These Are the Only Ice Cream Bars I’ll Buy from Now On (and I’ve Tried Them All)
Ice cream bars are the perfect portion of frozen goodness on a handy little portable stick. They’re just the ticket when you want a cool, creamy treat while walking around the block, sitting on the porch, or hanging out in front of the TV.
Even with the cool weather rolling in, my family and I find ourselves reaching for ice cream bars more often than ever — and we recently realized there’s a dizzying amount to choose from. Aside from the sheer variety of flavors, there are tons of brands on the market too. Which ones are worth stashing in the freezer? Let’s take a look!
How We Selected and Tested the Bars
I decided that my definition of “ice cream bars” meant that anything with a stick was fair game. I skipped sandwiches, cones, cups, and bites and ended up with more than 30 bars in a range of categories (some not officially ice cream, per se), including chocolate-dipped, non-dairy, frozen yogurt, low-sugar, and fruit. While only the pops containing ice cream technically count as bonafide “ice cream bars,” a frozen treat by any other name wouldn’t taste as sweet!
Luckily I have a bonus freezer, as well as an enthusiastic group of co-tasters in a range of ages. Over the course of a week we tasted our way through each category. Here are the ice cream bars that snagged our top spots.
Best Chocolate-Dipped Ice Cream Bar: Haagen-Dazs Soft Dipped Vanilla Ice Cream Bar
There are lots of ice cream flavors dipped in chocolate out there (salted caramel, sorbet, cookies & cream, chocolate-chocolate, you name it), so to narrow down the field, we chose to focus on vanilla ice cream with a chocolate shell.
Easily taking top honors in this category: Haagen-Dazs Soft Dipped Vanilla Ice Cream Bars. The ice cream was the richest and tasted the most like fresh, real vanilla. It also had the best chocolate shell — thick, rich, and truly chocolatey — like what might coat a good truffle. This “soft-dipped” version wasn’t too crackly, either. No messy, falling shards when you bite into it! (If you want that, go with the Vanilla Milk Chocolate Ice Cream Bar from the same brand.)
The Best Dairy-Free Ice Cream Bar: Daiya Classic Vanilla Bean Frozen Dessert Bar
The non-dairy ice cream category has never been more stacked, boasting a wide range of alternatives including soy, coconut, cashew, oat, and even avocado. With a range of styles, textures, and flavors out there, Daiya ranked highest because it tasted the most like a classic ice cream bar. Daiya’s Frozen Dessert Bar was creamy and fresh tasting, with a flavor reminiscent of vanilla soft serve. Even though it’s made with coconut cream, it’s not overtly coconut-y (which made one of our coconut-averse tasters very happy). The chocolate shell was thick and richly chocolatey. Bonus: It’s made with fair-trade chocolate.
The Best Frozen Yogurt Bars: Alden’s Organic Freckled Strawberry and Yasso Mint Chocolate Chip
Among a sea of fruity frozen yogurt flavors, Alden’s wiped out the competition. The Freckled Strawberry bars had a supremely bright, fresh berry flavor, and the fro-yo itself was incredibly rich, smooth, creamy, and not overly tangy. In fact, it tasted just like premium ice cream, but with a fraction of the fat and calories. (Each bar has 90 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 10 grams of added sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)
For those who want a fro-yo bar sans fruit, it’s Yasso all the way. (This particular flavor is the reason why we had to award a tie in this category!) Yasso offers a super-wide range of great flavors, but the brand’s Mint Chip frozen yogurt bars blew us away. Of all the Yasso flavors we tried, it was by far the favorite, with a super light, creamy, and fresh mint flavor flecked with rich chocolate.
Best Low-Sugar Ice Cream Bar: Enlightened
In most cases, if you want a decadent ice cream bar with about half the fat and calories of a traditional ice cream bar, just opt for fro-yo. But if you want your bars to be low-sugar too, there are other options. Enlightened took our top spot for being the most natural tasting of the bunch, without too much of that tell-tale aftertaste from sugar replacements. (Each bar has 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 5 grams of sugar). A close runner-up was Halo Top, which had even less fat, in case that’s something you’re watching.
The Best Fruit Pop: GoodPop Strawberry
When you’re craving the bright refreshment of a fruit pop instead of the creamy decadence of ice cream, there are loads of options. In my household, we’ve tried them all, many times over. Of the truly fruit-forward brands, GoodPop takes the lead for offering deeply fruity pops that are almost decadent in flavor and texture. They’re made with whole fruit purées instead of just juice, and they’re generously sized too.
Do you have a favorite ice cream bar or fruit pop? Tell us about it in the comments below.