Ice cream and summer: you can’t really have one without the other, right? But, gah! For kids (and adults!) with dairy allergies or sensitivities, or families like mine that have made a switch to eating vegan, ice cream gets more complicated.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good scoop of sorbet every now and then. But when I see that big brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs have added dairy-free ice cream to their menus, I rushed to the grocery to get some for our kids.
Ice cream for dessert in our vegan household? What? That’s right, mom’s the hero tonight.
At top: Häagen-Dazs non-dairy Coconut Caramel ice cream
So, let’s start with Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free ice cream, since their new flavors made big news this summer. To be clear, dairy-full Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia was one of my very favorites before going vegan, so I was doubtful this new dairy-free ice cream, made with almond milk, would actually taste like…you know, ice cream.
My grocery had just a couple of Ben & Jerry dairy free ice cream options, so we grabbed their Peanut Butter Half Baked and — OMG! No one in the family could tell that it was vegan.
Now that I see that Ben & Jerry’s offers 9 dairy-free flavors including classics like Chunky Monkey and, yes, Cherry Garcia, I can’t wait to grab some more.
All of the dairy-free ice cream from So Delicious (a.k.a. “frozen desserts”) are indeed dairy free, but I love that they have four different bases for their “cream” — almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, and soy milk. It’s so great to have options in case you’re also dealing with a specific nut or soy allergy too.
The brand offers flavors including classics like chocolate, vanilla and (yum!) mint chocolate chip, as well as more adventurous flavors of dairy-free ice cream like Blueberry Cardamom and Toasted Coconut Key Lime. They even have no-sugar-added options, for a sweet treat without way less of the guilt.
I’d argue that ice cream doesn’t get better than Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. (Our editor Liz called it “possibly the best in the country when she first discovered it.) I was prepared to just deal with non-dairy disappointment when I take my kids for their occasional summer-night ice cream run, but wait! This year, Jeni’s has added Dairy-free Dark Chocoldate Truffle ice cream, made with coconut milk. It’s rich and creamy and chocolatey and amazing.
If you don’t have a scoop shop near you, you can find it in gourmet markets near you, or if you’re obsessed like I am, get it shipped by the pint. Throw in some of their Reisling Poached Pear Sorbet too, while you’re at it. You won’t regret it.
Häagen-Dazs is known for their rich, decadent flavors, which is something you might not think would translate to a non-dairy ice cream. But with flavors like Salted Chocolate Fudge Truffle, Coconut Caramel, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge, the Häagen-Dazs non-dairy ice creams live up to the company’s reputation.
Overall, this brand was my family’s hands-down favorite non-dairy ice cream because it’s just so incredibly rich. They even offer two non-dairy flavors for their chocolate-covered ice cream bars, whoo!
Steve’s Ice Cream isn’t a new brand to anyone who’s spent any time at all in New England, but it was a new brand to this southerner. Now that I’ve tried it, I must say their non-dairy Chocolate Salty Caramel tastes as rich and creamy as any ice cream I’ve had from freshy scooped from a store. A real dairy flavor, too. When Liz first tried it, she came to the exact same conclusion, claiming to polish off an entire pint of it “with very little help,” ha.
All of Steve’s non-dairy ice creams are made from an organic coconut cream base, and their flavors are gourmet but still accessible for kids. Think Burnt Sugar Vanilla and Blueberry Lemon Ice Box Cake. (OMG, yum!) Liz did admit that as someone who does eat dairy, she wasn’t thrilled with the very coconut-y tasting Mint Cacao Chip, but there are plenty of other flavors to choose from.
You can find Steve’s pints at plenty of grocery store chains (they’re all listed at the bottom of their site) and even smaller delis and gourmet stores, and in my mind they’re absolutely worth a drive to grab a few flavors to stash in our fridge, even if we have to go to a store that’s totally out of the way.