Every Salt & Straw 2022 Thanksgiving Ice Cream Flavor, Ranked

It's November, which means it's past time for food brands to release their Thanksgiving-flavored offerings. Pumpkin Spice Lattes have been on sale for months at Starbucks, and other brands have put out more gimmicky Thanksgiving products. (Turkey dinner candy corn, anyone?) Or perhaps you'd prefer the turkey and gravy soda from Jones?

While some seasonal releases are more PR stunts than they are real attempts to create food that anyone would want to eat, Salt & Straw's limited-edition Thanksgiving ice cream flavors are seriously good. Fans of the craft chain are well aware the brand relishes straying from conventional scoops, and this sweet and savory lineup certainly pushes the envelope. Sure, some of them seem a little out there (the turkey-flavored one made us apprehensive), but this boutique Portland ice cream manufacturer has a history of making off-the-wall ingredients into delicious ice cream. The flavors dropped on November 4, and we wouldn't expect them to stick around much past Turkey Day, so if you'd like to try them, you'd better act quickly. We got our hands on all five flavors, tasted them, and ranked each one from worst to best. If you'd like to know whether they're worth it, keep reading.

How we evaluated the flavors

First, we tasted each ice cream individually. We were looking for attributes like texture (especially creaminess), how well the ice cream represented the flavors listed on the label, and our overall impression of how tasty each variety was. Normally for a product review, we'd stop there, but for this article, we decided to do one more test.

We couldn't help but notice that the five flavors — Caramelized Turkey & Cranberry Sauce, Mom's Mango Pie, Roasted Peach & Sage Cornbread Stuffing, Pumpkin & Gingersnap Pie, and Parker House Rolls w/ Salted Buttercream — together cover pretty much every component of a classic Thanksgiving dinner. With that in mind, we figured we had to taste all of them mixed together in one bowl. Could these ice creams make a Willy Wonka-esque Thanksgiving dinner replacement? We needed to find out if you can eat a whole Thanksgiving in ice cream form. Maybe that's the Thanksgiving of the future.

Caramelized Turkey & Cranberry Sauce

This is the most stunt-like of Salt & Straw's Thanksgiving flavors, and we were a little worried that it would end up being unappetizing joke food. Fortunately for us, the Caramelized Turkey & Cranberry Sauce ice cream ended up being surprisingly tasty, though it wasn't our favorite variety in the set.

First off, there's just a lot going on here which makes it hard to focus on any of the individual flavors. The ice cream base is swirled with ribbons of both cranberry sauce and something that looks disturbingly like turkey gravy. The cranberry sauce tastes like real cranberries but is sweet enough to not be overly tart or astringent. The gravy lookalike is, thankfully, caramel. The strongest flavor overall is actually thyme, which brings an intensely earthy herbal note. You taste a small amount of smoky turkey in the ice cream, but it's not overwhelming. There's supposed to be cubeb pepper as well, but we've never had that ingredient before and we couldn't really pick it up.

The weirdest element of this ice cream is the little pieces of candied turkey bacon sprinkled throughout. The bacon is completely dehydrated and coated in a lot of crunchy caramel, so it actually works pretty well. The only thing we didn't love is that as it rehydrated in our mouths, we started to notice the meat fibers of the turkey. Overall, the turkey ice cream was much better than we anticipated, but still a little weird.

Mom's Mango Pie

Mango pie might not be a part of your traditional Thanksgiving table, but the beautiful thing about the holiday is that it's infinitely adaptable. People can bring their own special flavor twists to Thanksgiving dinner. In this case, the titular mango pie is a recipe from musician Hrishikesh Hirway's mother (via Salt & Straw).

The best thing about this variety is the ice cream itself, which sings with sunny mango flavor. It tastes like a perfectly ripe fresh mango without a lot of other notes distracting from the fruit. Apparently there's cream cheese in it as well, but we didn't notice it. All of the Salt & Straw ice cream is dense and rich, but this one is a little icier and lighter in texture. We'd guess that's from the mango puree, which is the first listed ingredient. Still, the ice cream is impressively creamy for a fruit-based variety.

We weren't wild about the graham cracker crumbles mixed into the ice cream base. They have a little bit of the spice taste you'd expect from graham crackers, but that's overshadowed by the mango. They also have a little bit of a soggy texture. We didn't think they brought a lot to the party, but this is still great mango ice cream, with or without the cracker crumbs.

Roasted Peach & Sage Cornbread Stuffing

This is another one where we loved the fruit part of the ice cream but didn't enjoy the crumble element quite as much. The peach puree in the Roasted Peach & Sage Cornbread Stuffing tasted like a perfect summer peach picked at the height of the season. It wasn't overly sweet but rather deliciously fruity and complex. The sweetness of the peach was balanced by the balsamic and spices it was cooked with.

For us, the cornbread was less successful. Rather than mixing chunks of sage-flavored cornbread stuffing into the ice cream, Salt & Straw went with a more deconstructed approach — the ice cream base is steeped with sage and there are crumbs of cornbread cookies folded in. Interestingly, the sage taste is less potent in this than the thyme was in the turkey ice cream. The cookies bring nice corn flavor, but as with the starchy mix-ins in other varieties, we thought the texture was a little bit lacking. In this case, the coarse cornmeal gives the cornbread chunks a grainy texture that detracts from the creaminess of the ice cream.

Pumpkin & Gingersnap Pie

The Pumpkin & Gingersnap Pie is the only vegan variety in Salt & Straw's Thanksgiving lineup. If the non-dairy distinction gives you pause, it shouldn't — this one is really, really, good. The dirty little secret of pumpkin-flavored foods is that they don't often taste very much like pumpkin at all. Instead, they tend to veer more toward pumpkin spice, with little-to-no taste from the seasonal gourd they're named after. That's not a problem with this ice cream; the pumpkin is evident in every bite. Perhaps that's because there's no dairy fat coating your palate, as the base of this ice cream is water and coconut cream (you can't taste the coconut, which in this case is a good thing).

The fact that you can actually taste the pumpkin is even more impressive given that there are many other flavors competing with it. You get the classic notes of pumpkin spice, with strong hits of cinnamon and nutmeg warming your palate and making you dream of the holidays. The gingersnap crumbles also make their presence known. We thought they were the most successful mix-in we tasted. They struck the perfect balance of soft and slightly crispy, and they had loads of flavor. The ginger was so strong it was almost spicy, and it was backed by a noticeable molasses note. Vegans don't have to contend with inferior ice cream options anymore: This offering from Salt & Straw is every bit as good as the brand's traditional ice creams.

Parker House Rolls w/ Salted Buttercream

No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without some kind of soft, fluffy, buttery bread, so Salt & Straw made this dinner roll and frosting-flavored ice cream to complete the meal. The idea of bread-flavored ice cream might seem strange, but it really works in this context. Parker House Rolls are super buttery, and that taste translates to this ice cream. It almost tastes like frozen, sweetened butter. The creaminess and high quality of the Salt & Straw ice cream base really shines here because there aren't many strong flavors to compete with it. It didn't taste very salty, which was a little surprising given that the description on the website mentions this ice cream has two types of salt in it. We didn't really mind, however, because it tasted so good as-is.

There are large chunks of King's Hawaiian (not Parker House) rolls folded into this ice cream, and they're enjoyable for the most part. They taste amazing, and when they're fully frozen they have a delightfully chewy texture. However, as they thaw, they start to develop an unappealing wet bread mouthfeel. If the pieces were smaller, that would probably rectify this minor issue.

Bonus: All the flavors together

Sure, tasting each flavor individually is all well and good, but for us, the essence of Thanksgiving food is that it all goes together. It's not really Thanksgiving unless you have an overfull plate with every dish sloshing together, savory and sweet mixing into an indistinguishable mash. For that reason, we knew we had to put all the Salt & Straw Thanksgiving ice creams in the same bowl to create the ultimate Thanksgiving sundae.

We were concerned that not all of the ice cream varieties would get along together, but we're happy to report that we demolished our Thanksgiving concoction. Mixing the flavors did kind of obscure what made each one special on its own, but the blend tasted good. The only element that stuck out as odd was the turkey bacon. As we ate, we'd get little pops of ginger, cinnamon, or mango, but then the taste would revert back to a tasty, unidentifiable mix. In other words, it was a lot like eating a real Thanksgiving dinner, complete with a stomachache and a nap afterward.