Beyond Halo Top: We Taste-Tested 7 Other Low-Calorie Ice Creams (Here’s What We Loved!)

Beyond Halo Top: We Taste-Tested 7 Other Low-Calorie Ice Creams (Here’s What We Loved!)

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Jelisa Castrodale
Jun 13, 2018
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

A few days ago, one of my internet friends posted an Instagram story with step-by-step pics of his first Halo Top experience, like an ice cream unboxing sequence. He'd never had Halo Top before, which is weird because I assumed that the entire world was pretty much in agreement that it was the pinnacle of human achievement. Regardless, by the time he'd finished his very first pint, he seemed to be both amazed by what he'd just experienced and disappointed in himself that he hadn't had it sooner.

So yeah, Halo Top is incredible, which is why in just a few short years it's managed to become the top-selling grocery store pint, passing old-school brands like Ben & Jerry's and Haagen-Dazs. It's also managed to have inspired plenty imitators and competitors: I swear that every time I'm in the store, I see a new logo on the shelves, something else promising the same low-calorie, high-protein deliciousness.

But do they deliver? And is Halo Top still the best out there? My boyfriend Jeff and I spent last weekend getting to the bottom of this — and getting to the bottom of more pints of frozen goodness than we'd like to admit.

How We Choose and Tested the Ice Creams

We picked up a carton of Halo Top and seven of its competitors, leaving them all thawing on the counter while we debated where to even start. We'd hoped to do all vanillas to keep this competition as equal as we could, but several brand-and-flavor combos were sold out, so we ended up going in a complicated chocolate direction, which was fine with us. Here are the results of our highly scientific taste test (yes, we were surprised by them too).

Low-Calorie Ice Cream Taste Test Results

(Image credit: Halo Top)

Halo Top Chocolate

Let's start with the OG. If the people responsible for making Halo Top Chocolate — and Halo Top Peanut Butter Cup — haven't been nominated for some kind of Nobel Prize, then there's no justice in the world.

(Image credit: Chilly Cow)

Chilly Cow Vanilla Graham Swirl

The first of two cow-related products, we were both kind of meh on this one. "It's ... cold, I guess," Jeff said, because he tries to find something positive in every situation. We also both wanted a little more cracker in there. "I wanted to feel the crunch," he said. "There wasn't enough crunch." On the plus side, it has 12 grams of protein per half-pint — plus 10 grams of fiber.

(Image credit: Breyer's)

Breyers Delights Creamy Chocolate

We both loved this one. I thought it tasted like a Fudgesicle; Jeff thought it tasted like those old-fashioned cups of ice cream that come with their own wooden spoon in the lid. "That's not a dig," he said. "It's a total pleasure to eat." This has great flavor, a smooth, creamy consistency, and 21 grams of protein per pint. (But, unlike Halo Top, it says there are three servings in its 270-calorie pints instead of four).

I will say that, after tasting the creamy texture of this option, we were both aware how not-quite-ice-cream-like Halo Top felt in our mouths.

(Image credit: Skinny Cow)

Skinny Cow Oh Fudge Cookie

I'm a longtime fan of Skinny Cow's ice cream sandwiches, and had high hopes for this one. The creaminess was there, but the flavor wasn't. It was the only one of our variety that doesn't suggest that you let it thaw before you eat it — it brags about this on its packaging — but that only means that it can disappoint you even sooner. Womp.

(Image credit: Three Twins Ice Cream)

Slim Twin Chocolate

Slim Twin, the low-cal, high-protein offering from organic ice cream maker Three Twins was almost entirely sold out at my local Whole Foods, which I took as a good sign. It was ready to eat as soon it came out of my grocery bag and we quickly inhaled half the pint. (I'm telling you this because I know you won't judge.) Anyway, the next day when I pulled it out of the freezer to finish what was left, I had to let it sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes before it was even close to being scoopable. (The day before, it had been out of the store's freezer — and sitting on top of a to-go pizza slice inside my shopping tote — for at least that long). We loved the flavor, but know that it's going to be served with a side of delayed gratification.
(Image credit: Proyo)

ProYo Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

There is a lot of peanut butter flavor here, which is pretty impressive, but there was an equally ... off flavor as well. It also prompted an extended conversation about whether ice cream makes you thirsty and why. Siri was consulted, we learned something about our brain chemistry, and we basically did everything we could to put off having to put another bite of this in our mouths.

(Image credit: Enlightened)

Enlightened Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

"This tastes like science," Jeff said, which is 100 percent accurate. Every spoonful felt like it was coating my tongue, suffocating it with some kind of laboratory-developed flavor. We didn't even put this one back in the freezer after the taste test, because we knew we never wanted to eat it again.

(Image credit: Arctic Zero)

Arctic Zero Brownie Blast

"What does this not have, besides flavor?" Jeff asked. To answer his question, it's lactose-free, GMO-free and has a low-glycemic index. It also tastes like you've put your ice cream bowl in the sink, filled it with water, and then ate that by the spoonful. Actually, that might be slightly better.

The Low-Cal Ice Cream Taste Test Winner!

In the end, we couldn't decide whether we needed a nap or were ready to run laps around the living room. We also couldn't quite decide on a winner. We loved the creaminess of the Skinny Cow, but the flavor was a bit of a letdown. It came down to Halo Top and Breyers, and after furiously spooning our way to the bottom of both cartons, we decided on ... Breyers for the win! Don't @ me — I'm definitely sleeping this off right now.

Do you disagree with our results? Leave your thoughts/arguments in the comments below!

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