Custard vs. Ice Cream


Standard custard is cooked in a double boiler. The consistency of custard ranges from a thin pouring sauce to a thick pastry cream. Frozen custard is produced in a soft-serve ice cream maker, which introduces more air to the concoction than a traditional ice cream maker. The result is a dense but creamy consistency. Frozen custard may be served at 18 degrees.

Standard ice cream is made in an ice cream maker, whereas soft-serve receives more agitation. Standard ice cream is dense and creamy; soft-serve is fluffy and smooth. Ice cream is served at 10 degrees.


Standard custard comes in many variations. Egg is used to thicken a standard custard. However, a pastry cream results from adding starch. Adding a flavoring such as vanilla, chocolate, or lemon results in Crème pâtissière. If chefs add gelatin to the standard mixture, they have crème anglaise collée. All the basic ingredients of custard can be frozen in a soft-serve ice cream maker for frozen custard. Quiche is an example of a savory custard.

Bacon quiche.

Ice cream can be regular or soft-serve. Soft serve ice creams have less butterfat – five percent instead of the 10 percent necessary for ice cream. Soft serve ice cream also has more air introduced during freezing, which results in a light, creamy texture.

Soft serve ice cream.

Both frozen custard and standard ice cream come in a variety of flavors categorized by their base — chocolate based, fruit based or with nuts and other novelties.

Culinary Uses

Custard offers more variety in uses. It can be used for a variety of desserts, both as the main ingredient or as the filler. Custard also serves as a savory base for quiche.

Frozen custard and ice cream may be served standalone or as the base of a sundae or banana split.

This video demonstrates how to make custard based vanilla ice cream with an ice-cream maker. If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, add the liquid in a freezer-safe container and stir every 30 minutes 3 times before finally putting it in the freezer.


Frozen custard is more commonly served in restaurants and at custard stands. Popular custard stands include Gilles, Freddy’s and Culvers. The brands Gilles and Abbotts also distribute ready frozen custard in grocery stores.

Ice cream is commonly served both in stands and packaged. Baskins & Robbins is a common ice cream stand. Popular brands include Breyers, Dreyers, Ben & Jerry’s, Hägen-Dazs and Blue Bunny.


Frozen custard and ice cream are very similar nutritionally. They both contain lactose. They are vegetarian but not vegan. While the calorie count may vary with flavors, ice cream in general is likely to have more calories and fat than frozen custard: 207 calories and 11 grams of fat for 100 grams of vanilla ice cream vs. 122 calories and four grams of fat for 100 grams of frozen custard. Otherwise, both are similar in terms of calcium, protein and carbohydrates.

Lower butterfat in soft-serve ice cream reduces its calorific and fat value.


Crème brûlée Pistachio ice cream Portuguese egg tart
Soft serve ice cream Spoonful of custard Scoop of homemade cinnamon ice cream
  • Wikipedia: Custard
  • Wikipedia: Frozen custard
  • Wikipedia: Ice cream
  • Wikipedia: Soft serve

Frozen Custard Vs. Ice Cream

Frozen Custard or Ice Cream: Which Is Better for Your Kids?


Being a mother means living with kids clamoring for sweet treats. The classic cold treat is ice cream, of course, but there are lots of other frozen desserts out there, from frozen yogurt to gelato to frozen custard. Sometimes it can be hard to know which is the right choice for your kids. For instance: Is frozen custard healthier than ice cream? The two desserts are very similar, but a few key differences in the recipes make one generally a little healthier than the other.

The Differences

Both ice cream and frozen custard are made by beating and freezing a mixture of milk and cream. Despite their similar recipes, there are two main differences between them. The first difference is in their ingredients. In addition to milk and cream, frozen custard contains a high proportion of egg yolks. Many ice cream recipes include eggs, but when the percentage of egg yolk in a dessert exceeds 1.4 percent, it becomes frozen custard. If you’re used to making your own ice cream with egg yolks, you may be surprised to learn that you’re technically making frozen custard; it just goes to show how similar ice cream and frozen custard are. Some frozen custards are even marketed as ice cream, usually with the description “French ice cream.”

In addition to the differences in ingredients, frozen custard is also usually churned differently, with a process that introduces much less air into the mixture than the one used to make ice cream. The result is a frozen dessert with a smooth, dense, creamy consistency.

Nutritional Information

The basic similarities between frozen custard and ice cream mean that they’re roughly similar in terms of their nutritional qualities. Both are typically high in calories, particularly calories from sugar. Overall, though, frozen custard is typically higher. A single serving (1/2 cup) of ice cream can contain anywhere between around 90 and 310 calories. By contrast, a typical serving of frozen custard contains around 200 calories or even more. Frozen custard is definitely a rich dessert best reserved for special occasions.

Alternatives to Ice Cream and Frozen Custard

Neither ice cream nor frozen custard may be the healthiest snacks around, but kids typically don’t pay attention to nutritional value. If you want to provide a cold treat for your kids without overloading them with sugar, try freezing low-sugar yogurt and adding fresh fruit to sweeten it. Blended frozen banana slices with peanut butter and honey creates another cool, sweet snack, though don’t overdo it with the honey.

Your Guide to Healthy Ice Cream: Which Variety Is Actually the Best?

Photo: Shaffer-Smith / Getty Images

Did you know that the average American consumes more than 23 pounds of ice cream a year? That’s a lot of hot fudge sundaes.

With the plethora of options to satisfy that sweet tooth, how’s a fit foodie like you supposed to choose between frozen yogurt, slow-churned ice cream, high-protein pints, and everything else?

First, know that you don’t have to spend 20 minutes searching for the lowest-calorie option. “Instead of sweating over the nutritional content of ice cream, I recommend making your choice based on what sounds best to you,” says Lindsay Stenovec, R.D., a certified intuitive eating pro. “That’s why we have ice cream anyway, right? For pleasure!” Ask yourself if you want something fruity or chocolaty; smooth or with crunchy bits in it; in a cone, on a stick, or in a cup. When you’re able to drop the guilt and make choices based on your body’s preferences, you’ll be present and enjoy the ice cream until you’re satisfied instead of being distracted by regret or worried about being out of control,” says Stenovec.

Needless to say, you can have the “real deal.” And if you’re like me and have a sweet tooth for just about anything frozen and sweet, then read on for your guide to spoon-worthy varieties of ice cream and related treats.

Ice Cream: Full-Fat, Reduced-Fat, Low-Fat, Light, and Nonfat

Defined as a mixture of dairy ingredients (milk and cream), egg yolks, flavorings, and functional ingredients (including stabilizers and emulsifiers), to be called “ice cream” a product must contain no less than 10 percent milk fat. And the “cool” part: “Ice cream’s creaminess depends on the size of the ice crystals that form during freezing: The smaller the crystals, the creamier the texture, says culinary dietitian Julie Harrington of RDelicious Kitchen. “Fat is one of the main components that provide smoothness to ice cream and can range from 10 to 16 percent depending on the variety,” says Harrington. “Higher fat content equals smaller ice crystals, creating a creamy consistency. Lower fat content equals larger ice crystals, creating an icier consistency.” But if you want the real thing, you don’t have to fear the fat content. “I am the biggest believer that all foods fit a healthy diet, especially when it comes to ice cream,” says Harrington. “I want people to fall in love with food again and not make rigid choices based on categories, which leave them feeling unsatisfied.”

For a brand to label an item as low-fat, reduced-fat, light, or fat-free, the following criteria must be met:

Reduced fat: Contains 25 percent less fat than the reference product (usually a similar product from a competing brand)

Low-fat: Contains 3 grams of total fat per 1/2-cup serving

Light or lite: Contains 50 percent less fat or 33 percent fewer calories

Nonfat: Contains less than 0.5 grams of total fat per 1/2-cup serving

Eat it if you know you won’t be satisfied with anything but real ice cream. A full-fat variety will satisfy you at just a 1/2 cup serving, but with all the low-fat options available, you can also find something that tastes just as good and save you a few calories if that’s what you’re after.

High-Protein, Dairy-Free, or Other Ice Cream Alternatives

A new category of ice cream has emerged during the last decade: High-protein, dairy-free, and otherwise alternative frozen treats. I’ll first admit that as an R.D. I’ve consulted with many of these brands and grown to either love and despise them for different reasons. I’ve had my share of the pea protein varieties, monk fruit–sweetened options, and coconut milk types on the market-and I’ve found the options that satisfy my ice cream cravings are those made with real milk, cream, and whey protein. But while many of these trendy ice creams might be shockingly low in calories, the artificial sweeteners can irritate your stomach and cause bloating in your GI tract. (It’s fair to say that alternative “ice cream” is a polarizing topic. One writer decided to break up with diet ice cream for good.)

If the high-protein, low-calorie fix isn’t for you, there are many other brands getting into the alternative ice cream market. Breyers just launched a new line of low-calorie, high-protein flavors. These Breyers delights have 260 to 330 calories per pint and 20 grams of protein. Plus, Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs are rolling out dairy-free frozen treats so those with food sensitives can enjoy them, too.

Eat it if you want more protein or suffer from dairy intolerance. You’ll that you’re getting another boost of post-workout protein but just be mindful of falling for the whole pint. Some brands are filled with artificial sweeteners that can cause tummy troubles when consumed in excess. Plus, the dairy free varieties can often pack more fat and sugar.

Despite what you might have guessed, this creamy Italian treat differs from ice cream in that it typically has less milk fat (around 4 to 8 percent). It is made from only milk, cream, and sugar-you won’t find any emulsifiers or stabilizers. Fun fact: Gelato is traditionally eaten about 10 degrees warmer than ice cream, which means no “brain freeze.”

What’s more, thanks to its rich, creamy texture, you’ll save yourself some sugar and total fat by helping yourself to a smaller portion. Talenti, a popular gelato, for example, tastes indulgent enough to satisfy you with just a 1/2-cup portion for a sweet after-dinner treat. (Plus, if Anna Victoria is eating gelato, it must be good, #balance.)

Eat it if portion size isn’t that important to you, but trust me, you won’t feel deprived when eating gelato.

Frozen Yogurt

A combination of dairy ingredients, cultures (aka probiotics), flavorings and sugar, froyo has taken America by storm with DIY dessert bars popping up everywhere. Traditionally lower in fat than ice cream, it also packs in probiotics. With the emphasis on gut health these days, it’s important to consider adding more probiotics to your diet. Just remember to be mindful of your serving size and the number of toppings you pile on, as the calories and sugar from both can quickly add up. To add a little crunch and increase your satiety, try adding a tablespoon of crushed nuts. The healthy fat will help keep you full, too.

Many national brands such as Blue Bunny have their own lines of frozen yogurt, so you can make your own concoction at home and have full control over the bowl size and extras. Try one of these frozen yogurt combinations to curb whatever craving strikes.

Eat it if you want to ramp up your gut health with a little dose of probiotics. If you want to save some calories, frozen yogurt will generally be less than gelato or full-fat ice cream, but remember how quickly that can change if you pile on crush Oreos and caramel sauce.

Frozen Custard

Frozen custard uses a minimum of 1.4 percent of egg yolk solids in addition to the 10 percent milk fat of a traditional ice cream. While this is responsible for custard’s creamy, thick texture, it does equate to higher calories than a frozen yogurt. On the flipside, it also has 1 to 2 more grams of protein, and you’ll get an added dose of biotin because this frozen treat keeps the yolk in the mix. By adding the egg yolk, the custard stays cooler for longer while also creating a smoother texture. There is significantly less air in a frozen custard than ice cream, making it more dense and compact.

Eat it if you want something denser than regular ice cream. You won’t save calories here though, so be mindful of serving sizes.

Sorbet and Granita

Make no mistake: If you want ice cream, this is not it. But, heck, these icy desserts aren’t trying to replace your mocha java chip, but rather fill a need for a lighter frozen treat that pretty much anyone can enjoy. Sorbets and granitas are often considered the most “natural” and diet-friendly option of the ice cream relatives. if you’ve never had the pleasure of trying a granita, it is basically the Italian version of sorbet but its texture is what makes it different. While sorbet is often smooth, granita is flakier, like a shaved ice. All are made with only nondairy ingredients, including fresh fruits, sugar, water, and optional flavorings, you can grab something from the store (such as Ciao Bela’s line of sorbetto) or make one of them at home for a refreshing frozen treat that’s perfect in the summer heat. (Discover these other nine frozen snacks that will instantly cool you off.)

Eat it if you want something icy instead of creamy. Sorbets and granitas are lower in fat and calories, but some of the store-bought varieties can have substantial amounts of added and/or artificial sugar, so consider making your own naturally sweet recipe at home like this Pineapple Cup Pomegranate Granita.

Bottom line: There is no one ice cream variety that trumps them all. Just like anything else you eat, ice cream is personal. For me, I prefer to save the real deal for when I’m eating out, like after a date night with my husband. But it’s important to make your ice cream choice based on what’s best for you-do you have food sensitivities? Are you trying to lose weight? Are you satisfied with only a small scoop, or are you more of a double-scoop-with-sprinkles kind of girl? All of these factors will determine the best ice cream choice for you. The only wrong choice you can make? No ice cream at all.

  • By By Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT

20 Dairy-Free Frozen Desserts

Ditching dairy has liberated many people from certain body responses and weight troubles, but there are few foods that celebrate the sunshine quite like a cool, sweet treat. But you don’t have to subject yourself to congestion and tummy aches or sabotage your six-packs goals just to enjoy an ice cream cone. We curated and compiled some delicious and healthy non-dairy, frozen treats that fit seamlessly into any meal or dietary plan; from ice cream sandwiches to frozen fruit kabobs to sorbet, the health foodie god and goddesses have you covered! Got a sweet tooth? Check out these 16 Sweet Hacks for Healthy Baking.



Nutrition: 213 calories, 5.5 g fat (<1 g saturated), 24 mg sodium, 42.1 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 21.6 g sugars, 4 g protein

The secret in this mouth-watering recipe is almond butter. Aside from making the ice cream more delicious and satiating, almonds are one of the best nuts for weight loss, thanks to the amino acid L-arginine, which according to Mayo Clinic researchers, reduces belly fat—and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Just make sure to opt for an all-natural or organic brand that doesn’t contain hydrogenated oils or added sugars.

Get the recipe from Eating Bird Food.



Nutrition: 185 calories, 1.4 g fat (0 mg sodium), 3 mg sodium, 45.3 g carbs, 13.1 g fiber, 21.2 g sugar, 3.1 g protein

Who knew you could combine frozen bananas and raspberries to create such a seemingly sinful treat? You already know the flat belly effects of our yellow friend, but raspberries also bring waist-whittling effects to the table. Packing more fiber and liquid than most other fruits, they boost feelings of satiety without doing any damage to your waistline. Make this recipe ahead of time for when those late night sugar cravings hit and add these 30 Best-Ever Fat-Burning Foods to your grocery list!

Get the recipe from Create N Plate.



Nutrition: 115 calories, 6.2 g fat (3.9 g saturated), 12 mg sodium, 15.4 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 14.7 g sugar, 1 g protein

Aside from being low in calories, juicy and extremely hydrating, cantaloupe boasts potassium to aid in post-sweat recovery. And what better way to reward yourself from a hot sweaty run than to bite into one of these popsicles?

Get the recipe from Damn Delicious.



Nutrition: 260 calories, 9.9 g fat (8.2 g saturated), 197 mg sodium, 43 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 11.3 g sugar, 4.1 g protein

You had us at ice cream sandwiches and carrot cake. But this recipe is stacked with slimming foods including almond milk, coconut oil, cinnamon, and walnuts. In fact, walnuts are one of the best dietary sources of polyunsaturated fats, which activate genes that reduce fat storage and improve insulin metabolism. Plus, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free? This is a health foodie jackpot. And to blast even more fat—and shrink your belly in just 7 days—click here for The Best Tea to Melt Fat—Fast. Test panelists lost 10 pounds in one week!

Get the recipe from She Likes Food.



With summer right around the corner and temperatures rising, cool off and stay hydrated with one of these fruity ice pops. P.S. Watermelon has been shown to reduce bloat, decrease the accumulation of body fat, and according to a Spanish study, reduce muscle fatigue!

Get the recipe from Against All Grain.



Nutrition: 115 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg sodium, 30.2 g carbs, 1.4 g fiber, 28.8 g sugars, 1 g protein

Grapefruit is one of the most potent weight loss superfoods. In fact, a study printed in the journal Metabolism found the eating half a grapefruit before meals may help reduce belly fat, lower cholesterol levels and shrink your waist by up to an inch in just six weeks (thanks to vitamin C)! But that’s not even the half of it — C (and this recipe provides 80 percent of your daily quota) also helps build up and repair skin collagen, keeps you hydrated and can even boost your metabolism!

Get the recipe from How Sweet Eats.



Nutrition: 87 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 20.8 g sugar, 0 g protein

Skip the artificial chemicals and whip up this dye-free version for the munchkins instead. It’s made with real sugar and just 87 calories.

Get the recipe from Five Heart Home.



Nutrition: 221 calories, 10 g fat (7.6 g saturated), 101 mg sodium, 31.4 g carbs, 1.1 g fiber, 19.1 g sugar, 2.3 g protein

Not only is this recipe dairy-free, but it’s also void of gluten. Coconut milk is used to create a rich creamy filling that won’t leave you with an expanding waistline. Here’s why: It’s loaded with medium-chain triglycerides, a type of easily-digested healthy fat that helps fry unwanted flab.

Get the recipe from Go Dairy Free.



Nutrition: 229 calories, 4.3 g saturated (0 g saturated), 15 mg sodium, 40.2 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 22.6 g sugar, 14.4 g protein

It’s hard to resist a banana split, let alone one that fits into your body goals and fitness plan. To boost its waist-whittling effects, use underripe bananas (a flavor that can be masked inside a smoothie). They’re rich in resistant starch, which as the name implies, resists digestion, passing through the small intestine without being digested. This boosts immunity, improves blood sugar, and feeds healthy gut bacteria, leading to prolonged feelings of fullness and more efficient fat oxidation.

Get the recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.



Nutrition: 39 calories, 1.8 g fat (1 g saturated), 35 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 5 g sugar, <1 g protein

While other forms of milk need to be fortified with vitamins, almond milk—like the non-dairy milk in this recipe— is naturally chock full of nutrients. Aside from being on the of the best healthy fats, almonds boast vitamin E, manganese, selenium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, fiber, phosphorous and calcium. These pops are just 39 calories and have only 5 grams of sugar!

Get the recipe from Love and Lemons.



Nutrition: 93 calories, 4.8 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 74 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 7.6 g sugar, 1.5 g protein

Matcha is a form of green tea that uses the entire leaf in powdered form and has been shown to speed up weight loss. In fact, one study found that men consumed 136 mg of EGCG—what you’ll find in a single 4-gram serving of matcha—lost twice as much weight and four times as much belly fat over 3 months than a placebo group. This is one milkshake you don’t want to pass up!

Get the recipe from Love and Lemons.



Nutrition: 169 calories, 10.8 g fat (8.3 g saturated), 17 mg sodium, 17 g carbs, 1.2 g fiber, 13.2 g sugar, 1.8 g protein

“The magic is in the coconut oil, which, when melted with the chocolate, makes a coating that hardens instantly on contact with the cold banana.” But that’s not all it does. Coconut oil is rich in the medium-chain saturated fat lauric acid, which converts into energy more easily than other types of fat, aiding in rapid weight loss.

Get the recipe from The View From Great Island.



Nutrition: 93 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated), 9 mg sodium, 16.4 g carbs, 1.6 g fiber, 11.8 g sugar, 1.3 g protein

Fruit skewers just get a whole lot more appealing when you drizzle chocolate over them. And did we mention they can have waist-whittling effects? Just make sure you pick the right kind, not all chocolate is created equal. First and foremost, opt for dark, which is rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants. Then avoid anything that’s labeled “made with chocolate,” “chocolate-y,” or “chocolate-coated,” which likely is void of cocoa butter, the ingredient responsible for dark chocolate’s slimming rep.

Get the recipe from Carl’s Bad Cravings.



Nutrition: 264 calories, 15 g fat (4.2 g saturated), 124 mg sodium, 27.6 g carbs, 2.6 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 7.8 g protein

PB and banana is a divine combo, but once you throw ice cream sandwich into the mix, it’s a foodgasm waiting to happen. From increased satiety, energy and fat burn to decreased risk for disease, peanut butter hosts a plethora of health benefits. And bananas are sky high in potassium and glucose, aiding in post-workout recovery. Whether you’re looking to slim down, boost your nutrient intake or refuel after a demanding workout, these sandwiches just might be the thing.

Get the recipe from She Likes Food.



Nutrition: 130 calories, 10 g fat (8.6 g saturated), 15 mg sodium, 7.3 g carbs, 1.4 g fiber, 3.9 g sugar, 5 g protein

Looking for some workout motivation? These protein pops are low in calories and contain a plethora of workout ingredients including Beta-Alanine which delays muscle fatigue, L-Carnitine, which increases fat breakdown for fuel and vitamin C, which accelerates muscle recovery.

Get the recipe from Grok Grub.



Nutrition: 118 calories, 9.8 g fat (2.1 g saturated), 25 mg sodium, 6.3 g carbs, 2.2 g sugar, 2.3 g protein

Avocado are the creme de la creme of
weight loss foods and for good reason: No other fruit is credited with spot-reducing belly fat, warding off hunger, boosting nutrient absorption, lowering cholesterol and fighting free-radicals. Plus, they’re super versatile and fit flawlessly into any recipe, like these chilling ice pops.

Get the recipe from Kirbie’s Cravings.



Nutrition: 251 calories, 17 g fat (14.8 g saturated), 9 mg sodium, 26.6 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 22.4 g sugar, 1.3 g protein

If you’re looking to be naughty, but not completely diet-sabotaging naughty, these ice cream bars got you covered. And don’t fret the fat content—it comes from waist shrinking coconut oil, which also kills bacteria, helps build and maintain lean muscle, promotes organ function and increases satiety.

Get the recipe from Sweet As Honey.



Nutrition: 234 calories, 16.3 g fat (13.6 g saturated), 131 mg sodium, 22.1 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 20.5 g sugar, 1.6 g protein

Combine the flab blasting benefits of coconut milk and coconut oil with those of dark chocolate and almonds, and you’ve got yourself one skinny dessert. To start losing weight today, check out these 10 Genius Tips to Lose 10 Pounds!

Get the recipe from The Foodie Teen.



Nutrition: 148 calories, 12.2 g fat ( 7.9 g saturated), 99 mg sodium, 7.9 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 6.5 g sugar, 2.4 g protein

Usually, we would warn to avoid any dessert that states “and cream,” but these vegan popsicles are an exception. They’re rich in antioxidants, fat-burning lauric acid, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and immunity-boosting vitamin C.

Get the recipe from May I Have That Recipe.



Nutrition: 139 calories, 9.8 g fat (8.2 g saturated), 43 mg sodium, 13.3 g carbs, 1.2 g fiber, 10.7 g sugar, 1.1 g protein

Cinnamon is no small player when it comes to losing inches and belly fat. A series of studies from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adding a heaping teaspoon cinnamon to a starchy meal may help stabilize blood sugar and ward off insulin spikes. When our blood sugar spikes and dips, we reach for the first sugary thing we can get our hands on and it can be one of the 20 Reasons Why You’re Always Hungry. Simple sugars are typically found in nutrient-void foods. Cinnamon moderates those fluctuations, keeping you away from the vending machine and the cookie aisle.

Get the recipe from Eat Healtjy, Eat Happy.

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Dairy-free? Your timing is perfect. Even Ben & Jerry’s, Häagen-Dazs, and Breyers have something for you. But without dairy, don’t expect much calcium. And the competitors are not all created equal:

Cashew milk. “Our Cashewmilk frozen desserts deliver dairy-free decadence with amazing flavor and over-the-top creaminess,” says So Delicious. Amen! Try Creamy Chocolate, Creamy Cashew, Cappuccino, or Very Vanilla. All four taste more like real ice cream than any other brand.

Almond milk. Thanks to coconut oil, So Delicious Almondmilk delivers 4 or 5 grams of saturated fat, while Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy hits 6 to 9 grams, plus around 250 calories (in a measly half cup). That’s nuts!

Soy milk. You can find some decent options—like So Delicious Chocolate Velvet or Creamy Vanilla—but they didn’t wow us.

Coconut milk. Luna & Larry’s Organic may be creamy, but they pack roughly 200 to 250 calories and 10 to 15 grams of saturated fat. (That puts them in Häagen-Dazs ice cream territory.) Halo Top cuts most of the sat fat. Too bad we found them a little chalky.

Frozen sugar water? Häagen-Dazs’ Non-Dairy line ditches “milks” altogether. The main ingredients: water, sugar, corn syrup, and (sometimes) coconut cream. They deliver about 250 to 300 calories and 5 to 7 teaspoons of added sugar per half cup. Sheesh.


Looking for a decent fruity treat? It’s best to avoid sorbets or sherbets that list sugar before fruit or fruit juice in their ingredients list. You can do better.

“Because we add so little else to this sorbetto, every spoonful is just like taking a bite out of the most delicious mango, over and over again,” gushes Ciao Bella Mango Sorbetto. And it comes darn close. The first ingredient: mango purée. (There’s also sugar, water, lemon juice, and locust bean gum.)

While you’re at it, try silky-smooth Talenti Sorbetto in Alphonso Mango or Roman Raspberry. M-m-m.

Looking for lower-calorie ice creams? Here’s our take.

The information in this post appeared in the May 2018 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter

Photos: Jennifer Urban/CSPI. doesn’t accept any paid advertising or corporate or government donations. Any products recommended by have been vetted by our staff of nutritionists and are not advertisements by the manufacturers.

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It’s 8 p.m., and you’re staring at the 10,000 cartons of frozen deliciousness in the freezer aisle of your grocery store wondering: what’s better—gelato or ice cream?

Pints of the stuff seem close to identical on the outside—but what about the inside? Here’s the scoop (sorry, had to) about the difference between these two desserts.

Wait…what is gelato?

Gelato is basically the Italian counterpart to ice cream. It’s a frozen dairy dessert made from a base of milk, cream, and sugar that has been enjoyed in Italy since the Renaissance, according to Italy Magazine.

It’s popularity is on the rise here in the U.S., with 43 percent of people buying gelato in 2016 (compared to 39 percent in 2015), according to data from Mintel.

How is gelato different from ice cream?

Basically, gelato is pretty similar to ice cream—it’s got mostly the same ingredients, just with different proportions, says Natalie Rizzo, R.D.

“ has a bit more milk than cream, whereas ice cream usually contains more cream. That means the ice cream will have more fat than gelato, typically 10 percent compared to 5 to 7 percent in gelato,” she says.

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Ice cream also generally contains egg yolks, while gelato rarely contains any, according to NPR. That lack of cream and egg yolks explains why gelato has slightly less saturated fat.

Another key difference: the texture. Gelato is generally creamier, denser, and richer-tasting than regular ice cream. That’s down to how it’s made, says Rizzo. “Gelato is churned at a slower speed than ice cream, so it has less air in the mixture than ice cream,” she says. The air whipped into the ice cream makes it soft and fluffy, unlike your smooth, creamy gelato.

However, to compensate for the lack of fat, some gelatos might use more sugar in order to ensure that the texture is still creamy (and free of ice crystals), reports NPR.

What’s better for you: gelato or ice cream?

They’re pretty similar, all things considered—it’s more about preference.

“I wouldn’t say one is ‘better for you’ than the other. Both are definitely desserts with plenty of sugar and fat and should be eaten in moderation,” says Rizzo.

However, she notes that ice cream generally has more calories and fat than gelato (blame all that cream).

Case in point: Here’s what you’d get in a 1/2 cup of strawberry Talenti gelato:

  • Calories: 170
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated fat: 4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 26 g
  • Fiber: less than 1 g
  • Sugar: 26 g
  • Protein: 3 g

Compare that with what’s in a half-cup of strawberry Haagen Daz:

  • Calories: 240
  • Fat: 15 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 22 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Sugar: 20 g
  • Protein: 4 g

Every brand is different, though, and the nutritional values and ingredients will vary across brands and flavors. Your best bet is to read labels before purchasing.

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If you’re not concerned about calories or fat, go with taste—since both are nutritionally very similar. “I just like gelato better because I find it to be a bit creamier,” says Rizzo.

“However, neither is better or worse for you. Eat what you like, but keep it an every-once-in-a-while treat. Don’t deprive yourself of ever having it, but don’t eat it every day either,” she says. (Unless maybe you move to Italy…)

Isadora Baum Isadora Baum is a freelance writer, certified health coach, and author of 5-Minute Energy.

14 Healthy Ice Cream Recipes

Jul 31, 2015

Beat the heat with these 14 healthy ice cream recipes! From vanilla and chocolate to red velvet cake and matcha, you’ll be sure to find the flavor for you.

These ice cream recipes are so sweet and creamy, it’s hard to believe they’re totally guilt-free. They’re refined sugar free, low carb, low fat, and high protein, with some vegan options in there too!

Are you drooling? Well wipe your face off and get in the kitchen, because here are 14 of the most popular healthy ice cream recipes that I’ve made over the years. Each and every one of them are nice and sweet desserts that you’d never know are healthy, all natural and good for you.

The following recipes are listed in the order that I posted them in, earliest to latest… because it would be impossible for me to order them by my favorites… THEY’RE ALL MY FAVORITES! Duhhh 😉

#1: “Chunky” Monkey Ice Cream

Healthy Chunky Monkey Ice Cream… but without the “chunky” part! This 5-ingredient ice cream has it all — full on flavor with decadent chocolate, rich peanut butter and naturally sweet bananas, an amazing texture that is just as creamy and velvety smooth as store-bought ice cream… oh, and it’s secretly healthy, too.

  • ¼ cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 2 tbs Peanut Flour
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 packet Natural Sweetener (stevia, Truvia, etc.)
  • pinch of Salt
  • 1 large Banana, chopped into “coins” and frozen
  • 1 tsp Mini Chocolate Chips
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the almond milk, peanut flour, vanilla extract, sweetener, and salt. Pour mixture into a silicone ice cube mold and freeze until solid.
  2. Thaw the frozen peanut butter cubes and frozen banana chunks for ~15 minutes.
  3. Add all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary. When smooth, add the chocolate chips and pulse until just broken up.
  4. Serve with a dash of cinnamon, some chopped peanuts, sliced bananas, or spoons alone! Enjoy.

#2: Iced Coffee Ice Cream

When you’re in need of a hit of caffeine, but you’re also in the mood for some dessert, reach for this Iced Coffee Ice Cream! ☕️ Made without heavy cream, artificial creamers, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, this sweet and creamy treat will hit the spot every time. You can have it for breakfast and dessert. Yes, this ice cream is breakfast-approved!

  • 1½ cups Low Fat Cottage Cheese
  • ½ cup Brewed Espresso, cooled to room temp
  • 1 tsp Stevia Extract
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, espresso, stevia extract, and vanilla extract. Scoop mixture into a silicone ice cube mold and freeze until solid.
  2. Thaw the frozen cubes for ~30 minutes.
  3. Add the frozen cubes to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  4. Serve with mini chocolate chips or spoons alone. Enjoy!

#3: Healthy Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

This delicious, sweet and creamy Healthy Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream is all natural, secretly healthy and totally good for you. You’d never know this sweet dessert is low calorie, low fat, low carb, sugar free and packed with protein!

#4: Healthy “Nutella” Frozen Yogurt

This Healthy Nutella Frozen Yogurt is creamy, rich, nutty, chocolatey and… healthy? Oh yes. No heavy cream, refined sugar or artificial ingredients here! This delicious fro yo is THE definition of a nutritionally balanced, guilt-free snack.

#5: Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream is the most popular ice cream flavor. It’s an all-time classic that everyone seems to reach for because it’s rich, it’s creamy, it’s sweet, and packed with vanilla flavor. Regular vanilla ice cream contains ~350-600 calories per cup, but not anymore! This Healthy Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream recipe is soft and creamy (without the heavy cream), sweet and satisfying (without refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup), and speckled with real vanilla beans.

  • 1 cup Low Fat Cottage Cheese
  • ½ tsp Stevia Extract
  • ¼ tsp Vanilla Paste (I used homemade!)
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, stevia extract, and vanilla paste. Scoop mixture into a silicone ice cube mold and freeze until solid.
  2. Thaw the frozen cubes for ~20 minutes.
  3. Add the frozen cubes to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  4. Serve with mini chocolate chips, natural rainbow sprinkles, or spoons alone! Enjoy.

#6: Healthy Red Velvet Cheesecake Ice Cream

Rich, velvety, creamy, chocolatey decadent… what more could you ask for in a Red Velvet Cheesecake Ice Cream? I guess a little side of “healthy” wouldn’t hurt, right? This ice cream is all natural (no artificial food dyes), sugar free, low carb and high protein. With a secret ingredient too. This is the perfect recipe for when you are in need of some (guilt-free) indulgence!

#7: Chocolate Ice Cream

This Chocolate Ice Cream is made with only 5 ingredients! I’m pretty sure it’s the healthiest (and easiest) dessert you can possibly make. It’s great as a dessert, midday snack, and even breakfast. You’ll be coming back for more!

  • 1 cup Low Fat Cottage Cheese
  • 3 tbs Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 3 tbs Unsweetened Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Creme-Flavored Stevia Extract
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, stevia extract, and vanilla paste. Scoop mixture into a silicone ice cube mold and freeze until solid.
  2. Thaw the frozen cubes for ~20 minutes.
  3. Add the frozen cubes to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  4. Serve with chocolate chips or spoons alone! Enjoy.

#8: Healthy Coconut Frozen Yogurt

This Healthy Coconut Frozen Yogurt is super smooth and creamy, incredibly flavorful and sweet, and secretly healthy and guilt-free. So sweeten your day the healthy way, no need for the heavy cream, eggs, sugar and additives!

#9: Healthy Hazelnut Mocha Ice Cream

#10: Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream

This ice cream has all the decadence of cinnamon rolls, all the flavor of creamy vanilla ice cream, and all the nutrition of a healthy, hearty breakfast. One bite and you’ll think you’re dreaming — it tastes so sinful, how could it possibly be healthy?! Oh, but it is. Trust me. It’s just as tasty as the store-bought stuff, except it’s actually filling and good for you. You’d never know it’s low calorie, low fat, sugar free, gluten free and high protein because it sure doesn’t taste like it.

  • 1 cup Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 cup Low Fat Cottage Cheese
  • ½ cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Creme-Flavored Stevia Extract
  • ¼ cup Oat Flour
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  1. In a large bowl, stir together all of the ingredients. Scoop mixture into a silicone ice cube mold and freeze until solid.
  2. Thaw the frozen cubes for ~30 minutes.
  3. Add the frozen cubes to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Enjoy!

#11: Healthy Cheesecake Ice Cream

Healthy Cheesecake Ice Cream — all the flavor of Cheesecake but in the form of Ice Cream, and without all the excess calories, fat and sugar! SO thick. SO rich. SO decadent. SO… healthy? Oh yes.

#12: Healthy Strawberries and Cream Ice Cream

This Healthy Strawberries and Cream Ice Cream is flavorful, creamy and rich, but without the egg yolks and refined white sugar. It’s so good, you’d never know it’s low fat, low calorie, low carb, sugar free and high protein. Seriously!

PS: If you’re looking for a smaller batch recipe, try out this Strawberries and Cream Ice Cream! Just 75 calories, 1.4g fat, 7g carbs and 8.7g protein.

  • 1 cup Low Fat Cottage Cheese
  • 2 tbs Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 4 packets Natural Sweetener (stevia, Truvia, etc.)
  • 10 Large Frozen Strawberries
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, almond milk, and sweetener. Scoop mixture into a silicone ice cube mold and freeze until solid.
  2. Thaw the frozen cubes for ~20 minutes and the frozen strawberries for ~10 minutes.
  3. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  4. Serve with whipped cream, fresh strawberries, or spoons alone! Enjoy.

PPS: If you’re looking for a Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Ice Cream, try that out too! Just 135 calories, 2.8g fat, 16g carbs and 13.5g protein.

  • 1 cup Low Fat Cottage Cheese
  • ¼ cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • ¾ tsp Vanilla Creme-Flavored Stevia Extract
  • 2 tbs Unsweetened Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder
  • 12 Large Frozen Strawberries
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, almond milk, stevia extract, and cocoa powder. Scoop mixture into a silicone ice cube mold and freeze until solid.
  2. Thaw the frozen cubes and frozen strawberries for ~15 minutes.
  3. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  4. Serve with chocolate chips, fresh strawberries, or spoons alone! Enjoy.

#13: Tiramisu Ice Cream

Tiramisu is the classic Italian no-bake dessert made with Ladyfingers, coffee ☕️, rum, a mascarpone cream filling and a cocoa topping. Sounds like pure deliciousness, am I right? Yes, I’m right. Can you guess what else is delicious? The same dessert transformed into ice cream! Either way, they’re both no-bake and the epitome of decadence.

  • 1 cup Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • 2oz Mascarpone
  • 2 tbs Brewed Espresso, cooled to room temp
  • 2 tsp Rum (optional)
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Creme-Flavored Stevia Extract
  • 1 tsp Unsweetened Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder, for dusting on top
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the yogurt, mascarpone, espresso, and stevia extract. Scoop mixture into a silicone ice cube mold and freeze until solid.
  2. Thaw the frozen cubes for ~20 minutes.
  3. Add the cubes to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  4. Dust the cocoa powder on top of the ice cream. Enjoy!

#14: Blueberry Ice Cream

This creamy, dreamy, all natural and berry-full Blueberry Ice Cream is packed with blueberry flavor, just without the artificial food flavorings and artificial food colorings. It’s light, it’s refreshing, it’s delicious and it’s totally guilt-free. It’s low-calorie, low-fat, refined-sugar-free and high-protein… but it’s hard to tell 😉

  • 1 cup Low Fat Cottage Cheese
  • 1 tbs Lemon Juice
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Creme-Flavored Stevia Extract
  • 1 cup Frozen Blueberries
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, lemon juice, and stevia extract. Scoop mixture into a silicone ice cube mold and freeze until solid.
  2. Thaw the frozen cubes for ~20 minutes and the frozen blueberries for ~10 minutes.
  3. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

I hope this loooong list of delicious, healthy ice cream recipes has got your stomach growling… because mine sure is 😉



Be happy.

Live fully.

Eat ice cream.


– Jess


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6 Healthy Ice Cream Recipes

Because Pleasure Doesn’t Have to Be Guilty


Ice cream might seem like the ultimate in self-indulgent, diet-busting desserts, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of smart and obsessive people with a sweet tooth, and they’ve come up with a startling number of healthy ice cream recipes. Some use the natural fiber and pectin of fruit to achieve a creamy texture, like the frozen-banana ice cream that’s all the rage, while others focus on using lower-fat alternatives to conventional ingredients. These six easy recipes demonstrate both approaches, and offer a range of intriguing flavors.

1. Lemon-Buttermilk Ice Cream

This one’s just about the perfect frozen treat for a hot summer day. Mix sugar and lemon juice together – you need the sugar to keep the finished dessert soft – with a combination of whole milk, fat-free buttermilk and half-and-half standing in for the usual heavy cream. The liquid ingredients will already be at refrigerator temperature, so you can pour the mixture straight into your ice cream maker without any further chilling. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, just freeze it in an airtight container.

The thick consistency of buttermilk helps keep the ice cream soft, and its natural tang mellows the sharper lemon flavor. Serve this one with fresh berries and lemon-zest garnish on a hot day, and watch everyone swoon.

Inspired by a recipe at

2. Lightened Classic Vanilla

Losing the fat and saturated fat of heavy cream while still producing a creamy, rich-textured dessert requires a degree of creativity. One useful tool in that quest is evaporated milk, which is much lighter than heavy cream but – because of its low water content – doesn’t make your dessert hard and icy.

To make ice cream, simmer a can of evaporated milk with a cup of half-and-half, salt, sugar, a vanilla bean and a bit of corn syrup. The corn syrup helps give a smooth texture, as well. Whisk the hot milk into a bowl of egg yolks, heat it to a food safe 160F, then chill in your refrigerator or a bowl of ice water. Process in an ice cream maker, or freeze in an airtight container.

Inspired by a recipe from Cooking Light magazine at

3. Avocado Ice Cream

Ice cream gets much of its smoothness from the high fat content of cream. Unfortunately, a lot of that comes in the form of saturated fats, which aren’t your best health choice. Avocados provide a surprisingly good replacement, with their high levels of healthy unsaturated fat as well as pectin and fiber. Their flavor is mild enough that the base recipe can be tweaked with any number of tasty add-ins.

Avocado ice cream couldn’t be simpler to make. Take low fat milk and low fat coconut milk, and combine them in a blender with sugar, the flesh from a couple of avocados, and a splash of lemon or lime juice. Drop in your choice of flavorings or add-ins, then freeze and enjoy.

Inspired by a recipe at the Hass Avocado Board’s AvocadoCentral website

4. Beet and Raspberry Ice Cream

This one seems like a bit of a stretch, but it’s shockingly good. The sweet earthiness of the beets mellows the sharp tang of the raspberries, and gives the finished ice cream its gorgeous magenta hue. It’s also high in protein, thanks to the ricotta, so it’s a perfect treat to replenish your system after a workout or to pick you up between meals.

Puree the berries and strain out the seeds, then add roasted or steamed beets to the blender along with ricotta cheese, half-and-half, corn syrup and orange zest. Chill the mixture for a few hours, then process it in your ice cream maker or freeze it in an airtight container. Beets stain, so remember to wear gloves and an apron when handling them.

Inspired by a recipe at Women’s Running

5. Coconut Ice Cream

Like avocados, coconut milk and coconut cream contain enough healthy fats to serve as a direct replacement for heavy cream in ice cream. As a bonus, coconut milk also works for vegan or lactose-free ice cream.

Combine two cans of full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream – not the sweetened “creamed coconut” used in cocktails – with sugar, a pinch of salt and vanilla. Combine in a blender until creamy, then chill and freeze. Omit the vanilla if you wish and leave the mild coconut flavor at the forefront, accenting it with a hint of cinnamon or warm spices. Alternatively, double down on the coconut content by adding toasted, shredded coconut. It’s good either way.

Inspired by a recipe at Minimalist Baker

6. Rum and Raisin Ice Cream

If you’re in the mood for an adults-only treat, this ice cream packs all the flavor of this old-fashioned favorite but without the dairy. Start by soaking raw cashews overnight in cold water in your fridge, one of the core techniques used by creative vegan cooks. Meanwhile, soak your raisins overnight in rum.

The next day, drain and puree the soaked cashews with coconut milk and coconut oil, maple syrup, dates—as a sweetener, and to provide dessert-smoothing fiber – vanilla, and salt. Drain the rum from your raisins and add it to the blender until you’re happy with the flavor, then chill for a few hours. Process the ice cream in your ice cream maker, then fold in the raisins before finishing it in the freezer.

Inspired by a recipe at

Thornton-Wood is also monitoring the scientific debate about whether powerful sweeteners intensify our cravings for sweet foods or even prompt us to overeat. “Research into sweeteners and appetite stimulation is inconsistent,” reads the NHS website.

Unilever plays this criticism of Breyers with a straight corporate bat (“We clearly indicate the calories in a two scoop serving as well, so consumers can make an informed choice”), but Halo Top revels in its irreverent image. “If you’re anything like us,” says a spokesperson, “we would often eat an entire pint of full-fat ice-cream. We think a lot of people can relate , and Halo Top can help, so you don’t feel bad about it.”

Oppo (“Temptation you never need to resist”) is more circumspect. It displays calorie counts by half-pot. It encourages its fans to “indulge healthy”. Its trendy superfood ingredients, including spirulina, baobab and lucuma, will appeal to clean eaters, the wellness brigade and what Thuillier describes as an Instagram-generation of body-conscious consumers who “want to eat what they want to eat, but don’t want to look like they’ve eaten it”.

“Health is definitely here to stay,” says Ashleigh O’Mahony, food trends reporter at the Grocer, and healthy ice-creams have helped push the average price up 5.9% to £2.71 a litre, say analysts at Kantar Worldpanel. Consumers are also “increasingly switched on to healthy eating and foods with functional benefits, such as gut-health or added-protein products,” according to its research.

If you find that ridiculous, do not despair. On the other side of the ice-cream aisle, the full-fat luxury market is still growing, too, which will please Karran. “I’m a perfectionist,” she says. “I’d rather enjoy ice-cream at its best, less often.”

The low-cal newbies versus their full-fat rivals

Oppo Colombian chocolate and hazelnut.

Oppo Colombian chocolate and hazelnut (475ml, £4.99, Waitrose – 380 calories) v Green & Black’s organic chocolate (500ml, £4.20, Waitrose – 910 calories)

Green & Black’s definitely triumphs on texture. It is thickly luxurious and smooth-melting, whereas Oppo is closer and more compacted. You don’t so much scoop it out as shear pieces off. G&B’s also has fuller flavour, but it is a sweet, juvenile one compared to Oppo’s persuasively grownup, bitter chocolate and hazelnut profile.

VERDICT: Oppo wins … by a whisker

Breyers Delights cookies and cream.

Breyers Delights cookies and cream (500ml, £5, Sainsbury’s – 350 calories) v Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough (500ml, £4, Sainsbury’s – 1,150 calories)

Awesomely sweet, overbearingly rich and mined with gritty cookie dough, the Ben & Jerry’s has me tapping-out after a few icky mouthfuls. Initially, the Breyers is a (less) sweet relief, although pedants may argue its cookie pieces are more brownies (a plus, no?). More damagingly, its one-dimensional creamy flavour is trailed by an unpleasant metallic aftertaste

VERDICT: Nil-nil bore draw

Halo Top sea salt caramel ice-cream.

Halo Top sea salt caramel (473ml, £5, Tesco – 320 calories) v Häagen-Dazs salted caramel (460ml, £4.20, Tesco – 1,128 calories)

The Häagen-Dazs salted caramel swirl needs more salt in order to assert itself amid that sickly sweet, cloyingly creamy ice-cream. The caramel brittle tastes more like butterscotch, too. But, it still trumps Halo Top, which has a pleasantly milky flavour but a strange texture (part mousse, part sorbet). The swirled-through caramel also lacks depth and character.

VERDICT: Häagen-Dazs holds on

Is custard more fattening than ice cream?

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