The Best Store-Bought Chocolate Ice Creams, Tested by Food Network Kitchen
Chocolate lovers, this one’s for you!
Tested by Vincent Camillo for Food Network Kitchen
Chocolate ice cream has a distinctly classic flavor; almost everyone can imagine exactly what it should taste like without actually tasting it. But with so many varieties available for purchase — both online and in grocery stores — it’s hard to know what characteristics make one brand of chocolate ice cream better than the other. As with other single-flavored ice creams, there should always be a balance of the main flavor — in this case, chocolate — with an ample sweetness and a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture that doesn’t feel heavy. (This is ice cream after all, not a chocolate bar.) With all this in mind, I taste-tested 11 different chocolate ice creams to help you figure out which brand reigns supreme. Keep reading to see my findings and go clear out a spot (or two) in your freezer while you’re at it!
A Quick Note on Chocolate
Chocolate ice cream derives its chocolaty flavor from Dutch processed cocoa powder. This cocoa powder is by far the very best part of the cocoa bean and is often dried and ground after the cocoa butter has been removed.
Because it is denser than most of the other brands when taken right out of the freezer, Haagen-Dazs Chocolate ice cream takes a bit of time to soften and reach its full and creamy potential. But when it thaws, you’ll see that the wait was totally worth it! The texture here is what propels Haagen-Dazs into first place. The ice cream itself is rich, creamy, milky, and each spoonful has just the right amount of sugar. Though it’s not actually the most chocolatey flavor on this list, it still tastes the richest.
Though it nearly tied with Friendly’s signature chocolate flavor, this Classic Chocolate variety from Edy’s has a slightly firmer texture, is super easy to scoop and holds its shape well after being taken out of its container. Edy’s Chocolate ice cream is also slightly less sweet than some of the other major national brands, which allows the cocoa flavor to come forward just a touch more. When you’re loading up a dessert with extra whipped cream and chocolate syrup, you want an ice cream that isn’t already reaching into a high sugar territory, and this is it!
Tillamook’s chocolate ice cream shares a lot of the same basic, elemental chocolate notes that all other mainstream ice creams have: it’s creamy, but not too light, with just the right amount of air for smooth scooping. It also has a moderately slow melting rate. But what truly sets Tillamook’s Chocolate ice cream apart is its malty notes, which hold up against both the cream and chocolate. It is a wonderfully satisfying ice cream that’s also the most versatile on this list — you can easily enjoy a scoop on its own for dessert or as part of a sundae. It’s also exactly the kind of ice cream you’d want to use to make a decadent chocolate milkshake.
If you are looking for a more complex chocolate ice cream experience, this variety from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams hits all of the rich and bitter notes that you would normally find in a bar of bittersweet chocolate. Free of both stabilizers and gums, Jeni’s Darkest Chocolate blend uses tapioca syrup as a sweetener. It’s also a deep, dark brown color and is dense and fudgy in texture, giving you the perfect balance of sinful and sweet.
While this ice cream from Whole Foods Market tasted a bit different than other classic chocolate ice cream flavors, I kept diving in for more thanks to its sumptuously creamy texture. The ice cream itself tastes just like chocolate pudding and reminded me a lot of classic Fudgesicles. It even had a uniquely pleasant fudgy chewiness, similar to that of a dense gelato.
How We Tested
We chose brands to test based on their availability in most grocery stores nationwide. Each ice cream brand was tested in two different sittings. For the first sitting, I tasted each ice cream directly after they were taken out of the freezer, so I could see what they tasted like at their coldest temperature. I then tested each brand a second time after allowing the ice creams to sit for 5 to 10 minutes at room temperature; this allowed me to see the optimal textures and flavors of each brand.