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If you hadn’t noticed, there’s a lot of ice cream now. Vanilla and rocky road, for example, but also everything bagel and mac & cheese. (Yes, those are real, and they’re both on this list.) You’re probably wondering how all these flavors stack up against one another, and that’s only natural. To sate your curiosity and help you save time in the frozen foods aisle of your grocery store, this is our official ice cream flavor ranking.
There are a lot of great small, local companies making quality frozen dairy product — but, for practical purposes, we restricted our candidates to ice cream varieties that are available coast to coast. When ranking, we considered several factors, including flavor, complexity, texture, and convenience. That last criterion was minor but still important, because it’s nice when you don’t have to visit several stores to find the flavor you’re looking for.
To ensure that this ranking was as accurate and scientific as possible, we conducted a company poll. The results of this poll predictably skewed toward classic, better-known flavors and brands — but, at the same time, there’s a reason why certain ice creams are successful and well-loved. (And the reason is: they’re good.)
This list obviously isn’t all-encompassing, but it also wasn’t meant to be. We only included flavors that we actually like (or respect, at the very least), and, who knows, we might just expand the ranking at some point. The fact is, there’s a lot of great ice cream out there. Here are our top 50 picks.
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50. Jeni’s Everything Bagel
Poppy seeds? Sure. Sesame seeds? Sounds good. Salt? Of course. But we aren’t quite sure if we’re ready for garlic and onion in our ice cream. We do, however, appreciate the ingenuity.
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49. Lactaid Vanilla
Deliciousness is a spectrum, and Lactaid Vanilla falls on that spectrum. If that sounds like a vague compliment, that’s because it is. Let us now praise Lactaid pills (and also their perfectly serviceable ice cream).
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48. Magnum Ice Cream Double Red Velvet
With its top layer of white chocolate that you crack with a spoon, this is an interesting concept — but, in terms of flavor and texture, there’s certainly room for improvement.
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47. Van Leeuwen Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
When the movie Clue came out, it grossed less than its budget, and Roger Ebert was not so amused. Which is to say, not all good things are appreciated at first, especially when they’re unlike anything else. This mac & cheese ice cream from Kraft and Van Leeuwen, for example, tastes fine to us. But maybe it’ll be big one day. Although probably not, seeing as how this is a limited run.
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46. Breyers Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
The thing about this ice cream is: it tastes like Reese’s. It may not be the most refined, and it certainly isn’t artisanal, but it’s not like we can take some sort of contrarian stance against Reese’s. We wouldn’t know how to do that.
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45. Breyers Snickers
Same thing, different candy (and a bit more subtle). Also, shout out to Snickers ice cream bars.
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44. Friendly’s Moose Tracks
Fun fact, the Moose Tracks flavor is actually owned and licensed by a company called Denali Flavors, and it was named after a mini golf course in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Great name, solid ice cream.
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43. Van Leeuwen Earl Grey Tea
You’d never believe it, but this ice cream tastes like earl grey tea. Exactly like earl grey tea (minus the bitterness). We respect the creativity and recognize the deliciousness of this ice cream, but the odds that we’ll ever sit down and eat a whole pint of this seem slim.
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42. Oatly Coffee (Non-Dairy)
If you think oat-based ice cream sounds gross, you’ve never had Oatly. Or you’ve tried Oatly, and you weren’t a fan. If that’s the case, we respect your opinion but beg to differ. Texturally, this is softy and creamy, but still hard enough to scoop. We could definitely use a little more coffee flavor, but we also like how this reminds us of an iced coffee with a hefty pour of oat milk.
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41. Van Leeuwen Cookies & Cream
Cookies & cream in general used to feel more exciting. Did we change? Did the world change? Probably both. Still, quality ice cream.
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40. Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk
New York Super Fudge Chunk is the ice cream equivalent of that one imaginary friend (Bing Bong?) who died of neglect and abandonment in the movie Inside Out. It used to mean the world to us. But we hardly ever think of it now.
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39. Breyer’s Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry
Honestly, we could have put any Neapolitan ice cream (around since the 19th century) here. It’s a great concept, and lots of modern ice cream is modeled after this multi-flavor approach (looking at you and your cores, Ben & Jerry). You can catch us eating this tri-color ice cream any day of the week, although it feels especially appropriate for a fifth or sixth birthday party.
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38. Van Leeuwen Cookie Crumble Strawberry Jam (Non-Dairy)
When it comes to catering to folks who don’t consume dairy, Van Leeuwen is going above and beyond. Their Cookie Crumble Strawberry Jam flavor tastes like the best granola bar you’ve ever eaten or the topping on a cobbler, and we’re fully on board.
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37. Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food
The marshmallow swirls make this ice cream. The chocolate fish, on the other hand, are never what we hoped they’d be. At the same time, this is a classic, and it’ll forever be lodged in our minds.
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36. Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Core
Once upon a time, you had to dig around the tastiest bits of your ice cream. But thanks to advancements in production technology and lowered expectations for ourselves, we now have the Core series from Ben & Jerry’s. This ice cream is good. Very good, even. But if you happen to get a full scoop of the core, it suddenly becomes too much.
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35. Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
A cookie dough core is aggressive. But this is just right. You could argue this (or cookie dough ice cream in general) should place a lot higher on our ranking but A) there’s more cookie dough yet to come, and B) we will not be intimidated into changing the order of this list.
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34. Jeni’s Gooey Butter Cake
The name of this flavor includes the words “butter” and “cake.” So at least you know what you’re getting yourself into. This ice cream is a lot, but those cake pieces really do make us feel something.
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33. Häagen-Dazs Creamy Mango
Mango ice cream is delightful. There should be more of it.
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32. Jeni’s Lemon & Blueberries Parfait
Jeni’s Lemon & Blueberries Parfait is objectively unique and complex. It also feels especially appropriate for summer — although it might be too tart for some. (Blame/thank the lemon and buttermilk.)
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31. Ben & Jerry’s Boom Chocolatta! Cookie Core
This is just candy, right? Like, when you shove a tube of cookie into a pint of ice cream, it’s not really ice cream anymore, right? Regardless, the mocha/cookie combo is elite.
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30. Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia
Life used to be simpler. At least in terms of ice cream variety. (Life has otherwise always been complex and confusing.) Cherry Garcia, for example, was invented in 1987. It remains delicious and iconic to this day, although it isn’t especially compelling anymore, thanks in part to the emergence of newer Ben & Jerry’s flavors.
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29. Ben & Jerry’s Everything but The…
If you only eat ice cream for the chunks, do you actually like ice cream? Yes. And, honestly, we aren’t even sure what you’re trying to get at with that question. An ice cream with peanut butter cups, toffee pieces, white chocolate chunks, and fudge covered almonds is just as valid as any plain flavor.
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28. Edy’s/Dreyer’s Rocky Road
Rocky Road has been around for roughly 100 years now. In that time, it’s built up a lot of goodwill. Plus, the name is fun and alliterative, and there still aren’t many flavors with marshmallows and/or almonds.
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27. Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey
Sometimes, you just want banana ice cream. Other times, you want to say the phrase “Chunky Monkey.” Either way, this is a fully tenured flavor.
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26. Van Leeuwen Chocolate (Non-Dairy)
Hilariously, plain chocolate ice cream does not make an appearance on this list. But Van Leeuwen’s vegan chocolate frozen dessert does. The rich chocolatey flavor works perfectly with the coconut cream in the base.
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25. Häagen-Dazs Dulce De Leche
A one-note ice cream to be sure, but still, compelling. The caramel swirls are a nice touch.
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24. Edy’s/Dreyer’s Strawberry
Mass-produced strawberry ice cream is better than artisanal strawberry ice cream. We know that sounds wrong, and we acknowledge that it is probably not an entirely accurate take. But there must be a kernel of truth to it. Fluffy, flavorful, even a little bit juicy — give us this neon pink ice cream on any hot summer day.
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23. Graeter’s Mint Chip
Graeter’s is available nationwide, but you’ll find that its most passionate fans hail from the region around Ohio. And that’s because Graeter’s is from Cincinnati. This right here is a perfect mint chip, which is a flavor that feels like it belongs in the 1950s. We will not expand on this.
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22. Ben & Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie
Listen, if you replace the chocolate chips with crushed up cookies, your mint chip ice cream is probably going to taste better. It’s simple math.
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21. Jeni’s Salted Peanut Butter With Chocolate Flecks
This is the fancy counterpart to Breyers Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. The flavor just isn’t as emphatic, and, while that isn’t always a good thing, we do appreciate the subtlety here. Even if you don’t love peanut butter, you might be into this Jeni’s flavor.
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20. Jeni’s Boston Cream Pie
Custard is underrated. And chocolate fudge is good. This ice cream has lots of both, with emphasis on the latter. Also, the cake pieces in here somehow stay moist and unfrozen. We could probably reach out to Jeni’s and find the reason behind this, but not all phenomena demand explanation. Enjoy the mystery.
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19. Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby
Ah, Chubby Hubby, another classic B&J flavor (invented in 1994). This one’s significantly more complex than Cherry Garcia, and it gets some bonus points for understanding the importance of salt (here, in the form of pretzels and peanut butter).
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18. Jenni’s Green Mint Chip
Yes, another mint chip. We’re putting Jeni’s above Graeter’s here because this ice cream has a silkier mouthfeel and a more pronounced (almost fruity) taste.
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17. Van Leeuwen Sicilian Pistachio (Non-Dairy)
Another great example of Van Leeuwen’s dedicated service to the dairy-free crowd. We technically prefer the dairy version of this (more on that later), but this frozen dessert’s fleshed out (but not overbearing) pistachio flavor still deserves a mention here.
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16. Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy
Nothing can take the place of actual therapy, so don’t buy this ice cream then ask your company’s HR person if it’s covered under your medical plan. Now that that’s out of the way, please buy this ice cream. It’s like plain chocolate ice cream, but better (because it has cookies and pudding).
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15. Magnolia Macapuno Ube
Magnolia Ube Macapuno is, in our opinion, infinitely better than the ube ice cream you might find at, say, Trader Joe’s. Its ube and coconut flavors are ideal complements, and, also, you can use this container to store your sewing supplies once the ice cream is gone.
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14. Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean
Saying you don’t like Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean ice cream is similar to saying you don’t like cartography or the wheel. This is good and useful, and you should be grateful to have it.
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13. Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond
Same ice cream, add chocolate-covered almonds. The result? Timeless.
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12. Ben & Jerry’s the Tonight Dough
Jimmy Fallon is good, more or less. He probably benefitted from working alongside a historically stellar cast at SNL, but, at the same time, this isn’t a commentary on Jimmy Fallon or SNL. It’s a list about ice cream. And this wildly busy ice cream is better than The Tonight Show.
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11. Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra
This ice cream feels sort of like a game of chicken — as if Ben and Jerry were saying, “Oh, you like caramel? How about this much caramel?” Consumers said “yes” and “okay,” and now we have Karamel Sutra. It has too much caramel, which is just enough.
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10. McConnell’s Turkish Coffee
Now, for some reason, we begin a run of McConnell’s flavors. This wasn’t planned. It’s just how things work out sometimes when you’re ranking ice cream. McConnell’s Turkish Coffee is not for coffee likers. It’s for coffee lovers. There are actual coffee grounds in here, and you should take that as a confirmation of quality.
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9. McConnell’s Sprinkle Cake
Some cake-flavored ice creams go overboard with their flavors. They want you to think that you’re eating raw cake batter in ice cream form, and, while this is a nice gimmick, it does get old. That’s why we like McConnell’s. It doesn’t taste artificial, it’s full of actual cake chunks, and it makes us want to put on a cone-shaped hat and attend a birthday party.
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8. McConnell’s Cinnamon & Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Cinnamon is a highly underrated ice cream ingredient, and oatmeal raisin cookies are also supremely undervalued. McConnell’s throws both of these things into this chaotic mishmash of flavors, and the result is a symphony. (McConnell’s also gets a high grade in the texture department.)
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7. Tillamook Marionberry Pie
Tillamook and marionberry go together like Stan Smiths and Phoebe Philo. If you’re from the Pacific Northwest, you understand this — and if you aren’t from the PNW, you should educate yourself by picking up a tub of Tillamook Marionberry Pie Ice Cream. It tastes like a Polaroid of an Oregon summer.
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6. Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip
There are no raspberry chunks in this. No jam, no streaks. The berries are fully emulsified, resulting in a thick, mauve desert. Factor in the small-batch French pot production process and the enormous chocolate chips, and you have an unimpeachable mascot for the city of Cincinnati.
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5. Ben & Jerry’s P.B. & Cookies (Non-Dairy)
If you hadn’t noticed by now, Ben & Jerry’s is all about excess, and this spirit of abundance is especially helpful in non-diary situations (where the ice cream base is less traditional). This non-dairy dessert, for example, is absolutely stuffed with cookies and peanut butter. We like cookies. We like peanut butter. This is better.
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4. Jeni’s Brambleberry Crisp
Jeni’s Brambleberry Crisp is perfect. And to fully appreciate this, you need to understand that this ice cream could very easily have been imperfect. You see, the “brambleberry” jam (made of blackberries and blackcurrants) is super sweet, and that could’ve led to a cloying dessert. The mellow vanilla base, however, works as the perfect counterpart, and the toasted oat streusel closes out the ballgame, giving this ice cream a sundae-like feel.
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3. Van Leeuwen Sicilian Pistachio
During our company poll, Van Leeuwen Sicilian Pistachio won big. Is it because pistachio is having a moment? Or because this pastel carton could work as home decor? Maybe. But also, this frozen dessert is silky, understated, and just a bit salty. It’s sort of like if vanilla had more personality and a deep, nutty finish.
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2. Häagen-Dazs Coffee
Availability was a factor in our rankings, which partially explains why Häagen-Dazs Coffee is sitting in the number two spot. Walk into any grocery store, and you can be moderately confident that you’ll find this in a freezer. In other words, Häagen-Dazs Coffee is there for you. It wants to hear about your day, and not just the boring parts. It wants to hear about the really boring parts too. Also, it made you a blanket made that tastes like rich, sweet coffee. Wrap yourself in it.
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1. Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked
One ice cream got more votes than the rest: Half Baked. But before we begin the ticker-tape parade, let’s try to figure out how this classic Ben & Jerry’s flavor made it all the way to the number one spot.
Born in the year 2000, you could argue that Half Baked rode the coattails of the stoner movie classic by the same name released two years prior. That would be a fun argument, but it probably wouldn’t bear fruit.
More likely, Half Baked is popular for two main reasons: variety and cookie dough. Much like its Neapolitan predecessor, this ice cream incorporates multiple base flavors (chocolate and vanilla). It also has two different kinds of chunks, which include brownie pieces as well as the forbidden delicacy known as cookie dough. As everyone knows, cookie dough is the fugu of spatulas and mixing bowls, and one must sign an implicit contract when eating it. Obviously, Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t use eggs in their recipe, but still, eating cookie dough feels rare and edgy. Pair that with the deliciousness of cookie dough and the inherent variety of the Half Baked flavor, and you have a winning formula.
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