The 7 Best Dairy-Free Ice Creams of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Enjoy these frozen sweet treats without the dairy

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Our Top Picks
"Made with organic coconut milk, NadaMoo dairy-free ice cream is sweetened with pure agave syrup."
"Most of the flavors are cashew based, but they also sell several oat milk based varieties."
"The base of this dairy-free chocolate ice cream is melted Belgian chocolate—so you can just imagine how rich and creamy it is!"
"Oatly vanilla non-dairy ice cream is flavored with real vanilla seeds and natural vanilla flavor."
"These bars are made with a base of coconut oil and pea protein, and are certified vegan."
"The ingredients used to make their non-dairy ice creams are vegan, Fairtrade certified, and non-GMO sourced."
"Each pint of Coconut Bliss is organic, gluten free, non GMO, and vegan. "

If you’re following a dairy-free diet, ice cream can be one of the hardest foods to give up. But with today’s dairy-free ice cream options, you can easily get your ice cream fix in all your favorite flavors.

Dairy-free ice cream is made with various ingredients, such as almond milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk as the base ingredient. It comes in tons of your favorite go-to flavors, and if you're lactose intolerant—like an estimated 36% of Americans—it may save you from tummy troubles.

If you’re craving dairy-free ice cream but don’t know where to start, not to worry! Today, there are a number of brands making dairy-free ice cream options you can find in the frozen section of your grocery store.

Here, the best dairy-free ice cream:

Best Overall: NadaMoo! Organic Chocolate

NadaMoo! Organic Chocolate

You’ll find all your favorite classic ice cream flavors with NadaMoo—Cookies and Creme, Mint Chocolate Chip, Maple Pecan, and Rockiest Road, to name a few. Made with organic coconut milk, NadaMoo dairy-free ice cream is sweetened with pure agave syrup.

Each NadaMoo pint is organic, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, and Fair Trade certified. With such amazing flavors, NadaMoo is a dairy-free ice cream that even dairy lovers will enjoy!

Best Tasting: Van Leeuwen Non-dairy Ice Cream, Cookies & Cream Caramel Swirl

Van Leeuwen Non-Dairy Ice Cream Cookies & Cream Caramel Swirl

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. They also happen to have some of the best dairy-free ice cream you’ll ever try!

Van Leeuwen serves up over 20 dairy-free ice cream flavors on their website, including classics like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and more adventurous flavors like Passionfruit Layer Cake. Most of the flavors are cashew-based, but they also sell several oat milk-based varieties.

Best Chocolate: Häagen-Dazs Non-Dairy Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle Frozen Dessert

Häagen-Dazs Non-Dairy Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle Frozen Dessert

Häagen Dazs is known for their incredibly rich and creamy ice creams—and their dairy-free line lives up to the reputation! For the best dairy-free chocolate ice cream, pick up a pint of Häagen Dazs Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle Ice Cream.

The base of this dairy-free chocolate ice cream is melted Belgian chocolate—so you can imagine how rich and creamy it is! You can also find pints of dairy-free Häagen Dazs in Coconut Caramel, Mocha Chocolate Cookie, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge flavors.

Best Vanilla: OATLY! Vanilla

 OATLY! Vanilla

You probably know Oatly for their trendy and deliciously creamy refrigerated oat milk. Oatly also has a line of dairy-free ice cream made from (you guessed it!) oat milk. Since oats have a natural, subtly sweet flavor on their own, they taste amazing when made into vanilla non-dairy ice cream.

Oatly vanilla non-dairy ice cream is flavored with real vanilla seeds and natural vanilla flavor. 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.

Best Bar: Magnum Non-Dairy Sea Salt Caramel

Magnum Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream

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 are made with a base of coconut oil and 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.

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

Ben & Jerry’s is a pioneer in the ice cream industry, known for its creative and wittily-named flavors packed with sweet 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 (Cherry Garcia) or pick up an exclusive non-dairy flavor (PB & Cookies). The ingredients used to make their non-dairy ice creams are vegan, Fairtrade certified, and non-GMO sourced.

Best Coconut: Coconut Bliss Organic Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert, Infinite Coconut

coconut bliss infinite coconut

Coconut makes for a decadent base for dairy-free ice cream, thanks to its high-fat content and rich, creamy texture. Coconut Bliss has some of the best coconut-based dairy-free ice cream you can find in the freezer section.

Made with coconut milk, Coconut Bliss sweetens their ice cream using agave syrup. Each pint of Coconut Bliss is organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan. Their Infinite Coconut flavor is for serious coconut lovers, but there are plenty of other flavor offerings that won’t taste strongly of coconut.

Final Verdict

If you have to choose just one pint of dairy-free ice cream to try, get yourself some Häagen Dazs. Well known for their irresistible dairy ice cream, you will be just as thrilled with their dairy-free offerings. Häagen Dazs is also easier to find and more affordable than some of the more specialty brands listed here, making it more accessible. Try one of their non-dairy pints, or grab a box of dairy-free ice cream bars when the mood strikes.

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, 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. 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 in each serving, both of which are linked to negative health effects.

Remember that dairy-free ice cream is still a treat—so enjoy it in moderation when the craving strikes.

FAQs

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? 

About 65% of humans are lactose intolerant. 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 would greatly 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.

Why does Verywell not recommend most sugar-free, dairy-free ice cream products? 


Many dairy-free ice creams that are also sugar-free use artificial sweeteners that may have potentially dangerous side effects. Some examples are acesulfame potassium, aspartame, and sucralose (Splenda). 

Evidence of long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners is mixed, but some research shows they may have a negative impact on gut health. Since we don’t yet know for certain the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners, we recommend avoiding certain products and using "safer" sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit extract in moderation in your diet, just like with real sugar. 

What Experts Say

"Dairy-free ice cream is an excellent option for those who suffer from lactose intolerance or those looking for a plant-based sweet indulgence. While the ice cream may be made from healthier ingredients, it should still be treated as ice cream and eaten in moderation."—Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

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.

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Article 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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