Who doesn’t love ice cream?
What if I told you there is a way to eat ice cream all day, even for breakfast, and stray trim and healthy?
Sounds like a gimmick, I know, but it’s true.
If you’re tuned into the Instagram universe, you have likely seen “nicecream” — ice cream made out of bananas. That’s right, this magical fruit takes on a creamy and delicious soft serve-like consistency when frozen and processed in a powerful blender.
The concept is easy enough, but you have to know how to do it right to get the perfect consistency for your banana ice cream.
In this simple how-to guide, we teach you how to make nicecream and get it right every time.
Why “nice”? Because it’s healthy, delicious, and vegan too!
*Note: You will need a powerful blender or food processor for this nice cream recipe. Other more specialized appliances can also be used, as described below.
Step 1: Get yourself some ripe bananas.
This step seems easy enough, but in fact it can be tricky since most people do not know what a ripe banana actually looks like.
Grocery stores sell mostly unripe green or yellow bananas, and most people think bananas are ripe when they only have a few brown spots.
In fact, a fully ripe banana is covered in spots, like a cheetah’s coat, and are browned too (though not fully brown or black as that is overripe). The more spots, the more sugar concentration, which means sweet and delicious (rather than indigestible) banana ice cream.
Here’s a scale to help you out.
If you become a true nicecream connoisseur, I suggest buying bananas by the box, as you can get a discount that way. You will probably have to wait a long while for them to ripen properly (up to a month), but it will be well worth it.
Whole Foods gives a 10% discount on a box of 100 bananas (that seems like a lot unless you eat nicecream every day in the summer, plus the weird looks from employees are well worth it).
Grubmarket (which unfortunately only ships in some parts of the US), even offers “cosmetically challenged” bananas which should seriously be renamed “nicecream-ready bananas” for a more positive spin on their perfectly ripe state.
Step 2: Peel and freeze.
When your bananas are ready, get your compost bin ready and begin peeling (I suggest taking out the compost after, otherwise it will attract fruit flies).
I once explained how to make banana ice cream to a friend, and forgot to mention that she should peel the bananas before freezing (this is seemed obvious to me at the time), but she neglected this step and was left with frozen peeled bananas which was a pretty hilarious situation.
In any case, make sure to peel the bananas and then break them up into chunks (thirds or smaller) and put them into reusable cotton bags or else plastic bags or boxes and then the freezer.
Some people cut the bananas up with a knife and pre-freeze the chunks so they don’t stick together, but I find this step unnecessary as you will blend them later anyway.
Step 3: Wait at least 24 hours.
Now, wait for at least a day and night, since it takes a while for the bananas to truly freeze.
This depends, of course, on your freezer. Make sure the setting is not too high (as they will be too hard and lose their magical consistency when thawing) nor too low (they will be like mush).
Step 4: Power time!
As mentioned above, you will need a powerful blender (e.g. Vitamix) or food processor (e.g. Magimix) to make nicecream.
However, you can always use this specialized Yonanas machine, which was made for nicecream, or else a powerful juicer, which will both create slightly different consistencies.
The description below focuses how to make nicecream in a Vitamix, but you can adapt the technique depending on the appliance you have at home.
The proportions below are for one large serving (meal size) or two small servings.
- Put on our headphones. A Vitamix is very loud, and making nicecream daily is probably not the best way to keep your ears safe. Wear a pair of headphones if you have them. You’ll feel like a pilot on a mission!
- Place the frozen bananas into the blender. If the bananas are too frozen, let them thaw for a few minutes before blending. A Vitamix should be powerful enough to process even fully frozen fruit. Put in about a dozen chunks, or four bananas, enough for the tamper (the thing you use to blend with which comes with the blender) to reach the chunks comfortably.
- First round of blending. Using the tamper (make sure to only use with the Vitamix cover on to protect the machine and your fingers), turn up the power halfway, and then furiously beat down the bananas (and other ingredients if using) down into the blade.
- Second round of blending. Once most of the chunks have been processed, now comes time for the arm workout. Turn up the power all the way and stick the tamper into the four corners of the Vitamix as quickly as you can in successive motions to keep the blade processing the bananas. You do not want the blade to get stuck as it will overheat the motor and turn off the machine (temporarily for about 5 min, but it can ruin the nicecream consistency and your blender so the key is to keep pushing down).
- Finish blending. Once all the banana chunks have been processed, you should have a mixture that has the consistency of soft serve ice cream. I personally prefer my nicecream slightly chunky and thick, but others prefer it more runny, so if you wish you can add some plant-based milk (e.g. soy, oat, rice, almond, etc.) which also helps with blending if you have trouble.
- Serve in your favorite bowl. I love to serve mine in a wooden or repurposed coconut bowl.
That’s it, pretty simple one-ingredient nicecream recipe. But the fun part is making all the different flavor combinations so here are a few ideas to get you started.
Step 5: Nicecream flavors.
The best is when you make several flavors and then combine them together with different toppings.
But work fast, as the bananas begin to lose their consistency quite quickly and taste more and more like the bananas they are as they melt.
Remember, the fun is in experimenting, so go wild!
- Basic: vanilla (add vanilla extract or vanilla bean) or chocolate (add cocoa powder and top with cocoa nibs). I like making the vanilla first, then chocolate, and combining them together after in the bowl for a swirl effect. For fancier versions, try adding peanut/almond butter and dates and topping with pistachios, macadamia nuts, or raw dark chocolate (e.g. Rawmio).
- Berry: blackberry, raspberry, wild blueberry, strawberry, acai (can be found in the frozen section in packs) or a combo. I like adding hemp, chia, or flax seeds on top for a truly healthy summer breakfast, lunch, or dessert.
- Local: peach, nectarine, apricot, cherries, figs, and even apples and pears can work well when they are in season and with ginger and even turmeric. Top with dried figs, golden or goji berries.
- Tropical: mango, pineapple, dragonfruit (can be found in the frozen section in packs), or even jackfruit. Top with dried mangos, passion fruit, or coconut flakes.
- Nutty: Use one of the bases above and then add in almond/peanut/pumpkin/hazelnut/pistachio butter or tahini (sesame seed butter) and dates for more depth and a chewier consistency. Top with raw buckwheat groats.
- Wild: Think matcha, spirulina, mint, basil, persimmon, or even vegetables like spinach (which you can hardly taste but add a health punch) or pumpkin (in the fall topped with apple cinnamon granola).
Nina’s Favorite Nicecream Flavors
- Cherry-Chocolate: 4 bananas, 1 cup frozen sweet cherries, 2 tbsp cocoa powder. Topped with strawberries, cocoa nibs, and pistachios.
- Nutty-Chocolate: 3 bananas, 3 Medjool dates (or 6 smaller dates), 1 tbsp peanut/almond butter. Topped with almonds/peanuts, pistachios/macadamia nuts, cocoa nibs, and coconut flakes.
- Fancy-Strawberry: 3 bananas, 3 Medjool dates (or 6 smaller dates), 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1 tbsp tahini. Topped with fresh strawberries and walnuts.
- Blueberry-Fig: 4 bananas, 1 cup frozen blueberries. Topped with fresh figs and hemp seeds.
- Mango-Turmeric: 4 bananas, 1 cup frozen mango, 1 tbsp ground turmeric, piece of ginger to liking. Topped with fresh mango, dried mango, and raw buckwheat.
- Matcha-Mint: 3 bananas, 3 Medjool dates (or 6 smaller dates), 1 bunch spinach, 1 bunch mint, 1 tbsp matcha. Topped with cocoa nibs and golden berries.
- Apple Pie: 4 bananas, 1 cup apples, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg. Topped with oil-free granola and walnuts and maybe even a dollop of cashew cream.
- Carrot Cake: 4 bananas, 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1 all-spice. Topped with oil-free granola and pecans and maybe even a dollop of coconut cream.
- Pistachio-Basil: 3 bananas, 3 Medjool dates (or 6 smaller dates), 1 bunch spinach, 1 bunch basil. Topped with pistachios and fresh basil.
- The Elvis: 3 bananas, 3 Medjool dates (or 6 smaller dates), 1 tbsp peanut butter. Topped with peanuts and sugar-free jam (you can also just melt frozen berries on a stovetop and add chia seeds for a jam-like consistency).
There you go! Nicecream is the easiest and most indulgent healthy food there is. Zero fat, dairy- and gluten-free, and vegan. Enjoy!