In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

A Vintage Trinbagonian Coconut Ice Cream Recipe.

coconut icecream trinidad recipe“Can you take that into the garage, it’s getting loud?” Are you freaking kidding me? As a kid the sound of the hand crank (and later on the electric one) ice cream pail (maker) was music to our ears. Sunday afternoons especially when we had family visiting, meant home made coconut ice cream (or sour sop, barbadine… any fruit that was in season). As kids we would circle that ice cream pail like hawks ready to pounce on it’s prey. The key was listening closely to the hum of the ice cream maker, since it got to a sort of dragging pace/sound when the ice cream was firm inside – it was then time to attack.

This day we had friends over for dinner and since I’ve been receiving tons of messages for a coconut ice cream recipe and the fact that our guests love ice cream, I thought it was time for me to dust off the ice cream maker we purchased a couple summers ago. Reluctantly I took the maker into the garage, since the sound of the churning was supposedly disturbing them… forget that this was helping me relive one of the most cherished childhood memories πŸ™

You’ll Need…

4 tablespoon custard powder
4 cups of coconut milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 can condensed milk (sweetened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

recipe for cococnut ice cream

* I need to mention a few things about the ingredients I listed above.

Coconut milk – the traditional way is to get a couple dried coconuts, husk, grate, add water and squeeze out the milk from the pulp. But to save on time and sourcing “good” dried coconut was hard for me, so I opted for the milk in the can.

Heavy cream – to keep this a bit healthy I used 1/2 and 1/2 which is a cream with a lower fat content. But you’re free to use heavy cream or you can also substitute Carnation milk for the cream.

* If you’re using an ice cream maker that’s not one of the new ones (where you have to freeze the inserts before using) you’ll be required to have ice and some salt for the freezing process.

This is a very simple recipe, but you do need a couple hours of prep time to ensure that the cream mixture cools down in the fridge and you also have to factor in time for the ice cream maker.

Start by making a custard. In a deep pan/pot whisk together (over low heat) 1 cup of the coconut milk, the sugar, custard powder and heavy cream. Keep whisking as this can easily start to stick to the bottom of the pan and go lumpy. The goal is to getΒ  a thick consistency and can take between 5-9 minutes. You’ll notice that it will be thick enough to start remaining on the sides of the pan (see pics below).

how to make trinidad style coconut icecream

jamaican coconut icecream recipe

making coconut ice cream

Turn off the stove and add all the other ingredients to the pot. Whisk like you’ve never whisked before (or use an electric mixer). It’s important that you break down any lumps that may form and to incorporate everything. Then place in the fridge to cool down for at least an hour.

how to make coconut icecream

After it cools, place in your ice cream maker and freeze according to it’s instructions. As I mentioned, we have one of the electric ones that churn away with theΒ  aid of a small motor at the top. I placed the mixture in the ice cream container, attach the hood and then fill the side with ice. I had to purchase ice cubes so they could easily fit without having to break up further. After I packed the side with ice, I poured salt all over the ice and then turned on the machine. Now don’t ask me why I put the salt on the ice, it’s just something I saw my dad would do. Supposedly it’s to keep the ice/water at a constant temperature.Remember to keep adding ice and salt to the sides as necessary.

recipe for coconut icecream

making ice cream

coconut icecream recipe

Normally I’d have pics showing what I mean by placing the ice, salt etc.. but I started making mango margaritas and I kinda forgot about taking pics.. . I do apologize. I’ll sahre the recipe for that treat soon.

Our machine took about 30 minutes to fully firm the ice cream and as I touched on above… the machine will start dragging when the ice cream is fully done. If you like soft serve textured ice cream you can enjoy the ice cream right now. However I like to empty the ice cream into freezer containers and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes to really firm out. This also allows me to keep small batches for when I next feel like a refreshing dessert – like today!

trini coconut icecream recipe

trinidad ice cream recipe

coconut ice cream

* Tip – If you like pieces of coconut in your ice cream, a quick fix is to purchase some shredded coconut from the grocers and add as a topping. To enhance the flavour of the shredded coconut, toast it on the stove for a couple minutes. I supposed you could also add it to the mixture before freezing… so it’s infused into the ice cream. The choice is yours, as I like my coconut ice cream naked! The pic with the sprinkles above, was for our daughter.

Please leave me your comments below as I’d love for this post go viral on the internet, so others can enjoy this wonderful ice cream. And don’t forget to join us on Facebook – click on the image below to get started.

caribbean pot on facebook

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  1. Laura
    October 6, 2017 / 2:53 pm

    This was by far the best coconut ice cream recipe ever! The full flavor of coconut was there, plus I love the addition of the custard powder. It also had the right amount of sugar. My boyfriend and I really enjoyed it, normally he is not a coconut fan. It made a lot of ice cream too. Nice way to end a Caribbean or Thai meal. Yum!

  2. Dee
    August 17, 2017 / 4:35 pm

    How much ice creme does this recipe make?

  3. Keren
    April 19, 2017 / 12:05 am

    How would the measurements change if I want to make 3 gallons/12 quarts of this recipe?? My housemates and I have an event and wanted to make ice-cream for at least 100 people. πŸ™‚
    A better way to word that would be how much of everything do I need per 4 quarts which is the size of our ice-cream churner?


  4. Lueann
    June 3, 2016 / 9:02 am

    thank u so much, I appreciate

  5. lisa
    May 7, 2016 / 7:03 am

    Hi Chris, Love your recipes. Can i use this recipe as a base for peanut ice cream ? Do i need to insert or remove anything? Thanks.

  6. October 7, 2015 / 4:59 pm

    Hi Chris, am glad you had this recipe posted. Will certainly try it on my own. As kids we too would help our mom turn the cream maker in the garage and couldn’t wait for it to finish. I know my grands would love this. Warm regards.

  7. Mork
    September 15, 2015 / 11:43 am

    Great recipe Chris. Loved the fact that it didnt need eggs. It came out just as smooth and creamy as ones that use eggs.

  8. Richard Ramlogan
    August 7, 2015 / 7:27 pm

    Thanks Chris for this recipe,I wanted to try this for a long time, hasn’t had a good coconut ice cream since I left Trinidad.

  9. michelle
    May 17, 2015 / 4:53 pm

    First time ever I made ice cream and tried your coconut ice cream recipe …it was the BEST! Everyone is still complimenting so thank you. Keep up the good work of giving us these wonderful recipes

  10. Judith McIntosh
    May 20, 2014 / 10:03 am

    Hi Chris,
    This brings back childhood memories. My mum made it with the real coconut. It was our chore to grate(ouch!)but it was so worth it.
    Give me soursop too, any day. There was always a competition between mums, who made the best.

  11. R. Calderon
    May 5, 2014 / 10:44 am

    Chris, I followed your recipe, switching up half the canned coconut milk for a whole coconut, and man, it was to die for. Even my grand-mother loved it, which was like winning a grammy to me! Thank you so much! You’re awesome!

  12. Jan Reyes
    July 19, 2013 / 5:42 pm

    Finally! Thank you Chris – you have no idea how long I have been trying to get this old time recipe. I remember going by my Uncle when we were kids and having home made coconut ice cream. I have one of the old time ice cream makers, like yours to use with the ice and salt. I remember being told that the salt was to help prevent the ice from melting too fast. I will be enjoying my coconut ice cream very soon – I am also going to try barbadine and soursop right after.

  13. July 2, 2013 / 7:28 am

    When i make coconut ice cream i alway add a hole ripe sorsoup to my mixture and flavour that comes out is to die for. When you visit in November i might just bring you some but gave it a try and also you our Trini essence is the best …

  14. Angela
    June 9, 2013 / 11:13 am

    Thanks Chris,

    Yesterday I bought a Cherry Coconut ice-cream cone on Independence Square checking out your site I saw your coconut ice cream and had to try it I did adding some chopped cherries Yummy , for the tummy

  15. May 18, 2013 / 2:42 pm

    Chris, this is excellent coconut ice cream. Your the Man!

  16. Vilorn
    May 1, 2013 / 12:11 pm

    My mom always made this cocunut icecream and I remember her using carnation evaporated milk. She also made sour sop ice cream, not really a favorite of mine. Will definitely try this recipe for my husband and son.

  17. legin
    April 12, 2013 / 4:27 pm

    Sure brings back memories, when mom used to make coconut ice cream the traditional way using custard and fresh coconuts…out in the back yard churning the cream using the old school pail…good exercise…but sadly it never lasted long…too many ice cream lovers…

  18. Debbie
    January 21, 2013 / 10:19 pm

    I haven't had a really good caribbean ice cream in a very long time. Tried your recipe yesterday, truly amazing. My daughter and husband enjoyed every minute of it. Can you provide other flavors? Would appreciate it very much.

  19. Melody
    January 15, 2013 / 7:30 pm

    I really want to try this recipe,but where I live I can't find any Custard powder nor heavy cream. πŸ™

  20. monica
    December 30, 2012 / 8:49 pm

    my mixture did not freeze after an hour. what went wrong????!!!!

  21. Vaughn White
    August 4, 2012 / 9:17 am

    In your ingredients you call for 4 cups of coconut milk,yet in the instructions you use 1 cup.
    What happens to the rest?

  22. GraceWes
    July 31, 2012 / 8:13 pm

    No ice-cream maker? Simple – I use a blender after freezing for about two -3 hours when you first make the ice-cream.
    Then blend again (you can use small portions so as not to damage the blender) after another 2 hours and then a final blend after a few hours again for a creamier texture.
    Hope this helps!
    Also, you can use the hand-mixer.

  23. Linda (T&T)
    June 24, 2012 / 8:33 pm

    Thank you Chris, this is the simplest coconut recipe I have seen. I'm surely going to try this next weekend. Note: The salt is added on top of the ice to preventing it from melting too fast.
    Kitty: Custard powder is basically corn starch (hope this helps).

  24. Kitty
    May 16, 2012 / 8:56 pm

    what is "custard powder"?

  25. myrna
    April 16, 2012 / 3:26 pm

    This one I will try weather is here for it.. Ty

    April 16, 2012 / 2:57 pm


  27. karisha
    January 11, 2012 / 8:24 pm

    Hi Chris: I am definitely going to try this recipe this summer. I may even use popsicle containers this winter. I surely won't use sprinkles, I don't like them on anything.

  28. Warren G
    September 2, 2011 / 5:50 am

    I remember as a kid playing the fool with my cousins at a family birthday, when out of nowhere my uncle handed me a cup of delicious ice cream-I did see the bucket but did not know what is was for-ever since then I knew it was coming once I see that bucket. Chris, thanks for this memory and receipe; I have been following comments and trying to memorize your ultimate, lazy man, and left over dishes to the T, I must say I tried the stew chicken, geera pork, simple liver, sardine in can and how can I forget your uncle's fish broth. Thanks a lot to u I perfected classic dishes I made,but needed hints.

  29. Radha
    June 18, 2011 / 8:05 pm

    You can add some nuts to this ice cream, not as a topping but in the mixture itself.

  30. Lee
    June 18, 2011 / 7:34 pm

    Chris, I just thought about this this morning. I bought an electric ice cream maker years ago when I lived in Trinidad. And today, I thought about making coconut custard ice cream. Thanks for the recipen now I don't have to look for mine.

  31. June 17, 2011 / 11:51 am

    Hi Chris, I featured your icecream as recipe of the week, just a link to your website, hope you don't mind πŸ™‚

  32. Allison
    February 26, 2011 / 5:46 pm

    If you do not have an ice cream maker. Follow the recipe,when done place the mixture in the freezer and when it is almost frozen, place the mixture in a blender and blend. The process must be done a few times and will almost have the consistency as having been done in an ice cream maker.

  33. Lynette
    February 19, 2011 / 2:21 pm

    Hey guys, i am from Trinidad and these are the best recipes that i have come across, they are just like my cooking. it is so good to see these on the web for everyone to enjoy πŸ™‚

  34. Ann
    December 23, 2010 / 9:51 am


    Good recipe, but you can also use arrowroot instead of custard and more condensed milk instead of evap. to give a richer and creamer taste

  35. ccg
    December 11, 2010 / 7:32 pm

    Hi Chris, thanks for the recipe. I've made a few time before (without following a recipe) but could never remember how much of what i used, lol. I was planning to make some tomorrow and decided to check your website, but after seeing your pics, i think i will make it tonight instead….. i cant wait that long =)

  36. sf.
    November 5, 2010 / 6:37 pm

    You should have eaten all the ice cream yourself, in the garage.

  37. October 3, 2010 / 2:45 pm

    Thanks for the receipt I'm going to try this. Yum

  38. September 2, 2010 / 7:20 am

    My aunt made the ice cream using one of those old ice cream makers where you had to be churning by hand – lots of ice and salt!

  39. Anemone
    August 22, 2010 / 11:59 pm

    Well…i am gonna to buy an ice cream maker…I loveee coconut anything…my dad too… I cant wait…thank you so much…

  40. Harty
    August 12, 2010 / 9:41 am

    I tried this recipe, buss it up and went back and made more. Great Stuff !

  41. abigail
    July 18, 2010 / 4:14 am

    you only use one cup of coconut in the mixture what happen to the other 3 cups

    • July 18, 2010 / 5:12 pm

      I think you may have missed where I said "Turn off the stove and add all the other ingredients to the pot." that includes the rest of the missing coconut πŸ™‚

  42. July 12, 2010 / 10:18 pm

    The first time I ever ate coconut ice cream was in Trinidad. I was 12 years old and was on vacation. Feel in love with it since then. My aunt made the ice cream using one of those old ice cream makers where you had to be churning by hand – lots of ice and salt!

    • July 14, 2010 / 7:39 pm

      There's an ice cream store next to my sister's restaurant and they have one of those hand crank ice cream makers in the window. According to my dad, those make the best ice cream.

      • Kris
        April 10, 2012 / 4:04 pm

        My aunt swears by this older one too. I can't find them anywhere though! I remember us fighting as kids to turn that pail hoping we'd be the last one and could get to the ice cream first! Great memories surrounding coconut ice cream πŸ™‚

  43. July 12, 2010 / 7:23 pm

    I clicked on this just because of that photo at the top with the sprinkles πŸ™‚ I LOVE homemade ice cream like this, I don't care even if it's not as creamy as commercial brands, I like the special custardy taste πŸ™‚ reminds me of childhood

    • July 14, 2010 / 7:38 pm

      It's certainly a trip back in time for many of us.

  44. Denise Nurse
    July 12, 2010 / 1:43 pm

    This is absolutely my favorite ice cream!!

  45. vanessa
    July 12, 2010 / 5:48 am

    Chris I don't own an ice cream maker ! can you make this recipe without one !

    • July 14, 2010 / 7:37 pm

      there are 2 options. I recall my mom putting the mixture in the freezer, and using a spoon would go in and stir it every 30 minutes or so. you get a sort of frozen slushy ice consistency. The other option is to fill ice trays with the mixture and make flavoured ice blocks. If you can get those popsicle molds, you can certainly fill those and freeze them as well.

      • vanessa
        July 21, 2010 / 11:25 am

        Thanks , I will try this and let you know how I get on !

      • Bree
        May 15, 2012 / 4:13 pm

        Another option i learned in chemistry class…get a large coffee can..put the mixture in a smaller container..put it inside the coffee can..surround it with ice..sprinkle rock salt over the ice..put the lid on seal it with tape then roll it back and forth…good exercise also..

    • Kris
      April 10, 2012 / 4:03 pm

      I know this was posted forever ago but i've heard of using two different sized cans an extra large one and a much smaller one. Place the ice cream mixture in the smaller can and the ice/salt mixture in the larger and roll it around. Or a ziploc bag in a large can used in the same way…good thing to keep the kids occupied (tape the heck outta that lid). There are also ice cream balls on the market. You place the mixture inside a well on the inside and it screws shut can go outside and play with the ball…throw, roll you name it then you'd have worked off the calories to be replaced by the ice cream πŸ™‚

    • rachael eustache
      June 1, 2013 / 12:28 pm

      i freeze the mixture then scoop out into blender and churn..if to hard i add milk or water to help as i make mine creamy….

  46. amal h
    July 12, 2010 / 2:51 am

    hey chris, sounds great!…. all ur recipes do πŸ˜€ ive tried so many and my husband loves it! Im Lebanese and he trini so it just amazes him everytime, the only thing he kno how to do is stew chicken and now ive meastered it. (I love ur easy step-by-step procedures) im going to buy an icecream maker just for this recipe, until then, im CRAZY over custard and u just gave me an amazing idea of substituting dairy milk for coconut

    • July 14, 2010 / 7:35 pm

      So happy the recipes are easy to follow and that you're trying them.

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