Food and Nutrition

The 7 Best Plant-Based Ice Creams To Enjoy When It’s Fully Sweltering Outside

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Photo: Getty Images/Westend61
National Ice Cream Month (July) may be over, but we’ll keep on enjoying this rich, creamy, refreshing treat as long as we can this summer. If you’re avoiding dairy, you definitely won’t get left behind. The vegan ice cream market is growing, expected to rise by 11 percent globally this year. Take a stroll down your supermarket’s grocery aisle and you’re sure to see more options in this category than ever before. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best plant-based, dairy-free, and vegan ice cream brands to stock your freezer.

Best vegan ice cream brands for plant-based eaters (and everyone)

Daily Harvest Scoops — $9.00

Love Daily Harvest’s smoothies and flatbreads? (Us, too.) Now try the brand’s plant-based ice creams, which are free of dairy, gums, fillers, additives, and refined sugars. They’re made with one of two bases: organic coconut cream or organic cashew butter, which both lend super creamy notes. We don’t know how they do it, but these pints are also packed with functional superfoods including adaptogenic ashwagandha, probiotics, and pine pollen—a nutritionally dense powder that contains more than 20 amino acids and minerals. Try the ultra-rich Vanilla + Sticky, Sweet Salted Caramel, an ideal summer indulgence.

Kind Frozen Pints — $5.00

We’ll try anything from Kind, one of the best (and original) snack bar makers that has earned a permanent spot in our gym bags. Now the brand has translated some its most popular nut bar flavors—like Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt—into a vegan frozen dessert that is free of sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners. Ingredients including fruits (such as cherry and strawberry) and dark chocolate are blended into a base of pear juice and almonds, culminating in a feel-good treat that packs 4-6 grams of protein per 2/3-cup serving.

Wildgood — $6.00

It’s technically a non-dairy frozen dessert, but you’d fool anyone into thinking this extra-virgin olive oil-based treat is real ice cream. Greek founder Sotrisi Tsichlopoulos turned to the Mediterranean diet staple to create a certified vegan, plant-based dessert that’s incredibly rich and smooth. A scoop of Vanilla Bean is perfection atop a fruit crumble, but Mango is surprisingly tantalizing, bursting with real alphonso mango flavor. Wildgood also comes in Chocolate, Coffee, Pistachio, Chocolate Hazelnut, Sea Salt Caramel, and Mint Chocolate Chip to suit any taste.

Oatly Frozen — $6.00

Unlike many oat milks on the market, Sweden-based Oatly breaks down the whole oat groat (instead of using oat flour) to produce a milk with the same creamy, frothy texture as cow’s milk. That unique texture works perfectly as a non-dairy frozen dessert, with a scoopable texture the second you pull it from the freezer—no waiting 15 minutes to dig in. New flavors launched this year include Fudge Brownie, Raspberry Swirl. and Salted Caramel, all of which work wonderfully in a cone. It’s packaged in 100-percent recyclable cartons, too.

SweetPea (4 pints) — $32.00

The humble chickpea is the hero ingredient in this non-dairy frozen dessert, which provides all the taste of ice cream with less saturated fat—and a minimum 3 grams of protein per 2/3-cup serving. Co-founder Heather Romens, whose family previously owned an ice cream shop in Virginia, says they crush dried chickpeas to create chickpea protein that lends SweetPea its lusciously smooth foundation. We love the catchy flavor names (T.G.I. PieDay Raspberry and Must Do Cold Brew, among others), but we can’t stop eating Peanut Butter Bomb, with thick swirls of the good stuff.

Eclipse (4 pints) — $48.00

Not to get too scientific, but Eclipse—which describes itself as a cow-less plant-based ice cream—took things down to a molecular level to create this delicious dessert, and we’re so glad they did. The founders re-engineered the composition of milk and recreated a plant-based replacement using corn, potato, oat and cassava. We have to hand it to them: the texture is basically indistinguishable from a traditional premium ice cream. The Cookie Butter flavor stole our hearts, but Dark Side of the Spoon (fudge and peanut butter cookie dough) is a close second.

Sacred Serve Plant-Based Gelato (8 cartons) — $80.00

This new gelato brand gets its unbelievably creamy texture from a base of coconut meat, which is sourced directly from Thailand. We love what’s in it (adaptogenic herbs and medicinal mushrooms) just as much as what’s not (gums and stabilizers, and the top eight allergens). Of the five flavors, we’re particularly partial to Coconut Salted Caramel and Tigernut Cookies N Cream. The cute packaging is also 100-percent recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable—a first in the frozen dessert aisle.

To help ensure that your favorite vegan ice cream won't irritate your stomach or spike your blood sugar, Danielle McAvoy, MSPH, RD, a registered dietitian and senior manager of nutrition at Territory Foods recommends checking the label to see what kind of sweetener is used. “Many different types of sugar are used in non-dairy ice creams, and some have a lower impact on blood sugar level,” explains McAvoy. She advises looking for coconut sugar, which has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar, dextrose, or tapioca syrup. She also recommends avoiding options with sugar alcohols (xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol, and maltitol), which can irritate your gut and lead to indigestion, nausea, or gas. Also be wary of any added oils and gums, which can be inflammatory. McAvoy says olive oil and coconut oil are better choices than palm oil or rapeseed oil, for example.

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