This Season's Frozen Pumpkin Spice Treats Ranked Worst To Best

Most pumpkin spice lovers associate this popular flavor as a warm tonic that shows up just in time to make things cozy during the growing chill of autumn. But hot coffee and cozy teas aren't the only ways pumpkin spice is shuffling its way to the market amid falling leaves and shorter daylight hours. This seasonal sensation can also be enjoyed in frozen form, with a slushy assemblage that includes ice cream, frappes, and frozen yogurt. If you thought you had tempting options before, wait until you see what you have on hand this year.

There are real reasons the public clamors for pumpkin spice that go beyond the power of its scent. Part of that has to do with the sense of exclusivity, as many places reserve this formidable flavor for autumn and winter menus only. Yet, though the weather may be on the colder side in your region when the flavor rolls around, there's no reason to skip out on frozen takes on the pumpkin spice madness. We scooped up the most notable icy offerings available for the season and arranged them in an orderly fashion. They all may feature the spice o' the pumpkin, but not every option uses the opportunity to its greatest advantage.

12. Wendy's Pumpkin Spice Frosty

When it comes to glamming things up for the holidays, Wendy's is pretty conservative. The fast food chain only introduced the peppermint Frosty as its first festive flavor for Christmas 2022. Dipping a toe in the deep end of seasonal promotions must have proven worthwhile, as word on the drive-thru circuit is that the pumpkin spice Frosty will be joining the family in 2023, with a rumored release date of September 12. There's also word of a pumpkin spice iced coffee being added to the menu, which is nice but not nearly as enticing as the famous Frosty cup filled with a fantastic fall mix. The thought of dipping fries in something other than a chocolate Frosty makes for a heady vision indeed.

In the event that these mouthwatering whispers are true, Frosty fans will be eagerly watching for the signal that the season has truly begun. Set an alarm for September 11 and call it Pumpkin Spice Frosty Eve. But, until its existence is actually confirmed and we taste it, this treat can't rank highly.

11. Krispy Kreme Frozen Pumpkin Spice Latte

Coffee cravers know that if a flavor works in hot form, it can often work even better in an iced version. Krispy Kreme caught onto the craze and put out a Frozen Pumpkin Spice Latte that's straight outta the freezer. Pumpkin pie sauce sweetens up slushed coffee, all of which is topped by whipped cream. For folks looking to taste the gourd life when rolling past the counter picking up a cool dozen, this teeth-chattering chug will set you up right, even if it means autumn comes with a bit of condensation on the cup.

We give props to Krispy Kreme for becoming more than just a pastry peddler with this wise foray into the pumpkin spice fray. Yet, while there's nothing offensive about this treat, there's nothing about it that lights a bonfire of exhilaration, either. Anytime frozen coffee is the quaff of choice, we think a brand should really make an effort to distinguish itself from the pack. Unfortunately, the double K hasn't put enough spirit into its spiced stuff, leaving us in the cold.

10. Dunkin' Pumpkin Swirl Frozen Coffee

Once pumpkin spice became a fall staple, outlets like Dunkin' jumped on the hay wagon and rode all the way into the pumpkin patch. This means an annual resurgence of pumpkin spice donuts, of course, and coffee as well. But the frosting on the cake may be a creation called the Pumpkin Swirl Frozen Coffee, a whipped wonder that incorporates pumpkin, hazelnut, and cream into a coffee slush. Die-hard Dunkers may go gaga for this icy sip, which makes inspired use of Dunkin's famous coffee.

It's true that Dunkin's autumn dazzler is a fun alternative for when other coffee creators have gone a little stale. But, all told, this is still just a pumpkin spice specimen that's become too familiar. If sipping on iced autumn anything puts you in the mood for sweaters and scarves, then by all means, do yourself a solid and drive to a Dunkin'. But if you're on the search for something that reaches a little further out into the spicy possibilities, there's far more fascinating fare out there. You'll have no trouble leaving this one out.

9. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Frappuccino

What would a round-up of frozen pumpkin spice magic be without the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Frappuccino making the list? The frothy great-grandcoffee that spawned a generation of buzz is coming around again for its 20th year, a mind-blowing milestone in the arena of come-and-go trends. The Seattle Siren struck sippable gold when it chose the warm cinnamon-nutmeg combo for a coffee flavor. You might make fun of your PSL homies when August arrives, but you'll never stop them from hitting the counter as soon as they hear the new launch date, no matter the temperature.

Let's face it: a Starbucks spice experience is always going to be exactly what you expect. This is the java goliath that brought about the whole PSL hullabaloo, so there's no question about the quality of the product. While other coffee slingers may conjure up more imaginative frozen pumpkin creations, Starbucks will always be the originator. But in such a ferociously competitive field, it also places Starbucks squarely in the middle of the road.

8. Caribou Coffee Pumpkin Cooler

Caribou's Pumpkin Cooler makes a return to the herd in time for the post-summer slowdown. The chain's focus on coffee and bakery-style treats means that post-summer spice will rear its pumpkin-shaped head eventually — and that point is now. In a striking display of overachievement, Caribou Coffee has launched not one, not two, but 17 enticing selections sprinkled with pumpkin spice. The most brain freeze-inducing item is the Pumpkin Cooler, a frothy coffee slush with real pumpkin puree that lends Thanksgiving vibes. You can also sip on a white chocolate version that promises to deliver a sweet taste without missing a note in the fall flavor symphony.

We give Caribou points for throwing out enough seasonal options to last the next three months nearly without trying anything twice. But we're a bit chilled at the notion of another coffee-based recipe, when there are so many stirring possibilities elsewhere. If you're going for 17 items, why not make the frozen ones truly unique? Maybe next year there will be something non-negotiable from Caribou on the froster roster.

7. Smoothie King Pumpkin Power Meal

Smoothie King comes out swinging with a seriously impressive selection of spiced-up slurps, which we think is a passionate display of devotion to the pumpkin sphere. The one that caught our eye the most is the Pumpkin Power Meal, a new concoction that mashes together organic pumpkin with up to 21 grams of protein for fitness-minded fall flavor fiends. The blend bunch also includes almonds, dates, and multivitamins, in addition to an array of spice that tastes so nice.

If you're tempted to toss this selection in with the rest of the bunch, know that Smoothie King has done its best to pack its frozen pumpkin treat with as much nutritional value as possible. Rather than swigging dessert or spooning your way through soft serve, you can pick up some of your daily macros while getting into the autumn groove sip after spectacular sip. Anyone concerned with keeping their dessert damage to a minimum is bound to appreciate having an entry on the list that helps with the work. Replacing a meal with this wise wonder wouldn't be your worst move.

6. Carvel Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

Carvel adds a few variations on pumpkin pizzazz to its freezer of wonderful flavors. Rather than going ground level with just pumpkin pie as a base flavor, this ice cream titan takes things up a notch with an elevated pumpkin cheesecake option. People can order a round or two of hard ice cream in a cup or cone, while the soft serve is a sweet and spicy swirl. There's even a Flying Saucer, Carvel's version of an ice cream sandwich that comes with a disc of soft serve smashed between two crispy chocolate wafer cookies. No matter your favorite version of ice cream, Carvel is will help you find its pumpkin cheesecake creation in a form designed to delight.

The addition of fall dessert flavors in a variety of formats is genius, but there isn't much novelty in the final product. While it's ice cream that promises a warm rush as it cools you down — and high-quality ice cream at that — it's still only ice cream, even in sandwich form.

5. Jamba Pumpkin Smash Smoothie

If you think of Jamba Juice as a healthy juice bar, you probably haven't ordered anything from the menu in a while. The sugar content can be through the lid, blowing any attempt customers might make to add vitamin-rich juices to their diet. The same can be said about the Pumpkin Smash Smoothie, Jamba's attempt to capture fall dollars in addition to the hearts and minds of customers yearning for a cupful of pumpkin something-or-other. The company has sold this orange oddity in years past, which could be great news for those hoping to recapture the spirit of the season.

If you know what you're getting into when you juice up at this chain, then a Pumpkin Smash smoothie will let you Jamba all the way to the 21st night of September and beyond. It's no surprise there isn't added nutrition in this blend, which is a combination of pumpkin spice, frozen yogurt, and 2% milk. It's clearly a dessert, not health food. If you're good knowing that, you'll likely be happy after ordering one of these.

4. DQ Pumpkin Cookie Butter Shake

Fans of speculoos cookie butter spread can dig a spoon into DQ's Pumpkin Cookie Butter Shake, a sweeter spin on the pumpkin rumpus. There's a twist of real pumpkin whirled about with soft serve, whipped topping, and a gentle sprinkle of nutmeg to recreate the taste of a light, no-bake pumpkin pie filling. Crushed cinnamon cookies give the mix the unmistakable oomph of cookie butter, enriching the usual ingredients with something special. If you've ever mashed your pumpkin pie and whipped cream together, you know what you're in for here. And what you're in for is a treat worth tasting, maybe more than once.

This relative newcomer to the gourd brigade showed up on the Dairy Queen menu in 2020 and has made a cameo every autumn since. The inclusion of a unique mix-in like cookie butter places this seasonal goodie a little higher on the list. We're calling it some great shakes for bringing after-summer joy to anyone who loves their pumpkin with a generous dollop of creamy creativity.

3. Culver's Salted Caramel Pumpkin Concrete Mixers

Culver's, perhaps better known as the home of the butterburger, gets salty with its autumn flavor, the Salted Caramel Pumpkin Concrete Mixer. For those out of the know, this mélange of soft serve and craveable add-ins churns up thick and creamy while helping spice enthusiasts with a sweet tooth get a handle on their hunger. Prepare for a rollicking roll-up of frozen custard with streamers of pumpkin puree and salted caramel. Try not to blow out a tastebud thinking about how great it will taste before you make it to the closest Culver's.

The idea of eggy custard becoming part of the pumpkin spice tradition places Culver's in a league of its own. Though other placers in our round-up show a bit of moxie with a drizzle of caramel sauce here and there, making the whole flavor pivot on salted caramel is a boss move that deserves high praise. Among its myriad other flavors that are fine for seasons without a signature spice, Salted Caramel Pumpkin gives Culver's a serious contender for a new fall classic.

2. Carvel Pumpkin Cheesecake Sundae Dasher

Dasher may be better known as the name for a Christmas reindeer, but in the world of frozen treats from Carvel, a Dasher is an ice cream parfait that carries layer upon on layer of sugary wonder. With a Pumpkin Cheesecake Sundae Dasher joining the line-up, pumpkin lovers get some alternating sweet and chilly strata to satisfy their craving. The ingredient list is like a who's who of autumn elements: Carvel's silky soft serve goes in the cup first, followed by a ribbon of rich caramel sauce, then a scattering of crunchy pieces spiced with cinnamon, and then some real cheesecake bites. It's finally topped with whipped cream and more cinnamon crunch.

As important as the taste is in this Dasher, the texture helps to make every spoonful an adventure. While other treats on the list prioritize pumpkin spice, Carvel thinks outside the cup with components that make the dessert feel like a deconstructed cheesecake. The company gets bonus points and a higher spot on the list for a thoughtful take on an otherwise familiar fixture on the pumpkin spice scene.

1. DQ Pumpkin Pie Blizzard

As the reigning ruler of blended ice cream treats, DQ goes the extra mile and spices up its Pumpkin Pie Blizzard with all the elements of actual pumpkin pie. This is no syrupy recreation of autumn's most commercialized essence, but a treat with chunks of real pumpkin pie filling and crust with creamy soft serve, whipped topping, and a dash of nutmeg (otherwise known as cinnamon's best bud). Turn it upside-down or leave it right-side up; it doesn't matter. The magnificent mash-up of flavors feels like a once-a-year occasion that can make the whole year feel cooler.

This isn't the first time DQ has put up pumpkin pie as part of the Blizzard menu, as the flavor has appeared on menus since 1991. The holiday-forward goodness has set off a small fall frenzy whenever pumpkin pie circles back around to make the acquaintance of Blizzards once again. More than 30 years of dessert that delivers scores this dependable amusement the coveted top spot.