The Food Guy: Vegan Ice Cream

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Thanks to oat milk, soy milk and coconut milk, a lot of people are now making delicious vegan ice cream in Chicago.

If made the right way, using the best ingredients and a proper machine, you might be pleasantly surprised, just like NBC 5's Food Guy Steve Dolinsky was.

Lincolnwood's Dairy Star - a legendary soft serve temple - went completely kosher in 1999, and more recently, added a vegan option. Its ice cream and novelties have fed generations on hot summer days.

“We think there should be something here for everyone, and there’s a lot of people who don’t eat dairy, so we have a delicious vegan soft serve,” said Chris Kersten, one of the owners at Dairy Star.

Using soy milk, the soft serve can be topped just like any other cone or turned into a shake.

“Special machine, completely separate; separate toppings so there’s no cross-contamination. We have a vegan whipped cream too,” he said.

In Lincoln Park, near the DePaul University campus, Pretty Cool Ice Cream just opened its second shop, and like the Logan Square original, it offers a number of icy pops in colorful flavors, as well as an assortment of vegan novelties on a stick, like Thai Tea or Blue Moon – served up in some pretty cool packaging.

Over in Wicker Park, the 1-year-old Vaca’s Creamery is a 100 % vegan creamery, making sundaes, cones and shakes that get some customers to drive from the suburbs.

“We use an oat milk base for our vanilla and chocolate, then we have a seasonal flavor which we use a different base – we make our own tahini milk. And then we flavored it with orange blossom,” said co-owner Dylan Sutcliff.

The coffee shake here is divine, Dolinsky said, and good luck being able to tell the difference between this and a regular dairy version. Sutcliff said they use a higher quality oat milk along with the other ingredients, and even spent a little more on the machine that makes it. He said creativity is part of it, of course – the marshmallow-laden s’mores are just as fun as the strawberry-draped versions with cookie dough – but it’s more than that.

“It also comes down to all of the ingredients and the machines,” he said.

Here's where you can get vegan ice cream in the Chicago area:

Dairy Star

3472 W. Devon Ave., Lincolnwood


Pretty Cool Ice Cream

2353 N. California Ave.

709 W. Belden Ave.

Vaca’s Creamery

1436 W. Blackhawk St.

Upton’s Breakroom

2054 W. Grand Ave.

RealGood Stuff Co.

Seven locations in Chicago

Sundae Stop

931 W. Belmont Ave.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Nine locations in Chicagoland

Black Dog Gelato

Ukrainian Village, West Loop and Logan Square

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