What Is the Best Ice Cream Nutritionally?

EatingWell's picks for the healthiest ice creams and worst ice creams.

With so many frozen-dessert options, it's easy to get brain freeze trying to pick one. EatingWell melts the mystery to deliver the real scoop on which one's the best nutritionally. —Megan McLean


The Worst Choice: Super-Premium Ice Cream

Pictured Recipe: Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

The Worst Choice: Super-Premium Ice Cream

Essentially iced cream—the primary ingredient is cream.
200-250 calories, 8-10 grams sat. fat per 1/2 cup vanilla.

Healthier Ice Cream Recipes to Try: Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream and 22 More Healthy Homemade Ice Cream Recipes »

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Gelato

Pictured Recipe: Creamy Chocolate Gelato »

Gelato

Traditionally made as custard with whole milk and egg yolks, some gelatos today also contain a hefty dose of cream, which adds calories and fat, so choose wisely.
170-220 calories, 2-7 g sat. fat per 1/2 cup vanilla.

Healthier Gelato Recipe to Try: Creamy Chocolate Gelato »


Premium Ice Cream

Pictured Recipe: Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

Premium Ice Cream

This is your standard ice cream. It’s lighter than super-premium because some of the cream is replaced with evaporated, condensed or powdered milk. Check the nutrition and ingredient information—its packaging is nearly identical to super-premium.
130-150 calories, 4-5 g sat. fat per 1/2 cup vanilla.

Healthier Ice Cream Recipes to Try: Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream and 22 More Healthy Homemade Ice Cream Recipes »


Dairy-Free Frozen Dessert

Pictured Recipe: Avocado Ice Cream »

Dairy-Free Frozen Dessert

For frozen desserts made from rice milk, soymilk, coconut milk and tofu, the calories and saturated fat vary with the base (coconut-milk varieties have the most sat. fat; soy-based ones often have the least).
130-210 calories, 0-7 g sat. fat per 1/2 cup vanilla.

Dairy-Free Recipe to Try: Avocado Ice Cream »
More Recipes for Dairy-Free Frozen Desserts »


Slow-Churned Ice Cream

Pictured Recipe: Chocolate Malt Ice Cream

Slow-Churned Ice Cream

More air is incorporated into “churned” ice cream when it’s made, which is why it has half the fat and one-third fewer calories than premium ice cream. Label aliases include smooth-, double- and light churned, and churned light.
100-110 calories, 2 g sat. fat per 1/2 cup vanilla.

Healthier Ice Cream Recipes to Try: Chocolate Malt Ice Cream and More Homemade Ice Creams »


Sorbet

Pictured Recipe: Watermelon Sorbet

Sorbet

Though primarily fruit-based, nonfat and lower-calorie, sorbet can deliver a lot of added sugars. Look for ones with fruit first in the ingredient list to skirt some added sugars.
120-140 calories, 0 g sat. fat per 1/2 cup for various fruit flavors.

Sorbet Recipes to Try: Mango Sorbet, Peach Sorbet & More Homemade Sorbet Recipes »


The Healthiest Choice: Frozen Yogurt

Calorie-wise, nonfat fro-yo is the best choice. To ensure you’re getting some good-for-you probiotics with your dessert, look for the National Yogurt Association Live & Active Cultures seal (on packaging and in shops), though fro-yo delivers about a tenth of what unfrozen yogurt offers.
90-100 calories, 0 g sat. fat (nonfat) per 1/2 cup vanilla.
120-180 calories, 1-1.5 g sat. fat (low-fat) per 1/2 cup vanilla.

Healthy Frozen Yogurt Recipes to Try: Raspberry-Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt and More Frozen Yogurt Recipes »