22 December 2022

Vegan ice creams ranked from best to worst

Which dairy-free alternative to ice cream is the best? Our blind taste test gives you the cold, hard truth.

There’s more choice than ever when it comes to ice cream – multiple flavours fill the chillers at the supermarket and there are more vegan varieties available.

As more of us think about reducing our dairy intake, could plant-based ice cream replace your usual go-to?

Our panel of 13 people blind tasted seven vegan ice creams to see whether they’d buy it over the one traditional dairy option in our test. All the ice creams we taste tested are available at Countdown and Foodstuffs supermarkets, except Pams Plant Based Vanilla Bean Dairy Alternative, which is only stocked at Foodstuffs.

They assessed the appearance, taste and texture, giving it an overall rating out of 5, and noted whether they would buy it or eat it again. All tasters rated every ice cream, except the one vegan who didn’t try the one dairy-based ice cream.

From best to worst, here’s the scoop.

The verdict

1 - Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough | 3.7/5

$9.99 for 458ml

Ben & Jerry icecream

This creamy, almond-based concoction came out on top as the overall winner of our blind taste test.

Our tasters thought it looked and tasted good. The chocolate chips and chunks of cookie dough scattered throughout drew in most our tasters for another bite (or lick).

The texture wasn’t as creamy as some of the others in our taste test, with some tasters calling it “a bit watery” and “slightly gritty”. However, the sweet and chocolatey taste inspired one to comment, “it doesn’t even taste vegan”.

Even though it scored the highest for appearance, taste and texture, only six out of our 13 tasters said they would buy or eat it again.

Comments

“Yum.”

“The chocolate is great!”

“No complaints, soft and creamy.”

The fine print


2 - Tip Top Crave Dairy Free Chocolate Honeycomb | 3.4/5

$8 for 1.2L

Tip Top icecream

This ice cream won second place by a whisker, leaving its dairy-based brother to melt in the dust. Our tasters were impressed with the creamy, soy-based texture, intense chocolatey flavour and sweet crunches of hokey pokey, even though some thought it was a bit rich.

Eight of our tasters said they would buy or eat this ice cream again.

Comments

“Looks like summer at the beach!”

“Probably the best, texture-wise.”

“Doesn’t taste dairy-free.”

The fine print


3 - Little Island Organic Coconut Ice Cream Vanilla Bean | 3.3/5

$9.90 for 900ml

Little Island icecream

Coming in third place is another coconut-based ice cream that out tasters thought might occasionally moonlight as a sorbet. Even though its texture was described as grainy and not really comparable to ice cream, its fresh and coconutty flavour was lauded by most of our tasters. It scored a whopping 8/13, with our tasters agreeing they would buy or eat it again.

Comments

“Refreshing feel, like a sorbet.”

“This was delightful.”

“Would be good as a side, a bit boring on its own.”

“Too much of a coconut flavour.”

The fine print


4 - Tip Top Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream | 3.2/5

$7.49 for 2L

Tip Top icecream

This ice cream was our dairy-based option, and surprisingly, it didn’t beat out the rest, though it came in the top half of the bunch. Our tasters thought it was “cheap vanilla”, the kind you’d eat “on a hot day at the beach”.

Some of our tasters could tell that this ice cream wasn’t vegan, with a couple even guessing that it was Tip Top. Only five tasters said they would buy or eat it again.

Comments

“Not a fan, even if it is the most authentic ice cream flavour and texture.”

“It’s okay, just vanilla.”

“I can taste the dairy in it.”

“Some of the vegan ones were way better.”

The fine print


5 - Halo Top Plant Based Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frozen Dessert | 2.7/5

$11 for 473ml

Halo Top icecream

The texture of this oat-based ice cream was fantastically creamy at first, according to some of our tasters, but the flavour wasn’t great. It was too sweet, slightly artificial and had an unpleasant aftertaste. Even though it “looked like ice cream”, as it melted it transformed like Cinderella into a slimy, overwhelming vanilla mess.

Four of our tasters said they would buy or eat it again, despite the drawbacks.

Comments

“Never thought I’d find an ice cream I wouldn’t like.”

“Frozen yoghurt?”

“Not sold on the texture, but I’m a fan of the very sweet taste.”

“It looks like there are flies in it.”

The fine print


6 - Duck Island Vegan Ice Cream Salted Chocolate Brownie | 2.7/5

$11.50 for 472ml

Duck Island icecream

Our tasters thought this ice cream looked great, but they were soon let down by the taste and texture. They agreed it looked “smooth and inviting”, with a few noting its “brown” colour. The coconut-based ice cream’s initial look turned out to be “a lie” once they tasted it. According to the majority of tasters, it was both too salty and too coconutty.

Only three of our tasters said they would buy or eat it again.

Comments

“Gross ... yuck.”

“A tad plasticky.”

“Rubbish.”

The fine print


7 - Pams Plant Based Vanilla Bean Dairy Alternative | 2/5

$6.49 for 480ml

Pams icecream

This coconut-based ice cream was hard to scoop and, for our tasters, hard to eat. With a distinctive, “chalk-like” texture, they thought it was a crumbly block of ice with no right to masquerade as vanilla flavoured. Its aftertaste was distinctly nutty, with one of our tasters feeling confused about whether it was supposed to be sweet or savoury.

Only one of our tasters said they would eat it again.

Comments

“I couldn’t tell you what this is meant to be.”

“Like eating silt.”

“Uninspiring but not offensive.”

The fine print


8 - Wahiki Coconut Creamery Coconut Frozen Dessert Vanilla | 1.3/5

$9.50 for 480ml

Wahiki icecream

This coconut-based ice cream came out worst of the bunch. Our tasters thought it had a forceful flavour but they had trouble picking it out with one questioning if it was lemon, and multiple others tasting chemicals. The texture was the only redeeming factor, and even that was described as barely scraping “all right”.

In the only unanimous judgement of the entire tasting, none of our tasters said they would buy or eat it again.

Comments

“Really boring and unexciting.”

“R2D2 and C3PO would enjoy this.”

“A hint of carton.”

The fine print


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