This vegan banana ice cream calls for nothing but bananas and your food processor. Oh, and a spoon. It’s an easy, cheap, weird, healthy, and truly magical one-ingredient way to make frozen dessert at home. Here’s how.
We have some theories about why a recipe, including this magic one ingredient ice cream recipe, will go viral on the Internet. There is a certain combination of easy, cheap, and weird that causes a recipe to get passed from hand to hand, screen to screen, in an explosive train of links, growing more popular than it would with any promotion we could throw at it. So it was with this one-ingredient ice cream, which calls for nothing but bananas and your food processor. Blend the bananas long enough, and the fruit morphs into creamy ice cream, with the texture of soft serve and the natural sweetness of fruit. This is one of the biggest hits we’ve ever had, and it’s time you tried it.–Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand
LC How Many Ingredients? Note
We’ve got nothing against the magic one ingredient ice cream recipe. Nothing at all. In fact, we’re quite fond of it. Though truth be told, some folks may find it just a touch one-dimensional. Should you find yourself craving more than one ingredient—or rather, more than one flavor—in your ice cream, take a gander at the variations beneath the recipe, each of which creates a ridiculously satiating flavor. They’re magic, too. (Boy, are they ever! Especially the dark chocolate variation. Try it. One taste and you’ll understand.)
Vegan Banana “Ice Cream”
- 2 pounds very ripe bananas
- Peel the bananas and cut them into small pieces—the smaller the better. Place them in a freezer-safe container lined with parchment paper or coated with a little mild olive or vegetable oil to help the pieces release more easily. Freeze the bananas overnight or until the pieces are completely solid.
- Place the frozen bananas in a food processor (preferably a large food processor with a 14-cup capacity or more) or Vitamix. Blend for 2 to 5 minutes, stopping frequently to scrape down the sides of the bowl. At first the bananas will simply turn into smaller chunks, then into a fine grit. But at some point, the bananas will suddenly turn into soft, creamy ice cream. If at any point the banana pieces get stuck on the blade, keep blending and add a spoonful of water. You may need to hold onto the food processor, as it sometimes wants to hop around on the counter.
- Stick a spoon in the ice cream and slurp it up immediately for soft-serve-like consistency or return it to the freezer to harden a little more. (Just a word of caution, we found the soft-serve version of the magic one ingredient ice cream served immediately to be far preferable to the hardened version that results from being in the freezer.)
Vegan Banana “Ice Cream” VariationFor flavor variations, follow the instructions above, processing the frozen bananas in a food processor until they are the consistency of soft-serve ice cream, then add the additional ingredients below. Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Blend in 6 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Nutella Ice Cream Blend in 1/3 cup store-bought or homemade Nutella. Strawberries And Cream Ice Cream Blend in 2/3 cup chopped frozen strawberries and 1/4 cup heavy cream until smooth. Cinnamon Dulce Ice Cream Blend in 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Nut And Honey Ice Cream Blend in 1/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter and 2 tablespoons honey. Orange Dreamsicle Ice Cream Blend in 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This magic one ingredient ice cream recipe is truly one of the most magical recipes I’ve ever encountered. To tell you the truth, I did not believe that frozen bananas could turn into a soft serve ice cream with a brief whirl in a food processor…until I tried it! The results were a creamy, naturally sweet but not too sweet treat with a hint of banana flavor. In terms of the recipe itself, I did spray a touch of olive oil cooking spray in my freezer safe container before putting the diced bananas in, just so they would be easier to remove once frozen. It worked very well; the banana pieces came out in about 3 big pieces. I did have to add about 2 tablespoons water into the food processor while I was blending the frozen bananas, just to get the bananas moving a bit faster and keep them from sticking to the blade. I loved the texture and flavor of this ice cream! Can’t wait to try a variation as well…but first, I think I’m just going to try it with some walnut pieces and a few semisweet chocolate chips. I also wanted to add a note about freezing the ice cream: it had a fabulous texture and taste right when it was made, but I found that once you freeze it, the ice cream changes color to a light brownish and loses its creamy, soft serve texture.
I’ll admit I was very skeptical about this magic one ingredient ice cream recipe. How can frozen bananas become ice cream? I have no idea, but I’m really glad they do. I popped the banana chunks into a large resealable container and froze them for about 24 hours. Whatever you do, use at least a 14-cup food processor so the bananas have room to groove and HOLD ON TO IT when you hit the on button, as my food processor took off across the counter! I scraped down the sides every minute or so and let it process for about 5 minutes. All of a sudden, the bananas go from a clumpy sand-like consistency to soft and creamy ice cream. I prefer the texture as soon as it’s made. After being in the freezer, I think it gets a little grainy. Just remember, this is ice cream made from bananas, so it will taste like bananas if you don’t put anything in it.
How is it possible that I’ve been alive 43 years, a mother for 3 years, and I’ve never found out about this trick? This magic one ingredient ice cream recipe is brilliant—and if you own a Vitamix, it’s a cinch. The bananas blend into a lovely ice cream that you would swear contains, well, cream! It’s time to stop packing bananas into my morning protein shakes and save them for a nighttime treat! I tried it plain (superb) and then tried the dark chocolate ice cream variation. Since I’m on a very strict nutritional diet, I omitted the cream, but the cocoa and vanilla extract elevated the “ice cream” from wonderful to over the moon.
This is a very simple, zero effort recipe that produces wonderful results. This created a nice soft-serve ice cream just out of the processor. I allowed the magic one ingredient ice cream recipe to freeze for a couple hours, and it produced a great scoopable ice cream, which, incidentally, happens to be zero points on the Weight Watchers plan! Two simple tips: First, when you freeze the sliced bananas, flatten them out in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. This will make it far easier to break them apart and put them in the food processor. Second, 50-plus years of being a banana lover have taught me that there are several brands of bananas but only one that is REALLY sweet. I’m just saying that I used Dole bananas, and the result was a tad bitter. When I make this again, I’ll use the sweeter Chiquita bananas. (Call me crazy, but do a side-by side taste test, and trust me, you will agree.)
I will confess that this one-ingredient banana “ice cream” is not new to me, having first been served this “ice cream,” somewhere back in the ‘90s. My mother was so proud of this discovery, made with her Champion juicer. I had not thought of it in years until I spotted the recipe. While I think it’s a wee bit of a stretch to call it ice cream, it does come remarkably close to the real thing, especially with mix-ins or toppings. I made only the plain Jane, just-the-banana version, with nothing added in: just like vanilla ice cream, again, as my mother would have advised, if it works in the simplest possible version, then it’s quite likely to work with embellishments. I don’t think I ever saw her order anything but vanilla ice cream, and she served this the same way, “straight up.” For me, I can imagine topping it with berries, freshly sliced bananas, nuts, whipped cream, fudge sauce, peanut butter sauce, jimmies, and maybe a nice red cherry on top! A few technical notes: I think it’s better to freeze the banana pieces in a single layer on a sheet tray, and then place them in a container once they’re frozen solid. This helps prevent the pieces from sticking together without need of oil. If you find yourself with overripe bananas, simply peel, slice or chunk, and freeze them for later use; that way, you’ll always be prepared for a quick treat. And, while this recipe serves 4, there’s no reason you can’t make a single serving treat with just 1/2 pound bananas. The key is getting the frozen banana blended past the point of banana goo and on to something that actually does resemble ice cream. There is a reaction that happens, and you have to stick with the blending long enough to achieve this. Lastly, while the food processor works beautifully, I think a Vitamix might also do the trick.
Surprisingly, this magic one ingredient ice cream recipe did, in fact, yield the consistency and texture of soft serve ice cream. Both my husband and I were pleasantly surprised with the results. While it was velvety smooth and a dead ringer in texture to soft serve, the taste was not very sweet and was one-note. Neither of us wanted more than one bite of the plain banana soft serve. I quickly experimented and learned add-ins make all the difference and bring much-needed flavor. I made the dark chocolate version by adding cocoa powder, vanilla, and whole milk instead of cream to my processed bananas, and this tasted absolutely fabulous. It was difficult to detect the banana at all. In fact, this tasted just like chocolate soft-serve ice cream, and I will be making this again, especially since I always seem to have bananas in the freezer. I usually freeze overripe bananas whole with their skin on, and as long as you have a sharp knife, you can cut the ends off, score the peel lengthwise with one long cut, and peel the skin off rather easily. Frozen whole bananas also slice very easily, so I completely skipped the step of slicing the room temperature banana and placing on a sheet tray to freeze, but really either way will work. Note that 2 pounds bananas equals about 6 to 8 bananas, depending on size, but you can also make this recipe with just 1 banana and scale down the add-in ingredients by about 1/3 for every 2 bananas used (or not used).
Though I love this method of making fast ice cream, I must start by saying that this is not for the person who does not care for bananas. Even adding other ingredients to it, you will not be able to convince a non-banana lover to like it. I tried to cover it up with Nutella spread, hoping my older daughter would like it, but she detected the banana taste right away. Now, my younger one loved it plain and with all sorts of ingredients, such as strawberry. Hands-on time, if you go the plain banana route, is only 5 minutes. If adding other ingredients, about 5 more minutes. What takes longer is waiting for the banana slices to freeze, which I usually do overnight. You can easily create all types of ice creams this way. One of my younger daughter’s favorites is with mango.
Originally published February 26, 2015