I Tasted 23 Ice Cream Sandwiches. Here Are the 7 Best.

Not all ice cream sandwiches are created equal.

7 min read

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Ice cream sandwiches are the ideal handheld frozen dessert: There’s no chance of a scoop rolling off the cone, no need for bowls or spoons, and no wooden stick lurking in the middle of my tasty treat. I understand other people don’t get a fingernails-on-the-chalkboard reaction to popsicle sticks anywhere near their mouths, but some of us have a totally rational, deep-seated fear of tongue splinters.

The perfect ice cream sandwich contrasts the rich, creamy ice cream with the soft crumb of a cookie. But few cookies survive the freezer without getting uncomfortably hard or oddly crumbly, and the light fluffiness of overwhipped cheap ice cream can’t maintain the structural integrity of a sandwich after the first bite.

And yet, seven sandwiches of the 23 I tasted triumphed over these obstacles, standing out as balanced, easy to eat, and most importantly, delicious. Read on to find out which ones made my list — and what made them great.

The Tasters

For a few years, I have served as the coordinator and head judge of the food categories for a parenting magazine’s annual awards program, including the coveted “Best Frozen Treat” prize. So both my children (ages 6 and 8) and I have significant ice cream tasting experience. We also brought in a few extra mouths, such as my six-year-old’s lactose intolerant friend for the non-dairy category, and a couple who regularly buy random ice cream sandwiches to try on for size.

The Methodology

There is really only one way to taste-test ice cream sandwiches, and that is quickly, before they all melt. Because we tested 23 sandwiches, it was a hot day, and kindergartners have the attention spans of chihuahuas, we tested in batches, trying to group “like” items together:  non-dairy, novelties, classics, and fancy.

We looked at each sandwich as a whole to assess craftsmanship, then cut it into pieces for the tasters to eat. Each tester offered their thoughts on the texture and flavor of the cookies and ice cream, as well as how they worked together.

The Results

Best Overall: Van Leeuwen Double Chocolate Cheesecake Ice Cream Sandwich


The minute the Van Leeuwen came out of the package, testers took note: the cookies and ice cream matched up nicely, like someone took the time to hand-smooth the ice cream to the exact size and shape of the cookies. The soft, wonderfully chocolatey cookies stood up to the ice cream, resisting just a nice smidge when bitten. And the thick, rich ice cream truly tasted like cheesecake. Together, they gave this sandwich a more nuanced and complex flavor than any other we tested.

Best Classic: Alden's Organic Vanilla Bean “Round Sammies”


This sandwich tastes like childhood. It matches up exactly with the memory of thin, dark brown rectangular cookies bookending white ice cream that lives in your brain. But most of the ones that look like that now taste like chemical sweetness, and those poorly made cookies stuck to our hands when we tried to eat them. However, the Round Sammies had a sturdier cookie and a more robust ice cream, with flecks of vanilla bean detectable to both the eye and the tongue. It was one of our favorite sandwiches in general, and the nostalgia it induced was a bonus.

Best Non-Traditional Cookie: Tillamook Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich

As one of our testers put it, the crisp waffle cookies Tillamook uses for its ice cream sandwich are what you wish were in the ChocoTaco. The delicate waffling gives way to a strong crunch but somehow doesn’t fall apart as you eat the sandwich. It’s a bit like biting into a scoop of ice cream and the cone, simultaneously. A thin coating of chocolate on the inside helps the slim cookie stand up to the ice cream, and our tasters liked it best with the salted caramel, where the saltiness of the caramel added more dimension. If you can’t find salted caramel, look for Tillamook’s other flavors as well.

Best Novelty: Oreo Frozen Dairy Dessert Sandwiches


Some of the novelty candy ice cream experiments went better than others, but none were as successful as the Oreo ice cream sandwich, which truly tastes, quite simply, like an oversized, very cold Oreo. The soft cookies accurately translate the dark flavor of the classic cocoa crisp, while the ice cream perfectly captures the fondant filling’s sweet creme essence. It is a good ice cream sandwich and a great reinterpretation of a favorite cookie.

Best Ice Cream Flavor: Reese’s Peanut Butter Dessert Sandwich

This sandwich got separated from its label in tasting, so we bit in nervously, only to be blindsided by a big blast of peanut butter. When we figured out which sandwich it was, it made sense that Reese’s had the expertise to pack such a peanut-y punch. And, they did it well, without overdoing the sweetness. The cookie on this sandwich is fine, but most importantly, it simply doesn’t stand in the way of the bold peanut butter ice cream that makes this sandwich worth buying.

Best Non-Dairy: Jolly Llama Cool Mint Chocolate Chip Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Ice Cream Sandwiches


The refreshing, bright mint carried these sandwiches to an easy win in the restricted diet categories. The ice cream has an impressive smoothness that pleased both the kindergarten and adult crowds. Perhaps even more notably, in a category filled with crumbly, sticky, and even sour cookies, these chocolate wafers held together nicely and paired well with the chocolate chip bits studded into the white-mint ice cream. If you can’t find the ice cream sandwiches, try the ice cream bars as well.

Photography: Paul Quitoriano
Art Direction: Sarah Ceniceros Gomez