We Taste-Tested 10 Supermarket Chocolate Ice Creams—Here Are Our Favorites

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I completely respect that you’d click into a story about ranking chocolate ice creams and expect to read about the merits of chocolate ice cream. That said, we are all aligned here, yeah? You love chocolate ice cream? You also feel that it is good? That it’s important? That it can make everything better? And, therefore, you would like to read some serious nonsense on which easily accessible brand of it is the best? Great! I have nothing more to say to introduce the subject and you’ve come to exactly the right place. 

Recently, the Serious Eats team pulled together 10 brands of chocolate ice cream you’re likely to find in your local supermarket and methodically, empirically, scientifically! tasted its way through them all in a quest to identify the very best. And we loved every minute of doing it!

Editor’s Note: We wanted to try Blue Bell, Ben & Jerry’s, Edy’s, Trader Joe’s, and Van Leeuwen’s chocolate options, but were unable to procure them the day of this particular taste test. But please! Slide into my DMs and tell me how wrong we are because Blue Bell, Ben & Jerry’s, Edy’s, Trader Joe’s, and Van Leeuwen’s chocolate ice creams are the best, I love it when people do that! <3

The Contenders

  • Blue Bunny Soft Chocolate Frozen Dessert*
  • Breyer’s Chocolate Ice Cream
  • Friendly’s Rich & Creamy Classic Chocolate 
  • Häagen Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream
  • Halo Top Chocolate Light Ice Cream
  • Jeni’s Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream
  • Stop & Shop Chocolate Ice Cream, Churn Style
  • Tillamook Chocolate Ice Cream
  • Turkey Hill Dutch Chocolate, Premium Ice Cream
  • Wegman’s Chocolate Premium French Ice Cream

*This is technically a “frozen dairy dessert” rather than an “ice cream” (which is how all of these other contenders are classified). Per the FDA definition, ice cream, along with a lot of other qualifiers, “contains not less than 10 percent milkfat,” whereas frozen dairy desserts don’t hit that threshold.

Serious Eats / Jordan Provost

The Criteria

A good chocolate ice cream is—wait for it—chocolatey. I write this knowing full well you’re laughing! I also write this knowing you’ve likely not sampled 10 chocolate ice creams in rapid succession, evaluating each one diligently for its level of chocolate flavor. Not all supermarket chocolate ice creams even taste like chocolate, you monsters! And when they do, they often don’t taste like chocolate enough, or, in rare instances, they taste like chocolate too much, to the point of eating like chalky cocoa powder or protein powder dredges. 

The chocolate flavor should be rounded out with a significant punch of creaminess—you want to know you’re eating a full-fat dairy product. We also prefer a chocolate ice cream that’s been properly aerated (had air incorporated) so that it’s dense yet soft, scoopable, and creamy, but not so much air (also called “overrun”) that it’s foamy or reads as “light.” 

Another factor that contributed heavily to this taste test was each ice cream’s chew factor. Clockable bounce, body, and chew all correlated with the less aerated options, and this staff enjoyed almost every instance of that. It’s objectively better to feel like you chewed your ice cream while you ate it than it is to feel like it could’ve been sipped. Like, on a scale from “poorly made diner milkshake” to Tootsie Roll, a proper chocolate ice cream should go down like luxurious saltwater taffy someone left out on a perfect 70-degree day for many, many hours. 

Of note: I was yanking a gigantic freezer door open and slamming it shut repeatedly over the course of a humid test kitchen day. Most of the ice creams in this test were delivered to the kitchen; a few were transported from home. Who knows how often they were frozen and unfrozen and re-frozen in transit even before then? All this to say, there was a variable mostly beyond our control that affected the iciness and meltiness of each sample. In a few cases, we ended up re-scooping and re-sampling where it felt like samples had been tarnished by the elements during their tumultuous time between their original containers and their sample bowls, and taste testers were able to ask for re-scoops as they felt necessary. I built that consideration into the sampling templates, asking people to separate temperature side effects out of their rankings as much as possible. As always, this is a very serious operation, and we operate seriously accordingly. 

OK! The ice creams.

Serious Eats / Jordan Provost

The Rankings

Häagen Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream, 3.83/5

The Serious Eats staff’s affinity for Häagen-Dazs ice cream has been well documented on this website over the course of a couple of previous taste tests, including our strawberry ice cream taste test and our vanilla ice cream taste test. It’s not our fault they’ve managed to identify the exact-correct flavor:gumminess:aeration ratio across mass-produced-and-distributed pints! Our director of product Alison wrote: “This is a classic ice cream texture and it has a classic ice cream smell.” Kelli compared the experience to drinking a smooth glass of syrupy chocolate milk. And Daniel, who nearly immediately asked “Häagen-Dazs?” after taking a bite, much preferred this texture to aaaany of the other samples that came his way that day.

Breyer’s Chocolate Ice Cream, 3.67/5

Like absolute clockwork, voila: the second-place-via-nostalgia ranking! Each tester noted a sweet and middle-of-the-road chocolate flavor, as well as a creaminess that almost mattered more than the chocolate itself. I think these people just thrived in the mid-late ‘70s, ‘80s, and/or ‘90s? And/or they’d prefer to be…then than now? I’m not sure how else to explain how they manage to do this in every single taste test.

Wegman’s Chocolate Premium French Ice Cream, 3.33/5

I was so pleased that my pre-test notes on this pint were “luxury! I feel the gumminess in each scoop in the loveliest way!” and that everyone’s notes then pointed to this texture in a positive way. Daniel wrote that the Wegman’s scoop was “denser than most others in a pretty good way,” and Alison called the ice cream “silky-stretchy,” noting it tasted like “the chocolate layer in the Carvel ice cream cake.” That is such a good and visceral comparison, oh my god. I am so sad I didn’t think to make it first! Anyway, there’s something about an ice cream you have to chew just a little bit, you know?

Jeni’s Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream, 3.16/5

Visually arresting! Structurally significant! Packed with chocolate flavor, but maybe too much so? Kelli found the dark chocolate offering to be exactly her preferred level of chocolatiness saying she “could actually taste the chocolate! Joy!” Alison and Daniel identified the flavor as uber-concentrated, to the point that it gave them protein powder energy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing! In fact, it was probably a good thing, given everyone began their respective sassy shticks about wanting more concentrated chocolate flavor from here on out.

Friendly’s Rich & Creamy Classic Chocolate, 3.16/5

Sweet, rich, and creamy, this ice cream was enjoyed by all! Kelli ranked it as her favorite one, and everyone else wrote lovely and mild things about it. My best guess is that deep in their wistful brains, they knew exactly what this was! They knew that it is best sucked down in a Fribble or piled on top of a fractured, vaguely stale sugar cone, enjoyed between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m. so that it ruins their dinners, They somehow just knew this stuff is not at its best  in a beige paper bowl in a New York City test kitchen at, like, 10:30 in the morning. 

Turkey Hill Dutch Chocolate, Premium Ice Cream, 3.16/5

Everything about Turkey Hill ice cream is easy. It’s easy to scoop, it’s easy to eat, it’s easy to smell, and it’s easy to digest. Not unrelated: It’s also so aerated. If you want to eat one hearty bowl of substantive, soothing chocolate ice cream and have a cathartic cry, this is not for you. If you want to eat a quart of cloud-like chocolate pudding and then still feel your unresolved feelings, this is exactly for you!

Tillamook Chocolate Ice Cream, 3.1/5

In yet another completely spot-on reference I am so upset I didn’t make, Kelli’s notes from this tasting read: “This reminds me of the chocolate ice cream that they used to give us in grade school from those little round cardboard containers and a little wooden tongue depressor instead of a spoon.” Ugh!!!! It’s too true!!! That’s exactly what it smelled and tasted and felt like!!! It was consistently smooth, decently foamy, and tasted very gentle.

Stop & Shop Chocolate Ice Cream, Churn Style, 3/5

The only chocolate ice cream of the bunch to elicit the word “maltiness” in tasting notes! “At this serving temp, it’s like eating semifreddo chocolate mousse…which isn’t the worst,” Daniel said. The others noted the sweetness rather than chocolatey-ness of this offering, and craved more heft and chew in each bite.

Blue Bunny Soft Chocolate Frozen Dessert, 2.75/5

Do you always sit down to eat your ice cream and think: “Ugh, I’d rather have pudding?” Firstly, that’s wild! Secondly, a perfect option somehow exists for you, you gorgeous and total weirdo, within this incredibly vast market. Enjoy your freezer pudding! (Again, to be clear, this option is technically classified as “frozen dairy dessert,” not as “ice cream.”)

Halo Top Chocolate Light Ice Cream, 2.16/5

Listen. It’s like putting Lactaid brand cottage cheese in the official cottage cheese taste test. It’s not exactly nice or fair, but it has to be done. You know it doesn’t quite belong here, not among this group. You don’t exactly feel good about this. You don’t exactly sleep well at night. You know very well you’ve robbed everyone of the full-fat experience you promised them when you pretty much coerced them into participating in a vaguely professional ice cream-eating contest. But you put the Halo Top in your cart, telling yourself “they’ll forgive me eventually.” And you keep it moving. 

Our Testing Methodology

All taste tests are conducted with brands completely hidden and without discussion. Tasters taste samples in random order. For example, taster A may taste sample 1 first, while taster B will taste sample 6 first. This is to prevent palate fatigue from unfairly giving any one sample an advantage. Tasters are asked to fill out tasting sheets ranking the samples for various criteria that vary from sample to sample. All data is tabulated and results are calculated with no editorial input in order to give us the most impartial representation of actual results possible.


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