When it comes to a premium scoop, there are certain names that stand out in the ice cream world.
For one thing, their products contain a high fat content – the main reason why one ice cream can feel and taste creamier, smoother and more luxurious than the next. On the other hand, the rest of their ingredients are carefully selected and combined in sometimes traditional, sometimes original but no less appetizing concoctions.
And of course, ice cream will never be “healthy” or good for you – even the best brands add some type of sugar to their product to sweeten it. But the quality is not there. It’s about responsibly enjoying the richest, most delicious ice cream that’s been made with authentic, well-sourced ingredients and knowing it was worth it.
The following chains are exactly where to look for such an artisanal ice cream experience. And while you won’t live near any of their locations, they can all be found at select grocery stores and ordered online.
When Ben Van Leeuwen launched his ice cream brand in 2008, he and his co-founders set out to create the best ice cream possible. And they may have just succeeded. While other ice creams in scoop stores nationwide and on grocery store shelves stand out thanks to their packaging and marketing efforts, Van Leeuwen remains best known for its top-notch ingredients.
“Use very few ingredients, lots of good stuff, then find the best flavors” is how Ben sums up his product’s winning formula. The good things he refers to are fresh milk, fresh cream, sugar and egg yolks – the only ingredients the brand uses for its ice cream bases (for their famous vegan ice cream, it’s walnuts coconut, cashews and oats). ice cream often contains condensed milk, more sugar and sometimes corn syrup, whey protein and stabilizers, you won’t find any of that here.
This approach means that Van Leeuwen’s ice creams have one of the highest fat contents on the market at 18% as well as more egg yolks (5-8%), which imparts creaminess and chewiness. incredible to the final product.
And when it comes to flavors, the sourcing of authentic ingredients is done with the utmost care. The pistachios for the pistachio flavor come from Sicily (the slopes of Etna, actually), the cocoa from Ecuador, and the strawberries from Oregon. The brand is also known for its funky flavor collaborations, such as Mac & Cheese ice cream with Kraft, which sold out online and in chain stores within hours of its launch.
What started as an ice cream truck in New York is now a national freezer aisle brand as well as a chain of over 30 scoop stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado and California, and more will be available soon.
Jeni’s Splendid ice creams are made from a recipe that award-winning ice cream maker and founder Jeni Britton Bauer has been perfecting for 20 years.
Described as having a “smooth texture and buttercream body”, the ice cream is made from scratch using only the finest ingredients, including milk from family farms, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fair trade chocolate. and direct, vanilla and coffee.
And Jeni’s flavor combinations may truly be some of the best and most unique in the business. Think lavender with wild berries, goat cheese with red cherries, jelly powder donut and even the whole bagel.
The Ohio-based brand, which is also dear to President Biden’s heart, is a Certified B-Corp, meaning it meets rigorous standards for social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency, including when it comes to sourcing its ingredients directly from small producers.
Jeni’s can be found in select grocery stores nationwide, as well as more than 60 scoop stores across the South and Midwest.
Salt & Straw’s ice cream has become cult thanks to its offbeat flavors and its ability to bring a community together in its scoop stores. Started by cousins Kim and Tyler Malek in 2011, the chain serves small-batch ice cream in rotating flavors made with seasonal produce (yes, that includes veggies, too) and local cream.
Although just hearing the names of some of their currently available flavors – spinach cake with chocolate tahini fudge, green fennel and maple, and sea salt with caramel ribbons – is enough to whet your appetite, the ingredients at the heart of these treats are even more impactful.
All ice cream is brewed in five to ten gallon batches using 100% all-natural cream from the 100-year-old family-owned Scott Brothers Dairy in Chino, which produces growth hormone-free ice cream nor antibiotics with a high fat content.
Ice cream makers then pay close attention to how the creamy base mixes with the ingredients. “We have to anticipate how chewy, sticky, and runny caramel will stay; how delicate fruit will shine through butterfat; and how tender and sweet snickerdoodle cookies and brownies will taste even when will be frozen,” the channel says of its process.
Salt & Straw currently has over 20 locations.
A mini-chain but a major player in the world of premium ice cream, McConnell’s is both a dairy and an ice cream company, which means it is capable of creating its own base of ice cream, which that most other producers are not able to do. Controlling this process, at each stage, is a source of pride for the brand.
This base is made from three simple ingredients: milk and cream, eggs and pure cane sugar. What it doesn’t have are stabilizers, fillers and preservatives, giving the company bragging rights to serve up the “cleanest ice cream in the business.”
Flavor additions are just as important. McConnell’s, based in California, sources its jams, preserves, chocolates, caramels, coffees, nuts, fruits, cookies, crumbles and chips from small orchards, ranches and other family businesses, or manufactures them in-house. The result is a dense and smooth, rich and velvety ball that comes in both traditional flavors like coffee and mint sprinkles, as well as more unexpected flavors like chocolate covered strawberries and honey cookies. and cornbread.
McConnell’s ice cream can be found in select grocery stores and a handful of scoop stores across California.