I taste-tested over 20 vegan ice cream brands to find the best ones – these 6 topped my list

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Wildgood vegan ice cream sitting in bowls with spoons
  • Ice cream is the perfect summer treat, and vegan options are more abundant than ever.
  • Sure, you may have heard of Oatly and So Delicious, but the world of artisan vegan ice cream is vast.
  • Here are 6 vegan ice cream brands you probably haven’t heard of but need to try this summer.
  • My picks include an olive oil ice cream, macadamia nut milk ice cream, and coconut meat ice cream.

I am a full-time food journalist and eat more ice cream than anyone I know. Over the years, I’ve published stories about the best ice cream parlors in the United States, gourmet soft serve, ice cream sandwiches and artisan ice cream makers that began shipping their ice cream nationally during the pandemic. I’ve even been invited to judge gelato festivals and weighed in on new flavors by cult favorite ice cream makers at company headquarters. Last summer, I received 60 pints of ice cream from nearly a dozen different brands delivered on the same day and all the liquid nitrogen fog permeated my entire house.

Recently, I’ve discovered more and more great plant-based ice creams popping up. I’ve tasted through flavors from more than 20 different vegan ice cream brands and have learned that vegan ice cream can be just as delightful and delicious as dairy ice cream. Even if you’re not vegan, trying plant-based ice creams offer unique flavor combinations you won’t find in dairy ice cream.

Sure, I’ve tried the usual vegan ice cream suspects you find in grocery stores, but I’ve been truly delighted by the small-batch artisanal brands, many of which are charting new territory in the world of plant-based ice cream. Below you’ll find six bespoke vegan ice cream brands that I love; many you probably haven’t heard of before.

Here are 6 vegan ice cream brands worth trying this summer:

The first and only macadamia milk ice cream

four pints of Mauna Loa macadamia milk ice cream on a blue background

Mauna Loa Macadamia Milk Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert, $9.99 per pint, available on Instacart and Mauna Loa

Most vegan ice creams are made with coconut, cashew, soy or almond milk bases, but Hawaii’s most famous producer of macadamia nuts, Mauna Loa, has upped the ante, debuting the first and only macadamia milk-based frozen dessert this summer. 

Higher in monounsaturated fat and lower in carbs than other popular nuts, macadamia makes for an ultra creamy base that’s also keto-diet friendly. Flavors like Kona coffee, vanilla orchid and mango liliko’i showcase more of Hawaii’s natural bounty and there’s even the cheeky Rocky Road to Hana, named for the famous winding drive on Maui. This is the most decadent flavor of all — a fudgy chocolate base studded with soft marshmallows and crunchy macadamias instead of almonds. 

While you can purchase pints online, they’re also available at Sprouts in 23 states and Albertsons and Safeway locations in California, Texas, New Mexico, Hawaii and Seattle.

A small batch oat milk ice cream with inventive mix-ins

chocolate vegan ice cream from Whipped Urban Dessert Lab

Whipped Urban Dessert Lab Ice Crème, $16.50 per half pint, available on Goldbelly

Oat milk is the plant-based milk alternative of choice among baristas for its thick, creamy texture in lattes and cappuccinos, so it’s no surprise that it also makes a rich ice cream base. Sisters Courtney Blagrove and Zan B.R. make their own oat milk for their new line of oat milk “ice crème” at Whipped Urban Dessert Lab. This stuff is better than Oatly and chock full of mix-ins like strawberry shortcake crumbles, chocolate cookie chunks, and cinnamon apple crisp.

This is the first ice cream brand that I’ve seen where the pint packaging is labeled upside down too. Apparently, storing ice cream (or ice crème!) upside down in the freezer helps prevent freezer burn because any partially melted bits will collect on the lid, which keeps ice crystals from forming. 

Next time I’m in New York, my first stop will be Whipped Urban Dessert Lab’s Lower East Side storefront to try a swirl of sweet creme and chocolate twist at the world’s first oat milk soft serve shop.

A modern Mediterranean plant-based gelato

Pints of Wildgood vegan ice cream sit partially open with scoops removed

Wildgood Plant-Based Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert, $9 per pint, available on Instacart and Wildgood

Olive oil has been a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet for millennia, but could it also be the secret to rich, creamy vegan ice cream that’s low in saturated fat? Rather than using nut milk, Wildgood relies on a blend of extra virgin olive oil, pea protein and chicory root fiber, sweetened with fructose, to achieve a soft and creamy consistency straight out of the freezer. All of the olive oil comes from Greek ice cream maker Sotiris Tsichlopoulos’ family’s ancient groves in Corfu.

For an ice cream so low in saturated fat and calories, Wildgood is surprisingly rich and you can really taste the olive oil in each flavor, adding a sophisticated savory undertone. Chocolate hazelnut is a favorite, reminiscent of the best gianduja chocolate spread I’ve ever tried in Piedmont. 

With such a short ingredient list, the quality of each ingredient is paramount. Simple flavors without many mix-ins allow ingredients like Alphonso mango, California pistachios and Oregon hazelnuts to shine. 

Wildgood is available in eight flavors so far, and you can find it on Instacart or order online to ship anywhere in the continental United States.

A boozy vegan ice cream

A pint of smores vegan ice cream from Scoops on Tap sits in front of a fireplace

Scoops On Tap, $22.25 per pint, available on Goldbelly

Scoops on Tap was created by two friends who love craft beer and ice cream and wanted to blend them together for a line of beer- and spirit-infused ice creams. Up until recently, their product was only available at farmers market and specialty retailers in Southern California, but now they’re shipping pints nationally with Goldbelly.

After Hours vanilla bourbon is a year-round favorite that I most enjoy with a shot of espresso poured over top and sprinkled liberally with toasted cacao nibs. The sumptuously smooth texture is a combination of a coconut cream and oat milk and don’t worry — it’s less than 5% ABV. 

Seasonally, many more plant-based boozy ice creams are available, like Cocosaurus Rex, a toasted coconut ice cream with a fair trade dark chocolate fudge swirl infused with a coconut stout, and Madeline, a lemon and grape sorbet steeped on toasted oak chips infused with a grape sour ale. The latter is perfect as a refreshing float with prosecco if you wish to add more booze to the equation.

A plant-based option with superfood boosts

Containers of Sacred Serve vegan ice cream against a light blue background

Sacred Serve Plant-Based Gelato, $10 per carton, available Sacred Serve

Hand harvested certified organic and fair-trade young coconut meat, plus coconut sugar and raw coconut oil forms the holy coconut trinity that is the base of all Sacred Serve gelato flavors. Superfoods like matcha green tea, Afghan saffron, chaga mushrooms and raw cacao are blended in for an ingredient list that’s so nutritious you’re almost suspicious that these could possibly taste good — until you take the first bite. This gelato is subtly sweet with a super creamy texture. 

Sacred Serve’s newest flavor is a reinvention of childhood favorite cookies and cream with tigernut cookies instead of typical Oreos. The cookie crumble is darkened with activated charcoal and made with prebiotic-rich tigernut flour and adaptogenic mucuna. 

The gelato is rock hard when you first pull it from the freezer, so you need to let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes or so to melt to a creamy consistency. You can find Sacred Serve in more than 150 stores across the country including Whole Foods, Foxtrot, Plum Market and Erewhon.

Really good vegan ice cream sandwiches

Vegan ice cream sandwiches from Green Girl Bakeshop

Green Girl Bakeshop Dairy Free Gluten Free Cookie Sandwiches, $96 for a pack of 12 ice cream sandwiches, available at Green Girl Bakeshop

Lisa Stoy’s plant-based gelatos all have four ingredients or less, starting with a coconut milk base sweetened with maple syrup, plus fresh mint, vanilla beans, cardamom, turmeric or cacao depending on the flavor. The ice cream sandwiches at Green Girl Bakeshop have just the right ratio of cookie to ice cream, keeping the focus squarely on the ice cream with the cookies playing a supporting role.

Depending on the flavor, the ice cream is sandwiched between gluten-free chocolate chip, dark chocolate, or ginger cookies, made with cassava flour and applesauce. It almost sounds too healthy to be a cookie, but they freeze nicely, remaining soft enough to bite into without the ice cream squishing out the sides. The golden turmeric ice cream with ginger cookies and the classic vanilla bean ice cream sandwich with chocolate chip cookies are the best of the bunch.

Our testing methodology

I’m a food journalist with a predilection for ice cream and I’ve been known to regularly finish a pint in one sitting. Recently, I have been eating a predominantly plant-based diet and made it my mission to find the best plant-based ice creams that are just as satisfying as the dairy ice cream I’ve known and loved.

Flavor: Favorite flavors vary widely among ice cream lovers, so I included ice creams that recreated classic flavors impeccably as well as innovating new flavors. Most of all, I should be able to easily discern the flavor in a blind taste test and the ice cream shouldn’t taste muddied or cloyingly sweet. You should be able to eat a full scoop without feeling like you’ve developed a cavity.  

Texture: A great plant-based ice cream should mimic the decadently smooth and satisfying mouthfeel of premium dairy ice cream. I chose ice creams that didn’t taste watery or gummy and didn’t develop too many ice crystals.

Ingredients: The best plant-based ice creams use high-quality ingredients, and I looked for shorter ingredient lists made with real foods rather than ice creams filled with emulsifiers and sweetened with corn syrup or glucose syrup. For example, Oatly’s frozen dessert, which includes dextrose, dried glucose syrup and rapeseed oil, did not make the cut.

Check out our other vegan and vegetarian food guides

Best vegan and vegetarian BBQ foods roundup 4x3

 

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Biden tells Republicans who oppose a Capitol riot commission to ‘eat some chocolate chocolate chip’ ice cream

President Joe Biden poses for a photo with a girl after getting an ice cream at Honey Hut Ice Cream in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 27, 2021.
President Joe Biden poses for a photo with a girl after getting an ice cream at Honey Hut Ice Cream in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 27, 2021.

  • President Joe Biden made a surprise stop on Thursday at Honey Hut ice cream shop in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • With an ice cream cone in hand, he said he “couldn’t imagine” why Republicans are opposed to a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol riot.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden made a surprise stop on Thursday at Honey Hut ice cream shop in Cleveland, Ohio.

Reporters at the scene were eager to know how the president felt about congressional Republicans rejecting the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Biden, famous for his love of ice cream, held up his cone and advised his colleagues across the aisle to “eat some chocolate chocolate chip.”

It was a joke, folks.

After cheers from the small crowd gathered around him, he added, “I can’t imagine anyone voting against establishing a commission on the greatest assault since the Civil War on the Capitol. But at any rate, I came for ice cream.”

Biden took another light-hearted swipe at Republicans during a speech at a Cleveland community college earlier on Thursday. He noted that not a single Republican lawmaker voted for his COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan, but many of them have since touted the benefits of the legislation to the constituents.

“I’m not going to embarrass any one of them, but I have – here – a list of how back in their districts, they’re bragging about the Rescue Plan,” Biden said, holding up a card listing the names of about a dozen lawmakers.

The crowd broke out in laughter.

He added, “I mean some people have no shame.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

McDonald’s is offering free McFlurries for its new Caramel Brownie flavor on Tuesday. Here’s how to get one.

Mcflurry cup

McDonald’s will give away free McFlurries on Tuesday following its debut of a new flavor.

The fast-food chain will hand out regular size cups of its new Caramel Brownie McFlurry on May 4. The new flavor, which is characterized as “salty and sweet,” was only just released across the fast food chain on Monday. It is made out of vanilla soft serve mixed with brownie pieces and caramel sauce.

Screen Shot 2021 05 03 at 11.53.03 AM
Caramel Brownie McFlurry

McDonald’s said the free ice cream mix is for anyone who has mistaken the McFlurry spoon – a hollow plastic scoop – for a straw. The chain announced it would release the new flavor on National Caramel Day in April.

In order to qualify for the free Caramel Brownie McFlurry, customers must download the McDonald’s app and register for a free account.

From the account, just provide the offer code for the free McFlurry at the register or through an online order. The code can only be used once per customer. No purchase is required to get the free soft-serve mix.

From Monday to Wednesday, McDonald’s customers can also get the Caramel Brownie McFlurry for free via the delivery app Uber Eats with a $15 or more purchase.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How Ben & Jerry’s makes nearly 1 million pints of ice cream a day

  • Ben & Jerry’s is the best-selling single ice cream brand in the world.
  • It’s gained a cult following thanks to classic flavors like Half Baked and Cherry Garcia and a mission to use ice cream to fight for equality.
  • We visited the plant in St. Albans, Vermont, to see how Ben & Jerry’s pumps out nearly 1 million pints a day.
  • It takes hundreds of workers, special machinery, and a 24/7 operation to package up these pints.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcription of the video.

Narrator: Scooped up across 38 countries and up to 75 flavors, Ben & Jerry’s is no pint-sized operation. Its two Vermont factories run 24/7, operated by hundreds of flavor makers. Together, they pump out nearly a million pints a day, from classic flavors like Cherry Garcia and Half Baked to flavors on a mission for criminal-justice reform and refugee rights. And all those flavors have to be delicious.

Sarah Fidler: Our minimum run size, once we get a flavor to the factory, is 80,000 pints. So not only do we have to love it, but 80,000 fans have to love it too.

Narrator: We visited the St. Albans plant in northern Vermont to see how these famous pints flip their way to our freezers. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield started Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream in 1978. From a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont, they launched a brand based on sustainable ice cream making and advocating for causes they believed in, and it worked. Today, Ben & Jerry’s is the best-selling single brand ice cream label in the US. To pump out its iconic flavors, first it starts with ingredients.

Ben & Jerry’s partners with 250 farms globally to source everything from vanilla bean to milk. Milk comes from the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, just a mile and a half from the factory. Once the milk’s at the plant, it heads to one of these massive, 6,000-gallon silos.

But before it can be made into ice cream, everyone involved has to suit up, including us. Gowns, hairnets, caps, and boots.

To make the ice cream base, the milk heads to the blend tank. Cream, milk, and lots of sugar are churned together. The factory goes through 6,700 gallons of cream every single day. Every ice cream flavor starts with either a sweet cream base or a chocolate base.

Next, the Mix Master will pour in eggs, stabilizers, and cocoa powder if it’s a chocolate base. Then it’s piped into the pasteurizer. You can’t see it happening, but hot steel plates are heating up the mix to kill any harmful bacteria. The newly pasteurized milk is stored in a tank for four to eight hours, so the ingredients can really get to know each other.

After making the two bases, they’ll head to one of the 20 flavor vats to get a flavor boost.

Fidler: We’re always coming up with new flavors, hundreds of flavors a year, and we usually narrow it down to about three or four. We really love to bring our social mission values into our naming process. For example, Empower Mint to talk about voting rights.

Narrator: Before Ben & Jerry’s famous chunks can be added, the mix has to get to below-freezing temperatures. It’s pumped through this giant freezing barrel, and when it gets to the front, it’s finally ice cream. Along the way, it’s quality tested, meaning lucky factory floor workers get to taste the ice creams.

Then it goes into the first of two freezer visits. When it comes out, it’s 22 degrees and somewhere between the consistency of a milkshake and soft serve.

Now for the best part, the chunks. Founder Ben actually didn’t have a great sense of smell, which meant he couldn’t taste much either. So his big thing was texture. That’s why Ben & Jerry’s has some of the biggest chunks in the ice cream industry. These chunks end up in flavors like Half Baked, Chubby Hubby, or the one we’re making, Chocolate Therapy.

Workers dump in add-ins through the Chunk Feeder, from brownie bites and cookie dough globs to chocolate chunks, fruits, and nuts. They let us give it a try, but it’s not as easy as it looks. Then it’s finally time to pack those pints. Workers stack the empty containers into the automatic filler. The machine drops the pints into position and perfectly pumps in ice cream. It can fill up 270 pints a minute. The pints are pushed towards the lidder and sealed tight.

At this point, six pints every hour are pulled off the line for quality testing. Quality assurance personnel first cut pints open. They’re making sure the ingredients are symmetrical and there aren’t any big air bubbles.

Worker: There is a small gap, but that’s what we call a functional void. If we saw large voids, it would be concerning. It’s actually quite the workout, as you can tell.

Narrator: They also measure the weight and volume of pints to ensure that the right amount of ice cream makes it into each container.

Worker: So, we know the weight of the ice cream, and anything below 460 is not passable.

Narrator: Now back to the factory line. It’s now time for the pints to take a second spin in the freezer. The ice cream has to get even colder, down to minus 10 degrees. The pints travel along the Spiral Hardener, a corkscrew-shaped conveyor belt inside a freezer. With the wind chill, it can get up to minus 60 degrees in there.

After three hours, the pints are finally frozen and ready to be packaged. They’re flipped over and shrink wrapped into groups of eight. Together, they make a gallon. But you’ll never actually see a gallon tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, because the company never wants its ice cream going bad sitting in the back of your fridge. Once the pints are packaged, they’re ready to be shipped across the globe.

Abby Narishkin: Hey, guys, my name’s Abby, and I’m one of the producers on this video. My favorite flavor is definitely Ben & Jerry’s Milk & Cookies, but let me know your favorites in the comments below and if you have any ideas for the next episode of “Big Business.” Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss out.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in August 2020.

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Ben & Jerry’s partnered with Colin Kaepernick to unveil a vegan ice cream that ‘amplifies calls to defund and abolish the police’

Ben & Jerry's Colin Kaepernick Change the Whirled flavor
Ben & Jerry and Colin Kaepernick’s Change the Whirled flavor.

  • Ben & Jerry’s has teamed up with civil rights activist and athlete Colin Kaepernick to unveil a new vegan ice cream flavor that will be available next year.
  • The Change the Whirled flavor “celebrates Kaepernick’s courageous work to confront systematic oppression and to stop police violence against Black and Brown people,” according to the ice cream maker.
  • Ben & Jerry’s has a history of being vocal on racial, political, and social justice issues in the US.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Ben & Jerry’s has teamed up with activist and athlete Colin Kaepernick to unveil a new ice cream flavor, Change the Whirled.

According to Ben & Jerry’s, the flavor “celebrates Kaepernick’s courageous work to confront systematic oppression and to stop police violence against Black and Brown people.”

Like Kaepernick, Change the Whirled is vegan, and has a caramel sunflower butter ice cream base with fudge bits and graham cracker and chocolate cookie swirls. The ice cream will be available early next year, and all of Kaepernick’s proceeds will go to the Know Your Rights Camp, a Kaepernick-founded organization with the goal of “advancing the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities,” according to its website.

Read more: Nike just blew past Wall Street’s expectations, and experts say it’s thanks to tech and taking risks like its Colin Kaepernick campaign

“Ben & Jerry’s commitment to challenging the anti-Black roots of policing in the United States demonstrates a material concern for the well-being of Black and Brown communities,”  Kaepernick said in a statement. “My hope is that this partnership will amplify calls to defund and abolish the police and to invest in futures that can make us safer, healthier, and truly free.”

The ice cream will be sold in the US and parts of Europe for between $4.99 to $5.49.

The ice cream giant’s history of championing causes

Justice Remix'd Ben & Jerry's
Cohen and Greenfield announce a new flavor, Justice Remix’d, during a press conference in 2019

This isn’t the first flavor Ben & Jerry’s has released with a cause. In 2019, the ice cream maker – which calls itself an “aspiring social justice company” – unveiled its Justice ReMix’d flavor with the goal of bringing attention to criminal justice reform and racial inequality in the US, according to Ben & Jerry’s website

Read more: How Ben & Jerry’s embrace of social issues set it apart from the competition, boosted its marketing, and helped it build a positive workplace culture

Ben & Jerry’s has also used other avenues besides themed ice cream flavors to express its views on social and racial issues across the country.

In September, the ice cream maker and Vox Media launched the “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America” podcast that takes a deeper look at racism and white supremacy throughout US history. And following the death of George Floyd, Ben & Jerry’s published a statement that was lauded by Twitter users for its length and details.

Last year, Ben & Jerry’s also publicly supported H.R. 40 which, if passed, could create the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans.

“Ben & Jerry’s is proud to diversify our flavor portfolio by honoring Kaepernick with a full-time flavor,” Ben & Jerry’s CEO Matthew McCarthy said in a statement. “We deeply respect how Colin uses his voice to protest racism, white supremacy, and police violence through the belief that ‘love is at the root of our resistance.'”

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