Ranking Chocolate Ice Cream From 11 Popular Brands

Remember when there was only one brand of ice cream at the grocery store? Okay, maybe there was never just one, but there definitely weren't as many ice cream brands as there are now. These days, a large number of companies seem to be churning out all sorts of ice cream flavors, which can be incredibly overwhelming for consumers. And if you're a chocolate lover, finding a cold, sweet, fudgy treat can be especially daunting since virtually every brand has its own interpretation of chocolate ice cream.

So, we gathered a group of ice cream fanatics for an end-all-be-all taste test to find the best chocolate ice cream worth stocking in our freezers. We rolled up our sleeves, put on some stretchy pants, and headed to the grocery store — cooler in hand — to pick up some contenders.

For the test, we agreed on criteria for what makes chocolate ice cream truly outstanding. The combination of chocolate, sugar, and cream should be perfectly balanced: It had to taste chocolaty but not overpowering; it needed to be sweet but not cloying; it must be creamy without feeling heavy; it needed to be dense but airy, with a silky mouthfeel and a fresh flavor. We were surprised at how low some well-known brands placed and how close the top of the ranking was. Here are our taste results for chocolate ice cream, ranked from least favorite to best.

11. Madison Brown Chocolate

Launched in 2022, Madison Brown is a minority-owned ice cream brand based in Los Angeles. One of the costliest ice creams in our taste test, this luxury brand boasts six premium flavors, including a chocolate one that we couldn't wait to try.

Unfortunately, while Madison Brown ice cream may be a favorite of celebrities, it wasn't ours. Perhaps we let the dark brown color of the container get our hopes up because when we opened the top, we were disappointed to see that the color of the ice cream was a faded, barely-there brown. Not a great start. Undeterred, we dug in.

The texture of the ice cream was dense but easy to scoop, and the mouthfeel was pleasant. However, it tasted more sweet than anything. The consensus was that there wasn't enough chocolate oomph, with one tester adding that it tasted "like hot cocoa without enough cocoa." The Madison Brown website describes the chocolate ice cream as "milk chocolate with a hint of dark chocolate throughout." Still, we couldn't detect any dark chocolate flavor and not much of any chocolate flavor, for that matter. The ingredient list includes "chocolate ice cream powder" and "natural chocolate flavoring," which could be why it lacked authentic chocolate flavor. One word to sum this ice cream up? Meh.

10. McConnell's Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate

For over 70 years, McConnell's has made sustainable, organic ice cream without stabilizers, fillers, or preservatives. This Santa Barbara staple takes great pride in its recipes and uses milk and cream from cows that graze year-round on California's central coast. Their use of all-natural ingredients got us pumped to try this family-owned dairy's take on chocolate ice cream.

As expected with a name like "Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate," this ice cream was one of the darkest colored ones in the group. It featured three components: a chocolate ice cream base, a swirl of chocolate ganache, and chocolate chips. The base was extremely heavy (muddied?) with cocoa flavor, while the ganache swirls were almost nonexistent. The texture was smooth aside from the copious amount of tiny chocolate chips, but overall this ice cream needed to be creamier for our liking; one tester felt it had the mouthfeel of sorbet as it didn't coat the tongue. On a positive note, the sweetness levels were on par.

We were surprised to spot coffee on the ingredient list. Coffee is often used in the culinary world to deepen and sweeten the taste of cocoa, making it more flavorsome. This likely explains the pronounced cocoa flavor of this ice cream, but its use may be a bit much. The flavor tasted very earthy, which is fine for a pint of Guinness but not for chocolate ice cream. Ultimately, we couldn't decide if we were underwhelmed or overwhelmed with McConnell's Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate. Either way, we all agreed this wouldn't make the cut.

9. Strauss Organic Dutch Chocolate

Strauss Family Creamery began as a dairy farm in 1941 and became certified organic in 1994. This Marin County-based company is committed to sustainable practices in its products, from milk and yogurt to ice cream and cheese. We love that Strauss doesn't use preservatives, fillers, artificial ingredients, or coloring agents in their ice cream. In fact, their organic chocolate ice cream pairs Dutch cocoa with just five ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla extract.

This ice cream tasted incredible, like fresh cream straight from the farm. Where it faltered was its density. The texture was airy, crumbly, and less thick than we would have liked. And while the flavor of the chocolate was excellent, it was a bit too mild for us; we felt it needed a drizzle of hot fudge sauce to satisfy our chocolate cravings. Lastly, the ice cream was quite icy. While this may have been the result of poor storage or transport, be forewarned that since Strauss ice creams contain no stabilizers, the chance of this occurring is higher.

8. Talenti Gelato Double Dark Chocolate

We really wanted to like Talenti's take on chocolate ice cream (gelato), but the questionable looks on our faces during the tasting made sure this one wouldn't rank very high. The first thing we noticed was that it tasted different than other chocolate ice creams — and not in a good way. Most chocolate ice creams taste like a chocolate bar or hot chocolate, but this one threw us for a loop. It tasted slightly bitter and spicy and had notes of burnt caramel. A few spoonfuls later, it tasted even more bitter.

Talenti's Double Dark Chocolate gelato (which is different from ice cream) contains an unusual ingredient: vermouth, a fortified red or white wine infused with botanicals. This aromatized wine may be the reason for the gelato's unique taste. Indeed, ice cream connoisseurs might describe this frozen concoction as complex and nuanced, but to us, it tasted straight-up odd and incohesive, with multiple flavors swirling in our mouths. It didn't help that the Callebaut chocolate morsels in the gelato were chalky and bitter, which made for an unpleasant eating experience. Nevertheless, this gelato wasn't all bad. We did enjoy its luxuriously smooth, creamy texture straight out of the freezer.

7. Tillamook Chocolate

Located in Oregon, not far from the Pacific Ocean, Tillamook is a cooperative of farmers-owners who have been producing all-natural dairy products for over a century. They are committed to producing the freshest, most delicious products without artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. Tillamook's chocolate ice cream is made from a simple mixture of milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, cocoa, and natural stabilizers. It is a soft, easy-to-scoop frozen treat with classic chocolate color and taste.

Tillamook makes its ice cream with more cream than is legally required, and there's no arguing that this was one of the creamiest mouthfeels of all the ice creams we tried. But when it came to chocolate flavor, it fell flat, with testers noting the cocoa seemed "muted" and "mellow." Perhaps the high percentage of cream in Tillamook's recipe dilutes the chocolate flavor, but we all agreed that more cocoa was needed to balance the sweetness. Nonetheless, the ice cream had a soft, scoopable consistency and an airy mouthfeel. If you prefer milk chocolate, this ice cream may be for you.

6. Breyers Chocolate

Founded in 1866 by William A. Breyers of Philadelphia, Breyers is one of America's oldest and most well-known ice cream brands. The company touts that its ice cream is made with "fresh cream and real cocoa," and you can taste its unmistakable clean flavor. The list of ingredients is relatively simple, including milk, cream, sugar, Dutched cocoa, whey, and tara gum.

This ice cream was like a walk down memory lane for many of us. It was pleasantly sweet, decently creamy, and had enough cocoa flavor to make us swoon. However, the flavor leaned more towards classic malted chocolate, which may be polarizing for some. The ingredient list includes natural flavoring, which could be why we felt the taste seemed slightly artificial. Even so, you won't go wrong with Breyers Chocolate at birthday parties and movie nights. It's a perfectly fine option when you want a sweet frozen treat that won't break the bank.

5. Trader Joe's Ultra Chocolate

Trader Joe's is a popular grocery chain offering unique, reasonably priced products from a proprietary brand. Their frozen food items are especially well-loved for their high quality, affordable prices, and convenience, and their chocolate ice cream is no exception. You can purchase Trader Joe's Ultra Chocolate ice cream in a quart-size container for less than $5.

This ice cream had many of us going back for more spoonfuls and relishing how its fudgy chocolate flavor reminded us of chocolate pudding pops from our childhood. While it tasted uncannily similar to Breyers Chocolate, Trader Joe's Ultra Chocolate charged ahead with its more robust cocoa flavor. The medium brown color was also incredibly pleasing.

This ice cream wasn't everyone's favorite. One taster didn't care for the fatty residue left on the tongue, while another felt the ice cream was a bit too sweet, perhaps from the "sugared egg yolks" listed in the ingredient list. That said, we all felt this ice cream would pair incredibly well with a shot of hot espresso for an affogato. Overall, most of us would buy this ice cream again; considering its affordable price, it's a win-win.

4. Jeni's Darkest Chocolate

Chocoholics, this one's for you! Jeni's Darkest Chocolate comes courtesy of James Beard Award-winning ice cream maker Jeni Britton, who founded her Ohio-based Certified B Corp company, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, in 2002. Jeni's line of ice creams has grown in popularity thanks to one-of-a-kind, crave-worthy flavors made with Direct Trade ingredients and ultra-fresh milk from family dairy farms.

This was easily the darkest chocolate ice cream we had ever tasted. It was cocoa-forward, sinfully rich, and had a serious depth of flavor and color. Its texture was dense with a respectable amount of airiness, but there was a hint of graininess that we guessed was from the high amount of cocoa. As one would expect with high cocoa content, there was a slightly dry, bitter chocolate finish, reminiscent of eating an 80% chocolate bar.

Though this ice cream pint is costly, it would probably last a while in our freezers as it's best for nibbling — and we wouldn't dare make a sundae with it. If you're a serious dark chocolate lover, Jeni's Darkest Chocolate is worth the splurge.

3. Häagen-Dazs Chocolate

Since 1960, Häagen-Dazs has made delicious ice cream with the finest ingredients, including real cane sugar. It's one of the only major ice cream companies not to use stabilizers in their ice cream. In fact, their chocolate ice cream is made with just five straightforward ingredients: cream, skim milk, cane sugar, cocoa (processed with alkali), and egg yolks.

Häagen-Dazs Chocolate ice cream had nice color, tasted refreshing, and had a velvety smooth mouthfeel. We were impressed at how rich and creamy the texture was without the use of stabilizers. The ice cream is stabilized solely with pasteurized eggs, leading to a luscious melt-in-your-mouth texture and a custard-like consistency.

Some of the testers would have preferred a stronger cocoa flavor, but it's spot on if you're looking to please both kids and adults. This ice cream won points because it's tasty enough to be enjoyed on its own yet perfect for a sundae or sandwiched between soft chocolate chip cookies. All in all, this is a pint we'll be regularly stocking in our freezer.

2. 365 Organic Chocolate by Whole Foods Market

We're slightly embarrassed to admit this, but we didn't expect to like this one. As with most store-bought brands, we expected 365 Organic Chocolate by Whole Foods Market to be run-of-the-mill mediocre. Boy, were we wrong. This brand was pretty darn delicious and needless to say, it took us by surprise.

This chocolate ice cream boasts an appealing dark brown color and has a wonderfully rich, creamy mouthfeel — a texture that gets even better when allowed to soften in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before consuming. The chocolate flavor is perfectly fudgy, thanks to a delightful combination of organic dark chocolate base and cocoa powder, both of which are listed as ingredients. There was no trace of any grittiness, and the level of sweetness was very well-balanced. Whole Foods' 365 Organic Chocolate is a rich little pint of ice cream that solidly delivers. We say, grab a spoon and dig in!

1. Alden's Organic Double Dutch Chocolate

Alden's Organic Double Dutch Chocolate ice cream is our winner. This ice cream has an old-school robust chocolate flavor, creamy consistency, and clean taste. The sweetness level is spot on — just enough to complement the cocoa flavor but not overshadow it. Alden's uses a combination of Dutch cocoa and unsweetened chocolate to make an ice cream that is irresistibly smooth and delectable. Ultimately, Alden's Organic Double Dutch Chocolate topped our list because its combination of chocolate, sugar, and cream was perfectly balanced.

Made with "only the good stuff" in Eugene, Oregon, Alden's has made organic ice cream since 2004. The company sources its organic milk and cream from family-owned farms where cows graze a minimum of 120 days and eat 100% organic feed. Its commitment to using high-quality, organic ingredients to deliver impeccable flavor is highly evident in its Organic Double Dutch Chocolate ice cream. We'll be doubling down on this ice cream without a doubt.