Is there a lactose free sugar-free ice cream?

Yes, there are lactose free and sugar free ice cream options available. For people with lactose intolerance or who are avoiding sugar, finding tasty frozen treats can be challenging. The good news is that food manufacturers have developed ice creams that are free of lactose and sugar, providing more choices. While they may not taste exactly the same as traditional ice cream, the lactose free and sugar free varieties allow more people to enjoy a cool, creamy treat.

What is lactose?

Lactose is a naturally occurring sugar found in dairy products like milk, cheese, and regular ice cream. It is made up of two simple sugars – glucose and galactose. In order to digest lactose properly, the body needs to produce an enzyme called lactase. This enzyme breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose which can then be absorbed into the bloodstream. Some individuals have a condition called lactose intolerance where their bodies produce little to no lactase enzymes. This results in an inability to properly digest lactose.

When people with untreated lactose intolerance consume dairy products, the undigested lactose travels through the gastrointestinal tract, causing uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, gas, cramping, and diarrhea. The severity of these symptoms varies from person to person based on the amount of lactose consumed and individual sensitivity levels. Overall, lactose intolerance makes it difficult for people to enjoy popular frozen desserts like regular ice cream.

Common causes of lactose intolerance

There are a few key reasons why someone may be lactose intolerant:

  • Primary lactose intolerance – This is when the small intestine decreases lactase production after infancy. Since lactase levels are lowered, it becomes difficult to fully digest lactose. Primary lactose intolerance is most prevalent among certain ethnicities, including up to 95 percent of Asian Americans and 60-80 percent of African Americans.
  • Secondary lactose intolerance – Certain medical conditions affecting the small bowel can lead to secondary lactose intolerance. These include celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and gastroenteritis.
  • Developmental lactose intolerance – Preterm infants may have lactose intolerance due to an underdeveloped lactase system.
  • Congenital lactose intolerance – An extremely rare genetic disorder where infants are born with little to no lactase activity in the small intestine.

What is sugar-free ice cream?

Regular ice cream contains different types of sugars like sucrose, glucose, and fructose. These are derived naturally from the milk and cream used as well as added as sweeteners. People who are limiting sugar intake often turn to sugar-free ice creams which use non-nutritive zero calorie sweeteners like:

  • Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K)
  • Sucralose
  • Stevia
  • Aspartame
  • Saccharin
  • Monk fruit extract

These provide the sweet taste of sugar without the carbohydrates, calories, and blood sugar spike. Sugar-free ice creams are popular among people with diabetes, those following a keto or low-carb diet, and anyone seeking to reduce overall sugar consumption.

With both lactose and sugar removed, individuals who require a dairy and sugar-restricted diet can still enjoy the cool, creamy texture of ice cream.

What ingredients are in lactose-free, sugar-free ice cream?

Lactose-free, sugar-free ice creams substitute the lactose and sugar normally found in regular ice creams but still try to emulate the same taste and texture. Here are some of the main ingredients found in popular dairy-free, low sugar frozen desserts:

  • Milk and cream replacements – To make ice cream without lactose, the dairy milk and cream are swapped out. Common replacements include almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, oat milk, soy milk, rice milk, and vegetable glycerin.
  • Thickeners – Substances like guar gum, locust bean gum, and carrageenan are added to improve the texture and viscosity.
  • Non-nutritive sweeteners – As mentioned earlier, sugar substitutes like stevia, sucralose, aspartame, monk fruit extract, or saccharin are used to provide sweetness without the extra calories and carbohydrates.
  • Natural flavors – Ingredients like vanilla extract, cocoa powder, fruit purees, and nut extracts help provide flavor.
  • Emulsifiers – Soy lecithin and mono- and diglycerides keep the ice cream smooth and help prevent separation.
  • Stabilizers – Substances such as sorbitol, maltodextrin, and xanthan gum are stabilizers which provide structure.

Popular brands of lactose-free, sugar-free ice cream

Here are a few top brands making dairy-free and low-sugar ice cream options:

  • So Delicious Dairy Free – Their sugar-free coconut milk “ice creams” come in flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and cookie dough. Sweetened with stevia and erythritol.
  • Halo Top – A reduced sugar ice cream made with stevia and erythritol. They offer both dairy and non-dairy coconut milk varieties.
  • Enlightened – Brand that makes low-sugar ice creams sweetened with monk fruit and fiber. Have dairy and dairy-free options.
  • Rebel Creamery – Specializing in keto-friendly, low-carb ice creams using monk fruit and allulose as sweeteners. Offer dairy and dairy-free choices.
  • Yasso – Sugar-free frozen Greek yogurt bars made with stevia, erythritol, and prebiotic fiber.
  • Coolway – Premium ice creams using allulose syrup as the sugar substitute and lactose-free milk.

Nutritional profile of lactose-free, sugar-free ice creams

Since traditional sweeteners and dairy are removed, the nutritional profile of lactose-free, sugar-free ice cream differs:

Nutrition Facts per 1/2 Cup Serving Regular Ice Cream Lactose-Free, Sugar-Free Ice Cream
Calories 137 48-100
Total Fat 8g 4-6g
Carbohydrates 15g 2-15g
Sugars 12g 0-5g
Protein 3g 0-3g
Calcium 11% DV 10-15% DV

As shown, lactose-free, sugar-free ice creams tend to be lower in calories, carbohydrates, and sugar compared to regular ice cream. They replace the lactose with alternate dairy-free bases and use sugar substitutes to reduce sugars and calories without sacrificing sweetness. Brands may also fortify with extra calcium, vitamin D, and protein to boost the nutritional value.

The pros of choosing lactose-free, sugar-free ice cream

There are some advantages to opting for these specialized low lactose, low sugar ice creams:

  • Allow those with lactose intolerance to enjoy ice cream
  • Provide sweet frozen treat for people monitoring sugar and carbs
  • Lower in calories than traditional ice cream
  • May contain nutrients like protein, calcium, and vitamins
  • Can be part of a dairy-free, vegan diet
  • Reduce gastrointestinal issues associated with dairy and high sugar foods
  • More choices for people with dietary needs or preferences

Potential downsides to lactose-free, sugar-free ice creams

There are also some potential disadvantages:

  • Higher cost than regular ice cream
  • May have more artificial ingredients depending on brand
  • Different nutritional profile due to alternate ingredients
  • Texture and taste differs from original ice cream
  • Sweeteners like sugar alcohols can cause side effects in some people
  • More difficult to find depending on grocery store
  • Higher in saturated fat if coconut milk based

Tips for enjoying lactose-free, sugar-free ice cream

Here are some helpful tips for selecting and eating dairy-free, low sugar ice creams:

  • Read nutrition labels carefully to check sugar and carbohydrate counts
  • Look for options with shorter ingredient lists and more natural sweeteners
  • Start slowly if using sugar alcohol sweeteners to see how your body handles them
  • Enjoy in moderation as these can be high in saturated fats
  • Store tightly wrapped in freezer to prevent ice crystals forming
  • Allow to soften slightly before scooping if too hard straight from freezer
  • Pair with fruit, nuts, or other mix-ins to boost nutrition and texture
  • Consider making homemade versions to control ingredients

Recipes for homemade lactose-free, sugar-free ice cream

Making DIY ice cream at home lets you dictate the ingredients. Here are some recipes to try:

Basic coconut milk ice cream

  • 2 (13.5 ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup powdered erythritol or monk fruit sweetener
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. For best texture, pour into ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer instructions. For soft serve consistency, consume immediately after churning. For firmer ice cream, transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours.

Chocolate peanut butter banana “nice” cream

  • 3 medium bananas, sliced and frozen
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Serve soft or freeze for firmer texture.

Strawberry chia seed ice cream

  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut cream
  • 1/3 cup mashed strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoons sweetener of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours to thicken. Blend and then churn in ice cream maker according to instructions.

Where to buy lactose-free, sugar-free ice cream

Check major grocery stores, natural food markets, warehouse clubs, and online retailers to find lactose-free, sugar-free ice cream options including:

  • Whole Foods Market
  • Sprouts
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Costco
  • Sam’s Club
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Amazon
  • Thrive Market
  • Vitacost
  • Netrition

Look in freezer aisles for pints, bars, sandwiches, and desserts. Brands like So Delicious, Enlightened, Yasso, Rebel, and Coolway have wide distribution. Check labels and reach out to manufacturers directly about sourcing and inventory questions.


In conclusion, there are viable ice cream options for those requiring both lactose-free and sugar-free. Swapping dairy for alternate bases like coconut, almond, or cashew milk and using sugar substitutes like stevia and erythritol provide ways to enjoy frozen desserts. The texture and taste differs somewhat from regular ice cream but can satisfy cravings. Leading brands of dairy-free, low sugar ice creams can be found in major grocery stores and online marketplaces. With some adjustments, people who are lactose intolerant or monitoring sugar intake can still partake in cooling, creamy treats.

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