With temperatures still high as we head into the home stretch of summer, heating up the kitchen is just about the last thing you want to do. But family members have birthdays, cravings keep coming, and we all need a steady stream of treats to look forward to during a summer that’s been unlike all others thanks to the pandemic.

Luckily for vegans, the past few years have brought an ever-increasing number of plant-based ice creams and other frozen treats to the supermarket freezer case. But there are plenty of good reasons to make at least some of your desserts at home. For starters, you control the ingredients. That means you can splurge on sweets in a healthier, less processed way. You’ll also save money. Most things are much less expensive when you make them yourself, and that goes double for desserts.

To find the best options for no-bake desserts that will leave you (and your kitchen) feeling cool, we turned to two experts on vegan desserts: Fran Costigan, author of Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, and Hannah Kaminsky, creator of BitterSweetBlog.com.

Read on for their best dessert ideas and three recipes for DIY summer dessert options to cool off in hot weather.

1. Fruit

Kaminsky and Costigan agree that the easiest idea for cool desserts is peak-season summer fruit. “This time of year, give me straight watermelon,” says Kaminsky. It’s easy to forget just how extraordinary sweet and juicy ripe summer fruit can be. Perfect peaches, a pile of blackberries, and fragrant melons need nothing extra to be a fantastic treat. If possible, visit a farmers’ market for the best-tasting varieties.

2. Sweet Sauce

If a plate of unadorned fresh fruit doesn’t quite rise to the level of dessert for you, you can always add a simple sauce to take it up a notch. Even a drizzle of maple syrup or a few dollops of coconut cream right from the can make a difference, says Kaminsky. Costigan loves a dollop of her cashew and coconut-based vanilla cream over summer fruit. Whip it up in the blender, use what you want now, and freeze the rest for later. “Frozen, it tastes just like ice cream,” says Costigan.

3. Dates

“Put a great date in the freezer for a few hours and you will swear you’re eating caramel,” says Costigan. She prefers Medjool dates to other varieties. “They’re so satisfying. They’re chewy, they’re sweet, they’re big, and for me when you get a really delicious date it’s a dessert unto itself.” Want something a little more elaborate? Costigan suggests slicing a date in half, removing the pit, and filling it with a teaspoon of nut butter and a few mini chocolate chips or chopped chocolate for a no-heat, low-fuss dessert everyone will love.

4. Pops

There’s nothing more refreshing than an ice pop on a sweltering day, and Kaminsky’s recipe for coconut chai freezer pops are simple to make with a surprisingly grown-up flavor profile. Best of all: these treats have stealth health benefits. The secret ingredient is protein powder. “It tastes like dessert, but it’s legitimately a protein-packed snack,” she says. No popsicle molds? No problem. Use paper cups you can peel away or even small juice glasses. (Run them under hot water to slip the pop out before eating.)

5. No-Churn Ice Cream

You definitely don’t need an ice cream maker to enjoy homemade vegan ice cream. Kaminsky says any ice cream recipe can be poured into ice cube trays, frozen solid, and then whipped up in a food processor. “You’ll get a nice soft-serve texture,” she says. You can also make a soft-serve style dessert by simply blitzing frozen banana chunks in a blender or food processor, says Costigan.

6. Slumps

So you want something more composed, or maybe even something to put a scoop of that ice cream on top of? That’s where the fruit slump comes in, according to Costigan. A slump is an old fashioned summer fruit dessert that’s similar to a cobbler or crisp. Just subtract the oven. “Fruit is cooked down in a skillet and then topped with a biscuit dough,” she says. You put a lid on it and the topping steams resulting in a jammy, comforting pie-adjacent dish that becomes more cake-like as it cools and the fruit soaks into the biscuit. “It’s like a second dessert a few hours later,” says Costigan.

Blueberry Slump Recipe

Recipe adapted from Fran Costigan’s Essential Vegan Desserts Course at Rouxbe Culinary School.

Ingredients

Fruit Filling:

  • 4 cups fresh fruit
  • 1/3 cup organic sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water

Biscuit Topping:

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, cane, coconut or whole cane
  • 2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup plant milk, soy, almond or oat
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mild-tasting extra virgin olive oil or neutral vegetable oil
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp freshly grated orange or lemon zest
  • Optional: maple syrup and a bit of granulated sugar for finishing the cooked biscuits

Instructions

  1. To make the filling: Combine the fruit and sugar in a 9-inch saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the orange juice and water. Cook over medium heat to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, cover with the lid slightly ajar, and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling hot.
  2. To make the topping: Measure the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl and whisk to sift into the bowl. Whisk well to combine. In a separate small bowl, mix the plant milk with the oil, vanilla, and zest. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir just until a soft batter forms.
  3. Drop rounds of batter off a soup spoon onto the simmering fruit. Cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Cook over low heat without uncovering for 25 minutes. The biscuits will feel firm to the touch and be slightly brown in color when they are cooked.
  4. Cool for 5 or so minutes before serving. Add a scoop of non-dairy ice cream, if desired, or a dollop of vanilla cream.

Vanilla Cream Recipe

Recipe adapted from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, by Fran Costigan, Running Press. Spoon a tablespoon of this simply made, rich-tasting cream over fresh fruit, pudding, gelled desserts, or use it to turn a drop biscuit into a fruit shortcake. Simply made in a blender from a base of heart-healthy cashews, the cream freezes beautifully too.

Kate Lewis

Vanilla Cream

Yields 1⅓ cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, rinsed, soaked 4 hours to overnight
  • 1 cup canned full-fat unsweetened coconut milk, mixed thoroughly
  • 6 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mild-tasting extra-virgin olive oil or any neutral oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Drain and rinse the cashews in a strainer.
  2. Blend the cashews, coconut milk, sugar, oil, and salt, in a blender starting on low and increasing the speed to high. Blend 2 minutes, until the mixture is smooth, thick, and warm.
  3. Pour the cream into a container and stir in the vanilla extract. Chill for 2 hours to overnight to allow the flavors to blend.

Coconut Chai Freezer Pops

Recipe by Hannah Kaminsky, BitterSweetBlog.com

Coconut Chai Freezer Pops

Yields About 6 Medium Freezer Pops 

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 Cups (1 14-Ounce Can) Full-Fat Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Plain or Vanilla Non-Dairy Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Light Agave Nectar
  • 1/4 Cup Vegan Plain or Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut, Toasted
  • 1 1/4 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Anise Extract (Optional)

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the coconut milk and non-dairy milk of your choice along with the protein powder, mixing thoroughly to ensure that there are no remaining lumps. Add in the toasted coconut, spices, salt, and extracts, and stir well.
  2. Pour the resulting mixture into popsicle molds, insert sticks, and place them on a level surface in your freezer. Allow them to freeze for at least 6 hours before serving, and preferably overnight.
  3. If you have trouble getting the pops out of the mold, run the outsides under hot water for about 60 seconds to loosen them.