This is the vegan version of my all-time favorite hojicha gelato ice cream. This ice cream is creamy, infused with delicate coconut flavor, plus it has the roasted green tea wonders of hojicha tea running through it – it's just delicious!
You're only 6 ingredients away from incredible vegan ice cream.
Why this Recipe Works
Inspired by the hojicha soft serve that I tasted on my travel to Japan, I knew that the amazing roasted green tea coffee-like flavor was just the best flavor for ice cream and I wanted to re-create my own at-home vegan version.
Making vegan ice cream that tastes great and has a great texture without dairy and eggs is a little bit tricky, and this recipe yields a creamy texture that is very scoopable thanks to the addition of vodka. The vodka helps control the hardness when frozen.
This recipe uses canned coconut milk and cream because they have the most consistent fat and water content of different non-dairy milk options. This creates a more consistent recipe texture that you will love.
If you'd like to hear more about our adventures, you can read more about our Japan trip here.
Ingredients & Substitutions
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Loose leaf hojicha tea - Loose leaf hojicha tea works best in this recipe and provide the best flavor. You can substitute with tea bags if it's all you can find.
Sugar - I have used turbinado, granulated, and can sugar in this recipe and they all work great.
Coconut milk - Use the kind that comes in cans.
Coconut cream - Make sure the can of coconut cream is full fat. Sometimes coconut cream is labeled 30% fat and that is not good enough for this recipe.
Vanilla extract - I encourage you to get the highest quality vanilla extract you can because it really makes a difference to the flavor of the ice cream. Some less expensive vanilla extracts are made with artificial flavoring instead of flavoring from real vanilla.
Vodka - Vodka does not freeze, and this ingredient is the key to keeping the texture of the ice cream soft enough to scoop.
How to Make this Recipe
We use an ice cream maker for this recipe so put the bowl section in the freezer ahead of time, preferably the night before.
Add the coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla extract together in a pan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture just barely simmers.
Note: It is important to stir constantly until the sugar completely dissolves so it doesn't burn.
Remove the mixture from the heat. Next, add the hojicha leaves to the pan. Steep the tea leaves with the mixture for 30 minutes with the lid on.
Strain out the tea leaves using a strainer, nut milk bag, or cheesecloth. Don't worry if some small bits remain – just make sure all the larger bits are removed.
Now add in the coconut cream and vodka. Mix gently but thoroughly then transfer to the refrigerator to chill overnight.
The next day, add your chilled ice cream to your ice cream maker. Churn on the stir setting until your ice cream is the thickness of soft serve ice cream, which should take about 20-25 minutes.
Transfer the ice cream to a container that you can safely freeze, and cover the top with a lid or parchment paper.
Freeze the ice cream for at least 4 hours, and then you're ready to scoop serve! After freezing overnight, let it thaw 10-15 minutes before scooping.
Hojicha is made by roasting green tea leaves and stems. This gives it a brown color and a stronger earthy, nutty roasted aroma and flavor.
Matcha is a green tea powder made by grinding young, oxidized green tea leaves into a very fine, light powder. Hojicha is roasted over charcoal. They are different in color, aroma, and taste. Hojicha is often compared to a more coffee-like flavor, even though it has a lower caffeine content than matcha.
The fat content in whole milk or cream creates the characteristic creamy texture of normal ice cream. When you replace milk or cream with non-dairy liquids in nondairy ice cream, the tends to have a higher water-to-fat ratio which means that the ice cream freezes into a much harder block.
You'll notice that when you buy store-bought non-dairy ice cream, the instructions often say to leave the ice cream out for at least 10 minutes to thaw before trying to scoop it.
There are many different non-dairy kinds of milk that you can use in non-dairy ice cream: cashew milk, coconut milk, soy milk, oat milk, etc. Each one will yield a different texture due to the different fat and water levels.
Non-dairy ice cream is generally not as shelf-stable as commercial dairy ice cream. For this homemade dairy-free ice cream, I recommend eating it within about a week, but the sooner the better because over time it continues to firm up.
Ice cream is just the beginning when it comes to dairy-free treats! Explore more dairy-free recipes to satisfy your sweet cravings.
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Vegan Hojicha Coconut Ice Cream
- Put the bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer.
- Add the coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla extract together in a pan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly*, until the mixture just barely simmers.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and immediately add the hojicha leaves to the pan. Steep the tea leaves with the mixture for 30 minutes with the lid on.
- Strain out the tea leaves using a strainer, nut milk bag, or cheesecloth. Don't worry if some small bits remain – just make sure all the larger bits are removed.
- Now add in the coconut cream and vodka. Mix gently but thoroughly then transfer to the refrigerator to chill overnight.
- The next day, add your chilled ice cream to your ice cream maker. Churn (stir setting) until it is the thickness of soft serve ice cream, 20-25 minutes.
- Transfer the ice cream to a container that you can safely freeze, and cover the top with a lid or parchment paper.
- Freeze the ice cream for at least 4 hours, and then you're ready to scoop serve! After freezing overnight, let it thaw 10-15 minutes before scooping.
This post was originally published in October of 2018 but was republished with new photos, step-by-step instructions, FAQs, a video, and tips in September of 2022.