Food & Home

The Best Dairy-Free Ice Creams

Written by: the Editors of goop


Updated on: June 28, 2023


We’ve been on a longtime tour of alternative food aisles for a variety of dietary needs and flavor preferences. With gluten-free pasta, vegan cheese, alt meats, and chips under our belt, it was time to hit the freezer for ice creams. We tried dozens of dairy-free ice creams and narrowed it down to our 10 favorite pints, plus six shops serving seriously good dairy-free scoops. These will be welcome additions to your dessert rotation—for shakes, ice cream sandwiches, and sundae bars and, perhaps most importantly, to serve atop a slice of warm apple pie.

It’s worth noting that we didn’t specifically seek out keto, paleo, or sugar-free ice cream. The chemistry of dairy-free ice cream (or “frozen dessert” as the FDA requires it to be labeled) is challenging. Removing dairy affects flavor, texture, mouthfeel, and how well the dessert freezes. Our focus was solely on replacing dairy and egg yolks, which are common in custard-based ice creams. Many of the picks here include regular sugar, either alone or in combination with some alternatives. They also might include a few additives. Normally we’re in the camp of “the fewer ingredients, the better.” But in this case, vegetable-based gums and syrups from ingredients like tapioca and brown rice act as emulsifiers or stabilizers, giving much-needed thickness and viscosity to dairy-free bases that would otherwise feel thin and icy on your palate. Given that ice cream is a treat and making it without dairy is a feat, we’re cool with the trade-off.


Oat milk has won over many nondairy enthusiasts. It’s richer than almond milk, with a more neutral flavor than coconut milk. Which makes it versatile for everyday use and an especially great contender for ice cream.

  1. Oatly Vanilla

    Creamy and extremely light. Almost airy, with a good, strong vanilla flavor. It has a clean finish and won’t linger on your palate. Even if you’re not a vanilla ice cream person, you’ll be glad to have something more neutral for warm pies, crumbles, crisps, and galettes.
  2. Planet Oat Coffee Fudge Swirl

    This had the best texture of the oat milk options we tried—it’s right in between dense and light. It’s also priced more accessibly than many of the ice creams we tried. It did skew a little sweeter than we liked, but it is ice cream after all.
  3. Van Leeuwen Vegan Oat Milk Brown Sugar Chunk

    Smooth, creamy, brown-sugary ice cream studded with cookie, oat, and brownie clusters. Like many of these ice creams, it has a few ingredients making up its base, but oats were listed first, and it tastes more neutral than coconutty.


We know how weird this sounds, but in the absence of fat from dairy, ice creams need some source of fat for creaminess. The brands below cleverly use fats that are in regular rotation in our kitchen (olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil) to add creamy richness to plant-based ice creams.

  1. Wildgood Pistachio

    We’d heard of finishing ice cream with fancy olive oil, but making ice cream out of olive oil is another story. The texture of Wildgood’s ice cream is lovely, and the flavors are vibrant. Pistachio was our favorite, but chocolate hazelnut and mango were close behind.
  2. Cado Simply Lemon

    Cado’s avocado ice cream is pleasantly light and very citrusy, with no trace of avocado flavor. The texture seemed a bit icier than some of the others we sampled, but it was still thoroughly enjoyable.
  3. Ripple Cookies and Cream

    We’re fans of Ripple’s pea milk and were intrigued to see how it could translate into ice cream. Turns out the brand did a solid job, leaning on coconut oil as the main ingredient to achieve that creamy texture. (It includes some pea protein as well.) Overall, the combination of silky-smooth ice cream and cookie chunks was an easy win.


Coconut milk has more fat than whole milk, so it’s no surprise that it makes excellent ice cream. But while coconut-flavored desserts are often delicious, that prominent flavor doesn’t always play well with others. Generally, we stick to flavors that complement coconut, and these three brands created well-rounded combinations.

  1. Coconut Bliss Dark Chocolate

    Coconut Bliss has been around for quite a while, but you might not recognize it after a rebrand. The ice cream still tastes great. It’s dense and creamy, and the bitterness of the dark chocolate balances the natural sweetness of the coconut nicely. It does taste coconutty, so think about what flavors you like with coconut when selecting a pint.
  2. Sunscoop Vanilla Bean Cream

    You know that thing when ice cream is almost chewy, but in a good way? Almost like fudge. It’s rare in a dairy-free ice cream, but Sunscoop has it. It’s likely because it’s been churned instead of whipped, preventing it from becoming overly airy. It’s got the slightest coconut flavor, and it’s not too sweet.
  3. Nada Moo Mint Chip

    This one is significantly lighter with an almost fluffy texture. It’s the least coconutty coconut milk ice cream, making it easy to pair with lots of different flavors. The mint-chip is especially delicious, with an assertive cooling mint flavor.


While almond milk can be a reasonable alternative to whole milk at the coffee shop, the lack of fat in almond milk is a downside in the ice cream department. Most of the almond-based options we tried tasted thin and icy. There’s only one we’d recommend.

  1. ben and jerry’s netflix and chill’d

    No one does loaded-with-almost-too-many-goodies ice cream quite like Ben & Jerry’s. The almond base is creamy, and the chunky mix-ins are as generous as ever. There are several exclusively dairy-free flavors along with some dairy-free versions of the most popular pints. We loved the dairy-free Netflix & Chill’d.


  • Magpies Soft Serve

    At Magpies Soft Serve in LA, everything is made in house, and the flavors are inspired by comfort foods from across the globe, like chili mango and Vietnamese coffee. The menu changes frequently, so you’ll want to make return trips.

  • Salt & Straw

    Salt & Straw is originally from Portland, and it has shops up and down the West Coast, with additional outposts in Las Vegas and Miami. There are a handful of nondairy flavors, but the freckled mint chocolate chip is our favorite—so, so good.

  • Van Leeuwen

    Van Leeuwen’s nondairy options are made with cashew and oat bases, and they’re really good. The scoop shops all over NYC and LA these days, and there are a smattering of shops in Philly, Houston, Dallas, Denver, and Washington, DC, too.

  • Awan

    Walk up to Awan’s takeout window in West Hollywood and walk away with an Indonesian-style scoop made from rich coconut cream. Maybe the vibe today is saffron ice cream with pistachios and dates. Or maybe it’s Oishii strawberries. The menu changes regularly, and it’s always special.

  • Bi-Rite

    In San Francisco, Bi-Rite is the best place to get a scoop, vegan or otherwise. The dairy-free menu is tight but excellent, with top-of-the-line ingredients like Guittard chocolate and house-made strawberry jam.

  • Frankie & Jo’s

    This is the vegan ice cream spot in Seattle. They start with a cashew and coconut milk base and mix in unexpected flavors and superfoods. The cookies and cream, for example, contains adaptogenic maca. And the vanilla has pine and black-pepper-and-cardamom shortbread cookies.