The Best Non-Dairy Ice Cream Around

A dairy-free, plant-based frozen dessert that mimics the real deal? We didn't believe it either...until Dinoci graced our palates.

Authored by Erin Malcolm

In this modern age of growing environmental, ethical, and health related awareness, more dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, you-name-it-free food products hit market shelves daily. Still, it’s a steep challenge to find a sweet treat that checks all the boxes in terms of complying with most dietary restrictions, while also meeting obvious standards of flavor, texture, and quality. Boulder resident Scott Emeson encountered this inconvenience early in his own clean eating journey and made it his goal to find a solution. He founded the dairy-free frozen dessert company DiNoci, based in northern Denver and serving a healthy ice cream—free of additives, gums, and even cream, yet full of flavor—to those with a conscientious sweet-tooth. His secrets: his own almond milk as a base, and a technique for texture that he’s not sharing.

The early stages

Emeson started eating clean back in the late ’90s, trying everything from raw vegan to primarily plant-based diets. Most plantbased products he came upon in stores were unappetizing and made with gums and additives that negated his reason for clean eating in the first place. This was the inspiration he needed to kick-start DiNoci. He tells us, “The fun part is creating flavors! Right now, we have Mint Ganache, Lemon, Chocolate, and Salty Caramel in stores. We launched straight into Whole Foods in May and definitely got fasttracked— you don’t start as a new company and walk straight into Whole Foods.” DiNoci’s CEO, Erik Rebich, says that’s just what happens when the product is that good!

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Trial and error

“To nail many of the flavors, it took almost three years. I thought it was going to take three months. I started with chocolate and made 56 batches before I was even in the neighborhood of getting it right. Vanilla took more than 150 batches and we don’t even sell it yet because it’s still not good enough,” Emeson says.

What sets DiNoci apart

Says Emeson, “One of the things that really differentiates us from our competitors, and why it took me so long to formulate a recipe, is that we don’t use any additives or gums. We use real food, real ingredients. We had to find a way to create ice cream characteristics without all that other stuff. I set the bar high. I told myself, ‘If I can’t do this without gums or additives, I’ll call it a failure and move on.’”

The mission

“This is an indulgent experience, and if people are going to substitute for dairy because they’re trying to avoid animal products, or they’re lactose intolerant, or they just want to try something different, I want them to enjoy it. I don’t want them to feel like they’re making a sacrifice,” Emeson says.

What’s next

There may be other products to come, but as Rebich says, “Right now, we’re mainly focused on growing the ice cream business.” Emeson adds, “We just submitted four new flavors to Whole Foods for next year: Espresso Chip, Cookies and Cream, Vanilla, and Cherry Crisp.” To that, the tasters in our offices say, “Yay.”

Dairy-free ice cream, $7 per pint at Whole Foods