After rigorous, scientific, brain-freezingly thorough testing, we can definitively say that the best ice cream does not involve fava bean protein concentrate. Or soy milk. Or even coconut milk.
No, the best ice cream is . . . ice cream.
The kind with cow’s milk and cane sugar. And as long as you’re picking a pint that contains fewer than 200 calories and fewer than or around 20 grams of total sugar per 1/2 cup, you’re fine, says Valerie Goldstein, R.D., founder of Eating to Fuel Health.
We taste-tested 36 varieties that hit those nutritional standards and stopped just short of screaming for these winners.
Best Vanilla: Talenti Madagascan Vanilla Bean Gelato
Too many varieties we tested suffered from an overriding sweetness that overwhelmed the vanilla. But this one? “Whoooooooaaa baby. Vanilla! Vanilla! Vanilla!” wrote one enthusiastic taster. You don’t even need toppings.
Per 1/2 cup: 196 calories, 3g protein, 10g fat, 26g carbs (22g sugar)
Find it at: Target, the Fresh Market, Walmart, Instacart
Best Chocolate: Breyers Chocolate Truffle
The ice cream nerds at Breyers figured out how to put a billion chunks of dark-chocolate “truffles” into dark-chocolate ice cream and still keep the calories in check. “Crazy chocolate,” one taster said. “Like, get this ice cream to a sanatorium.”
Per 1/2 cup: 170 calories, 3g protein, 9g fat, 21g carbs (17g sugar)
Find it: Anywhere
Best Coffee: Three Twins Organic Maxine's Coffee
One black-coffee-loving taster said it was “weak coffee,” but another compared it to a “well-poured latte left in the freezer accidentally.” Hey, you could always top it with a few chocolate-covered espresso beans.
Per 1/2 cup: 160 calories, 2g protein, 9g fat, 16g carbs (15g sugar)
Find it at: Whole Foods, natural-food stores
Best Fruit: Dolcezza Roasted Strawberry Gelato
Several tasters expressed some skepticism over the idea of “roasting” strawberries for any purpose, but it works. “It’s got that Big Berry Energy (BBE),” affirmed one. That’s because after whole milk, strawberries are the second ingredient.
Per 1/2 up: 140 calories, 3g protein, 6g fat, 20g carbs (19g sugar)
Find it at: Whole Foods, Instacart
Best Wild Card: Tillamook Cookies & Cream
“Cookie punch! Cream kick!” one taster, who may or may not have been the “Vanilla!” person, wrote. Tillamook’s version isn’t too sweet, like many of the C&C varieties tested. It balances things out with vanilla bean and distributes the cookie crumbles evenly throughout.
Per 1/2 cup: 170 calories, 3g protein, 9g fat, 18g carbs (17g sugar)
Find It At: Stop & Shop, Walmart
Ice cream too frozen to scoop? Put away the hacksaw and run your ice cream scoop under hot water for ten seconds. Then scoop from the edges of the container, where, due to the packaging, the ice cream won’t be as hard.
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