Review: Parker House Rolls Is The Star Flavor Of The Salt & Straw 2023 Thanksgiving Ice Cream Lineup

Anywhere leading up to a Salt & Straw location, you can smell these scoop shops before you spot the menu. Between the unique flavors and freshly baked waffle cones, there are some simply divine smells through those doors. Salt & Straw is renowned for an eclectic range of flavors — from rich chocolatey classics to simpler, more understated options. Yet, the real allure lies in how this innovative ice cream company transforms beloved yet unexpected flavors into delectable frozen delights.

Each time we stop into a scoop shop, we love sampling all of the new and exciting options, so when the Thanksgiving Series came out, you can bet we were so excited to see some pints arrive right at our door, full of all that festive goodness. Admittedly, some of these flavors initially made us skeptical. The idea of savory elements in ice cream is unconventional, to say the least. However, to our pleasant surprise, each flavor was a delight regardless of its savory nature.

Some recommendations are based on first-hand impressions of promotional materials and products provided by the manufacturer.

What's special about Salt & Straw's Thanksgiving offerings

Salt & Straw's 2023 Thanksgiving lineup is a masterful culinary collection of the cherished flavors you'll often find in a traditional Thanksgiving meal, designed to bring the warmth and friendliness of a holiday spent with friends and family. This unique ice cream collection spans the whole range of flavors. That includes a turkey combined with savory stuffing and a choice of cranberry sauce your family either makes from scratch or pulls from the can in all its can-ridge glory. For those who can't resist the allure of freshly baked bread, the Parker House rolls-inspired flavor with a swirl of salted buttercream perfectly captures the comforting taste of butter-smothered rolls.

But what's Thanksgiving without the quintessential potato dish? Salt & Straw elevates this staple with its cheesy potato casserole flavor, a creamy interpretation of this all-time favorite, blending the rich, comforting essence of cheese and potatoes into a delightful ice cream.

The collection's dessert segment is just as impressive, with a nod to the diversity of a Thanksgiving dessert spread. The much-loved Moms Mango Pie, one of our favorites from last year, makes a welcome return. There's also a vegan offering in the Pumpkin & Gingersnap Pie flavor, which blends the classic pumpkin flavor with the spice of gingersnaps.

How do these flavors compare to others from Salt & Straw?

The Thanksgiving series from Salt & Straw, designed to replicate a five-course meal, shares notable similarities with the brand's year-round offerings. For instance, unique flavors like Olive Oil and Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper ice cream, known for its somewhat savory profile, resonate with Thanksgiving flavors such as Parker House Rolls, Cheesy Potato Casserole, and Turkey Stuffing ice cream. This blend of the unusual and savory is a hallmark of Salt & Straw's creative approach.

Similarly, its sweet offerings, like the Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons or the Chocolate Gooey Brownie, align with the dessert-themed ice creams in the Thanksgiving series, such as Mom's Mango Pie and Pumpkin & Gingersnap Pie. This continuity in offering sweet and savory experiences is one of our favorite parts of Salt & Straw.

Salt & Straw demonstrates its commitment to differentiating offerings by offering a range of vegan options throughout the year, a practice it continues with the Thanksgiving series. In terms of flavor innovation, the Thanksgiving collection is comparable to some of the more unexpected flavors found in scoop shops. A notable example is the Cheesy Potato Casserole flavor, which shares a similar appeal with the Salty Donut Guava and Cheese flavor available in Florida scoop shops. This similarity might explain our love for the Cheesy Potato Casserole flavor, as it reminds us of one of our favorite store picks.

Where can you find the ice cream and how much does it cost?

If you're lucky enough to live near a Salt & Straw scoop shop, you're in for a treat with their Thanksgiving offerings. You can find these shops in various locations, including Oregon, LA, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, San Diego, Northern California, Seattle, Miami, and Las Vegas. You can indulge in these unique flavors at the scoop shops in single, double, or kid-sized scoops. A single scoop is priced at $6.95, while a double scoop costs $9.50, and the kid's size is just $5.75. While there, you also have the option to pick up a pint for $12.95 each.

For those who don't live near a scoop shop, don't worry; Salt & Straw offers nationwide shipping. You can order all five Thanksgiving flavors online for $75, including free shipping. The ice cream arrives in a box, securely packed with plenty of ice packs to ensure it remains in perfect condition until you can transfer it to your freezer.

Additionally, if you're interested in regular deliveries, Salt & Straw offers an auto-delivery program. By signing up, you can save 20%, bringing the cost of the five-pack down to $60. This subscription ensures that your freezer is always stocked with some of the finest ice cream, complete with specialty flavors each month, like these or the scoops and skulls ice cream during the Halloween season.

Nutritional content

Salt & Straw's ice cream menu is as diverse in its nutritional content as it is in its flavors. Take the Turkey Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce flavor, for instance. This one is a hearty choice with 320 calories per serving, comprising 19 grams of fat, 34 grams of carbohydrates, and 28 grams of sugar. In contrast, the Cheesy Potato Casserole flavor ups the ante with 340 calories, enriched with 22 grams of fat, 31 grams of carbohydrates, and a slightly lower sugar count at 24 grams. The roll offering splits the difference, clocking in at 330 calories, 20 grams of fat, 35 grams of carbohydrates, and 20 grams of sugar.

While we normally think of dessert as being the heavier part of our meals and where perhaps a little extra discretion may be needed, Mom's Mango Pie offers a tropical twist with 310 calories per serving, featuring 17 grams of fat, 36 grams of carbohydrates, and the same sugar content as the turkey. Meanwhile, the Pumpkin & Gingersnap Pie flavor is a fall favorite, consisting of the lowest calorie count among the offerings at 290 calories, 12 grams of fat, 43 grams of carbohydrates, and the same sugar content as the turkey and mango pie.

In terms of allergens, while most flavors contain standard ingredients like milk, wheat, and eggs, the vegan variety stands out. Made with coconut cream, it's a delightful alternative for those avoiding dairy, though it does contain tree nuts.

Parker House Rolls with Salted Buttercream taste test

Each time we sample a non-traditional flavor from Salt & Straw, we're left in awe at how it makes the flavor work so brilliantly. The company's knack for transforming seemingly outlandish ice cream flavors into delightfully icy experiences is genuinely impressive. The Parker House Rolls with Salted Buttercream flavor is no exception. It's a marvelous blend of buttery smoothness and a subtle, inviting sweetness, almost as if there are tiny pieces of rolls mixed within. The expert balance of butter and salt creates a harmonious taste that immediately impresses upon the first bite, evoking a sense of wonder and pleasant surprise at its deliciousness.

Among all the meal-inspired flavors, which generally lean towards the more adventurous side, this particular flavor seemed like a surefire hit right from the start. The concept of a buttered roll, usually having just a hint of sweetness — often paired with honey butter — lends itself beautifully to an ice cream interpretation. Salt & Straw has captured this essence perfectly, making the Parker House Rolls with Salted Buttercream flavor not just a novelty but a genuinely delightful treat that surprises and satisfies with each spoonful.

Cheesy Potato Casserole taste test

Our all-time favorite side dish is cheesy potato casserole, so the announcement of an ice cream flavor inspired by it from Salt & Straw had us brimming with excitement. Knowing how adept Salt & Straw is at crafting extraordinary flavors from the most unexpected concepts, our expectations were high. In a traditional cheesy potato casserole, we look forward to the hearty chunks of potato mixed in, but in the realm of ice cream, the experience naturally alters. Intriguingly, this ice cream did feature small chunks, but instead of potato, they were actually the cornflake topping, adding a slightly crunchy texture to the creamy base.

Potatoes themselves are quite plain in taste, and it's the ingredients we add to them that elevate the dish to something special. This ice cream captured a delightful sweetness, yet it didn't quite resonate with the specific taste of potato casserole. Instead, it offered a different kind of appeal – smooth and comforting, much like the essence of our beloved side dish. While not directly mirroring cheesy potato casserole, the flavor profile still managed to evoke the familiar coziness and satisfaction we associate with this classic comfort food.

Turkey Stuffing & Cranberry Sauce taste test

Unsurprisingly, the most unconventional flavor we tasted was the Turkey Stuffing with Cranberry Sauce ice cream. This particular variety stood out for its pronounced herbal notes. The presence of thyme, rosemary, and sage was distinctly noticeable, creating a robust herby profile. While the strong herbaceous flavor wasn't inherently problematic, a greater emphasis on the cranberry aspect would have enhanced this flavor. A bit more of the tart cranberry zing, or perhaps an increase in the savory turkey flavor, or even a touch more saltiness, might have balanced the overall taste more effectively.

This savory ice cream was perhaps our least favorite among the meal-inspired options. However, we were quite taken aback by the generous pieces of stuffing embedded within the ice cream. These sizable chunks contributed to an authentically Thanksgiving experience, effectively capturing the essence of the holiday's flavors. Despite our reservations about the balance of flavors, the commitment to replicating the true spirit of Thanksgiving in this ice cream was both impressive and commendable, and we've come to expect nothing less from Salt & Straw.

Mom's Mango Pie taste test

Last year, we had the delight of trying Mom's Mango Pie ice cream from Salt & Straw, and at the time, we thought it could easily replace a traditional Thanksgiving dessert. We're thrilled to report that it holds up just as wonderfully this year. The mango flavor is vibrant and juicy, and the addition of graham cracker crumbs offers a perfect textural contrast. What's particularly impressive is how the ice cream strikes a balance in sweetness; it's indulgent without being too much, embodying the essence of a dessert as a pie should.

This flavor also complements the other offerings in the collection nicely, especially because it isn't overwhelmingly sweet. Such a level of sweetness is ideal, considering many of the collection's flavors lean towards the savory side with only a hint of sweetness. Additionally, its visually appealing slight orange hue adds to the seasonal charm, making it a delight for the palate and a treat for the eyes.

Pumpkin & Gingersnap Pie taste test

At typical Thanksgiving gatherings, there's often at least one person who follows a vegan diet or is dairy-free. Consequently, we make an effort to include vegan options alongside the more traditional dairy-rich treats. Salt & Straw mirrors this inclusivity by typically offering vegan alternatives to its dairy-based ice creams. For its Thanksgiving lineup, the Pumpkin & Gingersnap Pie represents the vegan choice. Although there isn't a savory vegan option in the collection, it's pleasing to see a dairy-free dessert included.

While we found ourselves favoring the Mom's Mango Pie more, the Pumpkin & Gingersnap Pie still impressed us, especially considering it's dairy-free. It retains the smooth texture you'd expect from ice cream, and its flavor profile is quite bold. In this pumpkin and gingersnap combination, the ginger is the dominant flavor, relegating the pumpkin to a more subtle role. The ginger sometimes imparts a slightly gritty texture against the coconut base, which is an interesting contrast. Despite these nuances, this flavor is quite enjoyable and a commendable addition to the Thanksgiving collection for those seeking a vegan option.

Verdict: Should you pick up these ice cream flavors?

Salt & Straw's release of new flavors, especially specialty ones, is an event we eagerly anticipate. The company's ability to craft unique and adventurous flavors is something we've come to love, and that's why whenever a new collection drops, visiting a scoop shop or arranging a delivery becomes a top priority.

We firmly believe that all five flavors in the latest Thanksgiving collection are worth sampling this fall. Even if you're hesitant about unconventional ice cream flavors, we recommend at least trying a tiny spoonful at one of the scoop shops. Salt & Straw is known for its willingness to let customers taste flavors before making a choice, which is particularly helpful with a collection as distinctive as this one.

In this collection, the Parker House Rolls and Mom's Mango Pie stood out as our favorites for their exceptional balance of flavor and creativity. The Cheesy Potato Casserole and the Turkey and Cranberry ice cream followed closely, offering a unique take on traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

We highly recommend picking up the entire collection of five flavors. Whether it's to add an unexpected twist to your Thanksgiving dinner or enjoy a taste of the holiday throughout the month, these flavors will surely bring a sense of novelty and excitement to your dessert table. Moreover, they serve as a conversation starter, offering a unique culinary experience that goes beyond the traditional holiday fare.