We Tried 5 “Healthy” Ice Cream Brands—This Is The Best One

Our favorite didn’t contain any dairy at all.

July 14, 2017
ice cream day
Rebecca Straus

This Sunday is National Ice Cream Day, which means one thing: it’s time to step away from your computer, open the freezer, grab a pint and a spoon, and celebrate.

Wait, National Ice Cream Day is a thing? Indeed it is. It is in fact a 33-year-old thing. In 1984, Ronald Reagan proclaimed the third Sunday of July National Ice Cream Day, declaring ice cream “a nutritious and wholesome food, enjoyed by over ninety percent of the people of the United States.”

Regan was certainly stretching the definition of “nutritious” at the time of his declaration, but times have changed, and in the ice cream aisle of your grocery store you can find ice creams claiming to offer a more virtuous scoop for your sundae.

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For National Ice Cream Day, the staff of Rodale’s Organic Life tried 5 ice creams that claimed varying degrees of virtuousness. Here’s what we thought of them.

snoqualmie ice cream
Photograph courtesy of Snoqualmie Ice Cream
Contender: Snoqualmie Organic Ice Cream

Snoqualmie is a B-Corp certified, family-owned ice cream company that takes environmental stewardship seriously, with a zero-run-off factory and a heavy reliance on renewable energy. We loved the rich, dense texture of this ice cream, which is made with extra cream and eggs. Of our editors remarked that the cookies and cream “tastes like a Lucky Charms marshmallow,” and the salted caramel was super sweet (if you like three pumps of caramel in your Frappuccino, this one’s for you). Those with fragrance sensitivities may want to avoid the lavender-infused ice cream; one editor exclaimed, “this is hurting my nose!”

Try it: Visit Snoqualmieicecream.com for where to purchase.

stonyfield frozen yogurt
Photograph courtesy of walmart
Contender: Stonyfield Organic Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt seems like a natural next step for the organic yogurt company Stonyfield. While one of our editors felt like this national brand was “trying too hard to fake ice cream,” the rest of us liked it. It’s fairly low in calories (120 per ½ cup) but, like most low-fat ice creams, what it lacks in fat it makes up for in sugars, which doesn’t really make it better for you. But we were impressed with its creamy, luscious texture, which will keep fat-averse eaters from feeling deprived. Bonus: each pint contains live active cultures, so you can boost your gut health while digging into a bowl of vanilla fudge swirl.

Try it: Visit Stonyfield.com for where to purchase.

Related: The Single Biggest Thing You Can Do For A Healthier Gut

tea-rrific ice cream
Photograph courtesy of Tea-Rrific
Contender: Tea-Rrific!

This New England-based ice cream company’s tea-infused ice creams had the fewest ingredients of any we tried—in most cases, each ice cream contained just cream, water, organic cane sugar, eggs, dry milk, and tea and spices—and we loved the clean, natural flavors. We tasted a matcha green tea ice cream, which had a dense, custardy texture, a grainy ginger-matcha blend, a creamy chamomile ice cream, whose comforting honey-and-floral notes made one editor remark “this reminds me of being sick—but in a good way.” London mist, flavored with organic Assam black tea and bergamot essential oil, had a clean, Earl Gray finish. But our favorite was the masala chai, which features Assam black tea. Each spoonful was cold and creamy and shot through with flavors of cardamom, ginger, clove. As one taster summed it up: “this tastes like fall.” They’re not cheap—they retail for $10 a pint—but we think they’re well worth the occasional splurge.

Try it: Visit Tearrificicecream.com for where to purchase.

snow monkey
Photograph courtesy of snow monkey
Contender: Snow Monkey

Vegan. Paleo. Plant-based. Superfood. Snow Monkey hits all of the healthy eating trends, and tastes pretty good doing it. The base, a mix of bananas, water, and apple purée, has a satiny texture, and is fortified with hemp seed protein powder. We tried both of their flavors, Cacao and Goji Berry, and found them decidedly grown-up—though our tasters were divided on whether this was a good thing. One editor characterized the cacao flavor as “carob disappointment—like a sad Frookie,” while another thought it was a “nice, grownup ice cream alternative.” In both the cacao and the goji berry flavors, you can definitely taste the green banana base—we all liked it, but if you’re not a fan, you should skip this one.

Try it: Visit Snow-Monkey.com for where to purchase.

Related: 6 Reasons You Should Put The Whole Banana—Peel And All—In Your Smoothie

Winner: Cado Avocado Frozen Dessert

This dairy-free organic avocado “ice cream” was the unexpected favorite. Each pint contains a whole avocado’s worth of avocado purée, and other than that the base is just cane sugar, and guar gum. (Here’s why you should eat more avocados).  “A lot better than I expected!” was one skeptic’s initial reaction, followed by lots of happy pint-to-mouth action. (We took terrible notes on what all of our tasters said because we were so busy following suit.) Suffice to say that it had the best texture, consistency and flavor of the bunch, which was unexpected for a non-dairy confection. All of our tasters (except one mint ice cream hater) loved the mint chocolate chip, flavored with organic peppermint oil, and we dug the fudgy “deep dark chocolate”. But our favorite was Cado’s “simply lemon”, which was both refreshing and indulgent—a zesty, creamy summer treat.

Try it: Visit Cadoicecream.com for where to purchase.