Apparently, eating an entire pint of ice cream by yourself isn’t the healthiest choice. I’m no doctor, but it’s what I’ve heard through the grapevine. Regardless, sometimes you just need to sit on the couch, put on a mindless movie Netflix specifically recommended for you, and inhale an entire pint of ice cream to the face—enter, “healthy” ice cream.
Since emerging on the market a few years ago, these high protein, low calorie ice creams have taken over grocery store shelves. Treating yourself to a soft serve cone from the ice cream man is for days long ago. And personal at-home ice cream makers? Forget about it. These pints certainly aren't equivalent to eating fruits and veggies, yet they’re certainly less calories and less sugar than a regular ice cream counterpart, so we had to ask ourselves, “Yeah, but do they actually taste good?”
How we tested
We’ve done it with chips, we’ve done it with Oreos and we’ve even done it with frozen pizza, so we returned to our faithful set up of a blind taste test. We had our office rank each flavor on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best, based on taste as well as texture. As per our usual rules, one bite was all you could take. Since not all of the ice cream brands offered identical flavors, we had all of the ice creams being tested have a vanilla base, resulting mainly in sampling cookie dough and cookies n’ cream flavors.
We then calculated the taste and texture score for each ice cream, then averaged them together to get the overall score of the ice cream. Did the cream really rise to the top? Or was it too calorie heavy and got weighed down with the rest of them? Here’s what we found:
The winner: Halo Top
Overall Score: 4.09 out of 5
Surprise, surprise, the original “healthy ice cream” heavyweight shot straight to the top. Our testers loved how it actually had a similar texture and consistency like regular ice cream and wasn’t too overwhelmingly sweet or artificial tasting. The only complaint? We need more cookie dough bites. I guess that’s what makes its healthy, but come on, a few extra cookie dough balls won’t pack on the pounds.
Other ice creams we tested
2. Ben & Jerry’s
Overall Score: 4.05 out of 5
Let’s be real, when you think ice cream, you think Ben & Jerry’s. The so called champions of ice cream respectively took silver in this competition by the slimmest of margins. Our testers loved the fudge swirls and we got plenty of comments stating “Whoah, this actually tastes like real ice cream”. Spoiler alert: that’s because it basically is. While there are fewer calories and less fat in these pints than regular Ben & Jerry’s pints, this was still clearly the closest resemblance of ice cream amongst the healthier versions. While the other brands in this test encourage you to eat the entire pint in one sitting, you really wouldn’t be making a healthy choice doing that with this one—each pint is 4 servings, at about 150 calories per serving. However, would we judge you if you decided to throw your scale out the window and go all-in during one sitting? NEVER.
Overall Score: 3.77 out of 5
The only thing scandalous about this ice cream is that it was lacking in cookie dough bites. Our testers loved the smooth, creamy texture and there were plenty of comments about how it was the perfect hint of sweetness. As one of our testers perfectly summed it up, “This is just like ice cream! Kind of...”
4. Chilly Cow
Overall Score: 3.6 out of 5
Most of our testers enjoyed the silky texture and caramel taste of Chilly Cow. The only concerning part—it wasn’t caramel ice cream, it was cookie dough. Shout out to the one tester who wrote “This tastes like butterscotch and I don’t like butterscotch”. Should we be concerned that you were wildly off the mark when it came to judging flavors? Probably.
Overall Score: 3.4 out of 5
Breyers landed right in the middle of the pack. Good enough to easily eat the entire pint, but bad enough that you wouldn’t be running to the store to buy a second. The majority of the testers commented on lack of flavor and how light it was, almost like it was more air than ice cream. As one tester said, “I’ve had way better cookies n’ cream” and to that we reply—we all have, we truly all have.
Overall Score: 3.12 out of 5
As we approach the bottom half of the rankings, our testers started getting more cut throat with their reviews. Were they more enlightened after tasting the too artificially sweet Enlightened? The short answer—definitely not. The long answer, as one tester so directly put it, “Ew. How can you get cookies n’ cream so wrong?!”.
Overall Score: 2.99 out of 5
It wasn’t so much the taste, but the texture that our testers couldn’t get over while sampling Yasso. The grainy consistency and lack of flavor elicited comments ranging from “Tastes like vanilla water” to “Too gritty, can’t get past the aftertaste”. Yasso? I guess that’s going to be a yea—no.
8. So Delicious
Overall Score: 2.15 out of 5
So Delicious got absolutely destroyed in the texture category. Let us repeat that again for emphasis, destroyed. While our testers didn’t mind the actual flavor, they couldn’t get over the mousse like consistency, describing it as fluffy and whipped cream esque. As one tester described it, “This is like chocolate air—but in a bad way”. Yikes.
9. Halo Top: Dairy Free
Overall Score: 1.83 out of 5
Listen, if you can’t eat dairy, your life is hard enough, don’t add in this ice cream to make it even worse. Originally purchased mistakenly for testing, our testers were so taken aback at how bad this tasted, we are actually surprised it scored as highly as it did. We then realized that we had to warn the rest of the Internet/world that if you’re dairy free and looking to treat yo self, just skip this stuff and go eat broccoli instead—seriously, it’s way better than this “treat”. Simply put, the cream really does rise to the top, and if you really want to enjoy your ice cream, make sure that’s one of the ingredients.
Author’s note: I’m still trying to regain some trust from my coworkers after including this in the taste test. We are now back on speaking terms, but they still eye me suspiciously in the hallways.