I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream — except maybe when we scream for gelato, ice cream's cousin from an Italian mother. It's denser, more flavorful, and lower in fat. No wonder it's rising in popularity!
And cult favorite brand Talenti Gelato is leading the way. No doubt you've seen their trademark clear tubs, plastic brown lids, and adventurous flavors in your supermarket's freezer section. But which one (ones?) should you buy? I did the hard work so you don't have to (okay, it wasn't really hard).
Can you guess my number-one choice?
My Taste-Test Methodology
There are a lot more than 17 Talenti flavors, so I needed a way to narrow the eating field, even just a tiny bit.
I skipped base flavors like Tahitian Vanilla Bean and Belgian Milk Chocolate; they were used in other variations, so I felt it'd be redundant. I also didn't sample Talenti's line of sorbets, instead focusing exclusively on their gelato. Finally, I ruled seasonal variations out; I only wanted to include varieties available year-round.
I wanted to try German Chocolate Cake, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, Coffee Toffee, Raspberry Cheesecake, and a few others, but they weren't available at any of the three markets I visited. I'm sure they are great, but unfortunately I wasn't able to taste them. I was only able to rank the flavors I could sample, which brought me to the 17 on my final list.
I judged each flavor based on taste, execution, and whether it met my expectations or not. I expected to love anything with caramel swirls, as that's my favorite topping, and to be underwhelmed by anything gimmicky, like flavors inspired by pies or candy bars. I also tested potential pairings to see if it might take a flavor from okay to seriously awesome.
Grab your spoons and let's get started!
My tastebuds recoiled when I tasted this. It was way too sweet for my palate and the buttery flavor was also a turn-off. The butter-roasted pecans didn't add much to the party and the dulce de leche swirls looked pretty on the side of the jar, but weren't too substantial once I dug my spoon into the pint. Ultimately, I couldn't finish the pint; I made my boyfriend eat it. (That's what boyfriends are for, right?)
This tasted like straight-up yogurt. Unfortunately, I don't like yogurt. I have no idea who would buy this flavor on purpose, as it was quite bland. Even the specks of dark chocolate couldn't keep my interest. Next!
15. Sea Salt Caramel
Believe me, I'm also surprised this one isn't more of a winner. Although the container promised chocolatey sea salt caramels mixed in, they were nowhere to be seen in the batch I tasted. I checked the reviews on Talenti's website and it appears to be a common complaint. What's up with that? Not to be dramatic, but the lack of mixed-in caramels ruined my day.
14. Key Lime Pie
Another bummer. I was hoping this gelato would capture the tang of key lime pie, but it didn't deliver. It was more like a lime-flavored gelato dotted with bits of graham cracker pie crust. It was light and creamy, but didn't have that tartness. It was almost like tasting key lime pie fan fiction instead of a worthy homage to the real thing.
I was hoping this pint would be like diving into a swimming pool of buttery, sweet caramel. It felt more like dipping my toe into a teaspoon of caramel. In party terms, I wanted to feel like I was in Times Square as the ball dropped on New Year's Eve, but this pint felt like I was at a housewarming party for a coworker's older cousin.
This was totally fine, but the fudge felt thin and the pebbles of cookie dough barely registered. Also, of all the flavors on this list, this received the lowest rating on Talenti's website, with a paltry 2.7 out of 5, with lots of complaints about how little cookie dough is included. Take note, Talenti overlords. The people demand more cookie dough!
I'm pleased to report that this was exactly what I hoped it would taste like — it wasn't too sweet, it was chock-full of roasted pistachios, and it had a subtle pistachio flavor. Two thumbs up.
If you're a fan of mint, you're going to want to eat this. It wasn't too sweet and tasted like real mint, as Talenti uses actual mint leaf extracts in the recipe instead of artificial flavors. Crunchy bittersweet chocolate flakes round out this crisp, light flavor nicely.
I made an exception to my "no base flavors" rule because this flavor deserves to be included. The dots of semisweet Belgian Callebaut chocolate are a revelation, and the dash of vermouth gives it an intriguing flavor. It's stunningly good. It's smooth, rich, and a pure delight from the first spoonful to the last.
8. Black Cherry
This flavor brought me back to middle school when cherry ice cream from the corner ice cream parlor was my favorite flavor. (I was a weird kid!) Luscious chunks of tart dark cherries were nestled into a base of sweet cream gelato. I loved every spoonful.
If Almond Joy was available as a gelato flavor, this would be it. Hunks of salted roasted almonds made it interesting, the semi-sweet chocolate flakes were a delight, and the coconut shreds were delicious.
This is a sophisticated take on a childhood classic (like if a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup quit Facebook and started reading actual books). Milk chocolate gelato is studded with teensy peanut butter cups and rippled with peanut butter swirls. I broke out into spontaneous applause after I ate half the pint in one sitting.
I wasn't prepared for how excellent this flavor would be. I begrudgingly tossed it in my cart, as my expectations were rock bottom. Oh, how wrong I was! This was amazing. The caramelized roasted almonds had a pleasing crunch and the touch of maple syrup gave the gelato a mellow, nutty sweetness. If you like amaretto, you must seek this out.
Rich, extra-dark chocolate gelato mingles with swirls of fudge and chewy brownie bits. This is a home run. It has a perfect score of 5.0 on Talenti's website, too. Everyone agrees: This is a brush with chocolate heaven.
Vanilla gelato is rippled with fudge, peanut butter, and peanut butter-covered pretzel chunks. You have the sweetness of the gelato base against the saltiness of the peanut butter pretzels. What's not to love?
This was like a Frankentreat of two things I loved as a child: caramel sundaes from McDonald's and Carvel's ice cream cakes with the cookie crumb layer inside. It's one of Talenti's most popular flavors, and it's easy to see why: The golden, smooth caramel plays nicely with the crunchy cookie bits. It's a slam dunk.
This was transcendent. This earns the top spot because not only did it blow away my meager expectations, but it was also ridiculously delicious. I couldn't believe how amazing it tasted. Bits of buttery pie crust and chunks of real apple are blended with caramel in a smooth vanilla bean base.
As soon as I had a spoonful, I looked at my schedule to see when I could get back to the store and load up on more pints. If Talenti stopped making this flavor, I'd riot in the streets. Thank you, Talenti, for bringing this incredible flavor into my life!
Do you have a favorite Talenti flavor? What are your favorite ways to eat gelato? Tell us in the comments?