February 10, 2015

Red Lentil Walnut Ice Cream

OK, I know you might think red lentil ice cream sounds a little crazy, but stay with me here. Here's the thing, red lentils, when cooked, naturally turn into a rich purée that is very tasty all by itself. And it just so happens that when you combine that purée with coconut milk, maple syrup, and a little salt, the lentils take on a taste that is strangely addictive and almost caramel-like. Add walnuts and you've got yourself a dairy-free ice cream that is unique, delicious, and even quite healthy. Did you know lentils are high in fibre, protein, potassium, folate, iron, and manganese? Our very own Canadian-grown superfood!

This ice cream bypasses the usual milk, cream, and egg custard that most ice cream recipes require. It needs no cooking, aside from the lentils, so it's very easy to make. It's also fully vegan, free of milk, eggs, and artificial sweeteners.

It does come with one caveat though: it should be eaten on the soft side, ideally right after it comes out of the ice cream maker, when it's smooth and creamy. If it freezes fully, it becomes hard and brittle and falls apart easily. The bourbon is optional but make sure to add the salt, it brings all the flavours together.

Serves 4 to 6

1 3/4 cup cooked red lentils (about 1 cup dry red lentils)
1 x 400ml (14 oz.) can of full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (add 2 Tbsp more if you like a sweeter ice cream)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp bourbon (optional)

Place 1 cup dry red lentils in a fine mesh sieve and rinse well under cold water. Drain them and place in a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer on medium-low heat. Cook covered, for about 25 minutes or until the whole thing turns to a thick purée. Stir often to make sure it's not burning on the bottom as it cooks and thickens. If the lentils are cooked but still too soupy, leave the lid off so more water evaporates. Once they are fully cooked and very soft and mushy, remove from heat and allow them to cool a little, with the lid off for about 10 minutes. The red lentils should now be almost as thick as mashed potatoes. Measure out 1 3/4 cup of lentil purée for this recipe (you may have a little more than that in the saucepan).

In a food processor, blend the coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and the warm lentils until you have a smooth thick mixture. (Be sure the lentils are still warm - if they are cold, the coconut fat might not melt and emulsify well which will not give you a smooth mixture - if this happens, simply heat all the ingredients for a couple minutes in a saucepan on low heat to help the coconut milk to fully emulsify, then return the mixture to the food processor).

Cool the mixture for an hour in the fridge, then use it in your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Halfway through, add the toasted chopped walnuts and bourbon. Enjoy before it's fully frozen or hardened, when it's still soft and smooth.


  1. Great photos!!!
    I like your blog.
    Greetings from Argentina!

  2. Awesome, innovative recipe! I love red lentils, so I'll definitely have to give this a shot. :-)

    1. THanks Lauren! I thought there might be several fellow red lentil lovers out there :-)

  3. Hi Aub! This looks so interesting. Maple Walnut is my favorite flavour of ice cream and ice cream in general one of my go to comfort foods, no matter the weather. The idea of red lentils instead of cream is brilliant. If I had an ice cream maker I would be making this right now... 11:33 pm and minus 13 outside. :) Thanks for this post, definite motivation for looking into buying a new appliance.

    1. Thanks Kaa Tee, I was going to try this recipe without an ice cream maker to see if I have any success… I'll keep you posted!

  4. Wonderful recipe! I've pinned it and I'm going to tweet about it! Fabulous!

  5. Wonderful recipe! I've pinned it and I'm going to tweet about it! Fabulous!

  6. I just made this!!! wonderful flavor!!!! My kids love it! just a little griddy. Did I not cook the lentils long enough? thank you so much I love it

    1. Hi Carrie, love to hear you made it and that it got the ok from the kids! The lentils do need to be very soft and mushy, so they're almost fully dissolved into the water and make a soft puree. That said, there is a bit of a starchiness in them that doesn't disappear no matter how much you cook them. The ice cream does need to be served when it's soft, otherwise, it freezes and turn a bit brittle. Thanks for the feedback! (I've added extra instructions to make sure people cook the lentils very fully :-)

  7. I
    This recipe sounds very interesting. I don't have an Ice cream machine, but I will try to make it using my Vita Mix blender.I am very new to your blog, and enjoyed the 3 posts that I just read.
    I posted my 1st food blog 2 weeks ago, so I'm in to that.I'm looking forward to reading more of your blogs.
    Idit from California.