Dairy-Free Butter Pecan Ice Cream Recipe

Heather Dessinger

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Four scoops of homemade dairy-free butter pecan ice cream in white bowl.

Sometimes we do birthday cake at my house, and sometimes we do birthday pecan pie. You see, it’s one of our family traditions that my kids can request whatever dessert their heart desires for their special day, and that has led to some pretty interesting requests. 

This year my oldest son requested homemade pecan pie, and though his birthday is still months away he’s pretty set on his choice . . . or at least he was until I mixed up a batch of this cold, creamy, decadent butter pecan ice cream. 

Decisions, decisions. 🙂

Ever since my first experience gathering pecans by the bucketful at my grandmother’s house, I’ve been smitten with the flavor that pecans bring to pies, cookies, and of course ice cream. Since I’m dairy-free right now as part of my healing journey, ice cream made with traditional ingredients like heavy cream and whole milk is off the menu. 

Scooping homemade butter pecan ice cream out of container.

A few weeks ago, though, I finally figured out how to recreate the smooth, rich texture of real deal ice cream, and ever since I’ve been playing with all sorts of flavors – mint chocolate chip, vanilla chai, and this butter pecan. 

Made with toasted pecans, maple syrup instead of brown sugar, and homemade dairy-free caramel sauce, it has the smooth, buttery flavor I grew up loving . . . just without the butter. (We have the caramel sauce to thank for that.)

A batch of this stuff never sticks around long in my kitchen . . . probably because I keep wandering into the kitchen a few extra times a day for a quick spoonful. Though I would have never guessed it would be possible since it’s dairy-free, I think it’s actually my favorite butter pecan ice cream recipe ever.

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4.91 from 11 votes

Dairy-Free Butter Pecan Ice Cream Recipe

Made with toasted pecans, maple syrup instead of brown sugar, and homemade dairy-free caramel sauce, this recipe has the smooth, buttery flavor I grew up loving . . . just without the butter. Makes approximately 3 cups.
Course Dessert
Keyword dairy-free, frozen, gluten-free
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 590kcal
Author Heather Dessinger


  • Ice Cream Machine
  • heat resistant bowl
  • small pot
  • measuring spoons
  • baking sheet
  • medium pot


Ice Cream Base

Toasted Pecans

Buttery Caramel


  • Place cashews in a heat resistant bowl. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and pour it over the cashews. Allow to soak for two hours before moving to step two. While the cashews are soaking, start toasting the pecans and preparing the buttery caramel.

To Toast The Pecans

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and pour it over the pecans. Add ⅛ teaspoon salt and toss until well-coated.
  • Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside.

To Make The Buttery Caramel

  • Place the coconut milk, sucanat/coconut sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, coconut oil and salt in a medium pot.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, whisking occasionally.
  • When the caramel has simmered for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 10 minutes. When the caramel is done simmering, remove it from heat and stir in the pecans. Set aside.

Putting It All Together

  • When the cashews have soaked for two hours, prepare your ice cream base by draining the them and placing them in a blender. Add all the remaining ice cream base ingredients (coconut milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract) to the container. If you're using a high-speed blender, blend on high for about 2 minutes. If you're using a regular blender, blend for 3-4 minutes to make sure it is smooth.
  • The ice cream mixture will become warm during the blending process, so when you're finished place it in the fridge to chill for about 30-45 minutes. (I leave mine in the blender container.)
  • When the ice cream base has chilled, pour it into your ice cream maker and churn according to your manufacturer's instructions. Add the pecan mixture in during the last five minutes of churning. Make sure to spoon it in bit-by-bit so everything is well-distributed. If you dump it all in you'll get big clumps that are very delicious but more difficult to scoop evenly. 
  • When the ice cream is ready it should have a soft serve consistency. You can devour it right away, or if you prefer a firmer consistency transfer it into an airtight container and place in the freezer for 2-4 hours. I like to use a glass loaf pan with a lid.  If the ice cream becomes too firm, let it soften at room temperature for 5-15 minutes before scooping. 


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 590kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Sodium: 116mg | Potassium: 512mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 9IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 5mg
Close up of homemade butter pecan ice cream in a bowl

More Dairy-Free Dessert Recipes

Coconut Custard – Light, wholesome, sweetened with maple syrup, and rich in healthy fats due to the egg yolks, this coconut custard recipe makes a delicious and easy anytime treat. 

Gluten-Free Lemon Bars – Tart and sweet, these lemon bars are like little squares of sunshine on a plate. They’re made with a chewy, lemon-zest infused crust that’s topped with an extra-thick layer of melt-in-your-mouth creamy lemon filling.

Gluten-Free Brownies – These warm fudgy brownies are delicious with a scoop of ice cream.

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding Mommypotamus.com in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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Recipe Rating

20 thoughts on “Dairy-Free Butter Pecan Ice Cream Recipe”

  1. Hi Heather,
    The recipe looks delicious! I was just wondering if possible to make without the ice cream machine? Any adice? Thanks!

    • I know there are some methods out there that call for chilling and stirring intermittently. It might work for this recipe, although getting the butter pecan chunks evenly distributed might be a little extra work. If you try it please let me know how it turns out!

  2. This sounds delicious! I’m going to try it. I am starting dairy today (for a few days) to determine if I am lactose intoloerant or allergic. My biggest issue is my morning coffee. I drink it wil whipping cream. Do you have a decent substitute? I feel like I’ve tried everything and nothing suits. – Thank you – Julie

  3. After reading what the ingredients are in the recipe… yup, NO cream, NO butter… this recipe should have NO cream and NO butter to call this “ice cream” because simply, it isn’t ice cream without cream and butter. Dairy-free or vegan, yes. I don’t believe your version is healthier than the original version because I do prefer having cream and butter in ice cream recipes but your version is fine as long as there are pure, natural ingredients in making it. To make your recipe clearer, change it to something like “Vegan Pecan Coconut” or something, leaving out “ice cream” altogether so as not to cause confusion.

    • 5 stars
      This version may not be any healthier for YOU, but for those of us with dairy allergies and intolerances, this recipe is indeed much healthier, since it won’t make us sick, like dairy products do.

      No one is confused by calling this “dairy-free ice cream.” We all know what ice cream is; this one happens to be made with coconut cream instead of dairy milk cream. Calling it “vegan pecan coconut” would be very confusing; no one would know whether that refers to a cake, a custard, a cookie, or something else. Besides, the recipe wasn’t created as a vegan dessert, but as a dairy-free ice cream (or “ice cream alternative” if that makes you happier).

      Bottom line, this recipe is YUMMY and is a godsend for those of us who want a dairy-free dessert. I do want to share what I’ve learned the hard way: be sure to use coconut milk that includes guar gum, which serves as a thickener and stabilizer. If you use a gum-free coconut milk (such as the AroyD brand), the caramel sauce will never thicken, and the ice cream will become very icy if it is allowed to freeze completely.

      • Great reply and thanks for the tip since I usually never have coconut milk with guar gum in the pantry. I’ll wait to make it after another trip to the store.

        • 4 stars
          I finally just made this today but I forgot about this comment and I didn’t use coconut milk with guar gum. It’s in the freezer now, so we’ll see what happens. If this is a preferred ingredient it really should be changed in the recipe. My caramel thickened slightly, but once it hit the ice cream machine it completely mixed in. I’m sure it will taste good though!

    • 5 stars
      Semantics semantics. Why waste the time to make your negative comment. It’s DAIRY FREE ice cream for crying out loud.

  4. Looks creamy and delicious. My daughter has a cashew allergy, but pecans are ok. What’s a good substitute for cashew? Thank you!

    • Hi Julie, before I started using cashews in my base recipe I often used just coconut milk. If it fully freezes it becomes a little icy/non-scoopable, but it makes a pretty good soft-serve ice cream. Maybe try that?

  5. 5 stars
    Love the way you’ve repeated the ingredients in the directions. That’s so handy to not have to keep scrolling up and down while I make this. Thank you!

    Can you confirm the comment about it being better to use a coconut milk with guar gum for ice cream success? It’s fall, so the cold morning make me want toasted nuts, but the warm days would still like ice cream. This sounds perfect!

    • Whoa, that appears to be a new formatting setting that needs some adjustment. Thanks for letting me know – the recipe amounts in the ingredient list are the correct ones. I’ve removed the amounts from the instruction section.

  6. AMAZING!!!! We were looking for a butter pecan DF treat to make for a birthday party and this recipe looked promising. Let me tell you…give it a try! So delicious and relatively easy despite the list of ingredients.

  7. I lactose intolerant so I am super excited to try your recipe.
    One question: you state to add pecans to the caramel sauce, however, in you ingredients list pecans are not listed. Please advise. Thanks for all the work you put into this recipe & sharing it.
    God Bless