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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 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