So at this point you’ve probably heard of Halo Top Ice Cream. The brand’s whole shtick is that it is a low calorie alternative to ice cream – a frozen dessert, if you will – that partially substitutes sugar with stevia and erythritol.
What started off as a brand solely selling dairy-packed pints of seemingly magical “light ice cream that actually tastes like ice cream” now has many other frozen offerings including keto-friendly ice creams, ice cream pops, fruit pops, and dairy-free ice cream varieties.
I was an early adopter of the old school Halo Top flavors years ago when I used to eat dairy. But now as a vegan, I was curious to explore the dairy-free flavors out on the market.
Halo Top and Diet Culture
Let’s start by stating the obvious – Halo Top markets their product as a diet food. I have a lot of opinions about these types of products and how they can harm your mindset around food. When I first discovered Halo Top many years ago, I was deep in an eating disorder and it appealed to me because it felt like a “guilt-free” ice cream. I avoided normal ice cream like the plague, only eating Halo Top for years.
I now understand that no food is intrinsically “bad” and that all foods are okay in moderation. This is the type of mindset I want to encourage in all of my readers. If you want ice cream, it doesn’t always have to be the lowest calorie option available. Fight your fear to indulge in the full-fat, decadent, delicious dairy-free ice cream options available to you. Enjoy life and all the wonderful foods in it.
Why I still love Halo Top
Although regular, full-fat vegan ice cream is amazing, there is still something nice about having a lighter ice cream option on hand. Have you ever really wanted dessert, but didn’t want to feel weighed down? Halo Top is far less decadent than regular ice cream, with more of a refreshing light and airy mouthfeel. I love having it for those nights where I just want a bite of something sweet after dinner without feeling super full.
If you’re expecting Halo Top to be a perfect swap for ice cream, you will be disappointed. But if you accept Halo Top as a lighter, less decadent version of ice cream, I think you will really enjoy it!
Which Halo Top flavors are vegan?
Halo Top has a ton of dairy ice cream flavors, but only a couple vegan ice cream flavors. The vegan flavors include: Birthday Cake, Candy Bar, Chocolate, Chocolate Almond Crunch, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Cup, and Sea Salt Caramel. All of these flavors are also gluten-free, except for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, which includes flour in the cookie dough chunks.
In addition to dairy-free ice cream flavors, Halo Top also offers vegan fruit pops. I haven’t had these yet, but they look yummy!
What is dairy-free Halo Top made of?
Each of the vegan Halo Top flavors are made of the same primary ingredients: coconut milk, sugar, inulin, erythritol, fava bean protein concentrate, and vegetable glycerin, along with other flavors, protein isolates, and thickeners depending on the specific flavor. Coconut milk is the primary ingredient across all flavors.
Since the fat content is so low in Halo Top, the ice cream freezes a bit weird. It is very hard and icy when you first open the pint. Halo Top knows this, and writes instructions on the container encouraging the consumer to let the ice cream thaw prior to eating. If you are impatient, you can always throw the pint in the microwave on a low power setting for 15-30 second intervals until it has softened.
An honest Dairy-Free Halo Top taste test
So how does Halo Top’s vegan ice cream stack up?
I every vegan Halo Top flavor currently on the market for a taste test. I picked up a pint each of Birthday Cake, Candy Bar, Chocolate Almond Crunch, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Cup, and Sea Salt Caramel. You may be wondering, did it feel weird to go up to a cashier with 6 pints of Halo Top ice cream in hand? The answer is no. I am in my mid 20’s and obviously a Self Checkout Queen.
Now let’s eat some vegan
ice cream frozen dessert! Here is my honest review of all the Dairy-Free Halo Top flavors.
06. Chocolate Almond Crunch tastes like taking a shot of almond extract.
Almond lovers – do not be fooled, this ain’t the flavor you think it is. I love almonds and almond extract. In fact, I think I’m the only person I know who actually uses almond extract regularly. But damn this tastes like they meant to put 1/4 teaspoon almond extract into the batch of ice cream, but a drunk Halo Top intern poured in 1/4 cup almond extract instead.
This flavor has tiny chunks of raw almonds in it. And the texture of raw almonds surrounded by an icy, coconut milk-based frozen dessert just isn’t… right. There is something off about it. No me gusta.
Also, I am just now remembering that chocolate was supposed to be part of this flavor profile. I didn’t catch that at all.
05. Birthday Cake* tastes like funfetti cake with only half of the fun
* This flavor is no longer available.
Do you remember that episode of The Office where Dwight and Jim throw Kelly a birthday party? And they decorate the room with tiny gray balloons, a sign that says “It Is Your Birthday.”, and a cake with her name spelled incorrectly? Kelly hates it at first. It’s boring. But when they tell her that she can choose between and hour of napping or an hour of TV during office hours, she loves it.
Yeah, so this Birthday Cake flavor is kind of like that. It doesn’t really smell like anything, it tastes like vanilla with a bit of cake-y essence, and there are like 10 sprinkles in the whole pint. There is hardly anything to it, but it does have a nice flavor that I really do like. It’s a simple, light, refreshing frozen dessert that isn’t trying to be anything it’s not.
04. Peanut Butter Cup tastes like PB2 – but in a good way
If you have ever tried powdered peanut butter (like PB2), then you know it tastes like diet peanut butter. This Peanut Butter Cup flavor is basically that – all the great peanut flavor, with none of the fat. It has tiny chunks of peanut sparsely scattered throughout the pint, as well as some frozen peanut butter swirls. The peanuts work really well here and I wish there were more of them. You really need to let this this flavor sit for awhile to soften up, especially since those peanut butter swirls stay frozen for a long time.
Overall, this is a great flavor! To enhance this frozen dessert even more, top with extra chopped peanuts and some runny peanut butter. Hot fudge or chocolate chips would also be amazing for a Reeses vibe.
03. Sea Salt Caramel tastes the same way it smells – absolutely fucking delicious
Opening this Sea Salt Caramel pint reminded me of going into a Yankee Candle store and opening one of their holiday baked-good inspired candles and taking a big whiff. YUM. Based on smell alone, I was probably the most excited to try this flavor. It smells and tastes exactly as you’d expect – like caramel. This Halo Top flavor is a bit on the lighter side as far as texture goes, but it still tastes decadent. It has wonderful melt-in-your-mouth, gooey caramel swirls that are just divine.
I’ve bought this flavor a couple of times, and I will buy it again in the future! I love eating this on it’s own, but it is also amazing on top of a vegan apple galette. It has serious fall vibes.
02. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough tastes like an unsatisfied cookie dough craving, but I love it still
Cookie dough is one of my favorite ice cream flavors. And even more so, cookie dough is one of my favorite things in general. So it is incredibly rare that an ice cream actually has enough cookie dough chunks in it per my preference, so obviously I’m setting myself up for mega disappointment by trying a low calorie cookie dough ice cream.
And while the disappointment is there, I still really love this flavor! At a slightly higher calorie count than most of the other vegan Halo Top flavors, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough definitely has a more decadent, creamy texture and mouthfeel. The chocolate pieces and cookie dough bites taste great and work really well in this ice cream.
Celiacs beware: this is the only dairy-free Halo Top ice cream that is not gluten-free, due to the flour used to make the cookie dough.
01. Candy Bar* tastes like a melty snickers bar! Yum!!!
* This flavor is no longer available.
Opening this pint, Candy Bar has a wonderful chocolate smell. Halo Top uses chocolate extract here to flavor the ice cream, and it works really well. There are chopped peanuts and gooey fudge swirls mixed throughout the pint for that snickers-inspired goodness. Similar to Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, this higher calorie flavor also comes with a more decadent and creamy texture than other vegan Halo Top flavors. I really love it, and it is definitely my favorite.
If you want to take this frozen dessert to the next level, I highly recommend adding extra chopped peanuts, vegan whipped cream, and some melted vegan chocolate or hot fudge! So delish.
Which vegan Halo Top flavor is your favorite?
Let me know in the comments below?