This homemade strawberry Italian cream soda is the perfect drink for a hot day and is a healthy, naturally sweetened alternative to soda.
Growing up, I used to love Italian cream sodas. At one point, we had multiple bottles of those flavored syrups in our pantry so we could make our own at home.
I hadn’t had one in years due to the fact that I typically feel best when I don’t consume things with artificial coloring, flavoring, and excess amounts of sugar. Plus, I’m allergic to dairy, so there’s that, too.
Last year we were in San Diego for a long weekend and while we were exploring a neighborhood, we stopped into a cafe for a little pick me up. My husband ordered an Italian cream soda, and all those memories from childhood came flooding back.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. We were up at my family’s cabin and rode our bikes into Glacier nearby. My husband wanted a coffee, and I was planning on getting an iced matcha until I found out that wasn’t an option. I saw Italian cream soda on the menu and ended up ordering a strawberry one with almond milk, which was the first time I had ever had one dairy-free.
It was refreshing, but I temporarily forgot how sweet those syrups are. I knew I could make a homemade dairy-free version using just a few simple, healthy ingredients. I also knew I could make it better than the one I had. (Everything is always better homemade.)
Italian Cream Soda Ingredients
Traditional Italian cream soda is made with carbonated water, flavored syrup, and heavy cream (or half and half) poured over ice.
To make it both dairy-free and healthier, I used seasonal fruit, unrefined sugar, dairy-free milk, and soda water.
Like all the recipes on this site, this is a very loose and adaptable recipe. It’s less of a recipe, and more about using what you have on hand and the flavors that you enjoy.
how to make it dairy-free
For the dairy-free milk, I recommend going with something that’s creamier than almond milk. For this drink, I love using oat milk. If you don’t mind the taste of coconut, you could also use coconut milk from the can (full fat or lite will work just fine).
substitutions for strawberries
Depending on what produce is in season, you can use a variety of different fruits.
Instead of strawberries use any of the following, either alone or in combination:
- apple (juice only)
fancy combinations to try
- pineapple with coconut milk for piña colada
- orange with vanilla extract for creamsicle
- strawberry with vanilla extract for strawberries and cream
- strawberry with lemon for strawberry lemonade
- apple juice with cinnamon for apple pie a la mode
If you want to make this recipe, but all you have is frozen fruit, just make sure it’s thawed first before using it.
I like to use the whole fruit instead of just the juice, but if you’re only using juice, keep in mind that it’ll be sweeter since the sugars are more concentrated. With that said, you won’t need to add as much sweetener, if any at all.
If you are using the whole fruit (with the pulp), depending on how naturally sweet your fruit of choice is, you may need to adjust the added sweetness amount.
Only want an Italian soda, but no cream? Leave out the milk, and you’ll have a homemade, healthy soda.
Homemade Strawberry Italian Cream Soda (dairy-free)
- 1½ cups hulled strawberries or fruit of choice
- 2 tablespoons sweetener organic cane sugar, raw honey, or maple syrup
- ½ cup dairy-free milk oat or canned coconut milk
- Club soda or sparkling water
- Handful of ice
- Add fruit to a blender with sweetener and blend until it's pureed. If your blender isn't powerful enough, you may need to add a little water to get it going. Taste and adjust sweetness as needed.
- In each glass, put the desired amount of ice, 2 to 3 tablespoons of the fruit puree, fill ¾ of the way with sparkling water and top off with 2 to 3 tablespoons of dairy-free milk.
- Mix with a spoon to incorporate before drinking.
- Serves about 4.