If you’ve ever spent time in that very specific section of your grocery store’s frozen aisle, sweating from the stress of the great decision lying before you, you’re not alone. Forget “golden age”—we’re in the platinum age of ice cream, finding ways to improve upon every flavor under the sun, from the austere yet satisfying vanilla to the downright cockamamie (but also apparently very good?) Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese.
But why should dairy ice cream have all the fun? (It shouldn’t.) Luckily for us, a host of plant-based cooks and makers decided to take matters into their own hands, and the vegan
ice cream frozen dessert revolution was officially underway. To celebrate the wonders of this creamy-yet-creamless confection, we’ve rounded up 11 of the best brands out there, and our favorite flavors to boot.
Before we go, a note on selection criteria. In the world of vegan ice cream, there are two types of makers: ones that have dairy-free DNA, and others from dairy-full ice cream brands with dairy-free offerings. We love both! And with vegan ice cream, there’s a coterie of bases to choose from—cashew milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and many more friends. We’re equal-opportunity screamers for those, too. Now, with all that said, shake the water off your scoop and dive in (or do the spoon-to-pint thing).
Relying on naturally rich, creamy, and sweet coconut milk as a base, which acts very similarly to cow’s milk in the Department of Texture, Coconut Bliss ice cream is organic and free of dairy, eggs, gluten, GMOs, soy and preservatives. For an ice cream–adjacent frozen treat, choose between the brand’s gluten-free ice cream sandwiches—vanilla or dark chocolate between oatmeal chocolate chip cookies—as well as bars and soft serve (!!).
Must-Try Flavors: Golden Banana Brownie Swirl, Infinite Coconut, Mint Chip Galactica
Los Angeles-based Craig’s relies on cashew milk for their small but mighty roster of five classic flavors, which use natural mix-ins like crushed whole strawberries and organic vegan chocolate. And guess what: You don’t have to go to Erewhon to get your hands on a pint! Craig’s ships nationwide.
Must-Try Flavors: Sunset & Strawberry, Melrose Mint Chip, Kursten’s PB Krunch
Starting as a family-run, Austin-based company that began as a way to make friends and family happy, NadaMoo! has skyrocketed to vegan ice cream stardom: You can now find their coconut milk–based pints in Whole Foods, Target, Wegman’s and more. As of this year, they also have no-sugar-added options of their classic flavors (Mint Chip, Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, Strawberry).
Must-Try Flavors: Peach Cobbler, Marshmallow Stardust, Caramel Cold Brew & Cookies
Hannah Bae founded Noona’s with the “eureka!” idea to turn flavors from her Korean-American childhood into ice cream. Noona’s coconut milk–based vegan roster includes three dairy-, nut- and soy-free flavors that source matcha from the Uji region of Japan, draw inspiration from Korean cinnamon punch (sujeonggwa), and veganize one of their most popular flavors, black sesame. Find Noona’s full list of stockers here; they also deliver across the continental USA. Vegan ice cream cakes coming soon 👀.
Must-Try Flavors: Matcha Green Tea, Rose Ginger, Black Sesame
The big bonus of having the words “Ben” and “Jerry” on a pint of vegan ice cream? You’re more likely to come across it in the wild. Made with a base of either almond milk or sunflower seed butter, their vegan range includes exclusive flavors like Colin Kaepernick’s Change the Whirled (plant-based caramel ice cream, chocolate chunks, cookie swirls, chocolate cookie swirls); classics like Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough; and straight-up bagged vegan cookie dough chunks for when you want to get straight to the point.
Must-Try Flavors: Americone Dream, Phish Food, Coconut Seven Layer Bar
To nobody’s surprise, this mainstay on bagel shops’ cream cheese cases makes a lush soy protein-based ice cream too. Their mint chocolate chip ice cream bar, with the chocolate biscuits that are almost as soft as the ice cream, is very much the stuff of after-school vending-machine treat nostalgia.
Must-Try Flavors: Better Pecan, Wildberry, Vanilla Fudge
Van Leeuwen’s new Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese flavor shook the news cycle recently, and depending on where you stand, it could be a good or bad thing that they do not offer a vegan version of it. What they do offer in vegan ice cream, though, sounds unambiguously gorgeous. Every one of their 22 vegan flavors, about evenly split between cashew milk and oat milk bases, weaken decision-making abilities. Three flavor examples are not enough! There’s Churros & Fudge (oat), Rocky Road (cashew), Cookie Crumble Strawberry Jam (cashew)…
Must-Try Flavors: ….not to mention, Passion Fruit Layer Cake (oat), Sicilian Pistachio (cashew), Strawberry (oat)
Seven of Halo Top’s ice cream flavors are available in dairy-free form with veganised caramel and chocolate chips, among others, for mix-ins. Like their non-vegan brethren, they are designed for eating straight from the pint, multiple sittings optional.
3 Flavors: Peanut Butter Cup, Birthday Cake, Chocolate
Jeni’s delivers four dairy-free pints and three grab-and-go cups in signature maximalist flavors inspired by regional Americana. Splendid indeed! Lemon Bar is available in pint and mini cup, but you’ll only find Dark Chocolate Truffle and Frosé sorbet in mini form. The base is coconut cream; the taste is bonkers good.
Must-Try Flavors: Texas Sheet Cake, Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns, Cold Brew with Coconut Cream
This isn’t dairy-free ice cream—but it is vegan, hormone-free, cruelty-free, and lactose-free, and made entirely without any animals involved in the process. Here’s how that works, according to the Brave Robot website: “SCIENCE!” Essentially, the blueprint of the whey protein gene found in cow’s milk is duplicated and applied to microflora (aka bacteria), which is then fermented with plant sugar, not unlike brewing beer. This results in animal-free whey protein that can be used to make ice cream that’s very similar to the real deal, and that means it’s just as fatty, sweet and tasty.” It’s not an ice cream brand you’re likely to find in a neighborhood grocery store, which is why Brave Robot will cover the cost of shipping (mainland USA only) if you send them a picture of yourself asking your local grocery store’s manager to stock them.
Must-Try Flavors: Vanilla (duh), Blueberry Pie, Hazelnut Chocolate Chunk
This Brooklyn-made ice cream doesn’t have a lot of frills, and we love them for that. (They deliver nationwide, don’t worry!) Their overall menu isn’t too big, and so their vegan options, with a coconut cream base, are just three flavors. But, like all Blue Marble ice cream, what they lack in hyper-aestheticism they make up for in just plain ol’ deliciousness.
Must-Try Flavors: Bread & Roses, Brooklyn Black & White Cookie, Red Raspberry Chocolate Chip
What are your favorite vegan ice cream brands? Let us know in the comments.