I Ate a Lot of Store-Bought Ice Cream to Find the 10 Best

The top pints range from fruit-filled classics to layered sundae-like confections.

9 min read

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New Englanders, you should know, really treasure their ice cream. I cannot explain this. The weather here — largely cold with a short break for summer that is, at times, also cold — does not necessarily support it. And yet, we love it. We have flavors that those outside of our region have probably never even heard of (Grapenut, anyone? Frozen pudding?). Ice cream, we want more of it. 

You can, of course, head out for a cone or a cup where I live in Massachusetts, but sometimes I prefer to just stay put, which is why I embarked upon the ultimate New Englander’s research assignment: Which ice cream brands, ordered straight to my house via DoorDash, are the best on the market? And which flavors take the cone when it comes to beating the summer heat? With the help of my two sons (both ice cream aficionados) and my husband (he can polish off a pint like no one you’ve met), I took on the challenging task of tasting through many ice creams, in pursuit of perfection. 

The Tasters

My 5- and 7-year-old boys proved instrumental in offering opinions on this project, as did my husband, who prefers ice cream to pretty much any other version of dessert. 

The Methodology 

To figure out what the absolute best store-bought ice creams are, I chose brands that I knew would be available in most mass markets, excluding any regional brands. I opted for a combination of flavors with toppings mixed in, fruit flavors, and traditional flavors (like coffee and strawberry), and I also took into account the most popular flavors for each brand. 

These 10 pints from five ice cream brands made my final cut. They offered superior flavor and mouthfeel, and in some cases, unique flavor combinations that made them different, interesting, and a cut above other available options. 

The Brands and Results 

Jeni’s Ice Creams 

Founder Jeni Britton uses a buttercream base in her smooth, rich ice cream, which gives them a satisfying tang. Inspired by contemporary flavors — Britton credits art, history, and pop culture — the full roster of flavors at Jeni’s Ice Creams includes everything from sweets like doughnuts to drinks (hot toddy sorbet!). 


Gooey Butter Cake Ice Cream: A cream-cheese-flavored ice cream layered with crumbles of vanilla cake and topped off with a swirl of caramel-butterscotch sauce, this decadent ice cream felt like being at a very small and intimate birthday party, in the best possible way (more cake for us). The sweetness of the swirls were balanced by the tanginess of that cream cheese base, and we were all smitten by the ice cream’s luscious texture and flavor. 


Lemon and Blueberries Parfait: This tart and refreshing treat was a hit with our whole family. The lemony base — made creamy with, yes, the addition of buttermilk — was reminiscent of the best pizzeria Italian ice on the hottest day of summer. What made it even more nostalgic was the homemade blueberry jam spun throughout, like a rocket pop (missing cherry-red top notwithstanding). 


Talenti officially began in the 90s, when Josh Hochschuler, who was living and working in Buenos Aires, fell in love with gelato. Hochschuler’s apprenticeship at an Argentinian heladería led to the launch of Talenti in Texas in 2003. Talenti offers classic and more modern flavors, including gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and fat-free options. 


Mint Fudge Cookie Layers: One of the signature “layers” flavors, the pale green pint forces you to dig down into five different tiers: mint gelato, cookie crumbs, fudge sauce, another layer of gelato, and finally, chocolate cookies. We found that the mint flavor was strong and authentic. The gelato itself was light, delicate, and airy, and balanced by good chew from the fudge sauce, crumbs, and cookie. It all made for one delicious dessert. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: This smooth and creamy vanilla gelato is threaded with ample bits of chocolate chip cookie dough and swirls of fudge, for good measure. This was my 7-year-old’s preferred Talenti flavor, but even the adults could get behind it — we loved that the delicate base prevented this dessert from being too rich or too sweet. 

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream 

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened this now-legendary ice cream brand in Burlington, Vermont in 1978, with a paltry investment and a relatively low skill set (they had taken a $5 correspondence course in ice cream-making from Penn State). Today, Ben & Jerry’s is one of the most recognizable ice cream brands on the market, offering over-the-top flavors, often with a side of social justice. 


Topped Tiramisu: Ben & Jerry’s bills its “topped” line as a “sundae in a pint,” and we fell hard for the tiramisu version: mascarpone ice cream with coffee fudge ripples and shortbread cookies, finished with chocolate ganache and espresso fudge chunks. The espresso flavor was prominent throughout, and the fudge added another dimension, both in espresso flavor and texture. This was among the creamiest ice creams we sampled, falling on the sweeter side of the spectrum. 


Gimme S’more!: My kids love s’mores, so ordering this flavor through DoorDash was simply a no-brainer, and it delivered all the campfire expectations in spades — so much so that I later found the pint suspiciously emptied, the work, I suspect, of one of my small children. Toasted marshmallow ice cream is mixed with chocolate cookies, graham crackers, and chewy flakes of fudge, a nod to all the best parts of summer but with a little less of the accompanying labor. 


The Tillamook County Creamery Association in Oregon is a farmer-owned co-op responsible for legendary and time-honored cheeses. But it also produces a line of ice cream from its creamery dairy, often featuring local-to-Oregon ingredients (like strawberries and cherries).


Oregon Dark Cherry Ice Cream: This super creamy ice cream is made from a deep pink Oregon cherry base and comes with giant pieces of the fruit blended right into it. Unlike some cherry ice creams, which are made with a vanilla base, this ice cream really did taste like cherries. It’s a rare ice cream treat, and it’s impossible not to fall in love with it. 


Neapolitan Ice Cream: Not all Neapolitans are created equal, and Tillamook’s Neapolitan was a stunner. The rich chocolate ice cream is studded with chocolate chips (a happy surprise), and the strawberry ice cream had toothsome pieces of fruit in it. A delicate, and not overpowering, vanilla paved the way for the trifecta that we all agreed was a must-buy flavor. 


Founded in the Bronx in 1960 by Rebuebn Mattus, Häagen-Dazs began as a small operation, with just three flavors: coffee, vanilla, and chocolate. Although the roster has expanded since then, the brand still leans primarily on classic flavors, with high-quality ingredients and a creamy texture defining these premium pints. 


Coffee Ice Cream: With a creamy texture and mild coffee notes, the Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream is a classic for a reason. In fact, my 7-year-old said that this was the best tasting of all the ice creams that we sampled. Coffee, for what it’s worth, was one of the brand’s original three flavors, and it’s not hard to see why this flavor has persisted for over 60 years. 


Strawberry Ice Cream: Diving into a bowl of this sublime ice cream is almost like diving into a bowl of summer-fresh strawberries. It’s lightly sweet, with big real strawberries, seeds included.

Photography: Paul Quitoriano
Art Direction: Sarah Ceniceros Gomez