Black Ice Cream Recipe: Benefits, Ingredients, How to Make It - Dr. Axe

Black Ice Cream: An Activated Charcoal Treat for Detoxification

Black ice cream - Dr. Axe

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 gives these foods their dark hue is activated charcoal, and I have to admit, it’s a fad I’m into.

It’s not because of the color, however. 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
  • charcoal

As you can tell from the ingredients list, not only is this activated charcoal ice cream super healthy, but 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.

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 it’s 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.

Health Benefits

Now, when you think of ice cream, “healthy” probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind. However, 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.

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. It helps alleviate gas and bloating and can even help the morning after too many cocktails.

You can use it to whiten your teeth as well. 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.

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

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 recipe - Dr. Axe

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 love pistachios and Himalayan pink salt. Enjoy!

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Black ice cream - Dr. Axe

Black Ice Cream: An Activated Charcoal Treat for Detoxification

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  • Author: Dr. Josh Axe
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


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


  • 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
  • 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.


  • Swap the honey for another natural sweetener, such as maple syrup, to make this recipe vegan.
  • Add healthy toppings of your choice, such as nuts and sea salt.
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 60 min
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Mixer
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 177g
  • Calories: 420
  • Sugar: 11.3g
  • Sodium: 25mg
  • Fat: 40.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 35.1g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 5.1g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 20.1g
  • Fiber: 6.6g
  • Protein: 5.8g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

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  1. Deborah on

    I love this ice cream! It’s sweet & smooth. I make it semifreddo style(without an ice cream maker) & use 1 cup coconut milk, 2 cups heavy whip cream. It’s smooth & without crystalization.
    Thanks Dr. Axe for this delicious recipe!!

  2. Leigh Teixeira on

    Wouldn’t the charcoal grab the metals from the pan your heating in AND the bowl used to make the ice cream?

  3. Sam on

    I cant find unsweetened condensed coconut milk (condensed coconut milk), only evaporated coconut milk. I will sweeten it up myself. But I dont trust the sweeteners in cans of Sweetened Condensed, its almost always cane sugar which I’m not a fan of wanting to buy, haha. The rest I can do and want to and will do, but I want to know exactly what TO do)

  4. Dr. Josh Axe on

    Unfortunately, activated charcoal simply cannot be used with some medications because they are absorbed by the charcoal. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before supplementing with activated charcoal.

    I have not attempted this recipe without an ice cream maker, but it should work just fine. The consistency may vary slightly!

  5. Janet Seeley on

    The problem I have with charcoal is that it also removes (along with bad stuff) some needed RX’s that we are taking. Is there a way to get around that? And can this be made without an ice cream maker? – with a blender?

    • Janet Seeley on

      After reading other comments, I see there’s a lot of confusion but good to hear the comments, then make up our own mind.

  6. Andrea on

    As much as I love Dr. Axe, this is an irresponsible post. Activated charcoal is not just a normal every day detoxifier!! It is specifically for poisoning and only very occasionally for excessive gas and normal toxins. Charcoal not only absorbs poisons (the process that charcoal actually uses is ADsorbtion not ABsorbtion), it also absorbs the good nutrients as well.

    So I suppose you could have some charcoal ice cream in your freezer just in case you get arsenic poisoning, heavy food poisoning, or accidentally overdose on medication, but other than that I guess it wouldn’t hurt if you did it once a year for fun.

    There are many other ways to detox from regular toxins in the system and even he can by metals. Save the charcoal for what it is really meant to be used!!

    Feel free to look this up in any good natural health book…

    • Jake on

      I don’t think there is any evidence that a reasonable consumption (amount) of clean, activated charcoal will negatively affect your microbiome.

  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!

    • Sabrina .L. on

      😨wowwwww. Do you think maybe you’ve developed an allergy towards coconuts?phlegm &bladder spasms seem like a reaction to me..but I am not physician.

  8. 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?

    • Jake on

      Put the best coconut milk you can find into your crock pot. Bring it barely to a simmer, WITHOUT the cover, and stir occasionally. When your total volume has reduced by 50 to 60%, cool to room temperature, then move to the refrigerator.

      • Sam on

        that is evaporated coconut milk. Condensed is always sweetened it seems (thanks google). BUT you can buy evaporated coconut milk from Amazon I just found. I will sweeten it with I don’t know. honey? Stevia? Monkfruit? lol, time to try things. No cane sugar. Even though ALL sugars increase inflammation, cane sugar is highly processed. Like white flour.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

      • Brax on

        I think you may have misunderstood your doctor. Charcoal shouldn’t impact hormones. What it will do is render her birth control inert which is what regulates her hormones. However if she is carefull to wait enough time for her meds to be fully absorbed then she should be ok. Charcoal will suck all the meds and toxins from your gastro tract only. It wont work on meds or toxins that have already been digested or absorbed into the bloodstream.

  11. 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?

    • Vicki on

      I don’t have any ice cream maker either, and I make healthy ice cream at times. Just put in a metal or glass container, stir it once in a while until you get the consistency you want from the freezer. If you keep it in there too long, it will turn very hard.

    • Jake on

      The higher the fat content, the better the results, when NOT using an ice cream freezer. Maximize your results by going quickly into the freezer and stirring your batter about every 15 minutes, until it can be stirred no longer. If you do this, you’ll know exactly what results you’re capable of, with this method, after your first batch.

  12. 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.

  13. 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;);)

    • Sally on

      Im interested in any articles with documented research that AC adsorbs nutrients or vitamins or minerals. There’s a lot of conflicting info out there, and much of the research that I’ve seen doesn’t siecify what type of AC is used. Plant based AC (like coconut) has a much smaller and more uniform pore size than those made from wood or coal (which isn’t suited for ingestion IMO due to the risk of heavy metal contamination). It’s pore size is smaller than that of the average vitamin or mineral particle, so I really struggle to get my head around how coconut AC can possibly adsorb these bigger molecules, hence my interest in any research on this topic 😊

    • Jake on

      Not entirely true. Most of the healthy fats and plenty of the other nutrients will still be absorbed by your body. The charcoal does attach to some nutrients, but has an affinity for toxins and certain particles. It will not hang on to large molecules very well, such as fats.

    • cooks on

      Hi Ruth. Activated charcoal only targets toxins, not organic supplements and nutrients. AC is something to NOT use if one is using prescription drugs especially if diabetic and insulin dependant. Hope this clears things up for you some.

    • Jake on

      You can thoroughly combine all of the ingredients in your Vitamix.
      Then freeze about 2/3 of the batter in ice cube trays. Place the balance of the batter/liquid into your refrigerator. After the ice cubes are frozen solid, put some of them into your Vitamix, along with some of the liquid, and process until you have a smooth, thick “shake”. Voila!

    • Sam on

      if you can get coconuts, you can boil the milk down! Condensed means sweetener was added.

      honestly I dont know what can replace coconut milk, it has a unique flavor

    • Bob on

      Use an avocado in place of the condensed coconut milk, plus a little sweetener like stevia. I make chocolate ice cream and fudgecicles with an avocado all the time.


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