Many active individuals consume whey isolate as a quick and convenient option for a post-workout recovery beverage or as the base of a meal replacement drink or snack.

So most frequently, whey isolate is being used in multiple shake and smoothie recipes. Because we are often asked for alternate uses for whey, we are presenting here our version of Whey Protein Ice Cream.

Making ice cream: a balancing act

Making good ice cream requires a delicate balance of ingredients to end up with the rich, creamy texture and mouthfeel we all love in ice cream. Traditional recipes call for cream, milk, sugar, and eggs – so adding protein can throw off this balance, just as does swapping a non-dairy milk for the cream and milk. 

Fortunately, our team at Thorne has found a workaround, and has even come up with a lower sugar option for those wanting increased calories and protein without the added carbs.

The secret is using two ingredients that mimic the role that fat plays in the texture of ice cream – xanthan gum and gelatin. (Note: vegetarians and vegans can double the xanthan gum and use almond or coconut milk and our plant-based rice and pea protein powder.)

Xanthan gum is a fermented sugar and, while it’s not technically an emulsifier, it is often used when a product contains both water-soluble liquids and fats – such as in salad dressings.

Since xanthan gum initially mixes poorly into liquids, blending is recommended. In the absence of a blender, slowly adding the xanthan gum powder while vigorously stirring will improve mixing. Xanthan gum can be found in the baking or gluten-free flour section of most grocery stores.

Gelatin powder is most famously used to make the favorite childhood dessert, JELL-O. It thickens when exposed to cold, so it makes the perfect choice for adding stability to our ice cream.

The wide range of commercially available gelatin options and flavors opens up innumerable flavor combinations for our ice cream, and gelatin is even available in sugar-free versions.

Whey Protein Ice Cream Base

Yield: 1.5-2 quarts


  • 14 oz. whole milk/coconut milk/almond milk
  • 2 oz. whipping cream
  • 4 oz. half-and-half (or substitute a flavored creamer for variety; but if you go this route, be sure to look for products that meet your dietary preferences)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 scoops Thorne Whey Protein Isolate chocolate or vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon of gelatin
  • To taste:  Up to one cup of sugar – or its equivalent of your preferred sugar substitute/sugar-free flavoring syrup.  (Note: Thorne’s Whey Protein Isolate, available in chocolate or vanilla flavor, is already naturally sweetened.)

Note: If you use lower fat milk/non-dairy options, then double the amount of gelatin and xanthan gum.

Flavor options: coffee, nuts, frozen fruits, flavored syrups, or additional vanilla extract of cocoa powder.


1. Mix all ingredients together except the xanthan gum, gelatin, and optional flavorings (especially if solid).  If ingredients are not chilled, then place in the freezer or refrigerator to chill.

  • Tip: Mix the ingredients in a blender or use an immersion blender.

2. In a blender or using an immersion blender, slowly add the gelatin and xanthan gum, incorporating as best as possible on very low speed.

  • Alternate: very slowly whisk in the xanthan gum and gelatin, being mindful to break up any clumps of the powder.

3. Follow the directions on your ice cream maker, adding solid ingredients (fruit, nuts, cookie pieces, or whatever you choose) toward the second half of your machine’s recommended mixing time.

  • Alternate: Although the outcome won’t be quite the same, we have a hack for those without access to an ice cream maker. After the xanthan gum and gelatin are incorporated (we highly suggest blending) pour the mixture into ice cube trays and let the cubes partially freeze before blending to achieve an ice cream like texture.

Flavor combinations of this recipe are endless – share your favorites with us @thorneresearch on Instagram and use the hashtag #onlyThorne to have your creation featured on our page. Be on the lookout for our next whey recipe – whey protein bars.