25 Most Popular Ice Cream Flavors in America
Ice cream is as American as baseball and apple pie. The treat is most popular during summer, but it’s truly a year-round indulgence with a flavor for every temperature, palate, and mood.
There are countless ice cream flavors to choose from, but some are far more universally beloved than others.
Today, we’ll go over 25 of the most popular ice cream flavors in America, and I’ll rank them from worst to best.
Remember, this is just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt, but I have eaten a good bit of ice cream in my lifetime.
Hope you saved room for dessert, folks – let’s get started!
Cherry has been an ice cream flavor in the United States since the late 1800s.
The ice cream typically has a creamy cherry flavor and contains whole or sliced cherries throughout.
Cherry ice cream variations include cherries jubilee, cherry vanilla, and Ben & Jerry’s iconic Cherry Garcia, which includes cherry chunks and fudge flakes.
While it’s undoubtedly a popular ice cream flavor, I’ve yet to try a cherry ice cream that doesn’t have a slightly medicinal flavor to it.
It’s probably from the years of cherry cold medicine in my youth, but I just can’t eat or drink anything cherry flavored without having a flashback.
24. Rum Raisin
Does anyone under the age of 85 actually enjoy rum raisin ice cream?
I’ve never witnessed anyone order rum raisin ice cream in the wild, but it‘s a fairly popular flavor in the US.
The base of the ice cream is usually a warm, slightly spiced vanilla or brown sugar base, but it can vary depending on the brand.
The pièce de résistance, though, is the addition of juicy rum-soaked raisins.
In fact, the combination of rum and raisin in ice cream has been around for decades now, so I guess I shouldn’t knock it ‘til I try it.
23. Green Tea
Green tea ice cream, also called matcha ice cream, is a very popular flavor in East Asia (Japan, in particular), but it’s become more beloved in the US in recent years.
Green tea ice cream is significantly less sweet than your average ice cream, and it has more of a grassy, bitter flavor.
Matcha is definitely an acquired taste – I’m not a huge fan, but I know plenty of people who love it.
Green tea ice cream is a great place to start if you’re unsure about the flavor since the sugar will drown out some of that bitterness.
Pistachios are sweet, mildly earthy nuts. Pistachio ice cream is a bit different – it’s much sweeter than pistachios alone, usually tasting like a vanilla base and nutty pistachio undertones.
Pistachio ice cream also tends to have a dash of saltiness, perfect for those sweet and salty lovers out there.
This sage green ice cream was first invented in Philadelphia in 1940 and has steadily gained popularity.
In 2018, a poll by YouGov found that pistachio is the country’s eighth most popular ice cream flavor.
When it comes to fruit-based ice cream flavors, raspberry is one of the most popular.
It’s refreshing, tangy, and sweet. Depending on the brand, the ice cream can lean more fruity and refreshing or creamy and rich.
Raspberry ice cream often has dark chocolate chunks in it to add some richness and texture.
A variation of raspberry ice cream is raspberry ripple, which is a vanilla base with ribbons of raspberry syrup throughout.
20. Cotton Candy
Cotton candy is a sweet, sugary treat loved for its bright colors and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
While cotton candy ice cream doesn’t share the same fluffy texture as the treat it’s inspired by, it’s just as sweet and colorful.
Cotton candy itself was first invented in 1897, but the ice cream flavor has only been around for a few decades.
One of its biggest appeals is the bright colors – cotton candy ice cream either comes in pink color, light blue, or a mix of the two.
In my opinion, the mix of the two colors always tastes best.
Butterscotch is a confectionary made primarily with brown sugar and butter.
It dates back to 1817 and has a flavor similar to toffee, with notes of brown butter, brown sugar, and a hint of salt.
Most butterscotch ice creams use the flavor itself as the base, but some use ripples of actual butterscotch throughout the ice cream and feature a base like vanilla.
Butterscotch ice cream flavor is loved for its homemade, old-fashioned vibe.
18. Birthday Cake
Birthday cake is one of those flavors that’s hard to describe, but you know it as soon as you taste it.
It’s like vanilla but with more butter, sugar, and sprinkles, so what’s not to love?
Birthday cake ice cream usually has a swirl of frosting throughout, along with rainbow sprinkles and little bits of vanilla cake.
According to a poll by YouGov, around 2% of voters said birthday cake is their favorite ice cream flavor of all time.
Is anyone else surprised that the number isn’t higher?
Peach ice cream just tastes like the summer to me. Peach is a fruity, refreshing ice cream flavor that’s especially popular in the summer months.
Peach ice cream was dreamed up by French chef Auguste Escoffier in 1893, who created a mixture of fresh peaches and vanilla ice cream for a dinner party dessert.
Fresh peach ice cream has a delicate flavor, so you don’t need any toppings or extras to enjoy it.
16. Chocolate Chip
Chocolate chip is a beloved, simple ice cream flavor.
The base of the dessert is usually vanilla but can sometimes be chocolate, depending on the brand and recipe.
Chocolate chip ice cream usually features mini chips, which provide a fun crunchy texture to the otherwise smooth and creamy dessert.
Sometimes, this is just what the doctor ordered.
The reason I didn’t rank it higher on my list is that it doesn’t have the same oomph as similar flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough or mint chocolate chip.
Coffee is a universally loved ice cream flavor – even people who don’t drink coffee seem to enjoy it.
In fact, coffee ice cream even has its own national holiday (mark your calendar for September 6).
This beloved flavor first came onto the ice cream scene in Italy back in the late 1800s.
Coffee ice cream strikes the perfect balance between sweet and bitter.
The bitterness cuts through all that cream and sugar in the ice cream, making it perfect for those who don’t want a cloyingly sweet dessert.
Coffee ice cream varies in the strength of coffee flavoring depending on the brand.
14. Rocky Road
Rocky Road is an ice cream flavor that features a chocolate base, nuts, and marshmallows.
The nuts originally used were walnuts, but toasted almonds are the more popular choice nowadays.
The flavor was invented by ice cream moguls Joseph Edy and William Dreyer, and they named it “Rocky Road” after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 as a nod to the rough times ahead in the Great Depression.
There are many different variations on the flavor now.
Some have a marshmallow swirl, while others have small chunks of marshmallows or even whole marshmallows.
Neapolitan ice cream contains three separate flavors alongside each other – vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
It was first created by a chef of a royal Prussian household named Louis Ferdinand Jungius in 1839.
Since strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate are three of the most popular ice cream flavors of all time, it only makes sense that the combination is a hit.
The slight bitterness from chocolate brings some sophistication to two super sweet flavors, while the strawberry provides some freshness.
12. Butter Pecan
I didn’t venture into the butter pecan ice cream flavor until recently, and I’ve spent the subsequent months wondering what took me so long to finally try it.
Butter pecan ice cream is buttery, a little salty, very sweet, and crunchy.
I usually don’t like chunks of nuts in any of my desserts, but something about the toasty pecan makes me not mind it.
The pecans have just enough crunch to keep things interesting, and they’re a soft nut, so don’t worry about breaking a tooth if you bite your ice cream.
I find butter pecan ice cream similar to butterscotch, but it has some extra buttery flavor that puts it above butterscotch for me.
This might be controversial, but when it comes to strawberry ice cream, I prefer the super sweet, artificial-tasting stuff to the all-natural kind with chunks in it.
There’s something nostalgic about that artificial, sugary taste.
Strawberry ice cream can go a couple of different routes – sometimes, it’s smooth, and other times it has chunks of frozen strawberries throughout.
No matter which one you choose, it always has that aesthetically pleasing light pink color.
Strawberry ice cream was first written about in 1743, so it’s been around for a bit.
Almost 300 years later, it’s still one of the most popular ice cream flavors of all time.
Banana is a fruity, fresh ice cream flavor that usually tastes like a mix of vanilla and banana.
Banana ice cream often includes mix-ins like vanilla wafers, chocolate chunks, peanut butter, or nuts.
Since bananas naturally have a mild flavor, they go well with plenty of different sweets you’d want to mix into your sundae.
Frozen bananas are often used to make “nice cream,” a healthy alternative to regular ice cream made with 100% bananas, and have a texture similar to soft-serve.
9. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter ice cream is a sweet and salty treat that combines rich, creamy peanut butter with the indulgent texture of ice cream.
Peanut butter has a distinct taste, so if you love it, you’ll love the ice cream version of it.
The exact makeup of the ice cream depends on the brand, but most include chunks of peanuts or ribbons of peanut butter.
Others may feature a simple peanut butter ice cream base with no additions.
8. Chocolate Peanut Butter
As its name suggests, chocolate peanut butter ice cream features a chocolate base with swirls of frozen peanut butter throughout.
This flavor has a lot going on in the best way possible.
There’s the slight bitterness from the chocolate, some salt and nuttiness from the peanut butter, and sweetness from all that sugar.
Chocolate and peanut butter are one of those combinations that most people can’t get enough of.
I prefer it to regular peanut butter ice cream because the bitter chocolate amplifies peanut butter’s saltiness, plus the frozen peanut butter adds the most satisfying crunch.
Coconut ice cream is one of those rare flavors that’s indulgent yet refreshing at the same time.
Since coconut is a creamy fruit on its own, it gives ice cream even more of a luxurious texture.
Coconut ice cream often features bits of shredded coconut, which is especially yummy when it’s toasted to bring out all that nutty flavor.
It’s often vegan-friendly since regular milk can easily be replaced with coconut milk or cream without compromising the flavor of the ice cream.
Caramel ice cream flavor varies greatly depending on which brand you buy.
Some have a light, sweeter flavor, while others are more caramelized and complex.
It’s a great ice cream on its own, only eclipsed in popularity by the newer iteration of salted caramel.
The addition of salt majorly amplifies salted caramel ice cream’s flavor, and I definitely prefer it to regular caramel ice cream.
Both versions are buttery, sweet, and cozy-tasing. Adding caramel to ice cream makes the dessert even smoother and creamier.
5. Mint Chocolate Chip
Mint chocolate chip ice cream is a beloved classic that mixes mint’s cool, refreshing taste with rich, indulgent chocolate chips.
Although the base itself is mint flavored, the ice cream usually has a sweet vanilla and mint flavor rather than a super intense mint flavor.
Traditionally, mint chocolate chip ice cream is dyed a light green color to mimic a mint leaf, but more natural versions of the dessert keep its natural white color.
I know some people hate mint chocolate chip because they think it tastes like toothpaste, but I find it to be the perfect amount of sweet and minty.
The chocolate chips provide a perfect crunch to round it all out.
4. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream consists of unbaked chocolate chip cookie dough chunks scattered throughout a vanilla ice cream base.
It originated from an anonymous suggestion made to the first Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop in 1984.
Just a few years later, the flavor was so popular that Ben & Jerry’s packed it into pints and brought it to grocery shelves.
Of course, many other brands saw the flavor’s outstanding success and created their own version.
The cookie dough used in ice cream is different from the actual cookie dough.
It doesn’t contain eggs, and the flour is cooked through to ensure you won’t get sick from eating it.
We all know what chocolate ice cream is. And I think it’s safe to assume that we all love it!
Chocolate has a rich, slightly bitter flavor that lends itself well to a creamy base.
Chocolate ice cream gets its taste and hue from cocoa powder.
Chocolate is the main building block of some of the best ice cream flavors, from rocky road to chocolate peanut butter.
In the US and Canada, chocolate ice cream must contain at least 8% fat content to be considered true chocolate ice cream.
Sure, some people use the word “vanilla” as an insult to mean basic or boring, but it’s basic for a reason – everyone loves it!
If you have to order ice cream for someone you barely know, vanilla is always a safe bet.
Plus, it’s the base of many iconic ice cream flavors like cookie dough, cookies and cream, and chocolate chip.
Everything goes well with vanilla, which makes it one of the best ice cream flavors to grace this earth.
Vanilla ice cream gets its beloved rich flavor from one of the following ingredients: vanilla extract, whole vanilla beans, or vanilla bean paste.
MasterClass recommends using vanilla beans or paste for that classic French vanilla flavor.
1. Cookies and Cream
In my opinion, cookies and cream is the all-around perfect ice cream flavor. Vanilla? Check. Chocolate? Check. Texture? Yup.
Plus, there are bits of sweet cream throughout. Really, I don’t think there’s much more you can ask for.
To make this ice cream flavor, the sandwich cookies (usually Oreos) are crushed into different-sized crumbles, depending on the brand or ice cream shop.
I like when there’s a mix of finely ground cookies with big chunks dispersed throughout.
It’s a bit of a sore subject in the ice cream community about who invented the flavor, with multiple big brands and names claiming they were the first.
Whoever created it definitely changed the world for the better!
Cookies and cream has been one of the best-selling ice cream flavors since its inception, and I don’t see its success slowing down anytime soon.
So, do you agree with my ranking of the most popular ice cream flavors?
I may have been a little harsh with rum raisin, but at the end of the day, I’d happily eat any of these flavors.
Just like many other things in life, taste in ice cream is subjective, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.
But if you see a flavor on this list that you’ve never tried, go out and give it a try. It might just become your new favorite!