12 Grocery Store Chocolate Ice Creams Ranked From Worst To Best

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When you crave a classic scoop of ice cream, do you go for chocolate or vanilla? If you're the former, you've likely bought your fair share of cocoa-flecked cartons from the grocery store freezer aisle. While we all love to indulge in hand-crafted, artisanal ice cream at small-batch scoop shops, that's not how most of us get our regular ice cream fix. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the average American will eat around 23 pounds of ice cream (and other frozen novelties/treats) in a year. Regular ice cream, like the stuff you find in a carton or pint on the freezer aisle, is the most popular option.

And chocolate ice cream? That's America's number two favorite flavor, right after vanilla. Interestingly, impulsive ice cream purchases drive the market, according to Expert Market Research. That means the most popular way to buy ice cream isn't to put it on your shopping list, but rather splurge when a frosty pint of chocolate looks really good. Other categories include "take-home" ice cream (so, a half-gallon purchased for the house) and artisanal ice cream.

Today, we've ranked 12 of the most popular grocery store chocolate ice cream varieties from worst to best. You don't have to wonder if that new brand is worth the try — we've done the dirty (delicious) work. Now let's grab a spoon and dig into the best and worst chocolate ice creams you can pick up at the grocery store.

12. Kroger Deluxe Chocolate Paradise

Ah, store brand ice cream. There are some really great store-brand chocolate ice creams out there, worthy of scooping onto a crisp sugar cone or piling high with sundae toppings. Kroger Deluxe Chocolate Paradise is not the one.

Why does this affordable chocolate ice cream find itself at the tail-end of our ranking? It's all about unnatural flavor. Cocoa doesn't show up on this ice cream's ingredients list until five ingredients in. The first several ingredients (and predominant flavors) are milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup. It's an intensely sweet scoop, with an artificial underlying flavor, and very little real chocolate taste.

Kroger's ice cream uses polysorbate 80 (along with a host of other ingredients) as an emulsifier. According to Ice Cream Science, it's a highly effective emulsifier in ice cream, helping to create a smoother texture and prevent premature melting. Still, the overuse of polysorbate 80 can lead to an off-putting flavor in your ice cream when it's been stored for a while.

11. 365 Everyday Value Chocolate Ice Cream

You'd expect chocolate ice cream from a premium retailer like Whole Foods to rank high on the list. Unfortunately, this brand is regularly knocked down. The general consensus for this flavor is that it's weak and lacks that rich chocolatey oomph we all crave from chocolate ice cream. It's a disappointing scoop, and ultimately forgettable.

Perhaps it's the organic dark chocolate base that fails to deliver. It's a combination of cane sugar, water, cocoa powder, natural flavor, citric acid, and salt. Natural flavors, like artificial flavors, are synthesized in a lab then industrially manufactured at a production plant. The FDA doesn't require brands to print what's in their natural flavors on food labels (unless they contain a common allergen), according to Bon Appétit.

Interestingly, it's only the 365 Everyday Value chocolate ice cream that earns so much ire at Whole Foods. Their 365 by Whole Foods Market chocolate ice cream has a dedicated fan base. One reviewer on Amazon proclaims, "I don't know what kind of chocolate they use, but this is one of the most delicious chocolate ice creams I have ever had. The chocolate flavor was rich, and my kids adore it."

So, if you're craving chocolate ice cream at Whole Foods, skip the Everyday Value option, and go for the 365 by Whole Foods Market line.

10. Halo Top Chocolate Pint

A lighter option on this list, Halo Top is popular among people trying to make healthier choices. Sadly, it comes with some sacrifice. This chocolate ice cream just does not measure up to the classic, sugar-laden varieties. Halo Top ice creams are known for their solid nutritional profile relative to traditional ice cream. You can enjoy a whole pint for only 280-380 calories, along with a healthy protein boost. The brand's chocolate pint clocks in at 300 calories and 19 grams of protein.

While we can't knock those stats, this ice cream is, well, barely ice cream. It's icy, grainy, and totally lacks a robust chocolate flavor. If you're hoping to enjoy something smooth and creamy, this won't be it.

One reviewer on Halo Top's chocolate pint website called it "a sad excuse for 'ice cream.'" They complained the texture is icy and watery, saying, "It isn't creamy. It doesn't have a ton of flavor. This is probably the blandest chocolate flavor of 'ice cream' I've ever had. And they're super expensive for essentially frozen flavored water."

If you're hoping to enjoy a healthier chocolate dessert, there's better out there.

9. Blue Bunny Chocolate Ice Cream

When we're talking about chocolate ice cream, the better varieties will boast richer chocolate flavor. Blue Bunny has more of a milk chocolate flavor, meaning it's heavy on the sugar and low on the actual chocolate. When we say heavy on the sugar, we mean a scoop of this ice cream will hit you with a saccharine punch. It's like candy. For that reason, children might love it, but if you're looking for real chocolate flavor, we'd head further down this list.

It's worth noting that Blue Bunny's chocolate ice cream contains many additives when compared to other brands on the list. You'll find thickeners, emulsifiers, and stabilizers like mono and diglycerides, tara gum, guar gum, carob bean gum, cellulose gel, cellulose gum, and carrageenan. It's quite an engineered scoop of ice cream.

According to Ice Cream Science, stabilizers are an important component of ice cream. They increase mix viscosity, increase our perception of how creamy the ice cream is, and slow down melting, among other things. Heavy-handed use of stabilizers can lead to "gumminess" in ice cream, where the ice cream doesn't melt properly and becomes chewy.

8. Breyers Chocolate Ice Cream

It's fair to say you, like us, probably grew up enjoying Breyers chocolate ice cream here and there. It's a perfectly acceptable scoop, but it's just that, acceptable.

Breyers does boast a relatively simple ingredients list, with ingredients like milk, cream, sugar, Dutched cocoa (processed with alkali), whey, and tara gum. It is infused with natural flavor. That's not to say Breyers is bad because it has natural flavors; it just tastes a bit more artificial than some of the top-ranking ice creams on this list.

Some people also complain about Breyers chocolate ice cream texture, saying it doesn't freeze correctly and isn't a solid ice cream. "I used to LOVE this ice cream and the hard frozen texture but the last 3 containers I have bought do not freeze. The texture is more like a whipped cream texture," one reviewer writes on the Breyers chocolate ice cream site.

7. Edy's/Dreyer's Chocolate Ice Cream

Depending on where you live, you'll know this chocolate ice cream by the Edy's or Dreyer's name. Whatever the name, it's a mediocre chocolate ice cream. It's the chocolate ice cream most likely to be served at kid's birthday parties and family gatherings, and we get it. It's sweet and creamy enough to qualify as ice cream. It's affordable. It's available on every grocery store freezer aisle. Nobody is going to be mad that they were served a scoop of Edy's/Dreyer's chocolate ice cream alongside a sugary slice of birthday cake. They're just not likely to be very excited.

Why? Edy's/Dreyer's chocolate ice cream is overly sweet, with a passably creamy texture and very little complex chocolate flavor or characteristic bitterness. It might be a favorite among people with straightforward tastes, like kids and adults who enjoy milk chocolate over dark chocolate. While the Edy's/Dreyer's chocolate ice cream site pulls mostly positive reviews, one reviewer did complain that the ice cream tastes "too much like artificial ice cream."

"It lacks the rich heaviness of real, whole-milk ice cream," they write. "The additives used for thickening melt into froth...and there is way too much sugar and not enough cocoa."

6. Turkey Hill All Natural Belgian Style Chocolate

This chocolate ice cream is strictly middle of the road, with a pleasantly sweet flavor, but not much richness. It is nice that it's a straightforward flavor with minimal ingredients — if you're looking for that. As an "all natural" offering, you'll find easy-to-pronounce ingredients like cream, sugar, cocoa, honey, unsweetened Belgian chocolate, and more.

The problem with this ice cream lies in that it's reasonably tasty, but not good enough to usurp our top five contenders. In a review at MassLive, Elizabeth Román calls the treat "soft and creamy, although not as rich as some of the gourmet, high-end ice cream pints I've sampled."

She rates it favorably, but does note she would "would have preferred a denser formula." So, if you happen to purchase Turkey Hill All Natural Belgian Style Chocolate, will you be sad? No. Will you be super impressed? Probably not.

5. Trader Joe's Ultra Chocolate

If you love the robust, slightly bitter flavor of dark chocolate, Trader Joe's ultra chocolate ice cream might be the one for you. It's the closest you can get to eating a dark chocolate bar in ice cream form.

With so many unique creations on the freezer aisle of Trader Joe's, it's easy to look past the classic offerings. This chocolate ice cream is worth a buy, though, if you're at Trader Joe's and craving something simple and chocolatey. One reviewer at Freezer Meal Frenzy calls it "astonishingly flavorful," with a rich, fudge-like profile. Trader Joe's recommends serving an indulgent scoop in a sweet sugar cone for textural contrast.

If you'd like to jazz up your scoop, the aisles of Trader Joe's will provide. Look for the latest fun chocolate bar to crumble on top for extra richness, or pick up a carton of their shelf-stable whipping cream. Yeah, this chocolate ice cream goes incredibly well with some freshly-made whipped cream.

4. Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Pint

Häagen-Dazs offers the perfect little pint of chocolate ice cream when you're looking to indulge, with ice cream that's creamy and rich. That's because it's one of the few major ice cream brands to not use stabilizers like guar gum or xanthan gum. They use only eggs to stabilize their ice cream, creating a slow-melting ice cream with a silky mouthfeel. You can rest assured that a pint of Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream won't melt the moment your spoon makes contact. Eggs also help to create a custard-like body in the ice cream, and they prolong the shelf life of the ice cream by inhibiting thawing and refreezing, according to Serious Eats.

Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream is beautiful in its simplicity. It only features five straightforward ingredients: cream, skim milk, cane sugar, cocoa (processed with alkali), and egg yolks.

If you're a sucker for nostalgia, you might especially love this flavor. One reviewer notes, "The taste of this Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream reminds me of what the classic fudgsicle on a stick used to taste like, before it was turned into just another concoction of frozen additive weirdness."

3. Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Therapy

You may associate Ben & Jerry's with all sorts of inventive flavors, but it turns out, they do a simple chocolate ice cream really well. Still, their Chocolate Therapy pint does feature a few bells and whistles; it's a melange of classic chocolate ice cream, chocolate cookies, and chocolate pudding ice cream.

As the name suggests, indulging in this seriously rich little pint of ice cream might just be as good as a therapy session. At least, it'll do in a pinch. We love how the dark chocolate flavor shines, with soft bits of chocolate cookie and pudding-based ice cream. We're not the only ones who love it. Some liken eating it to a sublime experience. One reviewer on the Ben & Jerry's site writes, "I wanna know what kind of crack y'all cooked into chocolate therapy. I go through 3-4 pints of this a week and find myself moaning while eating it." They insist, "it's a spiritual experience for me. My favorite part of the day is the chemical release in my brain I get from this ice cream. I could write poetry about chocolate therapy."

Not convinced? Ben & Jerry's offers the most detailed breakdown of just how their pints of ice cream come to be. If you're someone who likes knowing everything about what you eat — like how Ben & Jerry's sources their dairy, or just how they get those delicious chunks evenly dispersed in their ice cream —check it out.

2. Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate

Blue Bell ice cream has a cult-like following in its home state of Texas, and people love the smooth flavor of their classic Dutch chocolate. Your familiarity with Blue Bell will depend on where you live — it's only available in 22 states, with its main fan base (and headquarters) found in Texas. The brand is named for the native Texas bluebell wildflower. What we're saying is, it's an iconic Texas brand, through and through.

Their Dutch chocolate ice cream is so beloved, it's been sent to space. According to USA Today, cups of Blue Bell chocolate and vanilla ice cream were sent to astronauts at the International Space Station in 2006 "to help out (the crew's) happiness quotient." A space shuttle had previously dropped off a freezer to the International Space Station to store research samples, but this also allowed ice cream to be enjoyed at the station for the first time ever. Blue Bell's chocolate and vanilla ice cream cups made the trek in an insulated bag. It was a massive upgrade to the typical food served in space, precooked and eaten from a pouch.

We love that Blue Bell's Dutch chocolate ice cream is made with rich imported chocolate. You can enjoy Blue Bell Dutch chocolate ice cream in a full half-gallon, or a pint if you're feeling virtuous.

1. Tillamook Chocolate

Tillamook chocolate ice cream takes the top spot on this list. This simple recipe is richly flavored with cocoa, but it's the high cream content that puts this grocery store ice cream brand at the top. If you've ever thought ice cream from this Pacific Northwest dairy co-op tastes extra creamy, you're not wrong. Tillamook ice cream is made with extra cream and less air than the industry standard for ice cream, creating a velvety mouthfeel that can't be beaten.

Plus, Tillamook is committed to producing the high-quality milk at the base of their incredibly rich chocolate ice cream. They're a cooperative made up of about 80 farmer-owners who care for their land and cows, so you reap delicious ice cream (and cheese! Tillamook has great cheese) in return.

Tillamook's chocolate ice cream keeps it simple, with an ingredient profile that includes cream, milk, sugar, cocoa, and a handful of other easy-to-pronounce additions. One of those additions? Pasteurized egg yolks. This smart infusion makes for a custard-like base—remember, this ice cream is really creamy. Tillamook chocolate ice cream is classic ice cream, with classic, high-quality ingredients. We couldn't ask for more.