Low-calorie ice cream? We can’t blame you for giving the category the side-eye. After all, can low-cal varieties really taste as good as the full-fat kind? Can their texture even come close? Despite lingering skepticism, there are a ton of low-cal ice cream competitors out there and it’s hard to know which ones are worth stashing in your freezer—and which ones should be chucked straight in the trash. Never fear, we’ve rounded up the best of the best to save you from a disappointing scoop.
But first, you’re probably wondering: How do brands achieve a rich ice cream flavor with fewer calories? According to Bicycling, many low-calorie ice creams use skim milk as the base. Some lean on yogurt to achieve a creamy texture, while others rely on milk proteins to pump up a product’s overall protein content (the taste of which our bodies are programmed to love). Artificial sweeteners often step in for traditional sugars, providing sweetness sans calories. Traditional ice creams like Häagen-Dazs, on the other hand, rely more heavily on cream and refined sugar—which, shocker, tend to pile on the calories.
Still, just because low-calorie ice cream is, well, relatively low calorie doesn’t mean you should be downing whole pints on the regular. As with everything, moderation is key! Here are some of our favorite low-cal ice creams that actually deliver in the flavor department.
P.S. On the hunt for some other low-calorie recipes? Check out these fitness-minded desserts, these good-for-you breakfasts, and these healthy comfort foods.
Our Top Picks
How we picked these products
We scoured the internet and considered a wide range of low-cal ice creams, from dairy-free options for those who can’t digest milk to ones that fit comfortably into keto, vegan, or plant-based diets. We also paid close attention to price, sugar content, mix-ins, and any added nutrients.
Read on for 15 of our favorite low-cal ice creams!
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Technically, this is frozen Greek yogurt, but it’s so good that we don’t care. The flavors are bold (who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookie dough??), and the mix-ins are great. One person described these Yasso Greek Yogurt bars as “habit forming” (in the good way). At 100 calories per bar, we can’t see why it wouldn’t be!
BUY NOW 4 bars for $4.48,Walmart
This Cold Brew Sorbetto is the famous Talenti ice cream’s dairy-free cousin. Luckily, it tastes just like the real thing: creamy, rich, and decadent. Just one reviewer, who calls it “one of the best of Talenti’s flavors!” And you’ll get a nice caffeine boost from it, too; this flavor blends fair-trade Brazilian and Colombian coffee for a bold and refreshing jolt.
BUY NOW $10.98 for 16 oz, Thrive Market
SoDelicious has certainly made a name for themselves in the dairy-free ice cream world, and if you’re an Almond Joy lover, you’ll definitely want to pick up these SoDelicious coconut almond bars. It’s like a candy bar in ice cream form— one person said it’s “crunchy goodness on a stick!”
BUY NOW $4.97 for 4 bars, Walmart
Halo Top is a favorite among dessert lovers for good reason: There are dozens of creative flavors to choose from, all clocking in at less than 400 calories per protein-packed pint. “10/10 recommend if you love ice cream but have fitness goals you gotta reach,” one reviewer wrote. “A pint of heaven with a halo on top. Truly angelic.” We agree!
Pro tip: Leave containers out on the countertop to thaw slightly before digging in. You’ll be rewarded with a rich flavor and creamy texture.
BUY NOW $4.47 per pint, Walmart
More: All 46 Of Halo Top’s Flavors, Ranked
Yet another contender in the higher-protein, lower-calorie market, Enlightened’s ice cream has a creamy texture and delicious flavors, including our keto-friendly collaboration with the brand, P.B. Cookie & Brownie Dough. “These ice creams help keep me on track,” said one reviewer. We may be biased, but this flavor is a winner, baby.
BUY NOW $56 for eight pints, Enlightened
You won’t miss regular ice cream once you’ve tried Oatly’s oat-based non-dairy desserts, especially at just 200 calories a pint. “It has a consistency unlike any other and great strawberry flavor,” said one Oatly lover. “This tastes amazing without causing GI distress or making me breakout. I love Oatly!” said another. We do, too!
BUY NOW $5.99 per pint, Thrive Market
This classic low-cal ice cream brand has tons of amazing products, but we’re partial to these Vanilla Gone Wild vanilla ice cream sandwiches. Despite being covered in chocolate, they’re still just 150 calories a sandwich.
One reviewer said that the texture recalls a soft serve, which makes it “easier to bite into.” Cookie cravings, you’ve met your match.
BUY NOW 6 sandwiches for $4.62, Walmart
Ever since Arctic Zero announced a whole new product line back in 2018, it’s been a huge contender in the low-cal ice cream game. We tried it and we were stunned. It’s smooth in texture, the flavors linger on the tongue, and a single serving clocks in at roughly 320 calories a pint.
Plus, Arctic Zero has a whole line of non-dairy options that have rave reviews: “it gives the rich, silky taste of a frozen dairy dessert,” said one buyer.
BUY NOW $6.99 per pint, Ice Cream Source
These Salted Caramel Pretzel Ice Cream Bars are simply to die for, made with light (but flavorful!) vanilla ice cream and packed with crunchy sea salt pretzels. You (and your low-cal diet) certainly can’t go wrong with this one: it’s only 160 calories per bar and even has a healthy serving of potassium! We see why buyers call them “hands down fantastic.”
BUY NOW $4.78 for 5, Walmart
Varieties of Ben & Jerry’s light ice cream shave about 100 calories off their regular counterparts, reducing fat by 60 to 70 percent without sacrificing the brand’s famously rich flavor and thick, creamy textures.
According to one reviewer, it was “frickin’ amazeballs,” with an “amazingly smooth and rich flavor that socks you in the back of the throat and inside your mouth.” You can’t beat that!
BUY NOW $6.37 per pint, Instacart
These aren’t the lowest calorie ice creams out there (they still pack about 600 calories a pint!), but they DO contain hidden veggies like carrots, spinach, and cauliflower. So it all evens out, maybe? Even better: shoppers describe it as a “high end treat for the whole family.”
If the comments on its Target product page are to be believed, people are seriously obsessed with this stuff. Pints of Favorite Day, which generally deliver around 380 calories per pint, come in flavors like chocolate peanut butter, mocha cold brew, and cookie dough. You’ll definitely want to pick this up on your next Target run.
“My only complaint is that they don’t sell a half gallon version,” said one customer.
BUY NOW $3.69 per pint, Target
Cado Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert
Okay, so this technically isn’t ice cream—but you’d never know it! Lower calorie but full of flavor, this non-dairy dessert is made with cold-pressed avocado. We’re particularly enamored with the Deep Dark Chocolate offering, which is packed with creamy bittersweet chocolate.
“As someone who just developed allergies to coconut and nuts, and has been lactose intolerant for years, it put me in a tough spot finding a non dairy ice cream,” said a shopper. “Cado was a wonderful surprise.”
BUY NOW $5.29 per pint, Target
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