We Tried 8 Dairy-Free Ice Creams—& Here Are the Blunt Reviews

If you’ve skimmed the freezer section lately, you’ve probably noticed that dairy-free “ice creams” are trending. Whether you’re vegan, lactose-intolerant or dairy-averse for other reasons, you have more choices than ever: Halo Top’s dairy-free options arrived in Canada last month, for example, while brands like Ben & Jerry’s have rejigged some of their most popular flavours to create zero-dairy versions. There’s a growing variety of substitute ingredients, too, including coconut milk, cashew or almond milk, and tigernut milk.

According to Canadian regulations, “ice cream” is a term reserved for products containing dairy, with specific percentages of milk fat. So these are officially labelled “frozen dessert,” but that’s just a technicality. We all know these dairy-free tubs are trying to pass for the real deal. The question is, how convincing are they?

To find the best dairy-free ice creams, we set up a blind taste-test at one of our friendly neighbourhood gyms, One Academy. We brought in tubs of eight different options, from brands big and small—with the labeling all covered up to preserve the mystery—and asked a bunch of sweaty athletes for their totally honest reviews. Here’s the scoop.

The blind taste-test

Halo Top Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Toasted CoconutHalo Top Toasted Coconut Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

The dairy substitute: Coconut milk.

The calorie count: 90 calories per half cup (125 ml).

The company: Los Angeles–based Halo Top is best known for its “guilt-free” ice creams—280-360 calories per pint, depending on the flavour. Supermodel Karlie Kloss claims to “smash a whole pint” when she’s on a bender.

The brand keeps its calorie count down by incorporating sweeteners (erythritol and stevia—although there’s also organic cane sugar), prebiotic fiber and, weirdly enough, air. Whether Halo Top is healthy or not is debatable, but it’s undeniably popular: last year, the six-year-old brand reportedly became the best-selling pint of ice cream stateside.

The blind taste-test: Our reviewers only had positive things to say about Halo Top Toasted Coconut Non-Dairy. If anyone noticed the sweeteners, they didn’t comment.

  • “Very creamy and tasty.”
  • “Subtle in flavour compared to the others.”
  • “Like the coconut flakes in it. 10/10.”
  • “Toasted coconut is money!!”

Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy

Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

The dairy substitute: Almond milk.

The calorie count: 230 calories per half cup (125 ml).

The company: Ben & Jerry’s launched its first “everything but the cow” pints back in 2016. The line has since expanded to six flavours, including dairy-free versions of fan favourites, like Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

The blind taste-test: This one was polarizing among our reviewers. Some ranked it as their favourite; others would rather not eat it again.

  • “Chocolate is overall the best one.”
  • “Chalky. Not a fan, and I normally love chocolate. :(”
  • “Absolutely amazing. 9/10.”
  • “The chocolate has a bit of an aftertaste. I feel I would not be able to binge it because of that.”

So Delicious Salted Caramel Cluster Cashew Non-Dairy

So Delicious Salted Caramel Cluster Cashew Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

The dairy substitute: Cashew milk.

The calorie count: 180 calories per half cup.

The company: While many other brands we taste-tested sell both dairy and non-dairy products, So Delicious is all about dairy-free. It makes almost-ice-creams with not only cashew milk, but also coconut milk, almond milk and soy milk.

The blind taste-test: Even though So Delicious has been doing dairy-free for over 30 years, our reviewers were indifferent to this Salted Caramel Cluster Cashew: only two people in the group were inspired to jot down any comments.

  • “Average.”
  • “So good! Creamy, great flavour! Really delish.”

President’s Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Mango

President’s Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Mango Frozen Dessert

The dairy substitute: Coconut milk.

The calorie count: 140 calories per half cup (125 ml).

The company: When Canada’s largest food retailer starts making its own dairy-free desserts, you know there’s demand. This product from President’s Choice, Loblaw’s in-house label, is also a bargain: we spotted it for $4 at the local No Frills.

The blind taste-test: President’s Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Mango was a crowd pleaser, earning thumbs-up across the board, with reviewers coming back for more after their initial scoops.

  • “Perfect mango.”
  • “Like mango sorbet, very good, authentic flavour.”
  • “Mango was amazing!!!”
  • “LOVE IT.”

Häagen-Dazs Non-Dairy Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge

Häagen-Dazs Non-Dairy Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Frozen Dessert

The dairy substitute: Instead of a milk-like ingredient, it uses a peanut butter base (!).

The calorie count: 290 calories per half cup (125 ml).

The company: Purveyor of “super-premium” ice cream, Häagen-Dazs launched its first non-dairy options stateside last year—then followed up with more flavours this year.

The blind taste-test: Häagen-Dazs Non-Dairy Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge got raves. Given that the dairy replacement/base ingredient is straight-up peanut butter, it’s pretty decadent. If you prefer desserts that taste like sugar bombs, you’ll probably like this.

  • “Eff yah! So damn good.”
  • “Great flavour, but tasted like cheap candy bars, so def junk food binge choice.”
  • “Couldn’t tell it was dairy-free. Best one!”
  • “BEST!!!”

The Chufa Co. Roasted Strawberry & Cardamom Dairy-Free

The Chufa Co. Dairy-Free Roasted Strawberry & Cardamom Frozen Dessert

The dairy substitute: Tigernut milk. Not a type of nut at all, but rather a small root vegetable, tigernuts are naturally sweet and fibre-rich. They’re the key ingredient in horchata de chufa, Spain’s popular plant-milk drink.

The calorie count: 200 calories per half cup (125 ml).

The company: A Toronto-based startup, The Chufa Co. describes itself as Canada’s only supplier of organic tigernut ice cream and milk.

The blind taste-test: Several reviewers seemed perplexed by the flavour of The Chufa Co. Dairy-Free Roasted Strawberry & Cardamom, asking what it was since they couldn’t figure it out. One entire pint was left untouched by night’s end.

  • “Doesn’t really taste like strawberry.”
  • “Loved it. Very unique.”
  • “Too chalky. Didn’t like the consistency.”
  • “Great consistency, weak flavour.”

Breyers Non-Dairy Cookies & Crème

Breyers Non-Dairy Cookies & Crème Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

The dairy substitute: Ground almonds.

The calorie count: 150 calories per half cup (125 ml).

The company: With a history dating back to 1866, Breyers has old-school appeal for ice cream traditionalists. But even it’s joined the non-dairy trend, quietly releasing two flavours.

The blind taste-test: Instead of almond milk, ground almonds are the key ingredient in Breyers Non-Dairy Cookies & Crème—and it worked, at least according to reviewers who appreciated the texture.

  • “Like the texture of this.”
  • “Very nice. 8/10.”
  • “Good texture, creamy!”
  • “Very good. 9/10.”

Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss Mint Galactica

Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss Mint Galactica Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

The dairy substitute: Coconut milk.

The calorie count: 240 calories per half cup (97 ml)

The company: Since the start, Luna & Larry’s has been all about dairy-free ice cream—the co-founders began hand-cranking their own when they couldn’t find any they loved. The brand was named Favorite Ice Cream in the 2015 Veggie Awards by vegan magazine VegNews.

The blind taste-test: Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss Mint Galactica racked up universally positive comments, particularly for its flavour.

  • “Amazing. Tastes just like dairy mint chip!”
  • “9/10.”
  • “Minty fresh! So yummy.”
  • “Love the mint. 10/10.”
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