Healthy Vegan Chocolate Protein Ice Cream

by Alena
Jun 17, 2020
baking dish on a table filled with vegan chocolate peanut butter ice cream and a scoop

Is it time for vegan ice cream yet? Here’s one more delicious way of swapping dairy for something even better — chocolate chickpea ice cream that’s high in protein, sugar-free and incredibly delicious.

Getting the most obvious question out of the way right away: nope, you won’t be able to taste any legumes when enjoying this sweet treat! It would be a huge disservice to the plant-based community if we made desserts taste overtly healthy.

Instead, this chocolate ice cream is made with 100% whole foods, including a nice dollop of creamy natural peanut butter and enough dates to satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you’re used to the overly sugary and fatty store-bought ice cream brands, vegan or not, our high-protein frozen dessert alternative won’t be exactly what you’re accustomed to — but acquiring a taste for unprocessed whole foods is really worth it and will have you gobbling that chocolate chickpea ice cream just like some Ben & Jerry’s.  

So, if you haven’t gone dairy-free and cut out most sugars yet, this is your chance! Our recipe doesn’t even call for any added oil while still tasting rich and decadent.

It took us a while to get all of the ingredients and quantities right but now we’re really happy with this peanut butter chocolate chickpea ice cream — yes, we know that’s quite a mouthful. 

By the way, this recipe was inspired by Caroline, a Canadian RD whose delicious treat intrigued us to add legumes to homemade vegan chocolate ice cream!

In a nutshell, this is the healthiest frozen dessert you’ll ever make! Well, apart from nice cream, perhaps. 

Our whole food plant-based recipe features chickpeas, plant-based milk, dates and peanut butter — which makes for a high-protein, sugar-free and nutritious ice cream that actually tastes fantastic.

It’s so good for you that you could even have it for breakfast on a hot summer morning! But not all vegan ice cream is that healthy, of course — let’s see what it oftentimes contains.

small bowl on a table filled with homemade vegan chocolate protein ice cream

What’s Vegan Ice Cream Made Of?

Let’s talk store-bought vegan ice cream brands first. We’re actually really, really happy that they exist and that this market is growing! While they often don’t offer a huge health advantage compared to dairy ice cream, they help so many people to move away from animal products and choose a more compassionate lifestyle.

Store-bought vegan ice cream makes for a delicious occasional treat, but considering that it’s basically just a bunch of oil, sugar, stabilizers and flavorings, we can probably all agree that you shouldn’t have it on a regular basis.

Many homemade vegan ice cream recipes look a lot better as they are often made with frozen fruit, plant-based milk (coconut milk is the most common choice), nuts or nut butter but don’t necessarily go low on the added sugar.

Here’s where our recipe for all you fellow health foodies comes in! Because this is the most nutritious ice cream you’ll ever make.

How to Choose the Healthiest Version Ever

While some store-bought vegan ice cream brands have the reputation of using “so many artificial ingredients” (which isn’t synonymous with unhealthy, by the way), taking a quick look around the internet for non-vegan chocolate ice cream made my mouth drop: whole milk, heavy whipped cream, egg yolks and copious amounts of sugar — that’s what is usually used in traditional recipes.

We can do better than that! Heck, we don’t even need the coconut oil, refined sugar and other vegan ingredients that common brands use — we’ll go straight to nutrient-dense whole foods.

The healthiest ice cream recipes are made with frozen fruit, nuts or seeds, dates for sweetening and a splash of plant-based milk. Now, if you add to that fiber and protein-rich whole legumes as in our chickpea ice cream, you’ve probably achieved the maximum amount of healthfulness you can get in the form of ice cream!

This is definitely proof that we’re total health nerds, right?

Vegan Nutrition Guide
close up of a black baking dish with frozen scooped vegan chocolate peanut butter ice cream

The Case For Legumes

Adding more whole plant-based foods to your diet is always a step into a more nutritious and disease-preventing direction — but let’s take a quick look at beans, peas and lentils in particular.

Legumes, in general, are often underestimated in terms of their health benefits! Instead of supposedly harming us because of their “anti-nutrients” called phytic acid, this delicious food group is the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities, according to a 2004 study.

Many of us are not used to eating legumes on a regular basis and find them hard to digest in the beginning — which is why we made it our mission to share easy and tasty recipes, such as this chocolate ice cream, that are made with beans but hide them super well.

Other good examples of how to do this are our white bean strawberry smoothie, low-fat vegan cheese sauce and creamy bean pesto pasta.

If you’re having a hard time eating beans and lentils, you can start by adding more tofu into your diet which is more tolerable to most people — in the case of vegan chocolate ice cream, you could swap the chickpeas for silken tofu just like Hanne did here.

Woman holding hands around dish with homemade vegan chocolate ice cream

Nutrition Details of Our Chickpea Ice Cream Recipe

Not that we’re at all protein-obsessed but this healthy vegan ice cream is surprisingly high in this macronutrient! Since many people are afraid they wouldn’t be able to get enough amino acids following a fully plant-based diet, we love to show how even sweet treats can contribute to our daily protein intake.

Using a whole can of chickpeas plus some peanut butter, one 250 calorie serving of our vegan protein ice cream offers 9 grams of protein, 19 grams of sugar from whole fruit and 10 grams of fat — most of which is unsaturated.

Unlike traditional ice cream, this chickpea version also offers 6 grams of fiber per serving! What a delicious way to bump up your daily intake to a minimum of 25-38 grams as recommended by the US Dietary Guidelines.

Best Vegan Protein Snacks

The Best Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

This healthy chickpea ice cream is so good for you that you can just grab another scoop without having to think twice — so, let your kids load up on it during a hot summer day!

It’s the perfect excuse to eat more chocolate ice cream and get your essential nutrients along the way. 

white table with a black baking dish in which a blended chocolate chickpea mixture with a peanut butter swirl has been poured

How to Make Vegan Chocolate Chickpea Ice Cream

Are you ready for this? Because we sure cannot wait to make some more chocolate ice cream to devour this summer.

It’s ridiculously easy to make and you certainly don’t need an ice cream maker for this — just a good old food processor

We also made it with a high-speed blender before and it turned out okay, making it an option for those who really crave some healthy frozen peanut butter dessert and don’t have a food processor.

Start by soaking your dry dates at least half an hour before making your chickpea ice cream to get the best results. 

Then drain them and make a creamy date paste using your food processor before adding all of the other ingredients — if you don’t cook your own chickpeas from scratch and use canned ones, try to go for salt-free varieties and rinse them well.

As you can see, it’s another “dump and mix” recipe, no kitchen skills required! Turns out that this is often satisfactory to most people, trained chefs excluded. 

Make sure to only use half of the peanut butter when making the chickpea ice cream base because once it’s processed into the creamiest chocolate mixture, we’ll swirl the rest of the peanut butter all throughout that chickpea base — yes, thick ribbons of peanut butter to make the flavor stick out better. 

Plus, it looks quite pretty if I may say so myself! Especially when topped with some coarse salt or chopped chocolate before serving.

The final step is to pour your chickpea chocolate ice cream in a freezer-friendly pan and put it into the freezer for 12-15 hours — it’s around this time that your dessert will have the perfect texture.

Best No-Bake Vegan Desserts
white table with different small bowls containing chickpeas, dates, peanut butter. cocoa powder and some spices

Whole Food Plant-Based Protein Ice Cream Ingredients

What exactly is needed to make this chocolatey goodness you ask? Well, here you go!

  • Chickpeas — undetectable in your chocolate ice cream, this fiber- and protein-rich base also prevents your dessert from melting too fast
  • Dates — this nutritious fruit adds a neutral, yet slightly caramel-y flavor and a whole bunch of sweetness that makes you forget about added sugar
  • Peanut Butter — any good ice cream needs some fat; this wholesome legume-based butter is an awesome replacement for eggs, heavy cream, oils which other recipes often call for!
  • Plant-Based Milk — our favorite combination here is almond milk and coconut milk but you can also go for other varieties.
  • Flavors — cocoa powder, cinnamon and vanilla have made it into our final recipe but the sky’s the limit!
Downloadable Vegan Grocery List

Adjustments for This Chickpea Ice Cream Recipe

We’d love to share with you a few more tips and insights to help you create the perfect chickpea ice cream experience!

Plant-Based Milk

If the full-fat coconut milk adds too much richness for you, swap it out for another plant-based milk alternative. You can even go for a whole cup of soy milk (or pea milk), bumping the protein content even further!

Likewise, make some really rich and creamy chickpea ice cream by using only coconut milk, nothing else.

Nut-Free Chocolate Ice Cream

Okay, so we have three kinds of nuts in this recipe: peanut, coconut and almonds. To adjust this chickpea ice cream to any nut allergies, use sunflower butter plus soy milk or pea milk! 

woman in blue dress holding a small bowl with homemade chocolate chickpea ice cream on a spoon

Bananas or No Bananas?

Most healthy ice cream recipes call for frozen bananas — and while this actually was our introduction to homemade vegan ice cream, it cannot be denied that all of them taste like bananas (even if it’s just a hint!).

So, we really wanted one healthy ice cream recipe without any bananas that’s still naturally sweetened which is where the dates come into play. But if you cannot find any dates, you can use frozen bananas instead to sweeten your chickpea ice cream. Just be aware of that hint.

Toppings, Add-Ins & More

You can increase the peanut butter to make it creamier and stronger in that flavor or swap it entirely for almond butter, blended cashews, sunflower butter or any nut-seed combination.

We’ve also tried this recipe with added instant coffee! Very, very yummy if you’re a coffee lover.

Delicious and pretty toppings for this chickpea chocolate ice cream include more chocolate (of course), maple syrup, vegan caramel sauce, edible vegan cookie dough or brownies, oatmeal cookies, shredded coconut, coconut whipped cream and chopped nuts.

For a colorful antioxidant-boost, serve this frozen dessert with some fresh berries!

Delicious Vegan Ice Cream Flavors to Try

We took a look at other creative food bloggers’ plant-based ice cream recipes and had to share the best ones for you to try next!

Pin this fantastic selection by clicking here or use the picture below.

Vegan Ice Cream Pin

More Healthy Vegan Summer Recipes

Chocolate ice cream is a wonderful treat during hot days — but what else can you serve as a snack or main meal? Check these easy and healthy vegan summer recipes!

We hope you’re full of good ideas for some amazing plant-based recipes to make this summer and all throughout the year! Let’s whip up the healthiest ice cream of your life.

Did you make our chocolate chickpea ice cream? Which add-ons did you use and did you enjoy this healthy frozen dessert? Share with us in the comments below, rate our recipe and Pin it for later. You can also tag us on Instagram — we’d love to see your creations!

close up of a black baking dish with frozen scooped vegan chocolate peanut butter ice cream

Healthy Vegan Chocolate Chickpea Ice Cream

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 10 minutes

Secretly healthy whole food plant-based chickpea ice cream made with creamy peanut butter and dates for natural sweetness. It’s an easy 10-minute, 6-ingredient vegan dessert that’s rich, chocolatey, good for you and kid-approved! The healthiest dairy-free & high-protein frozen treat you’ll ever make.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup dry dates (150 g), pitted & soaked*
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk (120 ml)
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk (120 ml)
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter (130 g)
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (165 g), drained & rinsed well
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional Toppings

  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  • Chopped dark chocolate

Instructions

  1. Drain the pitted dates and add them to a food processor. Pulse to obtain a smooth date paste.
  2. Add the chickpeas, almond milk, coconut milk, cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla and half of the peanut butter, then process again until smooth.
  3. Transfer the sweet chickpea mixture into a freezer-friendly pan and drizzle the remaining peanut butter on top.
  4. Freeze overnight and allow 15 minutes to defrost before scooping. 
  5. Serve cold and topped with salt flakes for an enhanced taste or add your favorite dark chocolate for some extra texture.

Notes

  • *for the best texture, try to soak your pitted dates for at least 30 minutes
  • Other delicious toppings include walnuts, pistachios, shredded coconut, berries, maple syrup and vegan caramel sauce.
  • The chocolate peanut butter ice cream offers the best texture around 12-15 hours of freezing when it’s easily scoopable and creamy — freezing it longer than that means it’s getting a little harder and you need to let it defrost at room temperature for a few more minutes before eating it.
  • This ice cream can also be made with banana instead of dates (same quantity) and using a high-speed blender.
  • Find many more tips & customization ideas in the article above.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 248Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 63mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 6gSugar: 19gProtein: 9g

Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated automatically, their accuracy is not guaranteed. Just focus on whole plant-based foods and eat until satiety!

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Alena enjoying a bowl of fresh plant-based food and coffe in a restaurant
Alena Schowalter is a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with her husband, she founded nutriciously in 2015 and has been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages towards a healthy plant-based diet. She’s received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy and social work. Alena enjoys discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature and creating new recipes.
dark grey spotted bowl with a variety of vegetables next to small bottle of green smoothie isolated on light background

Free Vegan Transition Course

become fully plant-based.

Our free transition eCourse teaches you how to meet your nutrient needs easily and create simple, tasty meals. You’ll also get a free 3-day meal plan, education on the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle and how to navigate social situations.

8 thoughts on “Healthy Vegan Chocolate Protein Ice Cream”

  1. Hi Alena, thank you for this recipe. I have two questions:
    1. Can soy milk be used instead of almond milk?
    2. Why does the icecream have a marbled look?
    Thank you,
    Mary

    Reply
    • Hi Mary,
      thanks for the comment! Yes, you can use any plant-based milk you want for this recipe :) the chocolate ice cream has a peanut butter swirl (optional!) which makes it look marbled. Hope this helps, let us know how you like it!
      Best,
      Alena

      Reply
    • good question! I haven’t tried that but can imagine that red lentils would work :) as long as you use plenty of cocoa, peanut butter and dates, the lentils’ taste will be disguised!

      Reply
    • Hi Carolyn,
      sorry we don’t have such a device so I cannot give you any information about this! Let us know if you try it, though :)
      Best wishes

      Reply
  2. This sounds delicious! Just wondering… The ingredients mention full-fat coconut milk but the Instructions don’t mention when it has to be added. Does it just have to be blended along with everything else or does it get added later? Thank you. 💗

    Reply
    • thanks for letting me know! It needs to be added with the almond milk and rest of the ingredients in step #2 — I’ll write it down for anyone else trying this recipe. Let me know how you like it!

      Reply

Leave a Comment