I tried 18 of Trader Joe’s ice creams and frozen desserts, and I’d buy almost all of them again

    I compared several frozen treats from Trader Joe’s.

    Trader Joe’s; BI

    I tried every Trader Joe’s ice-cream flavor and frozen dessert I could find and reviewed them. 
    The chain’s horchata-inspired and ube-flavored ice creams were both unique, delicious options.
    Trader Joe’s had some great nondairy frozen desserts, like coconut bon bons and fudgy oat bars. 

    From ice-cream sandwiches to uniquely flavored cartons, Trader Joe’s sells an array of frozen desserts.

    Step into Trader Joe’s, and you’ll find an impressive selection of ice cream year-round.

    So, I tried as many of the chain’s frozen treats as I could get my hands on to figure out which ones are worth buying.

    Here’s how each treat stacked up. 

    Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in August 2022, and most recently updated on June 28, 2024. Product availability may vary from year to year.

    The horchata-inspired ice cream was a creative take on a Spanish and Mexican drink.Horchata is a drink made with rice and cinnamon.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    Like true horchata, this ice cream derives its flavor from a sweet-rice and cinnamon base.

    Though the beverage traditionally doesn’t contain any dairy, this dessert had a creamier flavor.

    Its taste captured the beverage’s yummy flavor.This Trader Joe’s ice cream included chunks of horchata-flavored cookies.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    The horchata ice cream reminded me of leftover cereal milk with cinnamon, and I was absolutely here for it. It was sweet and tasty, yet incredibly light on the tongue. 

    There were also tiny pieces of horchata-flavored cookies mixed in throughout that added a pop of cinnamon.  

    VERDICT: This was a perfect 10. I hope Trader Joe’s keeps it around so I can buy it again and again.

    Trader Joe’s premium French-vanilla ice cream would make a great sundae base.Trader Joe’s French-vanilla ice cream was good quality for the price.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    It may seem silly to review vanilla ice cream, especially when Trader Joe’s has so many inspired flavors, but this one deserves a shout-out.

    I was impressed by the quality right off the bat. 

    The consistency was smooth and rich, plus it tasted luxurious.Trader Joe’s French-vanilla ice cream would be great with baked goods.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    The authentic vanilla flavor struck the right balance of sweet and creamy without being overwhelming. 

    This would be great with baked goods or other sweet toppings, like chocolate or caramel sauce.

    VERDICT: I don’t usually reach for vanilla ice cream, but this will be my go-to for birthday parties and other gatherings.

    I could see real espresso in Trader Joe’s Coffee Bean Blast.The texture of Trader Joe’s Coffee Bean Blast was like that of gelato.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    This ice cream felt high quality — it didn’t rely on sugar or extracts for flavor. The overall texture was as smooth as gelato.

    There was even finely ground espresso mixed in for an artisan flair.

    It tasted like a delicious cup of dark roast.Trader Joe’s Coffee Bean Blast really leaned into the coffee flavor.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    This ice cream tasted more like coffee than the average, java-flavored carton — which was a good thing.

    It was incredible on its own, but if you wanted to elevate the dessert, pile it on one of Trader Joe’s chocolate lava cakes

    VERDICT: This delicious ice cream sported just the right balance of roasted-coffee flavor and sweetness.

    These sandwiches made with brownie crisps and coffee ice cream upgraded an iconic treat.There’s coffee ice cream at the center of Trader Joe’s brownie-crisp sandwiches.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    These sandwiches have a lot going for them. They’re portable, sport a tasty center of coffee ice cream, and use brownies in place of wafers. 

    Plus the chocolate chips on top made every bite satisfyingly chewy.

    The chocolate flavor was a bit disappointing.The coffee ice cream was delicious, but I wanted a stronger chocolate flavor.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    Even though the texture was on point, the chocolaty flavor of the brownies was underwhelming. 

    The brownie crisps might’ve been better mixed into ice cream, but they didn’t impress as the star of the show. 

    That said, I probably wouldn’t have noticed or cared so much if the coffee ice cream wasn’t so good. The difference was stark.

    VERDICT: These were still pretty tasty, if not for the coffee ice cream alone, but I wouldn’t choose them over the chocolate-chip-cookie sandwiches. 

    I didn’t miss the dairy in these chocolate-fudge oat bars.Trader Joe’s nondairy chocolate-fudge bars are made with an oat base.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    Every once in a while, I try to limit my dairy intake for personal reasons. 

    And these chocolate-fudge oat bars satisfied my craving for a sweet, chocolaty treat that didn’t leave me feeling heavy.

    These bars are a great pick if you want a dairy-free frozen treat.Trader Joe’s chocolate-fudge oat bars didn’t have a super-strong flavor.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    The oat base offered a smooth mouthfeel and subtle sweetness without an obvious aftertaste. 

    The chocolaty flavor wasn’t as bold as a traditional Fudgsicle and tasted slightly less sweet, but for a dairy-free option, it still satisfied.

    To take these to the next level, I’d dip them in a vegan chocolate shell made of melted chocolate chips and coconut oil.

    VERDICT: I’d definitely buy these again and recommend them to anyone looking for a chocolaty, vegan treat.

    The ube ice cream would be an Instagrammable treat.This ice cream was supposed to taste like ube, a sweet, purple yam.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    Ube is a purple yam native to the Philippines. The flavor was extracted into a puree for this ice cream and gives the treat its gorgeous lilac color.

    There’s been so much buzz around this flavor ever since it dropped in 2019. For over a week, I checked my Trader Joe’s to find a carton, and when I finally did, this was the last one.

    The hype was absolutely worth it.I’d definitely buy Trader Joe’s ube ice cream again.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    This ice cream offered such a unique flavor experience. It tasted like a cross between pistachio and toasted coconut, with notes of white chocolate. It was absolutely delicious. 

    I particularly liked that the sweetness was quite mellow, which allowed the flavor to seem more nutty than sugary. 

    VERDICT: Two thumbs up from me. 

    Trader Joe’s signature sweet spread and vanilla ice cream come together in this Speculoos cookie-butter carton.This Trader Joe’s carton had chunks of Speculoos cookie butter.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    This wouldn’t be a Trader Joe’s roundup without something featuring cookie butter.

    This ice cream was packed with semi-solidified chunks of actual cookie butter, so every bite was caramelly and buttery, with the inviting hint of cinnamon and ginger spice.

    It tasted delicious, but the texture wasn’t my favorite.I thought that some of the cookie-butter chunks were a bit waxy.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    As expected, this flavor was unmistakably sweet and tasty.

    However, some of the cookie-butter pieces had a slightly waxy texture that left an odd taste on the sides of my mouth.

    This wasn’t off-putting enough to ruin the whole thing, but it definitely kept me from wanting more than a scoop or two at a time.

    VERDICT: If you’re like me and obsess over the Speculoos cookie butter, this would be right up your alley. 

    Trader Joe’s cold-brew-coffee and boba nondairy frozen dessert was unique.This carton of cold-brew ice cream contained boba pearls.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    I’m always intrigued by unique, vegan treats.

    Made with a base of coconut milk, this frozen dessert was flavored like cold brew and sported the small tapioca pearls you can find at some beverage shops. 

    This ice cream didn’t quite taste like cold brew.Trader Joe’s cold-brew-coffee and boba frozen dessert had plenty of tapioca beads.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    This had more of a sweet, milky taste, like a latte, rather than an intense coffee flavor of a cold brew, but it was still quite yummy.

    I wasn’t sold on the texture, which was more icy than creamy. Granted, this isn’t technically ice cream, just a frozen dessert.

    There were plenty of chewy tapioca pearls, which would be great for boba fans, but folks who’ve never had bubble tea may find them a bit overwhelming.

    VERDICT: I wouldn’t reach for this again, but it was a decent vegan option.

    Trader Joe’s wildberry-cheesecake ice cream was more berry than cake.Trader Joe’s wildberry-cheesecake ice cream contained pieces of cake.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    Between the fresh berry purée, sweet-cream ice cream, and cheesecake pieces, every spoonful of this carton screamed perfection. 

    It appeared delightfully decadent, yet bright and inviting.

    The taste lived up to my expectations.The berry flavor was delicious.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    The blueberries and raspberries added a brightness that really popped against the rich ice cream. 

    And even though the cheesecake pieces were quite small, they made each bite all the more exciting.

    VERDICT: This ice cream doesn’t need toppings to be worth your while. I wish it came by the gallon, but for my sake, it’s best that it doesn’t.

    Trader Joe’s tangerine cream bars were an elevated take on a childhood classic.I loved orange creamsicles as a kid.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    I haven’t eaten a creamsicle in about 20 years, so seeing these ice pops brought me back.

    Instead of a traditional orange-sherbet coating, this used a tangerine shell, so the color was more of a natural yellow, like fresh-squeezed juice. 

    These tangy pops were both tart and sweet.Trader Joe’s tangerine cream bars were refreshing and tasty.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    This pop was more tart than I anticipated, but this made the sweet vanilla ice cream at the center all the more satisfying. 

    VERDICT: I’d gladly buy these every summer, just for the nostalgic taste.

    The oat-milk strawberry frozen dessert would be a vegan ice-cream lover’s dream.Trader Joe’s strawberry frozen dessert contained an oat-milk base.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    This dessert had an oat-milk base and almond-brittle chunks.

    I’m not vegan, but I still thank my lucky stars there are plant-based frozen desserts that don’t have an off-putting aftertaste. 


    Even though the mix-ins were disappointing, the flavor was incredible.I wish Trader Joe’s oat-milk strawberry frozen dessert didn’t include the almond brittle.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    The texture was light and fluffy, almost mousse-like. The strawberry flavor reminded me of yogurt, with a candied sweetness that was mellow enough to not be cloying.

    However, the advertised almond brittle was more like candied nuts. I appreciated the attempt to cut through the fruity sweetness and add some dimension, but its overall presence seemed unnecessary. 

    Not all ice creams need texture, and the brittle makes this product unfriendly to many people with nut allergies.

    VERDICT: I’m not rushing to buy this again, but I wouldn’t turn it away if I were offered some.

    The Peanuts for Chocolate ice cream was seemingly made for fans of peanut-butter cups.Trader Joe’s Peanuts for Chocolate ice cream contained peanut-butter Joe-Joe’s.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    With punny-named, multidimensional flavors, Trader Joe’s may be in its Ben and Jerry’s era, and I’m not mad about it.

    If you love the chain’s dark-chocolate peanut-butter cups, this ice cream was made for you.

    It had a superrich, chocolate ice-cream base with ribbons of actual peanut butter and soft pieces of peanut-butter Joe-Joe’s. 

    The combination was as tasty as I expected.Some bites of Trader Joe’s Peanuts for Chocolate ice cream tasted like pure peanut butter.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    The iconic flavor combo hit again.

    However, the mix-ins seemed inconsistent. Some bites tasted like pure peanut butter, which caught me off guard.

    It also could’ve used more Joe-Joe’s chunks.

    VERDICT: On the whole, this was passable — just not something I’m in a hurry to buy again.

    Trader Joe’s ice-cream sandwiches made with chocolate-chip cookies were the best I’ve ever had.I’m a big fan of ice-cream sandwiches.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    In college, I’d buy cookie ice-cream sandwiches, so this box of four caught my eye.

    Even better, they tasted just as yummy as the “fresh” ones.

    Everything about this treat hit the mark.The cookies were fantastic.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    The chocolate-chip cookies were soft and chewy, like they were freshly baked, but stayed intact through every bite without crumbling or getting soggy. 

    The chocolate chips lining the outside of each sandwich added some texture that made this fun to eat. And, of course, the vanilla ice cream was the perfect complement to the notes of brown sugar.

    VERDICT: I enjoyed these even more than the brownie-crisp sandwiches.

    The vegan cookies-and-creme coconut bonbons are a convenient, dairy-free treat.I couldn’t taste the coconut base.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    Like a regular bonbon, these featured a great-tasting chocolate shell that gave way to a vanilla center. 

    I was worried the coconut “ice cream” would make these taste like a frozen Mounds bar, but Trader Joe’s expertly masked that flavor.

    In my opinion, the flavor didn’t quite live up to its description.Trader Joe’s nondairy bonbons didn’t taste like cookies and creme to me.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    Despite this treat’s impressive taste, the mixed-in cookie bits didn’t offer much besides a vaguely chocolaty nuance, so it didn’t quite achieve the cookies-and-creme flavor advertised on the box. 

    That wasn’t a dealbreaker, though. For a vegan ice-cream snack, these hit the spot.

    Plus, each bonbon was a multi-bite treat, so one was more than enough to satisfy me. 

    VERDICT: I’d definitely buy these again for weeks when I want to limit my dairy intake.

    Trader Joe’s chocolate-and-vanilla-bean gelato looked tasty in its container.Trader Joe’s chocolate-and-vanilla-bean gelato was swirled with fudge, which looked delicious.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    This gelato looked so pretty in the carton that I didn’t want to scoop it up.

    When I opened the container, I saw four pinwheel-like swirls of chocolate and vanilla gelato covered with ribbons of fudge resembling snowy mountain tops. It reminded me of the displays in Italian gelato shops.

    This gelato tasted like it came from a café.I enjoyed Trader Joe’s chocolate-and-vanilla-bean gelato.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    I’m no gelato expert, but I’d say this was worth buying. Texture-wise, it was thicker than ice cream but softer on the palate (gelato is made with less milk fat than ice cream, which might explain this).

    It wasn’t as icy as traditional ice cream, but was closer to smooth frozen yogurt or soft serve.

    I usually go for exciting gelato flavors, like pistachio or salted caramel, so the chocolate and vanilla were a bit underwhelming to me. But that doesn’t make this bad. It’s just something I’m unlikely to reach for again in the future.

    VERDICT: I thought the flavors were sort of boring, so I’ll likely skip this in the future. However, it’s worth trying if you’re new to gelato.

    Trader Joe’s organic freezer pops looked like an adult take on a classic summertime treat.Trader Joe’s organic freezer pops came in three tasty-looking flavors.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    As someone who grew up in the ’90s, I can say with authority that back then, nothing was better than enjoying a bright blue, red, green, or purple ice pop on a hot day. So, I was really excited when I saw these colorful ice pops in Trader Joe’s freezer section.

    The ice pops, which come in cherry-limeade, berry, and orange flavors, had a modern feel. Like the freezer pops I enjoyed as a kid, these had a bright, fruity taste.

    The packaging advises shaking the bag of ice pops before freezing them to avoid awkward juice pooling. I skipped this step, but the flavor of the freezer pops seemed fine to me.

    The colorful freezer pops made me feel like a little kid again.Trader Joe’s organic freezer pops were delicious, but the cherry-limeade flavor was my favorite.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    The packaging notes that this take on handheld ice pops is made with 100% juice. However, I don’t know if that makes much of a difference as far as flavor goes, since most ice pops taste just like juice to me.

    By far, my favorite flavor was cherry limeade. The combination of citrusy and tart flavors tasted so grown-up. On that note, I’d gladly stick one of these pops into a cranberry cocktail for an added punch of flavor.

    VERDICT: It’s worth having a bag of these ice pops in the freezer for hot summer days.

    Trader Joe’s fudgy cookie-dough ice cream was full of sweet, delicious morsels.This ice cream had chocolate chips and cookie-dough pieces in it.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    Trader Joe’s fudgy cookie-dough ice cream was creamy and chock full of slightly crumbly chocolate-chip cookie-dough nuggets.

    I intended to sample just a spoonful but ended up returning for a full bowl.

    The fudgy cookie-dough ice cream will be a movie night go-to.Trader Joe’s fudgy cookie-dough ice cream was delicious.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    The swirls of fudge made this ice cream an absolute standout that’s worth buying. The faintest hint of sea salt from the fudge swirl enhanced the vanilla ice cream and made the chocolate chips pop.

    It’s the kind of detail you don’t think would make a big difference in overall flavor, but it made this ice cream much more memorable. If Trader Joe’s threw brownies into the mix, this could give Ben & Jerry’s popular Half Baked ice cream (another chocolate-heavy cookie-dough flavor) a run for its money.

    VERDICT: This flavor only comes around during the summer, so I plan to stock up every June. 

    Trader Joe’s s’mores bars seemed like an easy-to-serve version of the campfire classic.I wondered how Trader Joe’s s’mores bars would compare to the traditional treat.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    Snacks like this are the reason I love Trader Joe’s. I was excited to see a baked good complete with a pre-torched marshmallow. I thought these s’mores bars, made with a fudgy brownie sandwiched between a graham-cracker crust and toasted-marshmallow topping, would have the vibes of a great camping trip and a bougie café treat.

    Per the package instructions, you can either thaw these bars at room temperature for two hours or heat them in a conventional oven or air fryer. I chose the first option because I didn’t want to turn on either appliance and heat my apartment on a hot summer day. Looking back, though, I’d go with the oven option to get the full s’mores experience.

    After two hours, the bars were still sort of cold, but I indulged anyway. Lucky for me, they were still quite tasty.

    The s’mores bars were a hit, though I wish the graham-cracker layer was thicker.I liked Trader Joe’s s’mores bars, but had a few notes.

    Savanna Swain-Wilson

    I devoured two bars in the amount of time it takes to toast a marshmallow on a campfire, which should tell you everything you need to know. These were delicious.

    The brownie layer was satisfyingly chewy and fudgy, with an intense, chocolaty flavor. The marshmallow component was fluffy, like the jarred stuff you get in the store, and tasted exactly as I’d expected. However — this may sound nitpicky — there’s something about a warm, gooey marshmallow that a room-temperature one can’t compare to.

    The graham-cracker layer held together decently under the marshmallow, but I wished it were a bit thicker or had a standout cinnamony flavor — as it was, it got a bit buried under the other two layers. To me, it tasted more like a simple pie crust. Still, it worked as an anchor to tone down all the sweetness.

    VERDICT: I’m a picky s’mores traditionalist, so it’s hard to say this truly delivers the vibe of the campfire classic. I think of this as a marshmallow brownie more than a play on s’mores. I also wish these came individually wrapped so I didn’t feel pressured to finish them all during the workweek.

    Otherwise, they’re worth every penny. I’d buy this again to avoid baking anything.

    Click to keep reading other Trader Joe’s taste tests in this series.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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