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Taste Test: The Best Chocolate Ice Cream

Taste Test: The Best Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate ice creams that really scoop the competition

Nutrition note: We tested both full- and lower-fat chocolate ice creams with no more than 4.5g sat fat and 140 calories per half cup. But to please our deep, dark chocolate cravings, we prefer full-fat versions, in moderate amounts.

WINNER: Edy's/Dreyer's Chocolate Rich & Creamy Grand Ice Cream, $3.99 (1.5 quarts), 140 calories, 4g sat fat
Some brands were little more than supersugary, chocolate-colored vanilla ice creams--which made this deeply intense chocolate flavor really shine. A fudgy, almost chewy consistency gives way to a velvety creaminess. Edy's is known as Dreyer's west of the Rockies and in Texas.

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RUNNER-UP: Breyers Original Chocolate, $3.89 (1.5 quarts), 140 calories, 4.5g sat fat
A deep, almost bitter-sweet chocolate flavor with the tiniest hint of cinnamon warmth. The texture is airy and fluffy with an ultracreamy mouthfeel reminiscent of an old-fashioned creamery style.

HOW WE TESTED: A panel of Cooking Light staff sampled 15 nationally available chocolate ice creams in two blind tastings.


Taste Test: The Best Mint Chocolate Ice Cream

Whether you call it mint chocolate chip, mint chip or peppermint bon bon, this ice cream flavor has some truly loyal fans.

According to the International Dairy Foods Association, mint chocolate chip is one of the 10 most popular ice cream flavors -- and it's easy to see why. It's got everything you could want in a frozen treat: sweet, chocolatey indulgence balanced by the bright flavor of mint. And while we could go on for ages touting the genius qualities of this ice cream flavor, what we really want to know is which brand makes it best. It's clear that no two are created equal. Some of them come in a neon shade of green while others are white -- some barely contain any chips, while others double-down on the chocolate.

Our panel of editors blind-tested 10 different brands of mint chocolate ice cream to determine which brand makes it best. We tried it all -- green, white, double chip, chocolate cookie -- you name it. Click through the slideshow below to find out which mint chocolate ice cream you should be picking up at your next visit to the grocery store (and which to steer clear of).

How did your favorite mint chocolate ice cream rank? Leave a comment below.

As always, our taste tests are in no way influenced by or sponsored by the brands included.


Daiya Triple Fudge Chunk

I'm usually a sucker for ice cream with the typical fudge and chocolate chip mix-ins, but not this one. Upon the first bite, I didn't taste any chocolate, which surprised me. Looking at this pint, I thought it would be a chocolate overload, but it was bland. I tried a few spoonfuls and still didn't get chocolate from it. Instead of the chocolate, you might want to opt for the dairy-free brand's more savory flavors like salted caramel chip.


Hot Chocolate Fudge | Taste Test

Hot fudge: the best friend of ice creams everywhere. So much more satisfying than chocolate syrup, it's thick and rich and decadent, equally fun as the first warm bite on a cool, soft scoop, or swirled into the melted ice cream remains as a chocolate-y last bite.

Sure, the best fudge you've ever had probably came from your childhood scoop shop. (Don't things like that always taste better in memory?) But we wanted to track down a great one to buy and use at home. So we tried 14 commercially available fudge sauces to find you the best.

The Contenders

Given the number of regional hot fudge favorites out there—people love Detroit-based Sanders Hot Fudge and Massachusetts-based Herrell's—we cast a wide net in looking for our hot fudge contenders. Some are only available regionally, some only from a certain shop, some in most major markets. Here's our list:

  1. Chocolate Room Hot Fudge, $9.00 (website)
  2. Fudge Fatale: The Ultimate Chocolate Sauce, $9.99 (website)
  3. Herrell's Hot Fudge Original, $6.95 (website)
  4. Hershey's Hot Fudge Topping, $3 (website)
  5. Jacques Torres Hot Fudge Sauce, $9 (website)
  6. King's Cupboard Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce, $8.99 (website)
  7. Mrs. Richardson's Chocolate Lover's Fudge Topping, $3.99 (website)
  8. Recchiuti Extra-Bitter Chocolate Sauce, $10 (website)
  9. Sanders Fine Chocolate Milk Chocolate Hot Fudge Dessert Topping, $4.29 (website)
  10. Schlotterbeck and Foss Wicked Good Chocolate Topping, $3.99 (website)
  11. Smucker's Toppings Hot Fudge, $2.49 (website)
  12. Steels All Natural Classic Fudge Sauce, $7.99
  13. Trader Joe's Fudge Sauce and Fondue, $3.49 (website)
  14. Williams-Sonoma Hot Fudge Sauce, $14.99 (website)

The Process

We set these fourteen brands (all heated to proper hot fudge temperature) out in numbered cups for readers to test, not knowing which was which. They first tried each fudge alone, to get a sense of its texture and flavor they then tried each one atop vanilla ice cream, to see how its consistency did or didn't change, and to see how it would behave atop a sundae.

When we tasted these brands, we ranked them on four different scales: sweetness (from "not at all" to "very sweet"), chocolate flavor ("none" to "intensely chocolatey"), consistency ("runny and thin" to "fudgy and thick"), and overall preference.

The Results

Unsurprisingly, the fudges that scored highest on the "chocolate flavor" scale were also those that scored highly overall in fact, the two tracked each other almost exactly (with the exception of one fudge that had pronounced chocolate flavor but was so texturally unappealing that its score was dragged down). The top three all had a moderate sweetness (clustering around 6 points out of 10), whereas a number of others were too bitter or too sweet. The winners also clustered in the consistency spectrum, around 7-8 points, with 10 being the thickest. (Turns out, in matters of hot fudge, you can be too thin or too rich.)

Super-chocolatey, sweet but not too sweet, and fudgy but not unspoonably thick? Sounds about right to us.

#1. Herrell's Hot Fudge Original (7.5/10)

"Okay—this is hot fudge," wrote one taster who'd already been through quite a few others. Herrell's Hot Fudge, from Herrell's Ice Cream out of Northampton, Mass., was our blowout winner—outscoring the second-place fudge by more than one and a half points. It was called "nicely balanced, fudgy and buttery," with a "smooth texture and good thickness" it "hardened up just a little" atop ice cream but "remained creamy, just a little chewy and nice."

"I would buy this!" wrote one taster, and a number agreed.

#2. Williams-Sonoma Hot Fudge Sauce (5.95/10)

Williams-Sonoma won big on taste—"I like the dairy flavor." "This is what I expect sundae fudge to taste like." "Nice and rich a little more 'real.'" Several tasters cited nostalgia: "This tastes like the Joy of Cooking recipe I grew up on." While it was creamy and smooth in a way tasters liked, an "oily" texture kept it from taking the top slot.

#3. The King's Cupboard Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce (5.3/10)

"This has the most chocolate flavor," wrote more than one taster, "with no funny aftertaste." And it avoided the sugar-bomb problem of many fudges "It's still dessert, but it's not too sweet, which I prefer." Though most people were happy with its "buttery-rich-chocolate" flavor, it was thinner and runnier than our tasters wanted.

#4. Schlotterbeck and Foss Wicked Good Chocolate Topping (5.2/10)

Along with "chocolatey," its flavor was called "fruity" or "puddinglike" it wasn't too sweet, though, with more than one taster noting a "pleasing bitter note that balances the sweetness." Tasters seemed to approve of the flavor overall, though like The King's Cupboard, it was thinner than plenty of people wanted.

#5. Fudge Fatale: The Ultimate Chocolate Sauce (4.95/10)

"Generic chocolate" seemed to be the consensus of our tasters—"not too dark," "like melted Hershey's kisses," "like weak cocoa powder." Still, it had a texture that many tasters preferred to all the others, called "deliciously smooth" "it thickened nicely on the ice cream," one wrote, "which I love."

What About Widely Available Brands?

What about the brands you'll find in most grocery stores? Hershey's narrowly edged out Smucker's, though both fell near the bottom of the pack. Both were (perhaps predictably) called "sweet" and "fake tasting" on Hershey's, the key word was "Tootsie Roll." But a few tasters conceded that "this is pretty okay, in a too-sweet way." Smucker's ran into more textural issues, called "thick and sticky" and "plastic-like."

Trader Joe's, though not a particularly high scorer either, did better than both Hershey's and Smucker's. Though once again "too sweet," and "gloppy in a strange puddinglike way," many tasters felt it had a "genuine chocolate flavor" that the other two lacked.

Why the Others Scored Lower

Chocolate fudge—an inherently tasty thing, right? Sure, but when it's in a jar, all sorts of things can go wrong. We found widespread problems in both texture and taste. Many were too oily (sliding right off of ice cream) or separated immediately (leaving an oily sheen) some were too thick (such that they were difficult to spoon up along with a bite of ice cream) others were thin and runny. A Goldilocks situation—you want it to be just right. Taste-wise? Many had distinctly off flavors—from this group, our tasters reported "Band-Aids!", "barbecue," "burnt coffee," and "Is this what a cockroach tastes like?" (Yikes.) Some didn't taste like chocolate at all (for one, all dozen testers wrote "tastes like caramel!"), and some were so sweet as to be off-putting. ("Tootsie roll," "chocolate frosting," and "Swiss Miss hot chocolate" were often heard.

Make Your Own

Prefer to DIY? Here's a hot fudge recipe from our chocolate columnist Liz Gutman.


The Fudgiest Chocolate Ice Cream: Van Leeuwen

A new-to-the-supermarket brand that's been kicking around New York and LA for years, Van Leeuwen's chocolate ice cream is so rich, dark and delicious that it's practically like eating frozen fudge. Without question, it was my personal favorite from this round of tastings. Rhoda also loved its "clean and classic dark chocolate flavor," which has fruity/berry notes that round things out. I couldn't get over how wonderfully fudgy the texture was. Like most ice creams, it's best if you let it sit on the counter for a bit before digging in—straight out of the freezer it's slightly cocoa-powdery on the tongue, but once it starts melting around the edges, it can't be beat.

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Joe Sevier


The Contenders

H๊gen-Dazs Vanilla Bean

Testers agreed that the H๊gen Dazs vanilla bean flavor packs the strongest vanilla flavor of the group. One tester compared the flavor to eating cake icing, while another wrote, "It&aposs like drinking vanilla extract, and I love it." The vanilla tastes authentic and natural, and the pint is swirled with lots of specks of vanilla. A solid choice for topping pies or crumbles.

Halo Top Vanilla Bean

Halo Top has recently gained lots of attention for its low-calorie, high-protein ice cream pints (we&aposre talking 280 calories for the whole vanilla pint). Testers said this ice cream is slightly sweeter than the others, with a fluffy texture and a floral, almost coconut-like taste. Considering it&aposs a healthier alternative, this ice cream is pretty good, although we love Halo Top&aposs more creative flavors.

Coolhaus Best of Both Worlds Vanilla

This pint boasts two different kinds of vanilla, featuring both Tahitian and Madagascar vanilla beans, and you can tell just from the ice cream&aposs appearance that it&aposs packed full of authentic vanilla. The pint is heavily studded with vanilla flecks and extremely attractive upon first glance, yet it still lacks slightly in vanilla flavor. It&aposs a great option for those who don&apost like their vanilla too sweet, but still want a creamy texture.

Edy&aposs Slow Churned French Vanilla

This flavor was consistently chosen as a second favorite. It has a darker, more golden-yellow color than the other vanillas, and testers commented that it tastes homemade, natural, and freshly-churned. One tester said it tastes like the vanilla of her childhood. The Edy&aposs earned high marks, although it didn&apost secure the title of the favorite vanilla.

Breyer&aposs Natural Vanilla

Breyer&aposs is about as classic as it gets. Testers rated this as a subtle and standard vanilla that would be great in a float. The Breyer&aposs stayed pretty solid while other ice cream flavors started to melt, so it&aposs a great option if the tub will be sitting out for a while.

Publix Premium Vanilla

Probably the creamiest ice cream of the bunch, the Publix Premium Vanilla is nice and thick. Despite visible flecks of vanilla, the flavor is more subtle than others. For a half-gallon tub, it&aposs quite a good deal.


The Contenders

At 320 calories per pint (yes, you read that right), Halo Top is tough to beat as a healthier ice cream alternative. Testers did not notice any difference in flavor or texture between this ice cream and the others, noting that the Halo Top tastes very rich. Sounds like a win to me.

This tried-and-true pint has made an appearance at more childhood birthday parties than we can count. Testers rated this as a great middle-of-the-road chocolate: nothing too fancy, just plain and simple chocolate. It gives way to the scooper without resistance and serves a crowd.

So Delicious Coconut Milk Chocolate

From oat milk creamer to cashew cheese, lactose-free alternatives to your favorite dairy products have recently made a roaring invasion into grocery store aisles everywhere. So Delicious&aposs Coconut Milk Ice Cream brings the joy of a nice cold scoop of chocolate ice cream to your lactose-intolerant freezer. The ice cream is super-dark in color and flaky in texture, making for a very attractive scoop. Testers immediately recognized the sweeter coconut taste of this pint. It may not rival a lusciously creamy scoop of full-cream chocolate ice cream, but it&aposs a great option for those with dietary restrictions (especially when topped with chocolate chips).

H๊gen Dazs usually impresses with the quality of its ice cream, and this pint is a great, simple household staple. Testers noted flavors akin to your favorite chocolate candy bar and a smooth, almost stretchy texture. It&aposs creamy, it&aposs classic, and it&aposd taste great sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies.


Shake Shack

Right on the heels of winning our French fry taste test, Shake Shack made its way to the top of our chocolate milkshake taste test. This chocolate milkshake made almost a clean sweep across the board as everyone's favorite. This shake is a chocolate lover's dream.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

Our testers raved about the rich flavor and beautiful chocolate color of this frozen treat. "Easily the most decadent and highest quality of chocolate of them all," one editor wrote. "This was the only one that didn't taste artificial."

Another taster stated that "it tastes like dark chocolate that was melted down and then mixed with ice cream." Another editor loved the rich flavor, saying it was "very chocolatey, but in a good way—nice and rich."

The only setback? Most of us couldn't finish it in one sitting! One editor said, "It's thick and dark, but I wouldn't be able to finish the whole thing for sure."

"Sooo chocolatey," another editor wrote. "Tastes like a chocolate bar and the taste coats your mouth."

Shake Shack is known for its burgers, but when it comes to fries and shakes, the fast-food chain reigns supreme in those categories, too. Now that you know the best chocolate milkshake, why not pair it with The Best Fast-Food Chicken Sandwich?


Although this sandwich also touted vanilla ice cream, interestingly, several of our editors found the flavor more akin to Cool Whip—which resulted in split camps. Some enjoyed it and compared it to a classic “ice cream truck-style sandwich,” while others liked the cookie wafers, but weren’t as sure about the ice cream itself.

𠇊 classic! What’s not to love,” an editor said. 𠇏illing is more whipped cream than ice cream, but I’m cool with it.”


Best Mocha: COOP's MicroCreamery Cold Brew Mocha Sauce

Award-winning Coop’s MicroCreamery is all about handmade, artisanal, small-batch dessert sauces that are made with the best ingredients. The Cold Brew Mocha Sauce perfectly combines the rich flavors of cold brew coffee and chocolate for a well-balanced sauce that goes great with desserts or blended drinks. Actually, this mocha sauce could be eaten out of the jar with a spoon, but try to hold off and use it in your favorite recipes!

Its quality comes from the ingredients: cane sugar, fresh cream, butter (cream, salt), brown cane sugar, cold brew Arabica coffee, pure unsweetened chocolate, and natural cocoa powder. The chic packaging also makes this a great gift for the chocolate lovers in your life.

If you want a classic, high-quality chocolate sauce that's versatile enough to complete all your sweet concoctions, you can't go wrong with Ghirardelli's Chocolate Premium Chocolate Sauce (view at Amazon). For chocolate lovers following a keto diet, ChocZero Chocolate Sugar-Free Syrup (view at Amazon) is a great low-carb choice.