Ice cream was one of the things I thought I was just going to give up when I ditched dairy. And for a little while, it was. LUCKILY for me, it seems like everyone and their mother hopped on the dairy free/ vegan train which has led to an abundance of vegan ice cream brands hitting the shelves. So naturally, it has been my civic duty to try all of them.
Not gonna lie, the vegan versions aren’t exactly like ice cream (with one exception 😉 ). They’re less rich, sometimes weirdly textured and usually taste too much like coconut. That being said, some are still really really good. I could be biased (I am) or delusional (probably) but believe me when I say there are actually some pretty solid alternatives on the market…
so if you’re interested, read on.
1. Haagen-Daz non dairy
This. Stuff. Until writing this article I had never had this ice cream. I had an awkward top 4 and that was just not a good number so for the sake of ~research~ I picked up a carton of the Mocha Chocolate Cookie flavor and it immediately jumped to spot number one. It changed my life. I did not know that something could taste this rich and creamy sans cream. There’s the perfect ratio of cookie to ice cream, it almost tastes like gelato, doesn’t have the weird chalky or icy consistency that some dairy- free varieties do, and there’s tons of flavors. Truly doesn’t get any better. My dad who is both non- vegan and an ice cream aficionado approved and ate about half the pint so that should speak for itself. Do yourself a favor and pick up a pint or five. (Plus it’s sold at Safeway!!) (Plus plus they also have non- dairy ice cream bars so I’m gonna need to try those too).
2. Nada Moo
Prior to discovering the above, Nada Moo was my go to. It’s coconut milk based so it’s super creamy but it doesn’t have the lingering coconut taste that some coconut based products have. This is a pet peeve of mine (tasting like coconut when it’s not coconut flavored) so this ice cream gets bonus points. Its super creamy, has the consistency and smoothness of ice cream and is just overall delicious. I had the chocolate chip flavor first, which, in my opinion, is the best. I also tried the mint which was good (mint is just not my favorite flavor in general) and the vanilla which was sub par. Overall, the cookies and cream is super good and definitely worth a try although it’s a little pricey. (Sold at whole foods and some Safeways).
3. Halo Top – Caramel Macchiato
Flavor here is a key factor. I had high hopes for the dairy free halo top flavors and most of them fell flat. Seriously, don’t even bother with any flavor other than the caramel macchiato. I don’t know why this one is so much better but take my word for it when I say that it is. Its smooth, has ribbons of caramel and while you don’t get too much coffee flavor its really creamy. It’s a tiny bit off, texture wise, but in my opinion so is the regular version. I listed it as number three not because it’s the most amazing option out there but because sometimes you want something a little bit lower in calories and the fact that there is a great tasting vegan option for this scenario is awesome. (You can find it at Safeway, Whole Foods and Target!) (Obviously go to target.) (It’s basically Disneyland.)
Another option in which flavor is super important. I have had a lot of so delicious flavors and I find their coconut milk ice creams to be too coconutty and their almond milk varieties pretty bland. Their cashew milk line, on the other hand is pretty dang good. This one is more of a tie for 3rd but I put it here because halo top has the low cal advantage. Taste wise, this one takes the cake. It’s a little bit of a weird flavor idea but it works perfectly. It’s creamy, nutty, chocolatey and overall just pretty tasty. Definitely worth trying! (You can find it at Safeway, Whole Foods, and again, my personal favorite, Target.)
I’ve tried the PB& cookies and the chocolate brownie flavors and they’re both good. They just aren’t Ben & Jerry’s good. In other words, you know this is an almond milk version of their ice cream. With the top two, you just eat the dessert and think wow this is great whereas with this one you’re left with more of a “wow that’s pretty good for being dairy-free.” It’s fine, I’d definitely eat it but I wouldn’t pick it first if their were other options available.The ice cream itself isn’t very creamy and the good part is the filling but since its a little sparse I found myself digging for it. So, that being said, it’s ok- not amazing.