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The Best Store Bought Ice Cream: from Healthiest Ice Cream Brand to Most Delicious

- Written by on April 22nd 2015

Doesn't it seem a little cruel that ice cream season is also bathing suit season? I guess we can just be glad that the warm weather is perfect for swimming too, so we can burn off those unneeded-but-so-worth-it calories.

If you own an ice cream maker, you can create any flavor of homemade ice cream your heart desires and control exactly what ingredients go into your ice cream—two big pluses—but it remains a time consuming process. Considering the extra equipment and time commitment, it's not surprising that many people want to know what the best store bought ice cream is instead.

We decided to have a look at our product database to determine the healthiest ice cream brand, the most allergy-friendly ice cream brand, and, simply, the best/most delicious ice cream brand. Here's what we discovered.

The Healthiest Ice Cream Brand

Healthy is a pretty subjective term nowadays. Some people still track calories and fat (though we'd suggest you research and potentially rethink the whole low fat thing!), others want to avoid added sugar and all the artificial ingredients in store bought foods. We took all these factors into account and determined some of the healthiest ice cream brands you can buy.

Low Calorie and Low Fat

Light ice creams are everywhere - just about every major ice cream brand offers a lower calorie, lower fat version. Unfortunately, these major brands often use some questionable (but not necessarily harmful) ingredients in their ice creams, such as cellulose gum, polydextrose, corn syrup, vegetable oils, etc. If you're really more concerned about your macronutrients than the ingredient list, though, you can easily go with one of those. Skinny Cow's line of light ice creams are one such option:

best store bought ice cream

Skinny Cow Ice Cream

  • 150 calories per serving
  • quite a few additives

Low Sugar

On the other hand, you might be interested in trying out Arctic Zero Frozen Desserts, particularly if you are looking for a low sugar ice cream. They definitely won't be as creamy as normal ice cream, but at 150 calories per pint (yes, pint) who would expect that? The ingredient list is actually cleaner than most store bought ice creams too: "purified water, whey protein concentrate, organic cane sugar, chicory root, dutch processed cocoa powder with alkali, guar gum, xantham gum, natural flavors, sea salt, monk fruit concentrate." These have pretty good reviews on Amazon, though some flavors seem better than others.

Arctic Zero Frozen Dessert

  • gluten free, lactose free, GMO free
  • 150 calories per pint
  • not as rich and creamy as regular ice cream

Clean Ingredient List

If you're looking for a perfectly clean ingredient list, you need to try to make your own ice cream if you want any really unique flavors - an ice cream without additives is hard to find in stores. Häagen-Dazs has the cleanest ingredient lists we've seen, so long as you stick to the more basic flavors: strawberry, coffee, vanilla, and chocolate are all good. Their coffee ice cream, for instance, contains just cream, skim milk, sugar, egg yolks, and coffee. We definitely think this makes Häagen-Dazs one of the healthiest ice creams to buy.


  • no artificial ingredients
  • the clean ingredient list is only for basic flavors
  • 220 calories per serving

Fun fact: Häagen-Dazs may sound Danish, but actually the company was started in New York City!

The Most Allergy-Friendly Ice Cream

Food allergies are also more common than ever. Many people need gluten free, nut free, and/or dairy free options, which can be tricky when it comes to ice cream. Luckily, we have found one line of products that might earn the title of the best store bought ice cream for people with food allergies.

So Delicious Dairy Free Frozen Dessert

  • dairy free, gluten free, some nut free flavors
  • organic ingredients
  • some flavors have 230 calories per serving

So Delicious offers a few dairy-free ice cream options, including almond milk ice cream, coconut milk ice cream, and soy milk ice cream. Many of them are gluten free, and some of the coconut and soy milk ice creams are nut free as well. The company website is really helpful and transparent regarding the allergens in their products.

The Most Delicious Ice Cream Brand

More so than any other criterion, "most delicious" is really hard to determine considering how different peoples' tastes are. Instead of focusing solely on taste tests, we included a few other considerations in our evaluation: 1. How popular is the brand US-wide? 2. Is it sold everywhere? 3. Do they offer a wide variety of flavors to suit everyone's preferences?

Based on all these points, we decided Ben & Jerry's in our winner for the most delicious ice cream brand.

Ben & Jerry's

  • one of the best-selling brands in the US, sold nationally
  • very creamy and rich products with delicious add-ins (50+ flavors!)
  • ethical business practices
  • up to 360 calories per serving depending on the flavor!

Moreover, Ben & Jerry's is committed to many causes that are important to us too - they use many Fair Trade ingredients (e.g. their cocoa, vanilla, and sugar), support GMO labeling, and use dairy products from cows not treated with growth hormones.

In the end, it seems we've decided more than one brand deserves the title of the best store bought ice cream. They are all good choices for different reasons, whether you want the healthiest ice cream brand or the most ethical. You'll have to decide what matters most to you when you stroll down your grocery's stores frozen dessert aisle!


Crystal Schlegelmilch

Written by on April 22nd 2015

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