Italian Ice, Is It Dairy Free? (DF/Vegan Options)

Yes and no, most Italian ice is dairy free. Authentic Italian ice is dairy free, since the base is made with fruit and ice. and not made with cream or milk. However It’s part of the same group of frozen desserts like ice cream and some flavours include dairy.

The big company names, like Little Jimmy’s or Luigi’s Italian Ice, make all their fruit flavors dairy free. While Rita’s Italian Ice has a wide range of flavors, with many allergy friendly options and some others containing dairy.

Sodium caseinatea derivative of cows milk, is sometimes an ingredient in Italian ice. Which makes it not safe for people with dairy allergies or intolerances. And also unfit for the vegan lifestyle.

So if you’re allergic to dairy or a vegan, make sure to check all the ingredients. I list the major brands that are dairy free/vegan friendly or that have those options.

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What is in Italian Ice?

It is made from frozen fresh fruit or frozen fruit juice that is frozen and mixed to achieve a fine texture that melts in your mouth. It has been compared to ice cream and sorbet.

Italian Ice is a great alternative to vegan ice cream since it is normally made without animal-derived ingredients. However, It’s not always made with the finest ingredients. 

Some of the italian ice flavors you find contain things like: artificial sweeteners, citric acid, artificial flavors, sodium caseinate. lemon juice concentrate, xanthan gum, guar gum and sometimes milk products.

Is it actually Italian?

I’m going to level with you, I found two different stories about it’s origins. Italy or New Jersey. 

Wikipedia claims that it is Italian. Because it was created by Italian immigrants, originally from Silica. And is modeled after the treat called ‘granita’. It was introduced in the United States as ‘Italian ice’ in New Jersey. And since it was first shared by an Italian in New Jersey, you might say it’s ‘American Italian Ice‘. It is also referred to and sold as ‘Italian water ice’.

Where Can I Buy Italian Ice

Many grocery stores carry Italian ice. And since it’s a frozen treat it should be located in the ice cream aisle.

Or it is sold at large events or by food truck vendors, much like snow cones even though it’s a different frozen dessert.

Cross Contamination

When you eat out anywhere, cross contamination is a real risk. Cross contamination could happen when they serve the dairy-free Italian ice with the same scoop as the flavours that contain dairy Or if the Italian ice was produced using machinery that has processed food containing dairy.

I am lactose intolerant so trace amounts of dairy don’t affect me. However, if you have allergies and specific dietary restrictions, that needs to be considered when ordering Italian ice.

Major Allergens like Milk

Italian ice is often free from common allergens like milk, tree nuts, and eggs (to name a few). Many of the popular choice brands have all or at least some of their options dairy free and vegan.

​Brands To Try

I have listed some of the more well known brands to try, that also have dairy free options. 

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What is in Little Jimmy’s Italian Ice?

Little Jimmy’s Italian Ice is water based and dairy free, nut free, gluten free and also fits the vegan diet with no animal products. It’s made with fresh fruits and comes in a variety of flavors. 

It doesn’t contain any high fructose corn syrup either. They use natural flavor from frozen fruits. It’s a number one pick for me. 

Is Rita’s Ice Dairy Free? 

Rita’s Italian ice has many dairy-free flavours and some that contain cream or custard. They have been preparing Italian Ice, made with real fruit since 1984. They have many options for people with dairy allergies/intolerance. And they even have some vegan options too. 

Go dairy free has a whole list of the dairy and egg free, vegan-friendly Italian ice from Rita’s Ice. 

Does Luigi’s Italian Ice Contain Dairy?

No it does not contain dairy. I read posts on both their Facebook and Instagram that state it is dairy free. I made sure to check the ingredients list and Luigi’s Italian Ice is labeled as gluten free and lists no dairy. I also found some sources saying it is also vegan.

They have many great fruit flavors to choose from. They carry the classic Italian water ice flavors and some fun ones like blue raspberry, mango, kiwi and even a chocolate Italian ice.

Lemon Ice King of Corona

The Lemon Ice King of Corona is a popular destination to try Italian ice. It’s located in Corona, NY.

While all their options are not dairy free or vegan they carry many options that are. They have a pina colada ice, chocolate ice, rainbow, cherry along with many other fruity flavors to try. Here you can view their menu options

Lindy’s Italian Ice

Lindy’s Italian ice is free from dairy and the common allergens. None of their flavours are made with non-dairy creamer or milk products.

Flavours to Try 

The classic flavor for Italian ice is lemon. If lemon isn’t your first choice then there are many new flavors available to suit your tastebuds. Some of the common menu items include: strawberry, cherry, coconut and watermelon.

You may even find some fun ones like passion fruit or blue raspberry. 

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Italian Ice Recipe

You can easily make Italian Ice in your favorite flavors of fruit. Use the freshest ingredients and create this Italian Ice recipe to suit your taste. It’s made with fresh fruit, honey or sugar, lemon juice and ice. It can be made with a variety of of fruit or natural fruit juices.

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