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When you think of ice cream, you probably envision a thick and creamy, decadent dessert that hits that post-dinner sweet tooth just right. You can thank the saturated fat in milk for that. Milk fat makes up the base of traditional ice cream, and taking it out to make a dairy-free or vegan version can present quite the challenge.
There are many plant-based ice creams on the market today, a handful of which are better than others. Some are unpleasantly icy and thin, while others lack any real flavor. The process of making non-dairy ice cream takes a lot of trial and error (and fine-tuning) to replicate the rich creaminess of traditional ice cream without the milk or cream. Not everyone can pull it off, but the items on this list can.
Have a bowl and spoon at the ready for the best non-dairy ice creams.
Best Overall: Ben & Jerry’s "Milk" and Cookies Non-Dairy
It’s probably not a huge shock to see Ben & Jerry’s at the top of any "best ice cream" list, and the frozen dessert kings nailed it again with this non-dairy version of Milk & Cookies. While most non-dairy ice creams utilize coconut or almond as a base, the vanilla-flavored “milk” in this ice cream is actually made from sunflower butter. It also features chocolate chip cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, and chocolate cookie swirls.
Ben & Jerry’s offers two other sunflower butter-based flavors—Crème Brûlée Cookie and Mint Chocolate Cookie—as well as 12 almond milk flavors, including P.B. & Cookies and the millennial-inspired Netflix & Chilll’d boasting peanut butter, sweet and salty pretzel swirls, and fudge brownies.
Best Vanilla: OATLY! Vanilla
Almond milk used to be the plant-based milk alternative of choice, but oat milk seems to be pushing almond milk aside, and OATLY! is one of the leaders in that charge. Once exclusively a producer of the non-dairy beverage, OATLY! has moved into the frozen dessert space. Made of simple ingredients, like oat milk, coconut oil, sugar, and vanilla seeds, OATLY! Vanilla is rich, creamy, and decadent—everything you could possibly want in ice cream. This vegan-certified confection is also soy, gluten-, egg-, and peanut-free.
Best Chocolate: Cado Avocado Frozen Dessert
Cado ice cream stands out from the bunch because its main ingredient is avocado, not plant-based milk. This chocolate dessert starts with a mixture of organic avocado puree and avocado oil that's then sweetened and flavored to perfection with organic cane sugar and organic cocoa powder. The end result is a deep chocolate flavor with no hint of avocado whatsoever. Better yet, Cado ice cream is rich in healthy fats, so it fills you up while you’re eating instead of leaving you feeling empty on a spiked blood sugar rollercoaster ride.
Best Decadent: Häagen-Dazs Non-Dairy Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle Frozen Dessert
Chocolate and vanilla are ice cream flavor staples, but if you're in search of something deliciously indulgent, Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle always does the trick. Instead of almond, coconut, or oat, it uses Belgian chocolate as its core ingredient, and then mixes in salted fudge swirls and fudge truffle chunks. The end result is a rich and creamy plant-based ice cream that truly lives up to their traditional standard. This product is egg-, gluten-, and peanut-free, although it does contain soy.
While Haagen-Dazs doesn’t have as many dairy-free options as some others on this list, other flavors include peanut butter chocolate fudge, mocha chocolate cookie, and coconut caramel—all of which are just as satisfying.
Best Organic: NadaMoo! Organic Chocolate
Many people say that NadaMoo! isn’t just the best vegan ice cream, but also that it's the best ice cream in general. Every spoonful is so rich and creamy that you wouldn’t even know it’s made with coconut milk instead of dairy-based cream. Furthermore, it’s not only organic, but it’s also certified gluten-free, fair trade, and vegan.
While they aren't fully organic like the chocolate flavor, NadaMoo! has several other vegan flavor options, like Rockiest Road and Banana Caramel Crunch. Both are made with a base of organic coconut milk and organic agave syrup, but have other ingredients, like rice flour and vanilla extract, that are non-organic.
Best Flavored: So Delicious Oatmilk Oatmeal Cookie Dairy Free
If you’re looking for something a little outside the box, So Delicious Oatmilk Oatmeal Cookie tastes like heaven and an oatmeal cookie swirled into one package. Like OATLY!, So Delicious uses an oat milk base to create certified-vegan ice cream with hints of sweet brown sugar and cinnamon that, yes, tastes as scrumptious as it sounds.
The entire So Delicious line is dairy-free, so if you’re not a huge fan of oatmeal, you can choose from over two dozen vegan frozen dessert options, like a pint of Bananas Foster (made with cashew milk), almond milk ice cream sandwiches, and coconut milk fudge bars.
Best Ice Cream Bars: Coconut Bliss Organic Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Bars, Salted Caramel in Chocolate
Coconut Bliss is an organic, ethically conscious company with a sole focus on dairy-free frozen desserts, and the Salted Caramel Frozen Dessert Bars are wonderful. Using mostly organic ingredients, Coconut Bliss combines coconut milk-based caramel ice cream with a hint of salt and dips it into organic, fair-trade dark chocolate to give it a crisp, melt-it-in-your-mouth coating that’s truly divine.
Best Best Ice Cream Sandwich: Coolhaus Dairy-Free Cookie Dough Lyfe Sammie
Do you remember chasing down the neighborhood ice cream truck to nail down a Chipwich on a hot summer day? While nothing can replace those happy memories, the Coolhaus Dairy-Free Cookie Dough Lyfe Sammie can certainly take them up a notch. These rich, dairy-free ice cream sandwiches combine cookie dough batter, cookie dough pieces, and chocolate frozen dessert between two chewy chocolate chip cookies.
And you can feel good about what you’re eating too. The ice cream sandwich is not only dairy-free, it’s also made with cage-free eggs, cold-pressed vanilla, organic chocolate, and organic cane sugar. While it is dairy-free, it does contain tree nuts and coconut, and is made in a facility that processes milk, soy, wheat, nuts, and peanuts.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lindsay Boyers is a certified holistic nutritionist with extensive nutrition knowledge and food- and beverage-testing experience. She’s developed over 1,000 original recipes and is constantly on a mission to find the healthiest, best-tasting options and ingredients across all food and drink categories.