In the process of conducting our blender review, we came upon the challenge of banana ice cream (also called “nice cream”), which can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing! Think chunky ice cream, runny ice cream, blender fatigue, and everything in between.
We learned a lot in the process, which we’ve distilled here in this ULTIMATE Guide to Banana Ice Cream, plus 10 easy and delicious flavors to try!
What is Nice Cream?
Banana ice cream, also referred to as “nice cream,” is a super simple, plant-based version of ice cream made with a base of just 1 ingredient: bananas!
It’s typically made in either a blender or food processor depending on the equipment available and your priorities (total time, hands-on time, quantity, etc.). We share the pros and cons of each method below!
Tips for Success
- Use ripe, spotty bananas for best flavor/sweetness
- Peel and slice into 1/2-inch slices instead of large chunks, which can be more difficult to blend
- Freeze in a single layer to prevent large clumps (parchment paper on a baking sheet is our favorite way to prevent sticking to the pan!)
- If you’re having trouble blending, let the banana thaw for a few minutes. This will allow it to soften and become easier to blend. Alternatively, you could add 1 Tbsp (15 ml) at a time of dairy-free milk to encourage blending. But be careful with this method as it’s the fastest way to get runny banana ice cream.
- For true “ice cream” texture vs. soft serve, simply spread into a Tupperware or loaf pan and freeze for 2-3 hours. Then scoop with an ice cream scoop! If too firm, let thaw 15-30 minutes to soften.
Food Processor vs. High-Speed Blender
For best texture, we prefer a blender, but for an easier-to-master method, a food processor is the way to go!
- Generally takes a bit longer (5 minutes vs 2-3 minutes in a blender).
- Requires occasional babysitting. Otherwise, relatively hands-off.
- Not quite as smooth — can be a bit more difficult to fully blend and ensure there is no chunkiness.
- Fast! High-speed blenders (especially a Vitamix) with a tamper can make banana nice cream in 2-3 minutes, or depending on the motor power and skill, even 1 minute!
- Requires babysitting and using the tamper the whole time.
- Can be aggravating to the motor, and can sometimes require stopping for breaks.
- Can make larger quantities.
We’ve had success with both the Vitamix 5200 and Kitchenaid KSB8270FP Pro Line Series. See our full blender review here.
The flavor options for banana ice cream are endless! For most flavors, you can simply add the flavors after the bananas have already been turned into “nice cream”:
- Vanilla (1 tsp vanilla extract)
- Green Dream (1 tsp spirulina + 1-2 tsp matcha)
- Chocolate (2 Tbsp cacao or cocoa powder)
- Chocolate Nut Butter (2 Tbsp cacao butter + 2 Tbsp nut butter)
- Peanut Butter (2-3 Tbsp peanut butter or other nut butter or choice)
- Chocolate Tahini (see this recipe)
- Cookie Dough (see this recipe)
But for the following flavors, add the fruit at the same time as the bananas:
- Strawberry (1 cup frozen strawberries)
- Berry (1 cup frozen mixed berries)
- Sea Salt Caramel (4-6 soaked pitted dates + healthy pinch sea salt)
If you’ve ever been to an ice cream shop where you get to choose your toppings, you know there are so many different options! The same applies here.
Some of our favorite topping ideas include:
- Sliced fresh fruit (such as kiwi, banana, or berries)
- Cacao nibs
- Nut butter
- Shredded coconut
- Seed cycling mixes
We hope you LOVE this ice cream! It’s:
It’s perfect any time you’re craving a healthier dessert (or when you need to use up extra bananas)! It would also be fun as a homemade ice cream bar, allowing everyone to customize with different flavors and toppings.
More Banana Dessert Recipes
- Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Pudding
- Vegan Banana Cream Pie
- Raw Vegan Banana Cream Pie
- 5-Minute Raw Banana Split
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Easy Banana Ice Cream (Tips + 10 flavors!)
- 2 ½ cups sliced frozen ripe banana (~2 medium-large bananas as recipe is written — adjust amount if adjusting serving size // the riper, the sweeter)
- 1-2 tsp maple syrup or other sweetener of choice (optional)
- Vanilla (base recipe + 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- Strawberry (base recipe + 1 cup frozen strawberries, organic when possible)
- Berry (base recipe + 1 cup frozen mixed berries)
- Green Dream (base recipe + 1 tsp spirulina + 1-2 tsp matcha)
- Chocolate (base recipe + 2 Tbsp cacao or cocoa powder)
- Chocolate Nut Butter (base recipe + 2 Tbsp cacao powder + 2 Tbsp nut butter)
- Peanut Butter (base recipe + 2-3 Tbsp peanut butter or other nut butter of choice)
- Chocolate Tahini
- Sea Salt Caramel (4-6 soaked pitted dates + healthy pinch sea salt)
- Cookie Dough
- Be sure to start with ripe and spotty bananas. Peel and slice into 1/2-inch slices for easier blending (large chunks tax the motor). Then add to a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until firm (3-4 hours or overnight).
- Add sliced frozen bananas to a food processor fitted with an “S” blade. Then blend for 4-5 minutes or until completely smooth, fluffy, and blended. You’ll need to stop occasionally to stir and scrape the sides. You’ll be left with a soft serve texture. See “FREEZING” below for freezing tips.
- Add sliced frozen bananas to a high-speed blender, our most recommended model being the Vitamix 5200 for ultimate control and its powerful motor. (The Kitchenaid KSB8270FP Pro Line Series works well, too.) Turn the Vitamix dial to its lowest setting and ensure the switch is flipped to “Variable” NOT “High” to start with. It’s too much to jump the motor from 0-100 that fast.
- Once it’s started blending, quickly switch from “Variable” to “High” speed and use the tamper to press down and stir/agitate the bananas, which should turn into soft-serve texture banana ice cream quite quickly. If the motor seems to be struggling, stop and pause momentarily. Be sure to switch back to low speed / “Variable,” then switch to “High” speed every time to protect the motor.
- Adding flavor to your nice cream is easy! For every flavor besides strawberry, berry, or Salted Caramel, simply add the recommended amounts of each ingredient to your ice cream at this time and blend until creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. If making strawberry or berry, we recommend adding them at the beginning with the unblended bananas for best texture.
- At this point you have soft-serve texture banana ice cream. To get more of a scoopable ice cream texture, simply spread into a Tupperware or parchment-lined loaf pan and freeze for 2-3 hours. Then scoop with an ice cream scoop! If too firm, let thaw 15-30 minutes to soften.
- Best when fresh. See freezing instructions above. Frozen banana ice cream should keep for up to 1 month if well covered, though we find it’s best when used within the first week.
*Prep time does not include slicing and freezing bananas.