The Best Dairy-Free Ice Creams, According to a Dietitian

Made from avocados, Cado has a creamy texture and delicious taste

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Best Dairy-free Ice Creams According to a Dietitian

Verywell Fit / Lecia Landis

Dairy-free ice-cream is a great option for those that are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy products. They are made from a range of different alternative base ingredients including coconut, almond, oat, cashew, soy milks and even avocado. Whether you are following dairy-free diet, or just looking to explore different ice cream tastes and textures, there are many delicious dairy-free ice cream options on the market to choose from.

When shopping for dairy-free ice cream, consider the ingredient list to make sure it suits your dietary needs. Anne Carroll, MS, RD, CDN says, "In general, both regular and dairy-free ice creams are typically high in saturated fat and added sugar, and should therefore be consumed in moderation." We researched various options and considered ingredients, nutritional value, flavor, certifications, availability, and price. A registered dietitian from our Review Board reviewed the contents of this article for accuracy in terms of comparing the base ingredients as well as the amount of sugar and fat.

Here, the best dairy-free ice creams, according to a dietitian:

Best Overall

Cado Deep Dark Chocolate Avocado Frozen Dessert

Cado Avocado Frozen Dessert
  • Made from organic avocado puree, containing healthy fats

  • Lower in saturated fat and added sugar

  • Some flavors may have an aftertaste

Cado Frozen Dessert is an avocado based ice cream that is smooth in texture and rich in taste. We love that this ice cream is made with an organic avocado puree base, providing healthy fats, and containing less saturated fat per serving compared to other ice cream options on the market. It is also a great option for those with nut or soy allergies, as many non-dairy ice creams are made with nut or soy milks.

The Deep Dark Chocolate is flavored with organic cocoa powder, organic vanilla extract and sea salt. It's sweetened with organic cane sugar, and with 12 grams per serving, it's not overly sweet. Cado Frozen Desserts offers ten flavors including, Cookies & Cream, Choco Peanut Butter, and Mint Chocolate Chip as well as fruit forward flavors like Simply Lemon and Cherry Amaretto Chip.

Price at time of publication: $8

Key Specs:
Serving size: 
1/2 cup (75 grams) | Base Ingredient: Organic avocado puree | Calories: 170 | Sugar: 12 grams Total Fat: 12 grams | Saturated fat: 1.5 grams | Organic: Includes organic ingredients | Non-GMO: Yes | Number of flavors: 10

Best Tasting

Van Leeuwen Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Van Leeuwen Choc Chip Cookie Dough

Van Leeuwen

  • Delicious and unique flavor varieties

  • Taste and texture very similar to regular ice cream

  • Expensive

  • Higher in saturated fat and added sugar

If you live in NYC or have visited, you’ve probably heard the hype about Van Leeuwen ice cream. Van Leeuwen has several storefront locations in the city, and they sell their pints nationwide, offering a delicious variety of dairy-free ice cream flavors. Compared to other options on the market, Van Leeuwin ice creams taste the most similar to regular ice cream. However, they are relatively high in saturated fat and sugar, but with their rich, depth flavors, a little goes a long way in satisfying an ice cream craving.

Van Leeuwen serves 8 dairy-free ice cream flavors on their website, including classics like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and more adventurous flavors like Cookie Crumble Strawberry Jam. They rotate their flavor options often, and feature limited edition, seasonal flavors. Most of the flavors are cashew-based, but they also sell several oat milk-based varieties.

Price at time of publication: $12

Key Specs:
Serving size: 
2/3 cup (140 grams) | Base Ingredient: Cashew Milk | Calories: 410 | Sugar: 31 grams Total Fat: 27 grams | Saturated fat: 18 grams | Organic: No | Non-GMO: Yes | Number of flavors: 8

  • Flavored with vanilla extract and ground vanilla beans

  • Versatile flavor

  • Available in-store only or through grocery delivery sites

  • Contains multiple sources of added sugar and oils

You probably know Oatly for their trendy and deliciously creamy refrigerated oat milk, but they also make frozen, oat milk-based desserts including ice cream pints and bars. Since oats have a natural, subtly sweet flavor on their own, they taste great when made into vanilla non-dairy ice cream.

Oatly vanilla non-dairy ice cream is flavored with vanilla extract and ground vanilla beans, for an authentic vanilla flavor that doesn't taste artificial. It’s delicious on its own, and it’s also perfect with a slice of apple pie or for all your favorite ice cream sundae toppings.

Price at time of publication: $6

Key Specs:
Serving size: 
2/3 cup (100 grams) | Base Ingredient: Oat Milk | Calories: 220 | Sugar: 31 grams Total Fat: 13 grams | Saturated fat: 8 grams | Organic: No | Non-GMO: Yes | Number of flavors: 9

Best Chocolate

NadaMoo! Organic Chocolate

Nada Moo! Chocolate

  • USDA Organic and non-GMO

  • Lower in saturated fat and added sugar

  • Contains inulin fiber that may not be tolerated by all

We like this organic chocolate ice cream because it's made with high-quality ingredients. This ice cream is made with Fair Trade Certified, Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free, vegan, and USDA Organic ingredients. We also like that it is lower in added sugar and saturated fat, compared to other varieties. It also contains 7 grams of fiber from organic inulin, which can be beneficial, but can also cause gastrointestinal side effects in some, like gas and bloating.

The base ingredient is coconut milk, and it's sweetened with pure agave syrup, giving it a rich and creamy texture and balanced sweetness that's reminiscent of dairy ice cream, without added oils. Other flavors offered by the brand include Cookies and Creme, Mint Chocolate Chip, Maple Pecan, and Rockiest Road, to name a few. As a bonus, NadaMoo! is a Certified B Corporation and is dedicated to creating treats that are sustainable inside and out.

Price at time of publication: $9

Key Specs:
Serving size: 
2/3 cup (95 grams) | Base Ingredient: Organic coconut milk | Calories: 170 | Sugar: 11 grams Total Fat: 9 grams | Saturated fat: 8 grams | Organic: Yes | Non-GMO: Yes | Number of flavors: 18

Best Bar

Magnum Non-Dairy Sea Salt Caramel

Magnum Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream

Courtesy of Walmart

  • Convenient, single-serve dessert

  • Made with Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa

  • Contains multiple sources of added sugar

For the best non-dairy ice cream bar, look no further than Magnum. Known for their decadent dairy ice cream bars, you will also find amazing non-dairy ice cream bar options that are just as indulgent! Check out their three flavors: Classic, Almond, and Sea Salt Caramel.

Magnum non-dairy ice cream bars contain coconut oil and a small amount of pea protein and are certified vegan. Each bar is coated in a thick layer of Belgian chocolate made from ethically sourced cocoa beans certified by the Rainforest Alliance.

Price at time of publication: $6 (box of 3 bars)

Key Specs:
Serving size: 
1 bar | Base Ingredient: Water, sugar, cocoa butter, coconut oil | Calories: 250 | Sugar: 19 grams Total Fat: 16 grams | Saturated fat: 10 grams | Organic: No | Non-GMO: No | Number of flavors: 2

Best Almond

Ben & Jerry's Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert, Cherry Garcia

Ben & Jerry's Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert, Cherry Garcia

Courtesy of Amazon

  • Over 15 unique, non-dairy ice cream flavors

  • High ratings for taste and texture

  • Higher in added sugar

  • Contains multiple sources of added sugar

Ben & Jerry’s is a pioneer in the ice cream industry, known for its creative and wittily-named flavors packed with sweet and salty mix-ins. For your Ben & Jerry’s fix on a dairy-free diet, pick up a pint or two of their almond-based non-dairy ice cream. 

You can choose from your favorite Ben & Jerry’s classics like Cherry Garcia or pick up an exclusive non-dairy flavor like PB & Cookies. The ingredients used to make their non-dairy ice creams are vegan, Fairtrade certified, and non-GMO sourced.

Price at time of publication: $7

Key Specs:
Serving size: 
2/3 cup (140 grams) | Base Ingredient: Almond milk | Calories: 320 | Sugar: 31 grams Total Fat: 16 grams | Saturated fat: 11 grams | Organic: No | Non-GMO: Yes | Number of flavors: 18

Best Coconut

Cosmic Bliss Organic Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert, Infinite Coconut

Cosmic Bliss Infinite Coconut

Cosmic Bliss

  • USDA Organic and non-GMO

  • Six simple ingredients

  • Limited availability online

  • Higher in saturated fat

Coconut makes for a decadent base for dairy-free ice cream, thanks to its high-fat content and rich, creamy texture. Cosmic Bliss has some of the best coconut-based, dairy-free ice cream you can find in the freezer section. Their Infinite Coconut flavor is made with six simple ingredients including, coconut milk, coconut cream and syrup, dried coconut and vanilla extract.

Each pint of Cosmic Bliss is organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan certified. Their Infinite Coconut flavor is for serious coconut lovers, but there are over fifteen flavor offerings , including Peanut Butter Blitz, Hazelnut Fudge Crunch, and Madagascan Vanilla Bean.

Price at time of publication: $9

Key Specs:
Serving size: 
2/3 cup (116 grams) | Base Ingredient: Coconut milk | Calories: 340 | Sugar: 13 grams Total Fat: 22 grams | Saturated fat: 20 grams | Organic: Yes | Non-GMO: Yes | Number of flavors: 18

Best No Sugar Added

So Delicious No Sugar Added Vanilla Bean Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

So Delicious Diary Free No Sugar Added Vanilla Bean

Whole Foods

  • Lower sugar, lower calorie option

  • Made from organic coconut milk

  • Contains artificial sweeteners

  • Contains erythritol and chicory root, which can cause gastrointestinal side effects in some

If you are eating dairy-free and trying to limit your added sugar intake, So Delicious no sugar added coconut milk ice cream is a good option. No sugar added desserts can be particularly helpful for those with diabetes looking to reduce blood sugar spikes.

The So Delicious, no sugar added Vanilla Bean flavor is made from organic coconut milk and sweetened with erythritol, a sugar alcohol, as well as monk fruit extract, a non-nutritive, plant-derived, artificial sweetener.  It is important to note that sugar alcohols, including erythritol, can cause gastrointestinal side effects, including bloating, gas, and diarrhea, particularly when consumed in excess.This ice cream also contains chicory root extract, proving 10 grams of fiber per serving, however, this concentrated fiber can also cause GI distress in some.

While replacing sugar with these alternatives may decrease calorie and sugar intakes, the long-term effects on overall health outcomes are inconclusive. Some non-nutritive sweeteners may have negative effects on the gut microbiome, insulin responses, blood sugar control and appetite, and may actually lead to increased sugar cravings.In general, it is best to consume all forms of added sugar and artificial sweeteners in moderation.

Price at time of publication: $7

Key Specs:
Serving size: 
2/3 cup (113 grams) | Base Ingredient: Organic coconut milk | Calories: 130 | Sugar: 2 grams (4 grams of sugar alcohol) Total Fat: 9 grams | Saturated fat: 8 grams | Organic: Contains organic ingredients | Non-GMO: Yes | Number of flavors: 4

What to Look for in Dairy-Free Ice Creams

Base Ingredient

Several different base ingredients replace dairy milk in dairy-free ice cream. The most common base ingredients are derived from coconut, almond, cashews, soy and oats. 

Each ingredient has different benefits and drawbacks. For example, coconut-based ice cream is extremely creamy and rich, but it has high saturated fat content. Coconut-based ice cream also becomes quite hard when frozen, making it difficult to scoop straight from the freezer. 

Nut-based ice creams, like almond and cashew, tend to be lower in saturated fat. However, they often don’t taste as rich and creamy as coconut-based ones (unless oils are added) and may not be suitable for those with certain nut allergies. You may want to try out a few different types of dairy-free ice cream before landing on one that fits all your needs.

Saturated Fat and Sugar Content

Dairy-free ice cream is still ice cream, so just because it doesn’t contain dairy, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthier for you than regular ice cream. Many dairy-free ice creams have a significant amount of saturated fat and added sugar, both of which can have negative health effects when consumed in excess. All ice cream, including dairy-free varieties, should be consumed in moderation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is dairy-free ice cream healthier than regular dairy ice cream?

    Dairy-free ice cream is not inherently healthier than regular dairy ice cream; it just provides different nutrients from different ingredients. Most dairy-free ice creams have just as much (if not more) saturated fat and added sugar as regular dairy ice cream.

    Excess saturated fat intake raises your “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Current dietary guidelines recommend limiting saturated fat intake to less than 10% of total caloric intake per day.

  • Who may benefit from dairy-free products?

    Lactose intolerance is a digestive condition caused by an inability to digest the sugar lactose, which is naturally found in dairy products like milk, cheese, and ice cream. 

    Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, gas, and diarrhea, which occur after consuming lactose. To avoid these uncomfortable symptoms, a person with lactose intolerance benefit from replacing dairy in their diet with dairy-free products, including ice cream.

    Lactose intolerance is different from a milk allergy, which is an immune system disorder. A milk allergy is caused by the body’s immune response to certain proteins found in milk and dairy products and causes more serious symptoms like rash, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. Those with a confirmed milk allergy should avoid all dairy products and always choose dairy-free.

  • Is lactose-free the same as dairy-free?

    No. Lactose-free ice creams are typically made with dairy-based products like cream and milk, but they have lactase enzymes added to breakdown the lactose, making the final product lactose-free. In comparison, dairy-free ice creams are made from non-dairy products including almond, coconut, soy, oat and cashew milks.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

Alex Aldeborgh, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and self-proclaimed ice cream enthusiast. She would enjoy each of these recommended non-dairy ice cream products herself, and she would feel completely comfortable recommending them to family, friends, and clients who follow a dairy-free diet.

8 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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