What are the best vegan ice cream flavors? Fayetteville writers tested


There are many things that people associate with the summer season, and one of those are frozen treats that keep you cool — like ice cream. 

While ice cream is commonly made with milk, more brands offer options for those who don’t consume dairy, such as vegans or people who are lactose intolerant. 

But what do these frozen dessert alternatives taste like? From almond milk to olive oil, there are various cow-milk alternatives that give each a different flavor profile. 

Two Fayetteville Observer staff writers, Akira Kyles, a vegan and our arts and culture reporter, and Taylor Shook, a non-vegan and our new food, dining and business reporter, taste-test 10 plant-based frozen dessert flavors.

Two Fayetteville Observer staff writers — arts, culture and entertainment reporter, Akira Kyles, and the new food, dining and business reporter, Taylor Shook — were tasked with a blind taste test of 10 chocolatey plant-based frozen desserts so you don’t have to. Kyles is vegan and Shook is a non-vegan. 

Neither knew what kind of milk was used, the flavor or the brand. Each reporter ranked the flavors based on taste and texture from first to 10th place. 

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Earth Grown Chocolate Peanut Butter

Earth Grown Chocolate Peanut Butter

Price: $3.49 at Aldi

Type of milk or base: Coconut milk

Vegan perspective: I could be biased because I hate the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, but this flavor was gross to me. It had a very strong peanut butter flavor that overpowered a lot of the chocolate. 

Vegan ranking: 7

Non-vegan perspective: With an OK texture and a thoroughly unpleasant bitter coconut aftertaste, I would choose almost any other dessert over this flavor or even no dessert at all. Sorry, Aldi!

Non-vegan ranking: 9

Mauna Loa Rocky Road to Hana

Mauna Loa Rocky Road to Hana 

Price: 5.99 at Sprouts (on sale from $7.99)

Type of milk or base: Macadamia nut milk

Vegan perspective: I think this was my least favorite flavor. The texture was smooth, but the chunks had a chalky texture. The nut flavor was very strong and I could barely taste anything else. I don’t dislike macadamia nuts, but after trying this flavor, I don’t think I want it in my ice cream. 

Vegan ranking: 9

Non-vegan perspective: This macadamia milk ice cream is a swing and a miss. The texture is not at all creamy, and the flavor can only be described as offensive. Vegan marshmallows are an unwelcome addition. No, thanks.

Non-vegan ranking: 7

So Delicious Dark Chocolate Truffle

So Delicious Dark Chocolate Truffle

Price: $6.49 at Harris-Teeter

Type of milk or base: Cashew milk

Vegan perspective: This tasted like Play-Doh. If you ate the colorful clay as a child, you might find some nostalgia with flavor, but I just found it to be too salty. Although the flavor was not up to par, the texture was rather smooth. 

Vegan ranking: 10

Non-vegan perspective: The salty earthiness of this cashew milk dessert can only be described as Play-Doh-like. With a less-sweet flavor and creamy texture, it can hold its own against other alternative ice creams, but it’s not a top pick for me.

Non-vegan ranking: 5

Must Love Bananas Choco Choco Chip

Must Love Bananas Choco Choco Chip

Price: $4.99 at Sprouts (on sale from $5.99)

Type of milk or base: Bananas

Vegan perspective: This one had a mushy ice texture that I didn’t care for. The chocolate was overpowered by the banana, but the chocolate chips were a saving grace. Though I actually liked the flavor, the texture was a little too hard to get past. 

Vegan ranking: 2

Non-vegan perspective: It should be punishable by law to call this ice cream. The texture and flavor of a commercially made banana ice cream are exceedingly worse than making it at home. I’ll break out my food processor if I’m craving a banana-based dessert.

Non-vegan ranking: 10

Wildgood Chocolate

Wildgood Chocolate 

Price: $3.39 at Harris Teeter (on sale from $6.79)

Type of milk or base:  Extra virgin olive oil

Vegan perspective: I did not care for this flavor. It had a strange, icy texture and tasted like sunflower seeds to me. I don’t think I would like extra virgin olive oil anywhere near my ice cream. 

Vegan ranking: 6

Non-vegan perspective: The salty chocolate flavor is nearly identical to a pudding popsicle though the texture is more like frozen yogurt than ice cream, as it is less creamy than other options. I was such a fan of this treat that I took the pint home.

Non-vegan ranking: 3

Ben & Jerry's The Tonight Dough Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s The Tonight Dough

Price: $2.91 at Publix (on sale from $5.89)

Type of milk or base: Almond milk

Vegan perspective: Although the base of the ice cream is chocolate with chocolate cookie swirls and chocolate chip cookie dough, it also has peanut butter cookie dough, which ruined it for me. As far as texture, Ben & Jerry’s plant-based ice cream flavors never disappoint, which is why this is usually my go-to ice cream brand. 

Vegan ranking: 8

Non-vegan perspective: Peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie dough meet caramel and chocolate ice cream in this masterpiece. Though the chocolate flavor is subtle, the very smooth texture and ratio of toppings to ice cream is perfection. This is my second favorite of the treats we tried.

Non-vegan ranking: 2

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So Delicious Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie

So Delicious Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie

Price: $4 at Publix (on sale from $6.49)

Type of milk or base: Oat milk

Vegan perspective: This one I actually could not taste because I have a hazelnut allergy. 

Vegan ranking: n/a

Non-vegan perspective: While it has a pleasant texture, the flavor leaves much to be desired. There is an overpowering burnt taste that prevents any of the chocolatiness  from coming through. I’ll pass.

Non-vegan ranking: 8

So Delicious Chocolate Dairy Free Wondermilk

So Delicious Chocolate Dairy Free Wondermilk

Price: $4.99 at Sprouts (on sale from $5.99)

Type of milk or base: Coconut oil, sunflower oil, pea protein mix

Vegan perspective: The texture was very smooth but started to feel gritty with the large number of chocolate flakes. There was some weird taste that I couldn’t put my finger on, but it wasn’t the worst of the 10. 

Vegan ranking: 4

Non-vegan perspective: This ice cream comes closest in flavor and texture to dairy ice cream without any noticeable flavor coming from the milk itself unlike other products we tried. I would eat it again if it weren’t for the annoying little chocolate flakes.

Non-vegan ranking: 4

Cado Deep Dark Chocolate

Cado Deep Dark Chocolate

Price: $5.59 at Publix  (on sale from $6.29)

Type of milk or base: Avocado

Vegan perspective: The texture was very smooth and reminded me of soft-serve ice cream. It tasted a lot like salted caramel instead of chocolate. I was actually very surprised to find out this was a chocolate flavor. The color was also closer to a bronze caramel than dark chocolate. 

Vegan ranking: 3

Non-vegan perspective: With a very smooth texture and a caramel-like flavor, this treat is reminiscent of the Werther’s candies you might find at the bottom of your grandma’s purse, but not in a bad way. I would eat it again, even if just to see my friend’s faces when I announce that it’s made from avocado.

Non-vegan ranking: 6

Breyer's Chocolate Chocolate Chip

Breyer’s Chocolate Chocolate Chip

Price: $3.49 at Harris-Teeter (on sale from $6.99) 

Type of milk or base: Almond milk

Vegan perspective: Smooth and creamy texture with a rich chocolate flavor. I knew once I first tasted it that it was Breyer’s. Even prior to being vegan, it has always been a top choice. 

Vegan ranking: 1

Non-vegan perspective: This product is very similar to traditional ice cream. Its silky texture and classic chocolate flavor are well-complimented by a subtle almond flavor, which makes this treat my favorite of the bunch.

Non-vegan ranking: 1

This was the one thing we both agreed on: Breyer’s had the best vegan ice cream out of the bunch we tried. Another non-vegan member of our staff gave it a try after our taste test and said he wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. 

Staff writer Akira Kyles can be reached at [email protected]

Food, Dining and Business Reporter Taylor Shook can be reached at [email protected]


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