30 Best Ice Cream Flavors Ranked From Worst To Best

As temperatures begin to rise across the United States, so does the craving for sweet, cold treats. None are more famous than ice cream. Humans have been eating some form of a cold and sweet dessert for centuries. The International Dairy Foods Association explains that even during the Roman Empire, snow was collected from the mountains and flavored with fruits and juices. The European elite ate sweet, frozen desserts, which were called 'cream ice,' in the 16th century, and by 1660 ice cream was available to everyone.

Today, ice cream is beloved around the world as an unofficial marker of summer but also as a celebratory year-round treat. There are countless ice cream flavors, with something for every palate, but we've rounded up the 30 most popular ones and ranked them from worst to best! Grab a spoon and see which flavors made our list ... and which nabbed the top spot!

30. Cotton candy

Many brands make cotton candy-flavored ice cream. And it's not only inspired by the colors of the hit carnival candy ... it contains it, too! In fact, Baskin Robbins' version of cotton candy ice cream has cotton candy as its second ingredient. The brightly-hued ice cream is often just plain ice cream that has cotton candy flavoring and coloring. So by digging into a cone of cotton candy ice cream, you can expect the distinct cotton candy flavor along with the bright blue, pink, and purple colors.

Cotton candy was created in 1897 by William Morrison and John C. Wharton but not publically displayed until the 1904 World Fair, according to Spun Paradise. Cotton candy is a carnival treat we can get behind, but that doesn't mean it needs to be mixed with ice cream. We're always up for a little fun, but ice cream is sweet enough. Adding the sweet taste of cotton candy and rainbow dye doesn't make us like this anymore.

29. Chocolate banana

There are plenty of other ways to eat chocolate and banana that don't involve ice cream. The dream team flavor combination of chocolate and banana should be reserved for baked goods like cakes and pies ... not ice cream. Something about cold temperatures in combination with chocolate and banana just feels so wrong. The flavors work well together, and they're somewhat hearty and pair well with warm baking spices and fresh-out-of-the-oven bread and cookies. The flavors in ice cream just don't feel right. It could also be that more acidic fruits better balance the creaminess of ice cream.

The low ranking of this flavor also has something to do with the fact that banana-flavored foods never really taste like bananas. It's thought that banana flavoring doesn't come from real bananas, but Culinary Lore has debunked that myth. Still, there's just something about chocolate and banana-flavored ice cream that needs to stay in the freezer, where it belongs.

28. Blackberry

As we hop off our anti-banana ice cream high horse, it's rather ironic that next up is blackberry flavored ice cream. In the previous flavor, we mentioned citrus and cream working well. There's something about a bright acidic fruit that pairs well with the creaminess of ice cream. And while it's true that blackberries are nice and tart, we still don't want to eat a whole cone of blackberry ice cream.

Sure, it seems whimsical, and the product often takes on a beautiful purple hue. But there are fruit flavors that rank higher and do it more subtly. We like for the fruit flavor to be nice and integrated with the cream. Olive and Mango has paired blackberry ice cream with lilac honey which is a nice way to elevate the flavor. But overall, blackberry as a flavor seems to work better with sorbets when it's really all about the fruit.

27. Strawberry cheesecake

This hurts us just as much as it hurts you because strawberry cheesecake ice cream is actually pretty delicious. Strawberry cheesecake ice cream seems to have risen in popularity over the last few years. It's a cheesecake or vanilla-flavored ice cream with chunks of strawberries and cheesecake to mimic a dessert that is perfectly fine as it was originally intended. Some brands even go as far as to include swirls of strawberry sauce, as Southern Living reports.

But it's better as the dessert it was meant to be, strawberry cheesecake without the ice cream. In this case, there's no need to try to update a perfectly good dessert by making it into an ice cream flavor. It's already sufficiently creamy and sweet. So while we like strawberry cheesecake ice cream, we think it works far better as plain ol' strawberry cheesecake. For these reasons, strawberry cheesecake ice cream doesn't rank very high in our best ice cream flavors.

26. Neapolitan

Poor Neapolitan ice cream was always relegated to the 'universal birthday ice cream' territory. Likely because when else can you get three flavors in one container? Neapolitan ice cream is a very even portion of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream. It's rather no-nonsense, though, so instead of swirls or layers of each flavor, the three Neapolitan flavors present themselves side by side so you can easily see how much of each is left.

It's actually a popular flavor, which isn't too much of a surprise because it covers a lot of ground, but if we're talking flavors here, is there a need to combine three in one? Multiple flavors in one container was already a popular concept in Italy. When Italian immigrants made their way to the United States with the ice cream, the flavors morphed into those that were popular in America, reports Astronaut Foods. Neapolitan ice cream is another of those flavors that is solid, but unfortunately, it just doesn't compare to the flavor sensations that some other ice cream flavors can provide.

25. Praline pecan

If this weren't a grueling ice cream showdown, praline pecan would be a decent flavor. But compared to many others on this list, it just isn't spectacular. The candied pecans sort of steal the show from the ice cream, and overall there are a dozen other flavors that are more favorable. Grits and Pinecones refers to the flavor as a sweet amalgamation of caramel sauce, butterscotch, and roasted pecans.

Pralines are actually a southern delicacy. This candy is made from corn syrup, sugar, butter, milk, and pecans, according to River Street Sweets. Add pecans to make it a pecan praline ... and it to ice cream to get the flavor praline pecan ice cream. We don't hate this flavor. In fact, we quite like it. But it's eerily similar to another flavor that's made the list, and, in our opinion, it just doesn't stand out enough to rank higher.

24. Chocolate chip

Here's the thing — if you just throw some chocolate chips into vanilla ice cream, you'll have a plain ice cream that has crunchy pieces of chocolate in it. We'd much rather eat Stracciatella, the flavor that seems to have inspired this ice cream. Stracciatella can actually refer to a soup, gelato, or a cheese, says La Cucina Italiana. The gelato flavor was created in northern Italy in a city called Bergamo. An egg drop soup by the same name is a local specialty in the city. Enrico Panattoni was inspired by the flecked soup and created a cream gelato with dark chocolate pieces.

Chocolate chip ice cream seems to be an uninspired take on the Stracciatella flavor. Gelato is often served slightly warmer than ice cream, so it has a softer, silkier texture that allows the flavors to stand out more. We have to say that, without the intense creamy base of gelato, chocolate chip ice cream is just not that interesting.

23. French vanilla

Anytime you throw 'French' in front of a word, it automatically sounds fancier. For example, French toast, French press, and French bread all sound elevated. (French fries are the one exception to the rule!) So when it comes to ice cream flavors, French vanilla naturally seems to be more refined than regular vanilla because it draws on French culture. Or does it?

French vanilla isn't a well-defined term, but in the case of ice cream, it may refer to the French style of ice cream making, explains Masterclass. In France, ice cream is typically made with a custard base that uses egg yolk. In the United States, a cream base is used. But just because you see French vanilla as a flavor doesn't mean it will be made in the French style. Because there's no consistency and no clear difference from regular vanilla, we can't rate French vanilla very high. We will say that it's a nice marketing gimmick, though.

22. Chocolate vanilla swirl

Chocolate vanilla swirl ice cream is about as exciting as getting stuck in traffic. But the history of both chocolate and vanilla have deep historical roots, so the flavor pairing does get some bonus points for that. According to Smithsonian Magazine, vanilla dates back to the 13th-century in modern-day Mexico. Consumption of cacao, the raw form of chocolate, dates back more than 5,300 years.

So this is an ancient duo that has been pleasing the world before all of us were dust particles. That's impressive, but it doesn't mean we need to pretend to love the combination. It's uneventful, and it's boring ... especially when not made from top-notch ingredients. So this is an ice cream that has to be made in a more artisan style to even come close to exciting. Also, the vanilla gets lost in the chocolate, so you might as well eat plain chocolate ice cream. We desperately want to adore this classic pairing, but unfortunately, there are many more exciting ways to enjoy chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

21. Rainbow sherbet

If you let rainbow sherbet sit out for a little too long and then stir it together, it looks like mud. That's not to say it isn't delicious. But it's frightening how quickly it transforms from delicious fruity ice cream dessert to sewage-colored muck in a bowl.

According to Baskin Robbins, sherbet is a frozen dessert that's actually not ice cream or sorbet but rather somewhere right in the middle. It will make your mouth pucker more, which comes from the addition of citric acid. And it's almost solely available in fruit flavors, so you get deliciously bright notes of orange, lemon, raspberry, etc. We included sherbet on this list because it's scoopable and often available at ice cream shops or in the frozen dessert aisle. And while we like sherbet, we don't love it. It's a one-trick pony ... sweet, tart, but not much range beyond that. We'd be fine eating this flavor once a year.

20. Chocolate marshmallow

When it comes to ice cream, toppings are the best way to customize it. So why throw obscure toppings into the ice cream? We're of the group that thinks marshmallow is best reserved for the campfire. Add some gooey melted chocolate and graham crackers, and voila! But to just wantonly throw marshmallows into chocolate ice cream feels blasphemous and, dare we say, a bit lazy.

Marshmallow is a flavor that's hard to define. Kitchen Foliage describes it as sweet and vanilla in nature. Unfortunately, that's often hidden by too much sugar. Yes, chocolate marshmallow ice cream is actually pretty tasty if you're into overly sugary desserts with no depth. However, if you're looking for some nuance and layers, you'd do better with some other flavors. Chocolate marshmallow is more palatable if you add some chopped nuts. That would help break up the over-the-top sweetness and give the ice cream some much-needed textural components.

19. Black cherry

You might know this flavor as Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia or just as black cherry from other brands. It is often a vanilla or subtle cherry-flavored ice cream with chunks of black cherries in it. Sometimes there's fudge or chocolate chunks, but if you know what's best, you'll skip over this flavor altogether. Flavors like black cherry should not sit in the same space as tried and true classic ice cream flavors. We will give black cherry some bonus points because it has that whole fruit and cream theme working for it.

My Food Job Rocks did a deep dive on the flavor of black cherry and notes that the fruit is perhaps so popular because it's a natural combination of sweet and sour. That does help to ensure that cherry ice cream isn't cloyingly sweet. But in general black cherry ice cream never truly tastes like black cherries. It tastes vaguely of red fruit, and that's about it!

18. Birthday cake

Birthday cake ice cream is a rather modern flavor that has risen in popularity. Phil DeWester, Senior Director of Category Marketing at Dawn Foods, explains that there was a 24% surge of birthday cake-flavored items from 2008 to 2018. Ice cream is one of the most popular vehicles for this flavor. Although birthday cakes can be pretty much anything, the ice cream flavor tends to refer to a vanilla-flavored base with vanilla cake chunks and sprinkles mixed throughout. This results in a festive dessert that's as tasty as it is Instagrammable.

Birthday cake-flavored ice cream is not as over the top as other wildly colored ice creams. And we like the actual chunks of cake because ice cream and cake are an unbeatable duo. It's a flavor that can easily come across as too sweet if not made with just the right ratios of sprinkles and cake pieces. Because it's a tough flavor to perfect, birthday cake ice cream is in the right middle of our list.

17. Rum raisin

This is going to ruffle some feathers. Although rum raisin is a popular flavor in some states like Florida and Georgia, it's hard to rank it towards the top. It's a delicious flavor, but is it one of the best? Not everything is for kids, and this is a flavor that screams 'adults only.' Not only just because of the addition of rum but also raisins? Rum raisin is an ice cream adults cans safely stock and trust that the kiddos will never touch it!

This flavor can be traced back to Sicily, Italy, where the flavor is known as Málaga, reports Pregel America. It was originally made with raisins that were soaked in wine and then stirred into vanilla gelato. Häagen-Dazs brought rum raisin ice cream to the United States in 1980, and the flavor has been a hit since then. We love its history, but as for a family-friendly dessert, maybe you should keep looking.

16. Rocky road

The flavor Rocky Road was created during the Great Depression, explains Mental Floss. Its name hinted at what may lie ahead and perhaps was a way to give people a little bit of joy during a bleak time. It is chocolate ice cream with marshmallows and chopped nuts. We've kept our word and said that chocolate marshmallow ice cream needs some texture and Rocky Road is a perfect display of that. It takes the flavor up a notch and makes an otherwise dull combination a smidge more interesting.

In order for this ice cream to hit the spot, it has to be made with just the right ratio. Too few nuts, and you've got a bored palate. Too little marshmallow, and it's just chocolate and nuts. And the worst-case scenario, too many marshmallows makes for an overly sweet mess. So while we like this flavor, it's tricky to get just right.

15. Chocolate peanut butter cup

Everyone loves chocolate. And we all know that peanut butter cups are pretty close to perfection. So naturally, the ice cream flavor would also be a guaranteed winner, right? Not quite. This isn't quite hate mail towards the mashup flavor, but rather this is an ode to keeping it simple.

As history tells it, Harry Reese was struggling to make a living as a dairyman. In 1928, he knew he had a hit with the flavor combination chocolate and peanut butter and toiled away night and day figuring out how he would join them into a harmonious union. Reese, who worked for Hershey magnate Milton Hershey, would eventually sell his brand to his boss for a whopping $23.5 million, according to Times Record News. The flavor works with everything, but as ice cream, it's almost too much. There are some variations of this such as chocolate ice cream with peanut butter ribbons, which are more delicious. We just don't think the candy pieces work in the ice cream, and that's that.

14. Sweet cream

It's a bit unfair that sweet cream ice cream is even on this list. After all, ice cream is literally frozen sweetened cream, explains Adamant Kitchen. The exact flavor is hard to pin down because sweet cream is so light and airy. There is, however, the unmistakable creaminess, as well as a hint of vanilla. This is an ice cream that is almost too similar to vanilla, so it needs to be made with high-quality ingredients, or else it'll just quickly be confused with vanilla ice cream.

This flavor is simple and pure. It harkens back to yesteryear, to a time when ice cream was an event in itself. No frills and add-ins are needed. Unfortunately, though, this is a flavor that's hard to execute, and unless you're working with top-notch, farm-fresh ingredients, sweet cream will come off tasting a lot like vanilla. Sweet cream is a great flavor, but it's just not practical or common enough to rank higher.

13. Toffee

If you've been curious about a proper definition of toffee, buckle up because here it comes! Toffee is butterscotch that's been cooked for a longer period. This results in a candy that's actually quite similar in flavor, but the two are totally different textures. Where butterscotch is soft and pliable, toffee is brittle and can break when pressure is applied. Braum's explains that toffee is the main candy ingredient in Heath bars, so if you like that candy, then there's a chance you may love toffee ice cream. And really, we do.

But toffee ice cream on its own just doesn't stand out. It's a fantastic flavor, but part of what makes toffee so great is its signature crunch. And without that textural component, toffee ice cream is just sugar overload. Now you may find toffee ice creams with chunks of toffee or chocolate. But toffee ice cream is just toffee flavoring, so we'll keep our judgment reserved for that.

12. Salted caramel

Somehow over the last decade, the flavor of salted caramel skyrocketed in the public consciousness. Candy Industry explains that in 2011, there were just more than 50 salted caramel products introduced on the market. Over the next decade, that figure grew to 3,118 salted caramel flavored products.

Ice cream is the most popular of those products simply because the salty, almost burnt caramel flavor and sweet cream are a heavenly duo. You can throw some chocolate in there if you're up for it, but salted caramel ice really doesn't need much else to stand out as a flavor. It's an ice cream that can satisfy a sweet tooth while just slightly venturing into that 'funky' territory with its distinct sharp, salty taste. The caramel also gives off some deep honey, almost nutty notes.

You don't need to like caramel to enjoy this flavor because the salt helps to transform it. You do need to like salt, though.

11. Peanut butter

If you're allergic to peanuts, you may want to keep scrolling. But for the rest of you, grab a chair and join in the praise. Peanut butter is one of those things that's ubiquitous and yet somehow overlooked. It's not something you eat on its own. And it isn't quite a condiment. But enough about what peanut butter isn't because it is something that just happens to pair extremely well with sweets, like ice cream.

Maybe it's the impeccable combination of sweet and salty, which actually has some science to back it up. The cravings for sugar and salt meet our most biological dietary needs and make our brains sing with delight. But whatever the reason, peanut butter ice cream is one of life's greatest pleasures. Feel free to top with chocolate sprinkles, syrup, or fudge for your own take on a peanut butter cup. Or just dig right on in.

10. Moose Tracks

A few of the more creative flavor combinations on this list missed out on the opportunity to trademark. Moose Tracks® is not one of them! This flavor is a one-of-a-kind combination of vanilla ice cream, peanut butter cups, and fudge. It is good ... which is somewhat of an understatement. It takes some of your favorite flavors and turns them up a notch. It's like vanilla fudge ripple but better or vanilla peanut butter cup with extra pizzaz.

The flavor is licensed out and produced and sold at retailers all around the country — from Acme and Fairway to Kroger and Publix. So it's not hard to get your hands on some. Wally and June Blume, a husband and wife duo, invented the flavor in 1988, and all licensing rights are still their property under their research and development company Denali Ingredients. Who knew something as whimsical as ice cream could have such an impact?

9. Butter pecan

Butter pecan almost shouldn't be a flavor. It sounds and looks too simple. White ice cream with nuts? Well, that white ice cream is a very special buttery vanilla flavor, and those pecans are roasted to perfection. It's tricky to describe the flavor of a nut, but as TN Valley Pecan puts it, there are some fatty, roasted, and sweet notes. The result is something that needs to be celebrated today and every day. This is far from a praline pecan flavor. Butter pecan is more subdued.

Although its roots aren't clear, butter pecan ice cream is popular among the Black American community. As The Louisville Courrier Journal tells it, the topic even spurred a podcast that explores food history and why communities eat what they eat. Butter pecan is sweet and nutty, and it shows that you don't always have to be flashy and eye-catching (we're looking at you, cotton candy) to be downright delicious.

8. Coffee

Next up is coffee ice cream. So what's so delicious about coffee ice cream? Oh, just the fact that it's the brilliant blend of two of the world's most fabulous edible goods. It even has its own day to celebrate nationally — September 6. National Today reports that this flavor has been a fan favorite since 1919.

Take your coffee and ice cream obsession one step further by pouring coffee over gelato or ice cream. This version of the dessert is called Affogato and is quite popular among Italians. We don't need to explain why coffee ice cream has made it to the top of the list, but for the uninitiated, if you've ever had a strong coffee with milk and sugar, then you have some idea what to expect with this ice cream. If you've never had either, then we hate to break it to you, but you're missing out!

7. Pistachio

Pistachio is one of those mature flavors that seems boring until you've tried it. But this ice cream is green, so it has a bit of a fun side as well! It's creamy and sweet as any good ice cream should be, but then it's also nuttiness that brings an almost irresistible subtle umami quality to the ice cream. In a Reddit thread dedicated to the flavor, one user called it "the best flavor ever." Sure, that's just one person on the Internet, but still, we feel validated.

Nosey Chef reports that pistachio ice cream can be traced back to Philadelphia in 1940 when a confectioner named James Wood Parkinson added pistachio to his ice cream mixture. If you already love pistachio ice cream, good for you! And if you're wary of trying it, please do! Just make sure to go for the good stuff because high-quality pistachio ice cream is unbeatable!

6. Strawberry

Strawberry ice cream seems divisive. Is it actually good? Or is it such a nostalgic flavor for so many that it's been imprinted into our brains as delicious when it's closer to disgusting? We think it's pretty good ... and actually, we think it's better than good. We think that when made well, strawberry ice cream is the perfect ode to summer. If you like fresh, juicy strawberries on pound cake topped with whipped cream, what's not to love about strawberry ice cream? Some artificially flavored ice creams may have helped to sink strawberry ice cream's reputation, but we refuse to let that happen!

It's also the most exciting part of Neapolitan ice cream. And while that's not saying much, it does prove that strawberry ice cream is a lovely, light flavor that shows just how enthralling fruit-flavored ice creams can be. Holiday Smart explains that strawberry ice cream might have been first served in 1813 to then-President James Madison. If you've crossed over to the side that knows best, you can celebrate strawberry ice cream day every January 15!

5. Cookies 'n cream

Does it surprise you that cookies 'n cream made it to the top of the list? Think about all of the good things in life — they're just enough, not over the top, and versatile. And that's exactly how we'd describe cookies 'n cream flavored ice cream. This ice cream is just as fitting for an ice cream cake as it is on a cone. It's a flavor that's somehow really exciting yet nice and simple! First of all, we've got crushed-up chocolate sandwich cookies that are somehow still crunchy throughout a whole bowl. Then you have the creamy vanilla ice cream that, when paired with the rich chocolate cookies, gives the impression of cookies with milk.

Dairy Herd Management reports that the flavor may have been created at South Dakota State University in 1979. Inspired to create a new flavor, dairy plant manager Shirley Seas and two students added chocolate sandwich oreo cookies to ice cream. They, unfortunately, didn't trademark the flavor, but it became wildly popular, and more than 40 years later, the flavor lives on!

4. Chocolate chip cookie dough

Ice cream, in all its creamy, sweet goodness, is already delicious on its own. So how chocolate chip cookie dough chunks can make it better, we're not quite sure. But it does. And it's such a simple combination that's somehow out of this world. Maybe cookie chunks work well in other flavors of ice cream, but we like vanilla as the backdrop.

Ben & Jerry's has earned some bragging rights over the years as one of the world's most popular ice cream producers. But they can also add "inventor of cookie dough ice cream" as a claim to fame. They experimented with cookie dough pieces in vanilla ice cream way back in 1984. By 1991 it was packaged and sold in grocery stores, and in 1994 the flavor was international. Chocolate chip cookie dough is a confirmed hit, and if you aren't convinced ... well, that just leaves more for us.

3. Mint chocolate chip

On a hot summer day when you're sweating beyond belief and too uncomfortable for words, there is barely any comfort. That's why mint chocolate chip ice cream works so well. It's got the cooling, refreshing qualities of sweet mint, paired with an irresistible sweet crunch of chocolate chips. Now, this flavor combination works well as hot chocolate or baked goods, but nothing beats it in ice cream.

While it's not clear who exactly invented the flavor combination, it's often thought to be popularized by Marilyn Ricketts. My Sweet Mission says that in 1973 Ricketts won an ice-cream-making contest with the flavor. But the flavor was a hit long before that. It was one of Baskin Robbins' original ice cream flavors in 1945. Since then, it's been gobbled up as a favorite flavor in the United States. And we are happy to help keep this flavor in the public consciousness!

2. Chocolate

When Italians froze hot chocolate in 1692, as South Florida Reporter explains, there was no way to know just how this concoction would impact the world. Since then, people have been eating frozen chocolate treats for celebrations and regular days alike!

Second place isn't bad. It really isn't. And especially not in a lineup of more than 30. The only reason chocolate doesn't come in first place is that it's somewhat restrictive. It is a fantastically perfect flavor but doesn't quite well pair with everything, which is probably the only negative thing about chocolate. But chocolate ice cream is also so delicious that it doesn't need to pair with anything. While artisan chocolate ice cream is always delicious, it's hard to make a bad version of chocolate ice cream. So cheers to chocolate ice cream for being that easy-going ice cream that's happy to just be enjoyed on its own or with other flavors!

1. Vanilla

This should come as no surprise. Vanilla works with basically any sweet vehicle — particularly cakes and cookies — but as an ice cream, something magical happens. Vanilla ice cream is one of those flavors that never really go wrong because vanilla flavoring works so well with the creamy texture of ice cream. And it just so happens to be the most popular flavor in the United States, according to Instacart.

There are certainly more exciting flavors, but there are none as versatile. Vanilla is the ultimate blank canvas for the ice cream sundae of your dreams. It works just as well with rainbow sprinkles as it does with fruit chunks. It's the failsafe ice cream to get when you don't know where preferences lie. But even if you decide to skip the toppings in favor of enjoying a more pure flavor, vanilla doesn't disappoint. It is a subtle flavor that just so happens to be as reliable as it is delicious.