Who doesn’t love ice cream? It’s a timeless dessert in every form. Everyone has their favorite place, flavor, toppings, and even their favorite way to eat it.
Unfortunately, those with lactose intolerance have a deficiency of the lactase enzyme, which makes it harder for them to fully digest the sugar found in dairy products. When Ben and Jerry’s released their non-dairy flavors, lactose-free ice cream lovers everywhere rejoiced.
In the past few years, much controversy over dairy has arisen. Nutritionists debate heatedly whether it is good or bad for you and lactose-free ice cream is on the rise in the food market. The jury is still out, but this does indicate that people without any enzyme deficiency might eventually want to switch over.
With this in mind, we wanted to see if dairy-free ice cream brands actually taste good in comparison with regular ice cream.
What makes ice cream so tasty? Is it the creaminess from dairy products? We wanted to see if people can really tell the difference. We gathered four ice cream-loving friends and told them we were conducting a blind ice cream taste-test, nothing else. Here’s what they had to say.
Tasters were not given the flavor ahead of time, were blindfolded, and drank water in between samples to cleanse the palate.
Michael: Not my cup of tea but not totally bad. Too nutty.
Note: Michael describes himself as an ice cream connoisseur, yet he couldn’t think of a flavor to describe this one.
Kathryn: Kinda like it. It tastes like hazelnut, kinda nutty.
Emma: What the heck? I’m not a huge fan, especially not the chips. It has too much chocolate but I taste a little bit of peanut butter.
Leo: I think this is ice cream. I could name 72 better flavors but it’s pretty good and would eat it. At first tasted minty, then realized no. There is a mild coffee flavor.
Coconut Bliss Vanilla Island (Dairy-Free)
M: No, no, no. This tastes like processed, fake coconut, not natural flavors. (After tasting it a second time) It’s better the second time when you know what to expect.
K: I’m not a fan. I taste the coconut but the consistency is weird. Kind of like frozen yogurt.
E: This one lacks sweetness. I taste the cream but not the sugar. Tastes like one of those “healthy ice creams,” but it’s not working.
L: Blugh. Tastes coconutty and I don’t like it. Not real milk or a true ice cream base. Gross and overall pretty bad. I would not eat that again.
Arctic Zero Simply Strawberry (Dairy-Free)
M: Tastes like the red starburst in flavor but also tastes light pink (whatever that means).
K: Tastes fruit flavored but not as sweet.
E: I like the flavor, but I can tell it’s not cream. It’s not sugary, but I don’t mind it. It’s refreshing and kind of like a frozen Go-Gurt with a more icy consistency.
L: Definitely not real ice cream. Would rather not finish it. Tastes kind of like bubblegum, kind of like pink strawberry yogurt. Also got the go-gurt vibe.
Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream (Dairy)
M: I think this one would go well with the coconut because they’re opposites.
K: I’m a fan of the crunch. Tastes like it’s Ben and Jerry’s. Beats out the hazelnut.
E: This one is my favorite. It’s the creamiest, most decadent. I taste the caramel swirl, crunch, and toffee pieces. Not amazing compared to ice cream I’ve had, but better than the rest from today.
L: This one’s better. Tastes like vanilla caramel Heath bar. Really good. Bits tastes more like wafer than chocolate chip. Real ice cream hands down.
Overall, everyone was able to figure out that the first three were ice cream substitutes – and they were not fans. We gave them real Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for the final one as a comparison, and immediately they could tell a difference in flavor and creaminess.
Their final rankings put Ben and Jerry’s first, then the soy milk Peanut Butter Zig Zag, the Arctic Zero Strawberry, and finally the Coconut Bliss Vanilla Island. The main problem seemed to be the flavor and consistency. Without the dairy, the ice cream was less smooth and icier.
Unfortunately, lactose-free ice cream seems to be a no-go when you can still have normal ice cream. We were unable to try Ben and Jerry’s dairy-free version, so there still may be hope. Until then, these other dairy-free desserts will have to do.