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Vanilla Ice Milk

May 18, 2017 (Updated: August 3, 2021)
Lily Moran

Serves 4-5 cups

Total Time:

As we move into the summer months, it’s the season where we reach for cold desserts as big treats. While your best choice for a dessert is definitely whole, fresh, organic fruit, you should also feel free to indulge in healthier versions of your childhood favorites.

Ice milk is similar to ice cream, but it’s much lower in milk fat, so has fewer calories. It also tastes better than light ice cream. Commercial light ice cream has artificial thickeners that try to fool you into believing there’s more fat than there is in the product, but it just tastes odd. Don’t expect ice milk to taste like ice cream; it’s more like a very cold pudding.

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The recipe below is for a very simple vanilla flavor, but you can mix in whatever other flavorings—cinnamon, chocolate, mint—or solid mix-ins like fruit or nuts that you would enjoy. Add up to ½ cup of solid mix-ins. If adding flavoring, use a lot the first time you try it and then cut back. Flavors are less intense in cold food than in hot or room temperature food.


  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 cups full fat dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. In a medium pan, mix sugar and water over medium heat until sugar is fully dissolved. (If you prefer to use honey or maple syrup as a sweetener, omit water and use only ¾ cup of honey or maple syrup. Be aware that your ice milk will now taste like honey or maple syrup, rather than neutrally sweet.)
  2. Over low heat, combine sweetener, milk, and flavoring until fully blended. Move mixture to a shallow, freezer-proof container, and let cool on counter for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Store in freezer. Every two hours, stir to evenly distribute ice crystals throughout the dish, until fully frozen, approximately 6-8 hours. If you have an ice cream maker, you can use it to make ice milk, just follow the directions for your machine. Ice milk will keep in an air tight container in your freezer about two months.


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