There are more brands of dairy-free ice cream on the market now than ever, but which ones are actually worth eating? We have a few favorites, so here are some of the best non-dairy ice creams you can buy.
It’s summer and the one thing that no one should have to stay away from is ice cream. But, whether it’s due to a lactose intolerance, vegan/vegetarian diet, or just plain distaste for conventional cows’ milk, enjoying the sweet treat may be impossible.
Not really, though, since—due to the increasing demands of consumers looking to add more plant-based goods into their diets, in addition to those taking a moral stance against the dairy industry and treatment of cows—the market has become chock-full of dairy-free ice cream options using a slew of alternative milks or even water.
So, when it comes to making the difficult decision about what ice cream to take home with you, which one should you choose? Honestly, many dairy-free ice creams can be disappointing, not quite delivering on dynamite flavor or rich, creamy texture. But we did our research and found some of the best and most reliable brands on the market, that should deliver a decadent ice cream experience, even without the dairy.
One other note: Several store brands include their own alt-dairy options, not just Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but Safeway, ALDI, and even Target (under the Archer Farms line). However, for the most part, we focused on brands that are more widely available at a range of different stores—so you can find something great no matter where you’re shopping when the dairy-free ice cream craving hits.
However you go, take care to prevent freezer burn on your precious pints!
The king of ice cream (at least for this writer) has made sure not to leave out those who cannot partake in dairy (by choice or otherwise). The ice cream brand has an array of non-dairy flavors, like Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge, Mocha Chocolate Cookie, and Coconut Caramel, so there is something for everyone to indulge in. Coconut cream serves as the base for many of these flavors, but it does tend to vary, so check the ingredients if you want to know for sure.
For people who love their ice cream full of everything but the kitchen sink (see what we did there?), Ben & Jerry’s took their signature ice cream style dairy-free. Classic flavors like Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey join some exclusive non-dairy offerings as well, ensuring no one who goes dairy-free will have to miss out on their favorite pint. The base for most of their dairy-free options is almond milk.
So Delicious found its niche as a go-to ice cream for those abstaining from dairy after jumping into the market with its coconut milk version. Now, the brand has a number of alternative milk ice cream options, ranging from cashew milk and soy milk to oat milk, and the amount of flavors is seemingly endless. From basic chocolate to peanut butter and oatmeal cookie, So Delicious even kicks it up a notch, offering dipped ice cream bars and cookie sandwiches in addition to pints.
NadaMoo ice cream, which hit the market in 2004, is made with a coconut milk base and the company is committed to using as many organic and GMO-free ingredients as possible. Pints include flavors like Caramel Cold-Brew and Cookies, Strawberry Cheesecake, Birthday Cake Cookie Dough, and Lotta Mint Chip—and the brand is rolling out new flavors on a regular basis. While you can purchase goods in-store in many locations, you can buy a five-pint pack online, too.
Everyone’s favorite oat milk brand now makes dairy-free ice cream too; you can find Oatly ice cream at various stores from Target and Wegmans to corner bodegas. It comes in fairly standard flavors like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and salted caramel, but there’s a hazelnut swirl option too.
Made with a soy base, Tofutti is a dessert that has converted even the most adamant dairy-loving ice creamers to the other side. The magic, however, is not just derived from the soy base; Tofutti also adds palm oil (which, according to their FAQ, comes exclusively from sustainable sources) and cocoa butter to up the ante on the consistency. Not as varied in the flavor department as some of the other brands, Tofutti sticks to the basic chocolate and vanilla varieties, with a Butter Pecan and Wild Berry Supreme selection as well as several versions of “Cuties,” which are ice cream sandwiches. The brand, however, doesn’t stop at ice cream—it manufactures dairy-free cheese as well.
Brooklyn, New York-based Steve’s has seemingly channeled its inner hipster right into the ice cream industry. With flavors like Chocolate Cherry Blossom, Wildflower Honey Pistachio, and Moroccan Mash Up (with honey, orange blossom, pomegranate, and chopped almonds), the brand has found a way to make dietary restrictions a bit more fun. These ice creams start with a water base and add organic coconut cream for a rich consistency. Find Steve’s ice cream in a store near you.
If you’re not in Seattle, you’ll have to mail order these pints, but Chowhound Executive Editor Hana Asbrink attests that “these are amazing! The best plant-based ice creams I’ve had.” Frankie & Jo’s focuses not only on crafting delicious vegan ice cream in amazing flavors, but on making a positive impact on communities (of plants and animals as well as people). As for those flavors, you’ll find rotating seasonal specials like Harvey Strawberry Milk and Cured Persimmon Pudding (which Hana strongly advises you get if it shows up again), plus always-available options including Salty Caramel Ash, Brown Sugar Vanilla, Chocolate Date, and California Cabin (with smoked vanilla beans, cardamom, and pine oil). Different flavors have different bases, but cashew milk—which they make in-house—and coconut milk are both common. You can build your own four-pack of pints or join their monthly ice cream club.