12 Popular Ice Cream Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

Let's just start by saying, all ice cream is good. Expensive ice cream is good, medium-priced ice cream is good, even that cheap generic stuff your grandma used to buy is good, if only in a nostalgic sort of way. And really, if you have to choose between so-so ice cream and no ice cream at all, you'll take the so-so ice cream because the alternative is just too horrible to ponder.

Having said all of that, not all ice cream is created equal. Sometimes, you can't even make your choices based on price. Just because one ice cream brand that used to sell in 1.75 quart containers for $6.99 thought you wouldn't notice that they made their containers smaller but didn't change the price (you know who you are) doesn't necessarily mean their quality is any better than the ice cream that's still being sold in a larger container.

So we've taken the liberty of ranking popular ice cream brands in order from worst to best. It was a hard, thankless job, but someone had to do it. Just a note, we did not include any of the reduced fat or dairy-free brands on this list, because even though there are some great options available, we didn't think it would be a fair comparison. Also, no bars or sandwiches, just pots and tubs. Enjoy!

12. Baskin Robbins

When you were a kid, there was nothing like stopping into a Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor on a hot summer day and getting yourself a double scoop of ice cream in a waffle cone, and then accidentally eating a bit of paper because you couldn't get all of the cone wrapper off before the ice cream melted. But how much of those delicious memories are just nostalgia, and how much has to do with the actual flavor of the ice cream?

There's no doubt that Baskin Robbins ice cream is a wonderful treat, but it loses something when you buy it in a tub in the freezer aisle instead of in a cold ice cream parlor on a 106 degree day. We ranked Baskin Robbins "at Home" ice cream low because without the nostalgia, it just can't stand up to ice cream brands that were designed for grocery store purchase and at-home consumption. Baskin Robbins vanilla is especially disappointing (weird texture, weird aftertaste), and really, if you're going to get any flavor right, it should definitely be the vanilla.

This should not dissuade you from visiting a Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor the next time you're on your way home from a sweaty summer activity though. Baskin Robbins is still a winner when it comes to a fast frozen treat in a cone.

11. Blue Bunny

Blue Bunny makes an ice cream with a light texture that's creamy and tastes good, if not astonishingly good. A quick glance at their vanilla ice cream ingredients reveals why — vanilla isn't even on the list at all, in any form, unless its in there with all the "1% or less of Natural Flavors," which by the way lands way behind "high fructose corn syrup." Other ice creams have similar ingredients, to be sure, but Blue Bunny stands out because it tastes as artificial as the ingredients suggest it is.

Blue Bunny comes in 56 different flavors — at least, that's what their website says, though a quick read through reveals that there are multiple iterations of the same flavors (Bunny Tracks, Sweet Freedom Bunny Tracks, Loaded Sundae Bunny Tracks) and they seem to be counting each one as a separate flavor. "Sweet Freedom" is this brand's sugar free offering, so we don't really think that counts as a separate flavor, exactly. And let's just pause for a moment to consider the "Bunny Tracks" concept (are those chocolate covered peanuts, or ...?) because ... eeh. Still, there's something to be said for picking a few flavors and doing those well, though for Blue Bunny it's more picking a few flavors and doing them mostly okay.

10. Umpqua

Umpqua Dairy is an Oregon-based ice cream maker that's been around since 1931, but you probably didn't start seeing their ice cream in the freezer aisle until relatively recently. The bright red tubs are eye-catching, not just because of the color and the not-especially woke logo, but also because Umpqua is one of the few "premium" brands that's still being sold in 1.75 oz containers (for now, we're not optimistic). Umpqua also has a lower price point than some of the more premium brands, which makes sense because it doesn't quite measure up in terms of quality. Umpqua is just not quite as creamy as we like our ice cream, and not quite as fluffy, and it has a hint of that dreaded graininess that kind of takes some of the delight out of a bowl of ice cream. The chocolate add-ins are a little sub-par, too, which is a major strike against it. You don't want a chalky texture in ice cream (or in chocolate, either), and Umpqua's chocolate is unfortunately chalky.

Umpqua has 30 flavors that run the gamut from basic vanilla to "Beaver Tracks," you know, just in case "Moose Tracks" wasn't Pacific Northwest enough for you. And to be fair, at least one flavor was impressive enough to score a "best of the best" prize at the World Dairy Expo (whatever that is), so if you're new to Umpqua you might want to start with the Butter Toffee Crunch.

9. Breyers

Breyers ice cream has been around for more than a half a century, so with that many years of ice cream-making experience it seems like there's just no way this brand could make a bad flavor. If you, like millions of other people, grew up eating Breyers, there's a huge nostalgia factor attached to the flavor. You probably get a small flashback with every bite — your feet in the pool, ice cream running down your arm while you try to eat it faster than it can melt — collective memories that you share with maybe 95 percent of the people you know.

Breyers claims to have "more than 40 flavors," which probably means they swap new flavors in and old flavors out often enough that they don't want to be locked into an actual number, but you can be pretty sure that you'll always be able to find old mainstays like Rocky Road, Butter Pecan, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough at your favorite grocery store.

According to Food News, Breyers' vanilla ice cream sells better than any other brand in North America, but is that because it is better than other brands or is it more because everyone just kind of thinks it's better? We feel like it's pretty middle-of-the-road — this brand does tend to lean a little too sweet to be a top contender, but maybe that's why we all liked it so much as kids.

8. Turkey Hill

Turkey Hill is a "premium" ice cream that, despite the name, does not contain any turkey (or hills). There are 39 "premium" flavors available as of this writing, but the brand does also have a smaller line of "all natural" ice creams, plus some novelties and "no sugar added" varieties. Many of the premium flavors are the old mainstays you can find in pretty much any line of grocery-store ice creams — cookies n' cream, French vanilla, banana split, choco mint chip (the "choco" part evidently makes it different) — though they do have uniquely titled flavors like "Caramel, Chocolate & Vanilla Trio'politan" which is basically just Neapolitan with caramel instead of strawberry. But hey, kudos to Turkey Hill for recognizing that almost no one likes strawberry ice cream anymore.

As far as flavor goes, Turkey Hill is good, but not especially wowing or anything. It's definitely a notch above your typical store-brand ice cream but it's also a notch below many of the other brands in terms of decadence and flavor. Turkey Hill's version of cookies n' cream is a solid choice if you want to give this brand a go, or you might want to try the vanilla just based on the fact that it was the subject of a 2019 lawsuit (via Patch) that basically just accused it of being underwhelming.

7. Edy's/Dreyer's

While other ice cream brands pick a name and stick with it, even if it is something as weird as "Turkey Hill," Edy's/Dreyer's has spent the better part of the last century being confusing with it's Dreyer's brand for the west coast, and its Edy's brand for everywhere else. This confusion dates all the way back to the brand's founding, when Joseph Edy and William Dreyer formed a partnership. The ice cream started with the name Edy's, then became Dryer's when Edy left the company. It now uses both names in different locations to pay tribute to both founders, according to the company

Edy's/Dreyer's makes a good, middle of the road ice cream. It's soft and easy-to-scoop and even though we said we weren't going to comment on the lower-fat ice creams, it seems unfair not to mention that Edy's/Dreyer's "Slow Churned" ice creams are pretty danged good if you want to cut down on the guilt. Unlike the ice cream that one of its names rhymes with (Breyers, in case you didn't immediately catch on), Edy's/Dreyer's ice creams don't tend to taste overly sweet, though they can lean a bit artificial depending on which flavor you're talking about (vanilla is not Edy's finest offering). Edy's does do a great chocolate, though, so if that's where your ice cream fancy lies, you can pick almost any chocolaty Edy's and not come away disappointed.

6. Magnum

Magnum is best known for their bars, which are so good and rich that you might actually feel sick after you've finished eating just one of the full-sized versions (fortunately there are also "mini" bars, in case you don't love that after-dessert feeling). But Magnum also does Ben & Jerry's-style small containers, though if you think you'll be skipping that rich chocolate exterior if you go with a pot, then think again. Every pot of magnum ice cream is topped with the same Belgian chocolate that you'll find on the bars, only because they're in a tub and not on a stick, you probably won't end up with most of it down the front of your shirt.

Magnum tubs come in 11 flavors which basically amount to chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate, though they do also have a few other choices like double red velvet and  double raspberry, so it's not like they're vehemently opposed to everything not-chocolate.

If you're expecting a different experience when you buy a Magnum tub instead of a bar, well, you might be a bit disappointed because it's the same super rich ice cream and the same super rich chocolate, just cleaner. The major difference is that you are instructed to wait 10 minutes after taking it out of the freezer before actually tucking into it, although it's unclear if the Magnum ice cream police will descend upon you if you break the rules.

5. Haagen-Dazs

You may have heard that Häagen-Dazs actually comes from a Jewish inventor in New York. It has a name that sounds quite Danish for a reason though — it was a tribute the country that stood by his people during World War II. As for the umlaut (those dots above the A), that was just to make the name stand out. This brand has hung around at the top of US favorites for an awful long time, so it looks like founder Reuben Mattus might have actually been on to something.

It helps that Häagen-Dazs actually does make a good ice cream. They have the ubiquitous generic flavors, but they also have a suite of original flavors like Vanilla Blackberry Chocolate Trio Crisoy Layers, Rum Tres Leches, and Honey Salted Caramel Almond, and their ice creams are really smartly named because after you read all those words you're like, "Wow, how could that not be amazing?"

No matter which one of the "more than 50" flavors you're eating, Häagen-Dazs ice cream is pretty consistently creamy with a light texture. In fact, Häagen-Dazs ice creams almost skirt the line between being decadent and maybe a little overwhelming, and potentially nauseating if you overeat them, so it's probably a bonus that Häagen-Dazs comes in 14-oz containers (which were, until recently, 16-oz containers. Et tu, Häagen-Dazs?)

4. Ben & Jerry's

Not every flavor of Ben & Jerry's is excellent, but Ben & Jerry's has so many different, delicious, unique flavors (54 as of this writing) that they would all have to be pretty mediocre in order for this brand to rank any lower on our list. The real magic of Ben & Jerry's is that the flavors aren't all those same basic favorites (though they haven't neglected the basic flavors, either), they're fun flavors with unconventional names, like "Half Baked," "Americone Dream," "Chunky Monkey," and "Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz!" If you don't love one flavor, that's okay because you can just keep on eating pint after pint until you figure out which one is your favorite.

To be fair, though Ben & Jerry's doesn't do everything right — their vanilla is just kind of meh and tastes a little artificial, and the texture is disappointingly gritty. It also lacks the creaminess the brand's fancier flavors have, so if your goal is to make a banana split or a sundae with a lot of toppings, the dessert of your dreams doesn't necessarily need to start with an expensive carton of Ben & Jerry's.

3. Blue Bell

This lesser-known brand seems to have its own underground cult following, and as it turns out, those folks are onto something. You're probably tired of hearing the words "rich and creamy" but Blue Bell ice cream is, in fact, rich and creamy, and you can't really score an ice cream high on a list like this if it doesn't check both those boxes. Besides that, Blue Bell has some other things going for it that don't necessarily make it taste better, but for sure give it some bonus points. For a start, the phrase "still a ½ Gal" is literally one of its marketing slogans — it's printed right on the carton, which means this brand is unlikely to do the magical shrinking container trick any time soon (if it did, that would be kind of embarrassing for them).

Blue Bell has only 26 flavors to choose from, and five of them are "rotational," meaning they are only available at certain times of the year. And the brand doesn't really deviate much from tried and true flavors like Neapolitan, cookies n' cream, and mint chocolate chip, but in this case, who cares. There's a reason those flavors are tried and true — because people like them and when faced with the question, "do I buy this flavor I know everyone likes or do I buy the one with the animal footprint name," well, the first alternative does seem somewhat more safe.

2. Talenti

Talenti is a gelato, which may or may not be fair to compare to a not-gelato. In case you're still a bit shaky on the difference between gelato and ice cream (and you're not alone), gelato is a slow-churned dairy dessert of Italian origins that contains less air than ice cream, which makes it denser. It also has more sugar, and melts a lot faster. It's also made with less cream and more milk, so it's not as fatty. But the two are similar enough, and often sold from the same freezer. And Talenti is delicious enough that we thought it deserved a place on this list.

Top of the pack: Talenti's double dark chocolate gelato. This flavor has a real, bittersweet flavor that's sometimes missing from other ice creams dubbed "dark chocolate." And it's full of the requisite chocolate chunks that have an artisan quality — that's important because we've noticed some ice cream brands seem to think if it's folded into a creamy base, the chocolate's quality doesn't matter so much.

Towards the bottom: the sea salt caramel, which tasted weirdly not very caramel-y and also not super salty. But still, the dense, creamy texture you expect in a gelato is present in every Talenti flavor we've tried, in all its decadent, guilt-provoking glory and you'll probably eat a lot more of this stuff than you ought to.

1. Tillamook

You may know Tillamook mostly for their cheese (they do make a pretty decent extra-sharp cheddar), but Tillamook also makes excellent ice cream. It's both fluffy and creamy, which frankly is a major achievement in an ice cream, and every flavor we've tried has been outstanding. Our favorite by far is the Udderly Chocolate, which alternates between light chocolate and white chocolate ice creams that are so perfectly complimentary that you'll spend most of the bowl trying to decide which one is your favorite. The rich bits of chocolate scattered throughout this flavor melt when you bite into them (vs. crumbling, which is what the chocolate in lesser brands sometimes does) and there are just enough of them to be complimentary without taking over the bowl. Even Tillamook's vanilla is delicious, with an almost soft-serve texture and a rich, natural vanilla flavor.

Excluding things like shrinking container sizes (grr, Tillamook, grr), ice cream should always be judged on both texture and flavor, and we can't complain about either of these things in really any of the Tillamook flavors we've tried. This brand doesn't have as many varieties (28 as of this writing) as some of the more famous brands, but it does have some unique flavors that you don't see anywhere else, like Mountain Huckleberry and Marionberry Pie.