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By Sarra Sedghi
June 21, 2019
Images courtesy of the retailers

True ice cream lovers know there’s something special about strawberry. It’s simultaneously bright and rich; it’s classic without being bland. Compared to some of the loaded choco-chunk varieties, it may even seem a little mild—but that’s simplicity shining in its most beautiful form. It is brilliant and beautiful. Also, it’s pink.

Related: The 8 Absolute Best Ice Cream Makers to Buy, According to the Experts

So, we did what we do at MyRecipes: We bought all the strawberry ice cream we could find, and endured the guaranteed bellyache. Sometimes pain is necessary to find an answer.

Note: Straight-up strawberry ice cream is not as widely represented as it deserves to be. Our local grocery stores didn’t carry classic strawberry ice cream from cult brands, such Jeni’s, but had room for plenty of other flavor spin-offs like strawberry cheesecake, which did not meet our qualifications. It’s different, end of story. We also struggled to find any dairy-free strawberry options aside from sorbet, which, while delicious, is not ice cream.

(If you prefer vanilla, click here. Maybe we’ll rank chocolate one day.)

The Contenders

Halo Top Strawberry Light Ice Cream

If you’re a fan of Halo Top, there’s a chance you might enjoy this one. If not, you might think this tastes like “strawberry-scented sadness,” chemicals, or even a bit like cheese. Halo Top’s strawberry offers a frosty texture and disintegrated instead of melting. So, in short, it’s not ideal.

Blue Bell Strawberry Ice Cream

This ice cream is exceptionally fluffy (which may or may not be your thing), but uncomfortably (like, Pepto-Bismol) pink. The flavor is more artificial than fresh, but that isn’t too surprising given its medicinal hue. Don’t peep the ingredients list.

Breyers Natural Strawberry Ice Cream

Breyers’ strawberry ice cream is made with “sun-ripened strawberries” and contains no GMOs whatsoever. It also lacks flavor. You get a hint of strawberry in the cream, and the large, icy strawberry hunks show some effort, but overall, it just didn’t deliver.

Edy’s Strawberry Ice Cream

Edy’s take on strawberry feels a lot like a kids’ birthday party: slightly artificial, very pink, and super pillowy. Somewhere between bland and mild, it’s enjoyable, especially if millennial pink is your favorite color, but it’s not the best.

The Winners

The following two brands were extremely close in the rankings—in fact, some of us could hardly tell them apart. There are a few distinctions, namely subtle flavor and textural nuances and a major price gap, that may swing your decision:

Häagen-Dazs Strawberry Ice Cream and Tillamook Oregon Strawberry Ice Cream

Did we mention this was really hard? Many of our tasters already had a bias towards Häagen-Dazs, which, to be fair, is very good. (“Hands down, the best of all time in the history of strawberry ice cream. That is not an opinion; it is fact,” as one taster noted.) The ice cream itself is ultra milky and rich, and the strawberry ribbons deliver the perfect amount of jammy flavor, without off-putting iciness. Another taster said it was the only choice that actually tastes like strawberries. On the other hand, Tillamook has already perfected cheese, so you know they’ve got dairy game, and they’re not playing around with ice cream. It’s eerily close to Häagen-Dazs, with a slightly milder, more milkshake-like flavor, and a fluffier initial texture. The experience is “like a scoop from an ice cream parlor.” Häagen-Dazs has to soften a bit to arrive at its sweet spot in terms of consistency, but Tillamook is there almost immediately out of the gate.

If flavor is your priority, Häagen-Dazs has the advantage, the carton boasts an impressively concise and easily understood ingredient list—and that shines through in every bite. But if you like your ice cream to hit that more classically scoop shop-like softness, Tillamook is the way to go. There is one other stark difference worth noting: cost. With Tillamook, you’re getting more bang for your buck. A 28-ounce carton of Häagen-Dazs goes for $7.99, while Tillamook’s carton comes in at 1.5 quarts (48 ounces) and costs $6.49. So really, deciding what’s best for you comes down to those factors. We’ll happily take either.

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