Rating Artisanal Ice Creams 1-10
A completely scientific study on the best artisanal ice creams one can find at various NYC grocers.
I have a penchant for $10 ice cream pints. I am completely aware of this fiercely millennial habit, but it brings me joy, and by God, keep doing the things that bring you joy. We need it now more than ever.
I am extremely intrigued by the niche ice cream market and in an effort to organize my thoughts and connect with fellow artisanal ice cream lovers, I decided to share this very scientific study on the best ice creams you can find at the local NYC grocery store/bodega.
I included different brands under the “artisanal” umbrella. I know I’m probably leaving some out, but the list is what it is. Not all brands need to be made in NYC or a local product to be apart of this extremely serious study.
Before we continue I think it’s important that you know how I rate my ice creams. More than anything, I love chunky, flavorful ice cream flavors. Chocolate chunks. Caramel. Peanut Butter. Cookies and other baked goods. These are the flavors I am pulled towards. Peach cobblers and mint chocolate chips, while I see their appeal and appreciate their fan clubs, they’ve never really done it for me. So, if you’re anything like me, and you also grab the last Ben & Jerry’s Milk & Cookies pint or scan for anything containing cookie dough at the local scoop shop, then I think you’ll like this post.
The factors that go into my ratings:
By flavor: I mean, it’s gotta taste good. If you’re serving me a birthday cake flavor, please for the love of God taste like birthday cake and not stale crackers. +1 points for dynamic uses of salt.
By flavor options: how good are their combinations? Do they offer all the classics, PB & Chocolate, a sprinkle-birthday cake one, and a crazy brittle caramel-y one?
By fillings: Do they skimp on the cookie dough? When they say “ribbons of peanut butter”, are there *actually* ribbons of peanut butter or is this just cruel copywriter jargon?
By consistency: Does it have a nice soft bite to it?
By creaminess: pretty self explanatory.
In my opinion, these are the pillars of what makes ice cream good.
Now, let’s begin!
1 being the lowest, 10 being the best.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, you truly are *splendid*. I am very enthusiastic about this brand. To be frank, I slept on Jeni’s and I only recently discovered it when I moved to NYC. LA is a Salt & Straw vs. Jeni’s city, and I never bothered to give Jeni’s a shot because I was #teamSaltandStraw. I am a loyalist when it comes to ice cream. My friends would say “let’s get Jeni’s, blah blah blah”, and I’d say, “no, let’s go to Salt & Straw!”
HAH! Joke was on me. Jeni’s, you have saved me. As Salt and Straw is not currently available in NYC stores, Jeni’s has filled that hole in my heart and given me my chunky, sweet, buttery rich ice cream that I crave. Her flavors, her combinations, her fillings, her textures? 10/10 in my book. Favorite flavors include…
Skillet Cinnamon Roll for a truly delightful ice cream with homemade cinnamon pastry dough and cream cheese frosting flavored ice cream, Buttercream Birthday Cake for the sprinkle-loving birthday cake frosting enthusiasts, High Five Candy Bar for the I-want-everything-in-a-pint lovers.
Adirondack Creamery: 3
Ummm.. very boring. Whoever told me to try Adirondack must dislike me and want me to be sad. I tried their Earls Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor and felt like they put the ice in ice cream! I’d prefer Breyer’s to this! Honestly, Tillamook’s Chocolate PB ice cream slaps harder than this stuff and you get a whole gallon for dollars cheaper.
Van Leeuwen: 8
I am a Van Leeuwen stan! Their ice cream, though not as wild and chunky as Jeni’s, is really creamy and the consistency is delightful. Their Cookies & Cream and Peanut Butter Brownie Chip are my top flavor choices since they’re the chunkiest.
What stops me from giving Van Leeuwen a 10/10 is their pint flavor options. They have a lot of plain/classic flavors when I seek more wild ‘n crazy homestyle flavors.
One cool thing to know about VLW…
They legally have to call their ice cream French ice cream because of all the egg yolks they use. French ice cream is traditionally richer than regular ice cream. No kidding. I also read somewhere that they are expanding really fast and can [expand fast] because they don’t have as many chunky flavors as a brand like, say, Jeni’s, where chunks can get stuck in the pint fillers and cause slower production times. Interesting, sweet stuff.
Ample Hills: 5.75
Ample Hills… I wanted to love you, but I don’t. You are not unlike someone that looks really good on Hinge but upon meeting them, they just don’t match up. I’m pretty sure Ample Hills has a cult following so pleaseee Park Slope moms don’t come for me but… I just *wasn’t that into it*! It didn’t do it for me. It didn’t pique my interest. It didn’t knock on my door. What was the problem?
The ice cream in this pint was too thick and sticky. It felt too creamy, and not in a good way. I felt like I was chewing my ice cream and it almost didn’t even want to melt. Like, it was sticky in that kinda way. Also, I had to scoop 1/3 down before I found even a smidgeon of cookie. IMO, you’re better off getting a pint of Ben & Jerry’s from CVS.
I think I’m gonna stick with going to the actual Ample Hills shops for my Ample Hills fix. I had some at a scoop shop last summer and I remember it being very good. Although I was dissatisfied with the pint, I do recommend listening to their 14-episode podcast about the rise and fall of their brand in Brooklyn, coming from the co-owners (husband + wife) themselves.
That’s all for now. 🍦