The 5 Best Pints of Vegan Ice Cream Money Can Buy
Whether you’re vegan or lactose tolerant, or you’re just looking for ways to cut down on your consumption of animal products, the good news is, you don’t have to skip the ice cream aisle. We live in a world where you can find ice cream made out of a slew of alternative milks — soy, rice, oat, cashew, almond, hemp, and coconut, just to name a few — as well as surprise ingredients like avocados. (What a time to be alive!)
A word of caution if you’re just dipping your toes into the plant-based pond: While certain vegan ice creams can be healthier than their dairy counterparts, most actually have less desirable nutrition stats. “Vegan ice creams are all different depending on what they use for their base, but they typically have less protein and calcium than dairy ice cream,” says Summer Yule, MS, RDN. And just because vegan ice creams use plant-based ingredients, you won’t get the same health benefits of eating whole plants. “That said, ice cream is a dessert. It’s fine to not always go for the healthier option if that is what you prefer,” Yule says.
On that note, we’ve narrowed down our top five favorite vegan ice cream brands.
Luna + Larry’s prioritizes sustainability with each step of their ice-cream-making process. Their expansive plant-based product line is USDA-certified organic and each pint uses minimally-processed and ethically-sourced ingredients. With coconut in the name, you can count on a smooth, decadent coconut-milk base in all of Luna + Larry’s pints. But with coconut comes saturated fat, which is something to keep in mind as you indulge. “Ice cream made with a coconut base tends to most closely resemble dairy ice cream,” Yule says. “It’s creamier and less icy than some of the bases that are lower in fat.”
- Ginger Cookie + Caramel: A vanilla base with spiced cookies and caramel (300 calories, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein per ⅔-cup serving)
- Cold Brew Coffee: A coffee base with no add-ins (270 calories, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 21 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein per ⅔-cup serving)
- Chocolate Walnut Brownie: A chocolate base with walnuts and brownie chunks (310 calories, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 21 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein per ⅔ cup serving)
2. So Delicious
Rather than stick to just one vegan base, this ice cream brand offers up your pick of treats made from oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, and soy milk. Each pint of ice cream or box of frozen novelties (mocha almond fudge bars? Yes, please) is non-GMO project-verified and certified vegan. As is the case for other brands, the coconut milk options most closely mimic the creaminess and texture of conventional dairy-based ice cream.
- Bananas Foster: A cashew milk base with chunks of banana and a chocolate drizzle (240 calories, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein per ⅔-cup serving)
- Cookie Dough: A coconut milk base with chocolate flakes and chunks of gluten-free cookie dough (270 calories, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein per ⅔-cup serving)
- Cookies ‘n Cream: An almond milk base with gluten-free cream-filled sandwich cookies (220 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 11 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein per ⅔-cup serving)
If you’re looking for a treat that sacrifices a little in the flavor and texture department in order to cut down on fat and calories, then Halo Top is the modern marvel you’ll wish you’d tried sooner. Made from a coconut milk base, Halo Top’s vegan lineup has been described as lighter and fluffier than conventional ice cream. While some of their flavors can be a little grainy, and you may notice an aftertaste from sugar substitutes erythritol and stevia, a whole pint of one of Halo Top’s vegan varieties will run you between just 280 and 360 calories. Plus, these pints boast much lower carb counts than the other ice creams on this list. For added protein, the vegan options use pea protein isolate (while Halo Top’s dairy versions boost the protein content with milk protein concentrate).
Top-rated flavors include:
- Caramel Macchiato: A coffee base with a caramel swirl (70 calories, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fat, and 5 grams of protein per ½-cup serving)
- Sea Salt Caramel: A caramel base with a salted caramel swirl (80 calories, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fat, and 3 grams of protein per ½-cup serving)
- Peanut Butter Cup: A chocolate-y peanut butter base with peanut butter swirls (80 calories, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fat, and 3 grams of protein per ½-cup serving)
These adorable pints start with a creamy, certified organic coconut-milk base and pack in other USDA-organic, non-GMO, Fair Trade Certified ingredients you can feel better about. What began as a small-batch, family-owned operation in Austin, Texas, has now expanded to grocery stores nationwide.
- Lotta Mint Chip: A mint base with chocolate chips (140 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of fat, and 1 gram of protein per ½-cup serving)
- The Rockiest Road: A chocolate base with almonds, cookie chunks, and marshmallow swirl (150 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein per ½-cup serving)
- Birthday Cake Cookie Dough: A vanilla base with sprinkles, cookie dough, and frosted yellow cake (130 calories, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fat, and 0 grams of protein per ½-cup serving)
The kings of creative flavors have developed a nice assortment of almond-milk based vegan ice creams, many of which are non-GMO and/or fair trade. While that’s great for non-dairy eaters, let’s get one thing straight — Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice cream offerings aren’t exactly the healthiest in terms of macros, sugar content, and ingredients. For the calories allotted in a ⅔-cup serving of the rave-reviewed Coconut Seven Layer Bar flavor, for instance, you could enjoy a full meal. But, we’re talking about a treat here. You’ll just want to be mindful of your serving size and not bring the entire pint to the couch like you may with one of these lower calorie ice cream options.
Top-rated flavors include:
- Chocolate Salted ‘n Swirled: A chocolate base with chocolate sandwich cookies and salted caramel swirls (320 calories, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of fat, and 3 grams of protein per ⅔-cup serving)
- Coconut Seven Layer Bar: A coconut base with fudge chunks, walnuts, and swirls of graham crackers and caramel (430 calories, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 24 grams of fat, and 3 grams of protein per ⅔-cup serving)
- P.B. & Cookies: A vanilla base with chocolate sandwich cookies and crunchy peanut butter swirls (380 calories, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of fat, and 6 grams of protein per ⅔-cup serving)