Ice cream is absolute essential at any birthday party in my opinion, but it’s usually made with dairy and eggs, and often features soya. This dairy free Neapolitan ice cream is creamy, delicious and free from the 14 major allergens.
You might have already guessed the secret ingredient in this wonderfully tasty ice cream...that's right, it's banana!
When you freeze sliced bananas and then blitz them in your blender or powerful food processor, something magical happens. At first, the banana breaks up into frozen crumbs, then it turns to a stiff paste and then, as air is incorporated and the blending process continues, the mixture suddenly turns into a silky, creamy ice cream before your eyes. It's really quite wonderful.
Then, by dividing into three, you can begin to turn this gorgeous mixture into Neapolitan ice cream. How? Well, vanilla is folded into the first third, cocoa into the second, and frozen strawberries are blitzed in the last.
Once you have your three irresistible flavours, all that's left to do is pile the them side-by-side into a container to create that classic Neapolitan ice cream look, then freeze again until ready to scoop, serve, and enjoy.
This recipe makes approximately 1 litre of ice cream, packed with flavour and using ingredients you can pick up easily, even in smaller stores, so let's get started.
- 6 large bananas 750g peeled weight sliced into 2cm (3/4 inch) pieces
- 150 g (5.3 oz) strawberries hulled and halved
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cocoa powder (dutch processed)
- 3 bowls
- 1 litre freezer-safe tub with lid
Grab a nonstick tray - when picking a size, bear in mind that it needs to be able to sit flat in your freezer.
Add the banana slices to the tray with the strawberries to one side. Aim to place them in a single layer but it's ok if they overlap a bit, you just may have to break them up a bit once frozen. You may need to use more than one tray.
Freeze your fruit overnight.
Tip the frozen bananas into a blender. Keep the frozen strawberries to one side for now.
Blitz. The bananas will look chunky/sandy at first, but keep going until you have a pale, creamy mixture. If you don’t have a strong blender, you may need to do this in batches. If your bananas simply won't blend, they may be too cold let them defrost for 5 minutes, until they are soft enough to blend.
Divide the banana mixture between three freezer-safe bowls.
In the first bowl, add the vanilla. In the second, add the cocoa. In the third, add the strawberries.
Stir the cocoa and vanilla into their respective bowls. Pop the strawberries and banana bowl back into the blender and blitz until smooth. You now have your three flavours.
Depending on how fast you worked, you may find that your ice cream has become quite loose, which can make piling them into the container in three sections rather tricky. If necessary, cover all three bowls and place in the freezer for an hour to firm back up.
Once the three flavours are firm enough to hold their shape, transfer into a 1 litre tupperware in the traditional Neapolitan pattern.
Pop on the lid and freeze for another hour, or until firm enough to scoop.
Enjoy whenever you like!
It's rather wonderful served with a scattering of dairy-free chocolate chips. Do check the label if you include these, to ensure they are suitable for your allergy requirements.
Don't forget to come back and let me know how you get on!
Pointers, tricks and troubleshooting tips for the perfect dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream
Dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream easy to make?
One of the many joys of this super scrumptious ice cream recipe is how simple it is. Unlike with dairy ice cream, you don't need to make a custard base, or churn your mixture.
The only thing to factor in is a little forward planning, as you'll need to freeze the sliced bananas and strawberries overnight before you can begin whizzing them up to create ice cream.
It's fantastic to have this dairy-free ice cream in the freezer, jam-packed with natural flavours rather than the additives and common allergens often found in shop-bought ice cream.
Will I need any special equipment to make dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream?
You will need a nonstick tray that will fit in the freezer to freeze the fruit in, 3 bowls and spoons, and a blender that is powerful enough to blitz the frozen banana. Finally, you'll need a 1 litre (1 3/4 pint) container to keep your finished Neapolitan ice cream in.
You can find a full list of equipment in the recipe card below.
How can I tell if bananas have gone off?
This is actually a great recipe to use up over ripe bananas because they are softer and sweeter than their green, unripe friends.
Anyone with a fruit bowl will have observed that bananas have a tendency to be green, then briefly yellow before rapidly going black all at once.
However, even when the skins are mostly black, the bananas inside are usually still ok to use. Make sure the skins haven't split anywhere, and if they have, discard the banana as bacteria could have spread inside the fruit. Also, check for mould growth on the skins and again, discard if you spot any.
It's a good idea to keep bananas separately from other fruits and vegetables as the bananas give off a gas that can make fruit ripen and then go off more quickly.
If you have a bunch of bananas that are looking a bit overripe, peel, chop and freeze them ready to use in this recipe at a later date. You can also defrost frozen banana slices to use in baking, such as in banana bread.
You can keep the frozen banana pieces in the freezer for up to two months.
Is dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream suitable for vegetarians or vegans?
Yes! As this recipe contains just fruit, cocoa and vanilla, and contains no milk, or eggs, or other animal divided products it is totally suitable for vegetarians and vegans alike.
Make sure to check the labels on your cocoa powder and vanilla to be certain they are suitable for vegans. And don't forget to check the labels on anything you choose to serve with your Neapolitan ice cream, such as dairy free chocolate chips.
Is dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream gluten-free?
Yes, this recipe contains no wheat-based products so is naturally gluten-free.
When cooking for someone who needs to avoid gluten in their diet it's always a good idea to check the ingredients lists and packaging on everything you use as some products may be susceptible to cross-contamination in the production process.
Is dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream keto-friendly?
This dairy-free ice cream has about 23g of carbohydrate per serving so is probably not suitable for a keto diet.
Is dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream healthy?
Dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream has significantly less fat and less sugar than conventional dairy Neapolitan ice cream.
This should still be considered a dessert served in a sensibly sized portion but it is, generally speaking, a more nutritious option than regular ice cream as it is made with whole fruits with natural sugars.
Is dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream safe to eat while pregnant?
There is nothing in this recipe that should pose a risk if eaten by a pregnant woman, as long as the ingredients are in good condition and the ice cream is made safely and hygienically.
A Mummy Too does not offer medical advice and nothing on the website should be taken as such. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to a health professional.
Is dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream suitable for babies and toddlers?
As this dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream is made mainly with bananas and strawberries it's ok to give to babies over 6 months old.
The NHS recommends not giving sugar to babies and small children. This dairy-free ice cream only contains natural sugars, but it quite sweet so should only be given in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Make sure to give little one's variation in flavours as well as textures.
Always give food at an appropriate size and shape for your baby or child. Cut small, round foods, like grapes and cherry tomatoes, into small pieces.
Always keep babies supported upright while eating and supervise your baby when they’re eating in case they start to choke.
A Mummy Too does not give medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns please speak to a health professional.
The NHS has some fantastic resources on their website on what to feed babies and young children.
What goes well with dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream?
This ice cream makes a perfect dessert on its own as you have the combination of 3 different flavours. You could serve yours in little bowls with extra fruit or dairy-free chocolate chips on top. Or how about in a waffle cone to get the full ice cream experience at home?
Make sure anything you are serving this ice cream with is also suitable for any allergies, intolerances, or dietary requirements that the ice cream itself fulfils. For example, waffle cones usually contain gluten, and not all brands are suitable for vegans.
Can I make this recipe without strawberries?
Neapolitan ice cream has become most commonly known as layers of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, though originally the name referred to any layered ice cream and so it came in many different flavour combinations.
If you don't have strawberries, you could use a couple of tablespoons of jam (check the label) or you could use a different fruit instead, such as frozen raspberries or blueberries?
I haven’t got cocoa powder can I use dark chocolate?
Unfortunately, it's not a simple case of switching one for the other, as solid chocolate has different properties than cocoa powder, so won't evenly flavour the banana puree.
You could try melting a small amount of dark chocolate and allowing it too cool before blitzing into the banana puree - I haven't tested this, though, so you'd have to experiment.
Alternatively, you could make chocolate chip ice cream by breaking up about 40g (1.4 oz) of dark chocolate into small pieces and mixing it through. Of course, you then wouldn't get the true three-colour Neapolitan ice cream look, but it would certainly be tasty.
In all cases, don't forget to check the label on your dark chocolate to ensure it's suitable for any allergies you are catering for.
If you have dairy-free drinking chocolate powder you can use that instead of cocoa powder, but it's best to just use cocoa powder if you can. It's pretty easy to find in most supermarkets and lasts a while when kept in its airtight container in the cupboard.
Can I use already frozen fruit?
Yes! This recipe is a great way to use pre-frozen fruit. You can typically pick up lots of different fruits and berries frozen from the supermarket. Don't forget to check the labels for allergen advice.
Alternatively, you could use ones you picked yourself as long as their of a good food standard and have been washed and frozen hygienically.
Do try to keep banana as the main ingredient, though, as the natural fibres and fats in the banana are what help achieve that creamy texture.
Can I add extra fruit to this recipe?
This dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream is jam-packed with fruit already, with a base of bananas for all three flavours.
If you want to add more fruit you could make a blackberry flavour instead of the chocolate flavour.
You can also add fresh or frozen fruit when you are serving the ice cream, which would make a really nice little topper.
How should I store dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream?
This Neapolitan ice cream needs to be kept in the freezer. It's best enjoyed a couple of hours after making, once set, but still easy to scoop.
Unlike dairy-based ice cream which has other ingredients that help keep the ice cream scoopable, once this ice cream has been in the freezer for more than 12 hours it will probably become a solid block and be hard to scoop straight out of the freezer.
If this is the case you can leave it on the side for 5-10 minutes to soften slightly before serving.
How long does dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream keep?
Dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months when using fresh fruits. If you are using pre-frozen fruit, check the Use By dates on the packaging.
Can I make dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream ahead?
Yes, this dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream recipe requires you to freeze the fruit overnight, and then allow about an hour in the freezer after making to set, so it's best to make a little in advance.
You can freeze the fruit days in advance if you wish, before turning into ice cream. Transfer the frozen chopped banana and strawberries to a sealed container and they will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months ready and waiting for when you want to make this recipe.
Once the finished ice cream has been in the freezer for more than 12 hours, it will have frozen solid so you might need to give it 10 minutes or so on the counter before it's scoop-able.
Can I make dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream in a different quantity?
Yes, if you want to make more or less of this dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream then go right ahead.
You'll see on the recipe card below that the number of servings is set to 8, this takes about 6 large bananas to make.
If you want to make more or less just click on the servings number and a slider will pop up that you can move up and down to get the amounts you want to make.
The ingredients will update automatically so you're ready to go. If you're making more, check you have room in the freezer before you start!
Can I make dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream in individual portions?
If you like, you could divide your three ice creams into smaller containers to create individual Neapolitan ice creams which could be really cute for a party, and saves time with serving as you can just get them straight out!
Make sure to use freezer-safe containers, as some glassware is not suitable for freezing - the low temperatures and slight expansion of the ice cream can cause them to crack.
Can I make dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream in ice lolly moulds?
Yes, another way to make this dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream into individual portions would be to turn it into lollies!
Make each of the three flavours as normal, and then instead of layering into a container, share evenly between your lolly moulds. If you have any left over, you could make a small container of Neapolitan ice cream separately.
Gently tap the moulds between each layer to get any air bubbles out and create a level top for the next flavour to be added.
As the mixture will be still quite frozen and thick, you shouldn't need to freeze in between each layer, but you can if you want to create really crisp lines separating the flavours.
Unlike the ice cream form, these lollies will need longer than an hour to fully set. Give them at least 6 hours, or overnight before serving.
When you come to get the lollies out they may be stuck to the mould. Run them under hot water for a few seconds to release them. There are more tips on lolly making in this post.
Can I make this recipe in a stand mixer such as a KitchenAid or Kenwood Mixer?
No, a stand mixer doesn't have the right attachments to be able to blitz the frozen banana to a puree, so you won't be able to use one for this recipe.
Can I make dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream with a food processor?
I prefer to use a power blender as they are more suited to whizzing frozen fruits but if your food processor has a strong enough motor and can be turned on continuously (not just on pulse mode) long enough to puree very hard frozen fruit then go right ahead.
Can I use an ice cream machine to make dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream?
If you have an ice cream machine you can use it to make this dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream.
Rather than freezing the bananas, you can blitz the room temperature slices in a blender before adding them to the churning bowl of your ice cream machine.
Follow the instructions for your machine and set it going to churn and cool the banana puree.
Once your banana puree has churned and frozen, you can divide the banana ice cream into three bowls, adding the vanilla extract, and cocoa powder as per the recipe. Puree the strawberries before adding them to the ice-cream churner with the final third of the banana mix, and churn again for 5 minutes.
Layer up the three flavours into your container and set in the freezer for about an hour.
To be honest, I think this is more work than just doing it in the blender, and I'm not certain the texture would be as good, so I'd stick with the original recipe.
How can I make sure this dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream is perfectly set?
As the fruit is already frozen before making this ice cream, it doesn't take long to firm up in the freezer ready for serving.
Once you've layered up the different flavours into your ice cream container you can leave it in the freezer for about an hour to firm up. This will ensure your ice cream is set, but still easy to scoop.
The most important thing is that you have everything ready to go before you start. That way, your ice creams won't be sitting out and melting while you're flavouring them, meaning they'll be easy to assemble into the container and won't take long to freeze.
I don't have a nonstick tray that will fit in my freezer, can I use a different container?
If you don't have a nonstick tray the right size to fit in your freezer, you can use regular freezer-safe containers or bags to freeze your banana and strawberries.
It's best to use a few smaller containers rather than one big one, you only want the banana pieces to be one or two deep otherwise they will stick together in a big block and be hard to get into the blender, and hard for the blender blades to deal with.
If you find the banana too hard to get out of the container when you come to make your ice cream, you can leave them on the side for a few short minutes to thaw out a little.
Why did my ice cream go so hard?
Once this ice cream has been in the freezer for more than 12 hours it will freeze solid.
Dairy ice cream is made by churning and aerating the mixture, which you'll have done with the blender, but to a lesser extent.
This dairy-free ice cream also contains less sugar and fats, both of which would usually help to stop regular ice cream from freezing solid.
If you find your ice cream is too hard to scoop, you can leave it on the side for 5-10 minutes to thaw out a little. It will return to a creamy soft consistency with time.
How can I add/change the flavours in dairy-free Neapolitan ice cream?
Once you have your banana base ice cream prepared, you can add all sorts of different flavours. To create the classic Neapolitan stripes, you need to keep in mind the colours as well as flavours you're making.
You can use different fruits instead of strawberries - any berries work well. Another great cheat for using different fruits would be to use pre-frozen fruits from the supermarket, like mango, pineapple, or peaches. Just be sure to check the labels for allergens.
Nuts are a common allergen, but if you don't need to avoid them, then cashews or pistachios can work well in this recipe if you soak them overnight before blending - they really add to the creaminess of the ice cream.
Place about 100g (3.5 oz) of nuts in a container and cover with water. Soak overnight, then discard the water before blitzing in the blender. You can of course just stir chopped nuts into your ice cream too.
You can also add chunks and chips like dark chocolate chips, seeds, or rum-soaked raisins if you like - again, factor in all applicable allergens.
What is the origin of Neapolitan ice cream?
Neapolitan ice cream, as the name might suggest, has its roots in Italian gelato.
It became popular in the late 1800s across Europe and North America, originally describing many different flavour combinations presented in the well-known stripe.
Most Neapolitan ice cream is now a combination of vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate, probably because these are some of the most popular flavours overall.
Print this Dairy free Neapolitan ice cream recipe
Dairy Free Neapolitan Ice Cream
- 6 large bananas 750g peeled weight sliced into 2cm (3/4 inch) pieces
- 150 g (5.3 oz) strawberries hulled and halved
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cocoa powder (dutch processed)
- Grab a nonstick tray - when picking a size, bear in mind that it needs to be able to sit flat in your freezer.
- Add the banana slices to the tray with the strawberries to one side. Aim to place them in a single layer but it's ok if they overlap a bit, you just may have to break them up a bit once frozen. You may need to use more than one tray.
- Freeze your fruit overnight.
- Tip the frozen bananas into a blender. Keep the frozen strawberries to one side for now.
- Blitz. The bananas will look chunky/sandy at first, but keep going until you have a pale, creamy mixture. If you don’t have a strong blender, you may need to do this in batches. If your bananas simply won't blend, they may be too cold let them defrost for 5 minutes, until they are soft enough to blend.
- Divide the banana mixture between three freezer-safe bowls.
- In the first bowl, add the vanilla. In the second, add the cocoa. In the third, add the strawberries.
- Stir the cocoa and vanilla into their respective bowls. Pop the strawberries and banana bowl back into the blender and blitz until smooth. You now have your three flavours.
- Depending on how fast you worked, you may find that your ice cream has become quite loose. If necessary, cover all three bowls and place in the freezer for an hour to firm back up.
- Once the three flavours are firm enough to hold their shape, transfer into a 1 litre tupperware in the traditional Neapolitan pattern.
- Pop on the lid and freeze for another hour, or until firm enough to scoop, then enjoy whenever you like!
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