Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

Whether you’re vegan, lactose-intolerant, or looking for a refreshing summer dessert, homemade chocolate banana ice cream is a nutrient-packed frozen treat that will satisfy your sweet cravings.

So, instead of wasting ripe bananas headed for the garbage, freeze them for later.

Bananas are loaded with natural sugars. When frozen, they whip up into a consistency like ice cream (minus the saturated fat and added sugars in ice cream). And, this naturally sweet dessert is high in fiber and protein with no added sugars.

I’ve tweaked the recipe over the years to get the consistency and flavor right. In this step-by-step recipe, I will show you how to make chocolate banana ice cream with a few ingredients (no ice cream maker needed).

PB2, sliced frozen banana and unsweetened cocoa powder on a counter.

What You’ll Need

Food processor: A blender or high-powered smoothie maker like the Nutribullet won’t work for this recipe. You’ll need a food processor like the Cuisinart Pro Classic to get a thick ice cream-like consistency,

That model has a 7-cup capacity. But, if your food processor has a larger capacity, you may need to double the recipe or stop and scrape the sides a few times while processing.

Ripe bananas (frozen): Ripe bananas are higher in sugar than unripe bananas. Since the only sugar in this dessert comes from the banana, it tastes better with ripe bananas, but not too ripe. Very soft or unripe bananas won’t make a creamy “ice cream.”

Unsweetened cocoa powder: Unsweetened cocoa is 100% cacao and doesn’t have added sugar. Unsweetened cocoa powder is best for cooking and baking, so you have more control over the sweetness. You’ll find the ripe banana and toppings make this sweet enough.

PB2, peanut butter, or PeaNOT butter (or another creamy nut-free alternative): Peanut butter provides protein and fat. And it contributes to the creaminess of the whipped frozen banana.

If you use a nut-free replacement, try out a few until you get the flavor and mouthfeel of ice cream.

I like to use PB2 so there’s the same amount of protein but less fat.

Ingredients for chocolate banana ice cream in a food processor.

How to Make Banana Ice Cream

1. Freeze the bananas before processing them in the food processor. First, peel the bananas and slice them into ¼” pieces. Lay the banana slices flat on a cookie sheet or wax paper before freezing.

2. Add the frozen banana slices, PB2 or other nut butter, water (if using PB2) and unsweetened cocoa powder. Pulse about three times, then process on high until it comes together into a ball.

Mix until the banana is smooth and whips into a ball. If you continue processing after this point it will get softer and have the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

3. Serve immediately or store in a freezer-safe container.

4. Add toppings right before serving.

Tips and Troubleshooting

  • If it looks too dry and still has bits of banana and isn’t coming together, add a small amount of water.
  • Don’t overmix. Stop the food processor when the banana is mixed and forms a smooth ball.
  • If you add more cocoa powder for a more intense chocolate flavor, the mixture will be too powdery and won’t combine well. When that happens, just add a little water until you get the desired consistency.
  • Overly ripe bananas are too soft and unripe bananas are too hard. This recipe works best with bananas that are very ripe but not squishy.
  • Make sure bananas are totally frozen before processing or the “ice cream” will be too soft.
  • Always peel, slice, and separate the pieces before you freeze the bananas.
  • Mix the frozen bananas right from the freezer. If they defrost, the “ice cream” will be too soft.

How to Make Allergen-Free

To make an allergen-free version, substitute PB2 or peanut butter with SunButter (from sunflower seeds) or a no-nut butter alternative. The nut butter helps achieve the cream ice-cream-like texture so don’t skip this ingredient.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

Freeze extra banana ice cream in individual portion sizes and store it in freezer-safe containers in the freezer so you can enjoy it later.

The whipped banana freezes solid due to the high water and low fat content, so leave the container at room temperature for about 14 minutes before enjoying banana ice cream from the freezer.

Toppings

The toppings are the best part of this dessert. Add some crunch or more flavor by garnishing banana ice cream with these toppings:

  • Mix in chocolate chips or cacao nibs (do this after mixing in the food processor but before refreezing)
  • Roasted peanuts or walnuts for extra protein and some crunch
  • Coconut whipped cream for a plant-based whipped cream topping.
  • Sprinkle with coconut flakes
  • Top with sprinkles for color and texture

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

Prep Time10 minutes
Freeze banana2 hours
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Jennifer Messineo, MS, RD

Equipment

  • 1 Food Processor

Ingredients

  • 2 Bananas, ripe Peeled, sliced and frozen
  • 2 Tablespoons PB2
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Water

Instructions

  • Peel and slice ripe bananas and freeze on flat cookie sheet for at least 2 hours.
  • Add frozen bananas, PB2, water and unsweetened cocoa powder to a food processor.
  • Pulse about 3 times, then mix on high. Stop to scrape the sides as needed. Mix until the ingredients are combined and form a smooth ball.

Notes

  • If the mixture looks too dry and still has bits of banana and isn’t coming together, add a small amount of water.
  • Don’t overmix. Stop the food processor when the banana is mixed and forms a smooth ball.
  • If you add extra cocoa powder for a more intense chocolate flavor, the mixture will be too powdery and won’t combine. When that happens, add a little water until you get the desired consistency.
  • Overly ripe bananas are too soft, and unripe bananas aren’t soft enough. This recipe works best with bananas that are very ripe but not squishy.
  • Ensure bananas are frozen before processing, or the “ice cream” will be too soft.
  • Always peel, slice, and separate the pieces before you freeze the bananas.
  • Mix the frozen bananas right from the freezer. If they defrost, the “ice cream” will be too soft.

About Jennifer Messineo, MS, RD

I’m a food loving Registered Dietitian. I help families plan meals, reduce food waste and save money on food!

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