Vegan ice cream is a popular sweet treat with dairy allergies, those embracing a plant-based diet, or anyone looking for an alternative to traditional ice cream. These days, there are more vegan ice cream options than ever, with products made with different types of non-dairy milk and in an abundance of flavors.
Still, Ann Ziata, a chef-instructor in the recreational program at the Institute of Culinary Education, urges anyone shopping for vegan ice cream to review the products’ ingredient lists and nutritional information before making a purchase.
For the sweet tooth in you, also read: Vegan Sugar Cookie Bars
“Ice cream is fat and sugar,” Ziata says. “I would look for things that are recognizable and that are high in fat because that means it’s going to taste good.”
In other words, this isn’t the time to embrace a low-fat diet. If you want a plant-based option that’s going to mimic the taste of actual ice cream, a higher fat content is your best bet. We asked several experts to share their favorite vegan ice cream options—here are their top 12 picks.
Ziata says that Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss vegan ice cream is her go-to, and Mint Chip Galactica is her favorite flavor.
She prefers vegan ice cream made with coconut milk because the saturated fat content is the most similar to heavy cream when compared with other non-dairy milk alternatives. Soy, almond, or cashew milk makes for icier and not-as-creamy desserts, Ziata says.
Another of Ziata’s favorite coconut milk ice creams is from So Delicious, and she prefers traditional flavors like chocolate. The brand has all kinds of vegan ice cream offerings, from traditional pints to ice cream sandwiches to fudge bars.
In addition to coconut milk, So Delicious offers other lines of vegan frozen desserts made with cashew milk, soy milk, almond milk, and oat milk. Katie Jones, a former food technologist for a vegan ice cream company and vegan food startup consultant, lists the So Delicious snickerdoodle cashew milk frozen dessert as her favorite vegan ice cream.
The gluten-free snickerdoodle cookie dough is “swoon-worthy,” Jones says. The base flavor blends cinnamon, cashew, and vanilla flavors.
Jones said this vegan ice cream offers a balance of textures from the “snap of the chocolate coating, the crunch of the oatmeal cookies, and the cooling mint ice cream sandwiched in the center.”
“Vegan ice cream is what turned me vegan,” says Mazeratie Sweet, vegan recipe developer, content creator, and founder of This Is Not a Blog. Because of a lactose sensitivity, she cut out dairy a year before converting to veganism. Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy Cherry Garcia is one of her favorites. She calls it a classic and says it has “just the right ratio of creaminess to sweetness.”
Teen vegan and chef Doris Zeger counts Ben & Jerry’s P.B. & Cookies as one of her favorite frozen desserts. The almond milk-based ice cream features chocolate sandwich cookies and peanut butter swirls. “It’s wholesome, comforting, and delicious,” she says.
These vegan ice cream sandwiches pair soy-based ice cream with chocolate wafers. Sweet said she finds the chocolate-vanilla combination nostalgic. “It immediately takes me back to elementary school recess,” she says. If you’re looking for that old-school taste in a dairy-free format, these sandwiches are perfect.
Anna Keeve, the founder of experiential dining company PlantBasedPopUp, says Van Leeuwen’s vegan ice cream is creamy, made with cashews, coconut, and cocoa butter, and features unique, chef-driven flavors. Her favorite is the vegan chocolate chip cookie dough option.
While the company has shops and ice cream trucks in New York and Los Angeles, its products can also be ordered online.
NadaMoo’s That Snickerdoodle Dough is one of Keeve’s go-to vegan ice cream flavors. It features a cinnamon coconut milk base with gluten-free snickerdoodle cookie dough pieces.
The dairy-free ice cream also comes in flavors like vanilla and birthday cake, and it’s sold in grocery stores nationwide.
Zeger says she enjoys the contrasting textures of the vegan mochi treats, with a chewy outer dough and a sweet ice cream filling. Her favorite flavor is the salted caramel, but My/Mo offers several vegan flavors.
Taylor Wolfram, a vegan registered dietitian, lists Frankie & Jo’s as one of her favorite vegan ice cream brands. The company has ice cream shops in Seattle, but its products are available online, too.
Frankie & Jo’s features ice cream made from cashew and coconut milk in a variety of unique flavors, like Salty Caramel Ash, Gingered Golden Milk, and more.
While there are many creamy vegan ice creams out there, Ziata said sorbets offer another option for a vegan frozen treat. She likes Ciao Bella’s sorbettos, which come in a variety of fruity flavors and dark cocoa.
Now that you know how many vegan ice cream options there are out there, you might want to try them even if you don’t follow a dairy-free diet. These frozen desserts are just as good as the ice cream you’re used to—you won’t even miss the dairy component.