We tried 10 chocolate and vanilla plant-based treats—here's what we loved.
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vegan vanilla ice cream on kitchen counter
Credit: David Carr

A good pint of ice cream is one thing you are guaranteed to find in our food editors' freezers. Whether they are eating it by the spoonful or scooping it over pie à la mode, they know that everyone needs a go-to vanilla and chocolate ice cream. That goes for those who don't eat dairy, too. So, what about plant-based ice creams? Supermarket shelves are stocked with all kinds of options made with plant-based ingredients like nuts (cashew especially), coconut milk, extra-virgin olive oil, and even avocado, and these alternative ice creams are available in all kinds of flavors, from banana cream pudding to salted caramel. To choose our favorites, we focused our tasting on chocolate and vanilla vegan ice creams, which allowed us to compare similar products rather than try flavors only one brand makes. All in all, we tried ten vegan ice creams, five of each flavor, to find our favorites. This is what we discovered.

Vanilla

Texture and level of sweetness were on our editors' minds when we broke out the ice cream scoops. Two brands quickly stood out in the vanilla category: Van Leeuwen Vegan Vanilla Bean ($8.13, instacart.com) and Oatly Original Vanilla ($4.99, target.com). The cashew-and-coconut base did wonders for Van Leeuwen's overall texture, which we noted was quite similar to the dairy-based ice creams we're used to enjoying. The cashew flavor is definitely prominent in this plant-based dessert, which makes this a great option for the nut-lover in your life. We recommend eating it out of the pint or blending it into a plant-based milkshake. Oatly came in second place in our tasting, scoring points for its not-too-sweet flavor and smooth and creamy texture. "It tastes like real vanilla," said senior food editor Lauryn Tyrell. She added that the taste reminded her of the inside of Tofutti Cuties ice cream sandwiches that she loves so much.

A close runner-up was Cado Vanilla Bean Frozen Dessert ($5.99, kroger.com). We were initially surprised by how salty this vegan ice cream tasted, but its creamy texture and clean ingredient list eventually won us over. While the sea salt does stand out compared to some of the other brands, the base of avocado oil makes for an uber light and velvety consistency. Lauryn added that it was "just funky enough" for her palate, and we agreed that the saltiness would lend itself nicely to pairing with something like a sweet apple pie.

vegan chocolate ice cream on kitchen counter
Credit: David Carr

Chocolate

There was one very clear winner when we popped the tops off the chocolate flavors: Jeni's Dark Chocolate Truffle ($12.09, instacart.com). It was so good that vanilla ice cream became a distant memory. We loved that such clean and simple ingredients could create a delicious vegan ice cream.

Senior digital food editor Victoria Spencer found herself on team Cado Deep Dark Chocolate ($4.97, walmart.com). It's made with an avocado base rather than avocado oil, which gave the ice cream the luscious and airy texture that she found herself drawn to. This pint tasted authentically like cocoa, and Victoria noted that it reminded her of a bowl of creamy chocolate custard. She also liked Forager Project's Bittersweet Chocolate ($7.39, instacart.com), which is made with a neutral-tasting cashew base that allows the dark chocolate flavor to shine through.

Whether it be chocolate or vanilla, our editors agreed that nut- and coconut-based dairy-free ice creams were by far our favorites—the fattiness from those ingredients helped mellow out dairy-free frozen treats that would otherwise be too sweet. Overall, we were pleased to see how far vegan ice creams have come, and can't wait to dig into more flavors.

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