This summer, my kids and I decided to go on a quest for our favorite food allergy friendly ice cream. My daughter is severely allergic to many foods, including dairy, peanuts, and tree nuts (except for almonds), so we stuck with ice creams that are both dairy and nut free (but not coconut free).
We tested ten different kinds of ice cream of varying flavors and brands. We didn’t want to get too scientific with our ice cream test because I didn’t want to get stuck with a freezer full of vanilla. Ha! So, we just gathered flavors that looked interesting or ones that we hadn’t yet tried. I have included notes about other flavors and brands that we’ve tried in the past as well, to help round out our reviews.
Here are the contenders:
SoDelicious easily dominates the dairy free/nut free ice cream market and has several different kinds of ice cream, so I included a sampling of those varieties. I also scored a great deal on some of the specialty flavors for $1.99 a pint, so I figured why not? I think it paid off because they ended up being quite different from each other.
We evaluated the ice cream on sweetness (sometimes this was a bad thing!), creaminess, how easy it was to scoop, overall taste (how much did we want another bite?), and after taste.
We are by no means professional taste testers. ;) These are just the opinions of two adults and 14, 10, and 7 year old kids…for what that’s worth. I’ve included our notes to help give our ratings some perspective.
I made an infographic style chart of what we found. The ice creams are listed under each category from most or best (top) to least or worst (bottom of the list).
As you can see, the clear winner was Haagen-Daz Coconut Caramel! It tasted the most like dairy based ice cream and it was a hit with everyone who tried it. Some of us vastly disagreed on certain flavors and brands, but this was one we could all agree upon.
Let’s break it all down by ice cream.
- Each ice cream is linked to their respective ingredient list.
- I have added in general pricing with dollar symbols by each type. Most dairy free ice cream is about $4-5 per pint in my area, which I have indicated with one $. I added more $$ for more expensive types. (I did not include any sale pricing)
Disclaimer: Because they are not made with dairy, they are technically called “frozen non-dairy desserts” or something like that. To me it’s essentially ice cream, so I’m calling it that.
- Cado , Vanilla Bean $$ – Very sweet and about mid-range for taste. I think that fact that it was just vanilla worked against it when comparing it to the other brands. Their deep dark chocolate flavor is actually one of my favorites and it’s creamier than the vanilla bean. There is absolutely no hint of avocado flavor. It is delicious and I love how simple and clean the ingredient list is. The only drawback is that it is on the pricier side.
- SoDelicious OatMilk, Caramel Apple Crumble $ – This one was very creamy and tasty (it got second for overall taste!). The crumble and apple chunks were hearty and received pleasantly surprised feedback all around. I was a little nervous to get yet another SoDelicious brand ice cream, but this was very different than their other types of ice cream. We can’t wait to try the other flavors.
- SoDelicious, Mint Chip Coconut Milk $ – We have been eating this brand/type and flavor for years now and it holds up at middle of the pack compared to other brands. It is a bit icy and hard to scoop. It’s not the creamiest, but the taste and after taste are good. It ranked lowest for sweetness, but I think is due to the flavor. Other flavors are much sweeter. I appreciate that it is made up of many organic ingredients as well.
- Haagen-Daz, Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle $ – First of all, it had somehow alluded me that Haagen-Daz makes dairy free ice cream! As expected, Haagen-Daz really knows how to make ice cream. Out of all the brands, both Haagen-Daz flavors tasted the most like regular dairy ice cream. We offered it to some friends because we need help eating all the ice cream in our freezer (ha!) and they agreed. The dark salted chocolate flavor wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it ranks lower on the the sweetness scale, but it ended up being my personal favorite overall.
- Haagen-Daz, Coconut Caramel $ – As I mentioned at the beginning, this one was the clear winner overall. You can taste the coconut and the caramel and it’s allllll good. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but this offers the right kind of sweetness that doesn’t make your teeth ache because it’s “too sweet” or the “wrong kind of sweet.”
- SoDelicious, Mousse Chocolate Chip $ – This was the creamiest by far because it is a mousse! It was really light and airy and decadent texture wise. Apparently it is also low on calories, which is not why we got it, but that’s worth noting. It was also very very sweet. Its sweetness was actually a bit polarizing. Some of us loved it and others hated it. It was my personal least favorite overall because it is ache in your tooth sweet. The kids all loved it though! As you can see, it ranked lower for overall taste, but interestingly had a decent aftertaste compared to the other brands.
- Larry & Luna’s Coconut Bliss, Mint Galatica $$ – This was an explosion of mint chocolate in your mouth. It elicited many wows at how punchy the flavor was. I can see it being polarizing if you are on the fence about mint flavored desserts. This one goes all in and that made it too minty for some of us (not me! ;)). It does not rank high on sweetness either. Their dark chocolate flavor is very strong and not too sweet as well. Whether this is a pro or a con, I think is up to personal preference (ahem…I like it ;)). I do love that the ingredient list is simple, clean, non-gmo and organic. That is probably why it’s also one of the most expensive ice creams on this list.
- SoDelicious, Toasted Key Lime Coconut Milk $ – This is one of SoDelicious’ new flavors and one that I picked up for a killer sale. It was honestly not our favorite. I’ll just say that it was one of the lasts to leave our fridge. ;) In terms of creaminess, I think SoDelicious is improving the formula for their coconut milk based ice creams. The flavor just tasted a little artificial.
- SoDelicious, Blueberry Cardamon $ – Poor blueberry…With an artisanal name like that, we really wanted to like it but it came in dead last. It was higher up on the sweetness scale, but not in a good way. It had an artificial flavor, and worse aftertaste. Seeing the difference between this one and the other flavors we included from the same brand, almost made me want to try all the flavors of all the brands, because this one was so terribly different from its peers. But my waistline and pocket book talked me out of it.
- Ben and Jerry’s, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough $ – This one comes with a cross contamination disclaimer. I wasn’t able to offer it to my daughter who has a severe peanut and tree nut allergy. Severity and sensitivities between food allergic people can vary widely, so I wanted to include it in this test, but please be mindful that it is not 100% nut free. With all that said, it might not be worth the trouble anyway. It wasn’t very creamy or scoopable. The flavor was fine but slightly artificial tasting. Only the adults could detect that though. That could be due to the flavor we chose.
- We did not test soy milk ice cream, which is the most affordable dairy free ice cream, because it most often just comes in 1-2 flavors, and I liken the taste of it to cheap kids’ birthday party ice cream. You know those big cheap tubs of ice cream that parents buy because kids have less discerning palates? It tastes like that.
- We excluded cashew milk-based ice creams because of my daughter’s nut allergies, but I personally love love them. I would say that I like them better than dairy based ice creams! If you can have cashews, I highly recommend going that route!
- Talenti sorbets are very yummy dairy free desserts too! I didn’t include them in this test because I think sorbets belong in their own category.
If you have a favorite dairy free ice cream, I would love to hear about it! Please comment or let me know what you think on instagram. I’m @deliacreates over there.