8 Ice Cream Brands That Use the Highest Quality Ingredients
If you're an ice cream fan, then you have to appreciate all the diversity in the frozen dessert aisle these days. So many brands! So many flavors! So many options, in fact, that choosing just one can be difficult.
While we can't help you decide between rocky road or mint chocolate chip, we can help you better navigate your supermarket's ice cream offerings. One important factor to consider is the list of ingredients. Although ice cream isn't a health food, there are brands that are known for using high-quality ingredients. And since ice cream is a dessert many can't live without, we rounded up the well-made stuff you'll want to scoop up on your next grocery run.
This New York-based, family-owned ice cream brand prides itself on crafting "ice cream as it should be," according to its website. It adds that it uses "simple, natural ingredients that are recognizable and can be found in home kitchens everywhere." Not only is this ice cream made without artificial ingredients, colors, and other additives, but the brand also uses milk and cream that is is free of rBST (artificial growth hormones) and is sourced from small local family farms. Flavors range from classics like chocolate and vanilla to seasonal favorites like Egg Nog, Peppermint Stick, and Pumpkin Pie.
Founded in 2010 by James Beard Award-winning chef Keith Schroeder and his wife Nicki, this Georgia-based brand highlights that it offers "Ice Cream by Chefs" right on its labels. High Road Craft Ice Cream makes all-natural ice cream with 16% butterfat. This helps create a smoother, creamier texture. All of the brand's products are made from scratch and free of artificial colors and flavors, as well.
In addition to offering an array of ice cream flavors like Aztec Chocolate, Strawberry & Espelette Swirl, and Toasted Toffee Almond, the brand sells other frozen desserts like ice cream stuffed cookie dough bites and ice cream sandwiches.
Alec's Ice Cream
Based in California, Alec's claims to be the "first regenerative organic ice cream," meaning the milk, cream, and cane sugar it contains are all produced through eco-friendly, holistic farming practices. The company also uses 100% certified A2 dairy, which is said to be easier to digest than the regular kind. All of its flavors are certified organic and you won't find any artificial additives listed among the ingredients. The newest flavor, made with salted peanut butter, fudge, and chocolate-covered honeycomb toffee, earned "Best New Dessert" honors at this year's ExpoWest natural foods conference.
Not only will you come across some pretty unique flavors from Jeni's—such as Goat Cheese with Red Cherries and Everything Bagel (yes, really)—but you'll also find some high-quality ingredients. Take the Honey Vanilla Bean, which is perhaps the most basic flavor Jeni's offers and thus a good example of the brand's ice cream base. It contains milk, cream, cane sugar, nonfat milk, tapioca syrup, honey, fair trade vanilla extract, sea salt, and vanilla bean specks.
Straus Family Creamery
Straus Family Creamery boasts a selection of "Organic Super Premium Ice Cream," with "super premium" referring to "less air and higher butterfat with an exceptional dairy taste," according to the ice cream brand's website. Additionally, all 12 of its flavors are gluten-free and don't contain preservatives, fillers, artificial ingredients, or coloring agents.
Let's look at what you'll find in, say, the Maple Cream flavor, which is just pasteurized cream, nonfat milk, cane sugar, maple syrup, egg yolks, maple flavor, and vanilla extract. Oh, and yes, you can insert the word "organic" before all of those.
Long before it was producing ice cream, Tillamook was making milk, cream, and cheese. This is a dairy cooperative first and an ice cream brand second. Or rather, ice cream is just one part of the business' profile—and a part it does quite well, thanks to its broad range of ice cream flavors, which are free of artificial flavors and sweeteners, synthetic colors, and high-fructose corn syrup. Tillamook also notes on its website that its ice cream is made with "more cream and less air than the industry standard for ice cream." A few flavors to consider include Mountain Huckleberry, Monster Cookie, and Chocolate Mudslide.
It may be a bit hard to spell and pronounce the name of this ice cream company, but it's not hard to spell or pronounce the ingredients you'll find in its products. In a pint of Häagen-Dazs' Butter Pecan ice cream, for example, you'll find cream, skim milk, sugar, pecans, lactose reduced skim milk, corn syrup (which is "commonly used by pastry chefs for textural benefits" and is not the same as high-fructose corn syrup), egg yolks, coconut oil, salt, butter, and vanilla extract. Not scary stuff, in other words.
Available in a myriad of flavors, as well as many different forms from tubs of ice cream to bars to ice cream sandwiches, Alden's Organic ice cream is non-GMO, antibiotic-free, and doesn't contain high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, or artificial flavoring. And the Root Beer Float Bar is not to be missed.
A version of this story was originally published in August 2022. It has been updated to include new information.