Vegan Cherry Garcia Ice Cream (using Homemade Cashew Milk)

August 29, 2013

in Ice Cream, Popsicles & Frozen Treats

*Before you feel sad that you don’t own an ice cream maker – don’t despair! This recipe can also be made using ice cube trays and a blender or food processor. Keep reading.

Vegan Cherry Garcia Ice Cream

I’ve mentioned before that I used to be an ice cream junkie. I actually don’t indulge all that often anymore, unless you count frozen banana soft-serve, in which case, yes – I indulge several times a week. For the most part, though, extra thick smoothies have replaced my once nightly ice cream (or frozen yogurt) habit.

Every so often, however, I get a craving for one of my old favorites: Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.

The giant chunks of chocolate, the big pieces of sweet cherries…eating that ice cream was like digging for gold, except I came up rich with every spoonful. You would not have wanted to share a pint with me, unless you enjoyed smooshed around vanilla ice cream. I am a mix-ins hog and I selfishly have no plans to reform my chocolate and cherry-loving ways.

Frozen Cherries 2

Since Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t make a non-dairy Cherry Garcia (yet!), I made my own. And I made some for you too.

I used a combination of decadent full-fat coconut and rich, homemade cashew milks as the base. These are slightly sweet on their own, and I decided to play up that natural sweetness with medjool dates in place of sugar. It might seem overly healthy, but not to worry – I made up for that with lots and lots of chocolate chunks and slivers. I was heavy-handed with the cherries too, making sure each bite would have plenty of both.

Frozen Cherries

Really, there’s no need to go digging for cherries and chocolate in this ice cream.

I’ve got you covered.

Homemade Cherry Garcia Ice Cream

Vegan Cherry Garcia Ice Cream (using Homemade Cashew Milk) | Gluten-Free
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: approximately 6-8
For the Homemade Cashew Milk
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 3½ cups filtered water
  • pinch of fine sea salt
For the Ice Cream
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1½ cups homemade cashew milk
  • 7 pitted medjool dates, soaked for an hour & drained
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen pitted cherries, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup vegan dark chocolate chunks (or chips), divided
  1. Prepare the cashew milk by soaking the cashews in filtered water for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator (overnight is okay too).
  2. Once soaked, drain and rinse the cashews.
  3. Add the cashews, water, and salt to a blender and blend on high for about 1 minute, or until the cashews are broken into very fine pieces.
  4. Reserve 1½ cups of the cashew milk for the ice cream recipe, and store the remaining milk in a covered container in the fridge.
  5. You can add more water to the remaining milk for a less rich consistency. Homemade cashew milk should keep for 2-3 days. In the future, feel free to play around with the ratio of water to cashews. I typically use 1 cup cashews: 4 cups water, but I wanted a creamier texture for the ice cream.
  6. Next, make the ice cream by adding the coconut milk, cashew milk, dates, vanilla, and sea salt to the blender and process until very smooth.
  7. Pour the milk mixture into an ice cream maker* (see note at the end of the post for an alternative) for about 20-25 minutes, or until the texture resembles soft-serve.
  8. While you're waiting for the ice cream, chop ¼ cup of the chocolate chunks to create smaller slivers. You want a mix of small chocolate pieces and chunks in the final product.
  9. Once the ice cream resembles soft-serve, fold in the chocolate and cherries until they’re evenly incorporated into the ice cream.
  10. Enjoy immediately, or place the ice cream in a freezer-safe container and allow to firm up in the freezer for a couple of hours or overnight.


I used an ice cream maker to make mine, but I know this can be prohibitive for a lot of people. Alternatively, you can make ice cream using ice cube trays and a blender or food processor. Here’s how:

Instead of pouring the milk mixture into an ice cream maker (step 7 in the recipe instructions), simply pour it into ice cube trays and freeze for two or three hours until it’s mostly solid (not rock hard). Next, place the ice cream cubes into your blender or food processor and process until smooth. Transfer the ice cream base to a large bowl and fold in the chocolate and cherries. Grab a spoon and dig in, or allow it to firm up a little more in the freezer!

Ice cream confession time: are you guilty of eating all the mix-ins and putting a container of plain ice cream back in the freezer? Aaron loves when I do this.


{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

dixya| food, pleasure, and health August 29, 2013 at 9:34 am

cherry garcia happens to be one of my favorite too – i am absolutely digging this.


Amanda August 30, 2013 at 8:51 am

Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey were my favorites. Maybe I should attempt the latter one next? ;)


Michelle Collins August 29, 2013 at 1:19 pm

The photos are killing me. I wish I had a bowl (or two) of this right now!


Amanda August 30, 2013 at 8:53 am

Thanks, Michelle! I had fun with the food styling on this one.


Kait August 29, 2013 at 11:30 pm



Amanda August 30, 2013 at 8:52 am
Lauren August 30, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Yum! I love the combination of chocolate and cherries! We used to buy the chocolate mint ice cream from TJs, and I would always dig around for the chocolate chips. I have a few weird habits that would drive an ordinary husband nuts, but mine just laughs at me. :-D


Amanda August 31, 2013 at 10:28 am

Mmmm, now you have me thinking about mint chocolate chip ice cream. :)


Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning August 31, 2013 at 4:46 pm

I am definitely NOT guilty of eating the mix-ins because plain ol’ vanilla is my FAVORITE ice cream. :) I can’t even remember the last time that I had Cherry Garcia ice cream- but I know it’s been too long! I also think I’ve only used my ice cream maker a total of 3 times ever- this would be worth breaking it out for. :)
Do you think regular (store-bought) cashew milk would be okay?


Amanda August 31, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Vanilla is good too! Any ice cream is good. :) Store-bought cashew milk should work just fine! The ice cream may turn out a little lighter since I made my cashew milk on the richer side, but if you’re using full-fat coconut milk as well, it’s probably a small difference. Almond and soy milks, or even more coconut milk, should also be really tasty.
And I know what you mean about breaking out the ice cream maker – mine basically just collects dust. Very sad.


Anna {Herbivore Triathlete} September 1, 2013 at 9:49 am

I love that you gave an alternative method to making ice cream without an ice cream maker, so often I would love to make the ice cream, but am not sure it’s possible without the ice cream maker. Would your method work for all kinds of ice cream do you think?

I am definitely an add ins hog too, love digging out the chunks!


Amanda September 1, 2013 at 9:53 am

I think the ice cube/blender (or food processor) method should work for most ice cream recipes. :)


Staci September 2, 2013 at 11:20 am

Hey Girl!

I’m loving your blog. I also live right outside Boston in Natick. I’m stepping my toes into vegan-ism but love cooking- thanks for the inspiration and yummy recipes!


Amanda September 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Hi Staci! Thanks for the kind words about my blog. I’m happy to hear that you’re trying some vegan recipes! Let me know if you have questions about any of mine, or are looking for recommendations. :)


Jackie @ Vegan Yack Attack! September 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm

*Raises Hand* I am totally guilty of being a mix-in digger outer. THOSE ARE THE BEST PARTS!

As for this recipe, it looks freakin’ incredible, and the photos are absolutely gorgeous. Bravo!


Amanda September 3, 2013 at 10:10 am

Thanks, Jackie! :)


Ceil Tulloch September 3, 2013 at 12:11 am

Hi Amanda,

I hope that you had a nice Labor Day holiday. Your ice-cream looks DELISH! I wish that I had your patience and skills to prepare this recipe. Btw, there’s a 2 for $7 sale this week on Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream at my local supermarket.


Amanda September 3, 2013 at 10:12 am

Thanks, Ceil. I had a very nice holiday. The weather could have been less humid and sticky, but it did feel like summer in Boston. ;) You can totally make this ice cream – it’s easy! Promise.


Audrey @ GlutenFreeVeganLove February 18, 2014 at 11:29 am

Cherry Garcia is a favorite of mine as well. These pictures made me want to have ice cream in -20F weather — now that’s what I call a good recipe ;)


Amanda February 18, 2014 at 11:47 am

Thanks, Audrey! When I was adding that cherry garcia photo, in particular, I definitely started craving it…cold weather and all. :)


Laura S. February 20, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Hey Amanda,
Just saw this again on your Valentine’s Day recipe recommendations. My hubby and I definitely make the most of our ice cream maker! Although all we usually make is vanilla flavored from this recipe (we have added the chocolate and some peanut butter once or twice), but we’re eager to branch out to other flavors!

Do you think vanilla bean powder could be substituted with vanilla extract without any issues?


Amanda February 20, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Hi Laura! Yes, vanilla extract will be great! I’d say double or even triple the amount (so 1-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract), as the vanilla bean powder is quite strong.


Laura S. February 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm

OK, great, thanks! And here is the other link from Keepin’ It Kind since I forgot to include it before!


Leave a Comment

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: