Easy Whipped Banana Ice Cream Recipe—No Dairy or Ice Cream Maker Required!

Overhead view of banana ice cream
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

I grew up eating banana whip, aka banana ice cream or “nice cream,” a fluffy vegan dessert made of just bananas that was somehow as creamy and satisfying as real ice cream. During my childhood summers in Ocean City, New Jersey, every Sunday morning my sister and I would stroll the boardwalk together, dodging the speeding surreys, and stop at our favorite café, the Bashful Banana for their self-described “famous” banana whip. To me, their banana whip was actually better than ice cream. It was refreshing on a hot day and had the perfect silky custard-like texture, brimming with fresh banana flavor. As a kid, I also loved that since it was just puréed bananas, it was an acceptable “ice cream” to eat any time of day.

As an adult, banana whip is still one of my go-to frozen treats, and it might be the easiest “ice cream” to make at home. Bananas are a perfect choice for a creamy base: Their high pectin content allows them to remain creamy when frozen and their natural sweetness means that you don’t need to add any sugar. 

Side view of banana ice cream
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For the simplest nice cream, you just need to toss frozen bananas into a food processor and give it a good whirl. But for truly stellar banana ice cream, I like to add a splash of oat milk, almond milk, whole milk, or heavy cream, which ups the luscious creaminess of the blend, along with a bit of vanilla and lemon juice. If you like soft-serve consistency, eat it right away. For more traditional scoops, freeze it in an airtight container, and dole out as you would any traditional ice cream. Whether enjoyed right out of the processor bowl or from the freezer, it’s absolutely delicious. Here are a few tips for the creamiest banana ice cream ever.

Tips for Creamy Banana Ice Cream

Give your blender a break and use your food processor instead. Over the years I’ve tested making banana whips in both a blender and a food processor, and I’ve always had the best success with a food processor. Unless you have a very high-powered blender, the mixture won’t always fully catch the blender’s small blade, and will require a lot of scraping down off the sides of the blender jar. The work bowl of the food processor is wider and flatter than a blender jar, exposing the frozen bananas to more air than a blender does. The result: lighter, silkier banana whip. The large cutting blade of the food processor also cuts through the frozen bananas more easily than the smaller blades of a blender, which means you need less liquid to properly blend the mixture. This guarantees a rich, creamy, ice cream texture.

Briefly thaw and slice the frozen bananas before processing. Blitzing whole frozen solid bananas into the food processor could possibly damage the blade. Take a few minutes to soften the frozen bananas on your countertop and slice before adding to the food processor bowl. This will speed up the processing time and will ensure a smooth texture throughout the entire mixture. Trust me, your food processor’s blade will thank you and you’ll have better nice cream too. 

Overhead view of sliced frozen bananas
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Process the bananas with your preferred milk or even water. Adding a small amount of liquid helps the processor’s blade catch the bananas to purée properly without needing to constantly scrape down the bowl every ten seconds. It also lends the mixture a bit more creaminess. Use your preferred dairy or dairy substitute. In a pinch, you could even just use water.

Add a touch of vanilla, lemon juice, and salt to intensify the banana flavor. While lemon juice and vanilla extract are not mandatory for the recipe’s success, I love how lemon juice’s acidity and vanilla extract’s depth of flavor enhance and brighten the banana flavor. Play with the recipe and try adding one, the other, or both to the mix. Meanwhile, as with most desserts, a pinch of salt further enhances the flavors. 

Get creative with add-ins. Consider adding a spoonful of peanut butter, chocolate-hazelnut spread such as Nutella, or honey; a handful of chocolate chips or almonds; or 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or cardamom when processing the banana mixture. I add a different flavor almost every time I make my soon-to-be-famous banana whip at home.

Peel bananas, place in a large zipper-lock bag, and press out excess air. Freeze bananas until solid, at least 8 hours.

Overhead view of frozen bananas
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Let bananas sit at room temperature to soften slightly, about 15 minutes. Slice into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. In a food processor, place banana slices, milk or cream, vanilla, lemon juice, if using, and salt and process until smooth, about 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Four image collage of making banana ice cream
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For a softer texture, serve immediately, or for a firmer ice cream, transfer mixture to an airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. Serve.

Overhead view of scoop of ice cream
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Special Equipment

Food processor


Be sure to use very ripe, heavily speckled (or even black) bananas in this recipe.

You can skip the freezing in step 3 and serve the ice cream immediately, but the texture will be softer.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Bananas can be peeled and frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months before you prepare the ice cream (they will remain safe indefinitely but quality can begin to suffer over time).

The finished banana ice cream can be transferred to an airtight container and frozen for up to 7 days.