There’s nothing better than treating yourself to a frozen dessert on a hot summer day. Whether you’re craving a light and refreshing snack or a bold and fulfilling treat, we’re going to rank our favorite frozen dessert choices.
Sorbet is good, especially rainbow sorbet, but it suffers from an identity crisis.
Is it ice cream? Is it sorbets? It contains dairy but is not like its tastier, cream-filled cousins. Unable to decide between the pure fruitiness of sorbet and frozen fruit and the richness of ice cream, its texture and freshness leave something to be desired.
9. Soft Serve
Soft service is ok. Its inherent creaminess satisfies our craving for a sweet, cold dessert, but we never crave serving per se.
Vanilla and chocolate are the only two flavors (and they only ever have vanilla). You can’t beat the 75 cent price tag for a soft serve cone, but it’s always an accessory and never the main event.
The soft portion melts too quickly in cake cones, arguably the worst kind. It is, at the end of the day, simply a substitute for the frozen dessert we all really crave – we settle for soft serve ice cream, but we dream of ice cream.
8. Frozen fruit
Some will say that frozen fruit is not a dessert. Those who would slander nature’s many freshest, purest and sweetest offerings have failed to open their minds and palates.
Freeze grapes and blueberries for an easy do-it-yourself dessert. Frozen strawberries, bananas and oranges are all absolutely delicious on their own, but when dipped in chocolate they are sublime.
Although they’re short on the pure sugar that makes up many of the desserts on this list, frozen fruit offers a healthier and potentially organic alternative.
But nature is not consistent. Sometimes the texture is not right or your fruit is too sweet or sour. Frozen fruit needs to be chewed, and once in a while that dental gel just isn’t worth it.
A tasty dairy-free alternative to ice cream and sorbet, sorbet is the perfect blend of freshness and sweetness. It is the perfect palate cleanser.
If you’re being honest with yourself, however, sorbet is essentially thinner shaved ice with fewer flavor options and higher price tags. All of the other fruit ice cream concoctions on this list accept just that: fruit flavoring and ice cream. Sorbet thinks it’s better than that, and that’s where he fails.
But besides its superiority complex, the sorbet is a delight. If there are no other dairy-free options or you’re looking for something refreshing from an ice cream shop, this is a solid choice.
Delicious and creamy, the ice cream deserves all its craze. This is denser, softer and less cold than ice cream, creating both its shiny feature and its fall. The slightly higher temperature and sweetness make for a delicious dining experience – sometimes even better than ice cream – but the density produces a treat that is sometimes too rich.
Although ice cream usually comes at a higher price (unless you’re in Italy) and is one of the less common (i.e. harder to find) desserts on this list, there are something so special about getting the perfect cone or cup (served with a spade, not a shovel) of colorful mountains of gelato.
Popsicles are a simple, strong, and must-have treat. The center stick presents a singular danger – nothing is as devastating as a Popsicle crashing to the floor or the sticky syrup dripping onto your fingers as it melts.
But there are endless options and combinations of flavors and colors, all of which are almost guaranteed to be excellent. There is no shortage of popsicles. Period.
Above all, you can easily make your own variation at home. Grab a stick and a cup, use a juice of your choice, and you have your own original frozen snack.
4. Shaved ice
Shaved ice is a great concept – there are so many flavors to choose from and so many colorful flavors to manipulate. It is both a blessing and a curse. The amount of flavor invites disaster; not all flavors can be brilliant.
The melting speed of crushed ice is its real Achilles’ heel. You inevitably end up with a flavorless chunk of ice cream or a mess of syrup without ice cream. Either way, shaved ice, while beautiful in our minds, doesn’t always meet our expectations. When it does, however, it’s nearly unrivaled – toppings such as kidney beans, condensed milk, boba and fresh fruit add both taste and aesthetic appeal. Nothing is quite as bright or vibrant on a hot day.
3. Frozen yogurt
Frozen yogurt is appealing to the experience – it’s how we get frozen yogurt that makes it special.
There really is something for everyone. Many flavors – sweet or tangy, fruity or creamy, refreshing or rich – and many combinations are at your fingertips. Everyone makes their own bowl of frozen yogurt as big or as small as they want.
Her greatest weakness, perhaps, is that she will always be a copycat. Frozen yogurt is not ice cream, and while the imitation is the greatest compliment, the counterfeit will never truly escape the shadow of the original.
2. Otter Pops
Otter Pops is the superior iced juice. They are not overwhelming – their small size maximizes optionality. You can have one, a snack, or three, a dessert.
Otter Pops aren’t perfect. There are only a few flavors and opening the thick plastic packaging is impossible without scissors.
The packaging is not without its advantages – melting is really never an issue. Whether you mash them up or eat them straight, it’s easy to quickly consume an Otter Pop. Eating an Otter Pop is truly an iconic pastime, wrapped in our childhood memories of Slip ‘N Slides, summer barbecues and hot days at the park. Even when they melt – whether you call them freezies or Otter Pops – the resulting juice is never overwhelming.
1. Ice cream
With not just one day but an entire month dedicated to it, ice cream reigns supreme as the quintessential frozen treat. A classic childhood dessert, ice cream can have any flavor you can dream up, from bagel to sticky rice and mango.
Although ice cream may have previously ruled out the lactose intolerant, the many dairy alternatives that have recently gained popularity make it possible for everyone to indulge in this delicious treat.
Capable of being consumed in any weather and available in so many forms – in a cone, sandwiched between cookies, encased in mochi and more – ice cream never brings anything less than a smile on our faces.
This list isn’t perfect, and while there are plenty of contenders that didn’t make it, we hope this frozen dessert power ranking inspires you to treat yourself to a cold, delicious treat sometime soon.