Rating: 3 stars
I felt it was too sugary the first time I made it so the second time I used 1/4 c. grade b maple syrup and added 2 ounces 60% dark chocolate the second time. That actually did the trick and added to the texture. It did change the nutritional profile by about 20 cal extra per person. Oh plus I used arrowroot starch instead of corn starch because I think it added to the mouthfeel of the final product - it's why a lot of non-dairy ice creams have it in their ingredients list at the store. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Dairy-free and Delicious! This is one of my family's favorite desserts--creamy rich and scrumptious. Since it contains no dairy it's great for me because I'm lactose-intolerant. It's also pretty easy to make although you have to plan ahead--it's best to mix the ingredients one day chill overnight and put it in the ice-cream freezer the next day. For extra-rich chocolate flavor use special dark cocoa. Pros: no dairy no eggs fantastic combination of chocolate and subtle coconut flavor Cons: takes a while to make Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Gina Kelly...I haven't made this yet but from what I've read the use of a sugar substitute probably caused the "hardness" problem. I'm sure there may be a fix but I don't know what it is. You might check the Good Eats website as they do lots of food chemistry testing and likely have a suggestion or two. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Fantastic!! I could not stop eating this!! I'm a vegan so it's very rare that I come across something that I can eat like this. The consistency was spot on nice and creamy. The coconut milk gave the flavor some depth. 5 stars! Pros: creamy Cons: a tad bit too sweet Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Better than Ben and Jerrys I made this last night as a healthy-ish dessert for me and my boyfriend. He said it was the best chocolate ice cream that he ever had and I swear I would compare it to Ben and Jerry's despite the fact it is dairy free! I don't have an ice cream maker and wound up putting the bowl in the freezer and whipping in 30-45 minute increments. It took about four hours but it was so worth it! We have enough to last us the week! Pros: Easy delicious super chocolatey Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Rich Chocolate Goodness! It's hard to find a light dessert that fulfills my chocolate needs but this one does it...though admittedly it isn't THAT light calorie-wise. It's a nice middle ground option though:) Pros: Great flavor texture Cons: If you don't like rich desserts this isn't for you Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Delicious! I replaced the sugar with equal for cooking and its so delicious (and guilt free!) Read More
Rating: 5 stars
A happy dairy-free option that delights those used to ice cream My husband's family always made homemade ice cream to celebrate birthdays or just celebrate every day days. He has been sharing this tradition with our own daughters and I know he cringed when the doctor recommended we go dairy free for our daughter's sake. We just made this and it was a hit for everyone even those devoted to ice cream. Thank you for this recipe and for making our family tradition possible even in a dairy-free lifestyle. Pros: Delicious chocolatey smooth creamy Cons: Can't be a last-minute choice --plan ahead Read More