If you wanted to buy a nondairy frozen dessert (legally it can’t be called “ice cream” on packaging) in the supermarket not so long ago, you were often stuck with soy ice cream, which was … not ideal.
But open your grocer’s freezer today and you’ll find a vast array of delicious ice creams made from almond milk, oat milk, and even banana ― and they’re chock full of the kinds of indulgent add-ins like chocolate chips, snickerdoodle dough and peanut butter swirls that you’ve come to expect from regular old dairy-based ice cream.
With so many options, which ones should you be eating for dessert this summer? We’ve sampled nondairy ice cream from brands like So Delicious and Ben & Jerry’s, along with upstarts worth knowing like Must Love. These are all the vegan ice creams you’ll be eating this summer.
In a pinch, eating a Kind Bar filled with dark chocolate and almonds can be a real lifesaver. And now, the same company has taken flavors from its nut bars and incorporated them into nondairy frozen pints, including Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt and Caramel Almond Sea Salt. Standout flavors include Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, which tastes like a frozen Kind Bar and features delicious peanut butter swirls, and Pistachio, loaded with chunks of real pistachios and a solid base.
Don’t sleep on Coffee Hazelnut either, with its huge chunks of hazelnut and rich coffee flavor. Here’s the big twist with all these pints: The main ingredient is pear juice, and you’d never be able to tell. Who needs almond milk?
Whole Foods’ 365 brand has reliably produced top-notch, private-label almond milk for years, so it’s no surprise that it’s dipped its toes into the almond milk frozen dessert game. But not all of the six flavors deserve your hard-earned money. Skip the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, with its minuscule dough chunks and overpowering almond milk aftertaste. Pass on the Mint Chocolate Chip’s eerily toothpaste-like flavor. But load up on the Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Swirl, as it tastes like dairy ice cream! The base is uber creamy, the swirl is nutty and plentiful, and it doesn’t skimp on the chocolate chips.
Sunflower butter and almond milk are the two options for nondairy dessert bases at Ben & Jerry’s. While the sunflower butter is not the first thing we’d pick out of a freezer (it overpowers each pint with sunbutter flavors), it’s admirable that the brand is giving those with nut allergies a frozen dessert option.
There’s plenty to love on the almond milk front, including the new Karamel Sutra Core, with a caramel core so intoxicating you’ll forget there’s anything else in the pint, though its fudge chips are also a treat. Standouts include the P.B. & Cookies, with huge knockoff Oreo cookies and an overwhelming amount of peanut butter flavor, and the nondairy version of Netflix & Chill’d, with its genius sweet and salty pretzel swirls.
The New York-based ice cream brand started as a city favorite, but has since opened scoop shops in multiple states ― and now appears in grocery stores nationwide (you can also order it online). There are both oat milk and cashew milk ice cream bases, but the oat milk is the clear standout.
The coconut cream in the oat milk-based Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl is noticeable, but it’s worth it if you want the sensation of eating a piece of frozen dark chocolate. It’s amazing we went this long without mentioning the oat milk-based Churros and Fudge, a masterpiece of a pint with outstanding cinnamon sugar notes and generous fudge pieces.
One important note for vegans looking forward to eating a Talenti pint: There are certain sorbettos it produces that are dairy-free, but not vegan. Take the Cold Brew Coffee Sorbetto. While rich and delicious, it contains eggs. That said, there are still five Talenti sorbetto options that are both dairy-free and vegan, including fruit-forward pints featuring mango, strawberry and raspberry.
But since Talenti is known for its excellent Layers line, let’s focus on the vegan varietal: Coconut Chocolate Cookie. If you love Girl Scout Samoas, you’ll likely love this. It features a super creamy coconut ice cream layer, rich hot fudge and chocolate cookie pieces that will send you on a chase with your spoon.
Back in 2004, NadaMoo! was making coconut milk ice cream way before it was a thing. It still has a scoop shop in Austin, Texas, but its pints can also found in grocery stores. And while coconut milk-based flavors like Strawberry Cheesecake and S’mores taste like nondairy ice cream you might have bought in the early aughts ― before the industry innovated with oat milk and almond milk ― NadaMoo! is also moo-ving (sorry) into the future.
Take its erythritol-sweetened Vanilla Bean, with 6 grams of net carbs that offers plenty of coconut notes, or the Cookies & Creme, with just 5 grams of added sugar. For an ideal after-dinner palate cleanser of a dessert, Organic Mint Chip is worth seeking out ― it’s one of the brand’s original flavors and it still delivers.
It couldn’t be simpler to make healthy, delicious banana “nice cream” if you have a blender. But when you’re exhausted after a long day of work, who has the energy? Must Love has you covered, offering banana-based ice cream in flavors like Choco Choco Chip, Cashew Cookie, Banilla, Peanut Butter Chip and Strawberry, and with one of the cleanest ingredient lists we’ve seen on any vegan ice cream. But more importantly, it’s rich and delicious, especially the banana, coconut milk and date-sweetened Choco Choco Chip, with just 1 gram of added sugar that nevertheless has chocolate flavors to spare. It tastes so homemade you might wonder who snuck into your house and whipped it up.
On the oat milk-based pint side of things, its Peanut Butter Swirl is a perfect pick-me-up for anyone who eats PB out of the jar. In an era when ice cream is stuffed with as many mix-in ingredients as possible, there’s something to be said for Must Love’s simple, satisfying flavors and high-quality ingredients.
Oatly made news recently for both being a popular ingredient in new Starbucks drinks (and then running out in many locations) and for its stock market debut that made the two Swedish brothers who founded the company very, very rich. You may be familiar with its best-in-class oat milk, but let’s dig into its less well-known frozen dessert. The Fudge Brownie is a chocoholic’s dream, with one of the creamiest bases we tried. It would be a perfect pint if the company added actual brownie chunks.
Two of the brand’s other standout no-frills flavors include Salted Caramel, with a craveable caramel swirl, and Raspberry Swirl, which may be the second coming of the Flintstone Sherbet Push-Ups Pops of yore. It’s all the flavor of a raspberry creamsicle without any of the dairy. Or Flintstones.
The legacy ice cream brand you grew up eating at your grandma’s house (just us?) has entered the 21st century by offering four nondairy flavors using an almond milk base, including Oreo! The bad news is that apparently it was very popular, because we couldn’t track it down, and there’s no word from the company on when it’ll be back on shelves. We were able to sample Chocolate Chocolate Chip, which was way better than expected. For one, it has the largest chocolate chips we’ve seen, likely because Breyers is packaged in an enormous container. Even better, the base ice cream doesn’t have much of an unpleasant almond milk aftertaste. If you want a real throwback, try the Mint Chocolate Chip ― it tastes exactly like an Andes mint, and is one of the more memorable mint chocolate chip flavors in a sea of them.
You might know Halo Top as a pioneer in the low-calorie, low-sugar ice cream field. Whether it’s good for you is a matter for the experts. Even Halo Top’s dairy-free, certified vegan pints made with coconut milk (with assists from fava bean protein and erythritol) are relatively low-calorie. For example, a pint of the fantastic Ben & Jerry’s vegan Karamel Sutra Core has 960 calories, and a Halo Top pint tops out at 380 calories.
The Sea Salt Caramel and Peanut Butter Cup are fairly one-note, and are only going to satisfy those people who crave those singular flavors. Pints worth throwing into your shopping cart include Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, with tinier cookie dough chunks than you might find in Ben & Jerry’s, but perhaps more soft and pillowy. If you must buy one vegan Halo Top, make it Birthday Cake. It’s also one of the best dairy Halo Top pints, and it makes the transition into a vegan pint unscathed. The sprinkles are a joy to eat and mimic the birthday cake flavors flawlessly, despite swapping in the (sometimes overpowering) coconut milk for the ice cream base.
So Delicious has been in the dessert game for 30-plus years. Coincidentally, the company offers about 30 different vegan pints, including bases made with cashew milk, oat milk, coconut milk and soy milk. That’s not even including its ice cream sandwiches and bars.
Let’s dive right into what’s most craveable from So Delicious’ vegan lineup. Oatmilk Coffee Chip is a solid entry into the oat milk ice cream space, with a smooth, creamy base and plenty of cocoa chips. The Snickerdoodle pint made with cashew milk is so overflowing with cinnamon and sugar notes that it’s making us wonder if they secretly froze the cereal milk from a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Another solid cashew milk pint is Bananas Foster, which accurately captures the overwhelming banana flavor and the rum notes from the dessert.