We Tried 8 Oat Milk Ice Creams, and It's the Creamy Non-Dairy Dessert of Our Dreams
We've seen almond, coconut, and cashew milk in supermarkets for years, but now oat milk is the latest dairy-free alternative to trend in America, cropping up everywhere from local coffee shops to select Starbucks Reserve stores. It's made from steel-cut oats or whole groats that are soaked in water, blended, and then strained, with an end result that's creamier than most nut milks. And while you may just be getting used to adding it to your morning coffee or requesting it in lattes, catch up—the latest oat milk innovation is already here, and it can be found in the freezer aisle.
Reader, we're officially entering the summer of oat milk ice cream. While it's far from the first dairy-free option available (Jeni's Splendid has pints made with a coconut cream base, Häagen-Dazs even offers boozy non-dairy Amaretto Black Cherry Almond Toffee, and one staffer has been eating soy ice cream since her childhood), oat milk's entry into the market is significant. Back in February, So Delicious Dairy Free launched what it claimed to be "the first-to-market nationwide" frozen oat milk desserts in three flavors: peanut butter & raspberry, oatmeal cookie, and caramel apple crumble, which are all dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan. And this month, Oatly, the Swedish oat milk brand that's quickly taken the U.S. by storm, announced an ice cream line of its own. (Also dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan, as well as nut-free, soy-free, and kosher.) Knowing how creamy oat milk is, we were intrigued by the idea of a potentially rich, non-dairy ice cream that comes without the headaches of lactose—but how would it taste? The only way to find out was to call them in, and conduct a very scientific experiment. (Read: we downed several pints of ice cream on a Wednesday afternoon. It wasn't the worst way to spend a work day.)
We got our hands on five out of Oatly's seven flavors: chocolate, oat, vanilla, strawberry, and mint chip. As for So Delicious, we tried all three flavors, for a grand total of eight pints between the two. Each taste tester made the rounds and noted their favorites—the overall consensus? We were very pleasantly surprised. Oatly's oat flavored-oat milk ice cream (say that five times fast) was a dark horse, and we found we loved So Delicious's Oatmeal Cookie, too. Read on for our thoughts on each flavor:
Availability: currently in Southern California on Oatly's "Pre-Release Tour" food truck. The pints will hit smaller New York City retailers at the end of June, "more northeast retailers this summer and select national retailers later this fall."
"Tastes like fudge."
"So good! Tastes cocoa-y, not very sweet. Rich, creamy, like a Friendly's flavor I loved as a kid. Would definitely buy this."
"Rich, creamy, reminds me of froyo. Still taste the oats."
"Good, but this flavor is more obvious that it is not dairy."
"Very creamy, more minty than chocolate but refreshing."
"Could be more intense mint."
"Great mint flavor and substantial chunks, but felt pretty obvious it wasn't dairy."
"I feel biased because I don't love mint chip in general, but this will probably be a fan favorite."
"Very good. Doesn't taste exactly like regular vanilla, but would happily eat."
"Actually pleasantly creamy, like a French Vanilla classic."
"Satisfying substitute! Almost like Breyers or other bean-forward ice creams."
"A little hint of oat, and also Nilla wafer? But still has a pleasant vanilla taste. Indulgent and lovely."
"Feels perfect for apple pie."
"Delicious, balanced strawberry flavor."
"Fruity, creamy, would love some texture like bits or seeds."
"Solid, very light."
"Sweet, almost reminds me of Laffy Taffy—not in a bad way."
"Smooth, slight cinnamon taste—like a bowl of oatmeal. A little vanilla too, I like it."
"Like super smooth, cold oatmeal (no grit!). Would be great with berries."
"Very on the nose? Could be good with toppings like chocolate chips."
So Delicious Dairy Free
Availability: grocery stores nationwide
"Nice! Tastes like a cozy afternoon snack."
"Like the cookie dough."
"Like the cookie texture and sweetness."
"Very oatmeal cookie-forward, cinnamon-y, feels like there are little bits of oatmeal in there. Interesting texture, I want more of this."
Caramel Apple Crumble
"Pleasantly surprising, would be amazing à la mode."
"Too sweet for me."
"You get the caramel, not so much the apple. Again, a cinnamon vibe. Pleasant."
Peanut Butter & Raspberry
"Tastes like a Fig Newton, it's interesting."
"I like the raspberry, but the peanut butter is definitely faux-tasting."