Black Ice Cream: An Activated Charcoal Treat for Detoxification

Black ice cream recipe - Dr. Axe

Prep Time

15 minutes

Total Time

1 hour and 15 minutes



Meal Type



  • 2 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups condensed coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3–4 tablespoons activated charcoal powder
  • 3 tablespoons raw cacao powder


  1. Freeze the freezer bowl for at least 9 hours, or overnight.
  2. In a medium-size saucepan, on medium-low, mix milk, condensed milk, starch, honey, vanilla extract, cacao powder and charcoal. Don’t let this mixture come to a boil.
  3. Pour mixture into a bowl, cover and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour before making ice cream.
  4. Assemble ice cream maker and turn on the rotating freezer bowl.
  5. Pour ice cream mixture into the freezer bowl and allow to churn for 15–20 minutes or until desired consistency.
  6. If you like your ice cream thick, pour the mixture into a container, cover with parchment paper and store in the freezer for about 1 hour.
  7. Serve with your favorite ice cream toppings.

Move over vanilla ice cream, there’s a much more interesting and healthy option just waiting to be eaten: black ice cream!

You may have noticed a new food trend recently: black everything. From dark lemonades to coal-like pizza crusts, darkened foods are popping up everywhere. What’s giving these foods their dark hue is activated charcoal, and, I have to admit, it’s a fad I’m into.

And it’s not because of the color — activated charcoal is a terrific, natural way to rid your body of toxins. One of my new favorite ways to ingest activated charcoal is through ice cream. That’s right, black ice cream is a thing; it tastes good, and it’s good for you!

What Is Black Ice Cream?

Black ice cream is just a simple ice cream recipe that incorporates activated charcoal. My black ice cream recipe is also made from ingredients that you likely have on hand: canned coconut milk, condensed coconut milk, arrowroot starch, vanilla extract, cacao powder and, of course, charcoal.

As you can tell from the ingredients list, not only is this activated charcoal ice cream super healthy, it’s also dairy-free! You can even swap the honey for an alternative sweetener like maple syrup to make this black charcoal recipe vegan, too.

Unfortunately, you’re not likely to see black ice cream alongside vanilla ice cream in your local ice cream shop, but thankfully it’s not hard to make what I think is one of the finest ice cream flavors in existence today. How did this seemingly goth ice cream get its start? You’re about to find out!

Origins of Black Ice Cream

Black ice cream doesn’t have a lengthy history, but it has a story nonetheless. The ice cream parlor that typically gets credit for starting the black ice cream trend is Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, located in New York City. It was somewhat of an accident too. The main goal actually was not to create a healthy and black colored ice cream, but rather to create a flavor that was coconut to the max! In 2016, this modern day ice cream parlor debuted a new and very intriguing option: coconut ash.

Why is it called coconut ash? This jet black ash ice cream gets its name from its key ingredient, which, according to founder Nick Morgenstern, is “simply the charred and processed remains of a coconut shell.” This coconut ash is a form of activated charcoal, and its why the final product ends up being such a rich, dark shade. How dark? Seriously, this ash ice cream is truly as black as you can imagine, yet it contains some very lightly colored and tasty ingredients, including coconut flakes, coconut cream and coconut milk, similar to the delicious recipe below. (1)

Black Ice Cream Health Benefits

Now, when you think of ice cream, “healthy” probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind. But the ingredients in this activated charcoal ice cream make it a guilt-free treat.

Let’s start with the main ingredient: activated charcoal. It’s a powerful detoxifier that’s often used in hospitals to treat patients who have overdosed or poisoned themselves. (2)

The charcoal binds to toxins and chemicals and draws them out of the body. The best types are made from coconut shells or identified wood species with fine grains and don’t have added artificial sweeteners.

Black ice cream ingredients - Dr. Axe

Activated charcoal is handy to have in the medicine cabinet as it helps alleviate gas and bloating and can even help the morning after too many cocktails. (3) You can use it to whiten your teeth; in fact, you’ll find it in many natural toothpastes. It also promotes a happy digestive tract.

One of the most versatile kitchen staples, coconut milk, is featured in this black ice cream recipe. Coconut milk gives this dessert a creamy texture and a little natural sweetness. It’s also known to lower bad cholesterol levels and help you lose fat. (4, 5)

Cacao powder is a type of dark chocolate, so it’s packed with antioxidants. In fact, dark chocolate is often considered a superfood and helps lower blood pressure and increases blood flow to the heart. (6)

And instead of refined sweeteners, this black ice cream recipe uses honey, a natural sweetener option. Honey is full of enzymes, antioxidants and minerals that you just don’t get with table sugar. It’s also a lot easier on your blood sugar levels.

Black Ice Cream Nutrition Facts

Activated charcoal has no calorie count, but how does the rest of this black ice cream stack up? One serving contains about: (7)

Black ice cream recipe - Dr. Axe
  • 271 calories
  • 33 grams carbohydrates
  • 13 grams fat
  • 12 grams protein
  • 180 grams sodium
  • 7 grams sugar

How to Make Black Ice Cream

Intrigued about making this activated charcoal ice cream? It’s pretty easy to do, so let’s get churning.

You’ll want to pre-plan this charcoal recipe and stick your ice cream maker’s freezer bowl in the freezer for about nine hours; I find it’s easier to just place it overnight.

Black ice cream step 1 - Dr. Axe

The next day, put a medium saucepan on the stove and add the coconut milk, condensed coconut milk, arrowroot starch, honey, vanilla extract, cacao powder and activated charcoal. Keep watch over it so it doesn’t come to a boil.

Black ice cream step 2 - Dr. Axe

Next, pour the black ice cream mixture into a bowl. Cover it and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour before making the ice cream.

Black ice cream step 3 - Dr. Axe

Assemble the ice cream maker and turn on the rotating freezer bowl. Next, pour the black ice cream mixture into the bowl and churn for 15–20 minutes or until the ice cream reaches your desired consistency.

Black ice cream step 4 - Dr. Axe

If you’re a fan of thick ice cream, pour the mixture into a container. Cover it with parchment paper and store in the freezer for about an hour.

Black ice cream step 5 - Dr. Axe

Then scoop the ice cream into a bowl. Serve the black charcoal ice cream with your favorite toppings.

Black ice cream recipe - Dr. Axe

I chose pistachios and Himalayan pink salt. Enjoy!

Black ice cream recipe - Dr. Axe
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  1. Ruth on

    Hi! I have read many articles that activated charcoal should be taken on an empty stomach away from herbs and supplements because it not only binds to toxins but will also attract nutrients from food and supplements. This ice cream looks delicious but I feel like it’s a waste of good high quality ingredients since we won’t get any of the nutrients. What would your thoughts be? Thanks for your faithfulness in putting up new healthy recipes that we can all benefit from!

    • Mukti on

      Your smart and I agree. It’s faddish and not a functional use of the charcoal, which ideally to benefit from the detoxifying qualities is best used “on empty”.

      Google plasma pudding;);)

  2. Carol Hahn on

    Where do I get condensed coconut milk, Trader Joes used to carry coconut cream, but stopped selling it. What they have now only gets hard when chilled.

  3. Mary on

    Fabulous! Love the whole idea, ingredients, everything.
    One problem, I’ve no ice cream maker. Before I invest, Can this be adapted to simple putting mix in freezer with good results?

  4. Niki on

    What’s the difference between Activated Charcoal which is good for you versus the carbon on burnt toast and meats which is considered carcinogenic? Curious as I’ve been taking AC for Lyme Disease and Mold Toxicity for 2 years now and have been wondering

    • Carol Ottinger on

      Hi, Niki. My daughter has mold toxicity and Lyme Disease for about a year as well. AC seems to help but her psychiatric clinician says it can mess up your hormones since she is taking birth control for heavy periods. Very good question. I would love for Dr Axe to address flushing away and the balance necessary.

  5. Victoria on

    Just wondering if the activated charcoal will absorb all the good vitamins and nutrients of all the other nutritious ingredients in this recipe.

  6. Amanda on

    What is condensed coconut milk? I have never seen it and is it possible to make? If so how???
    Also what is the best vegan option for bone broth?

  7. Helen on

    Dr Axe,
    What can I substitute for coconut? I rather overdid it with coconut and now my body gives me phlegm fits in my bronchial passages anytime I ingest anything coconut. I also get bladder spasms with it.
    Any ideas? Help please!


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