Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream: The Inside Scoop

34
Version:
P.B. & Cookies, Coffee Caramel Fudge, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chunky Monkey
Price:
$5.69 per pint

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On February 19, 2016
Last modified:February 17, 2017

Summary:

Impressed by the innovation and care of this pure indulgence, Hannah still can't help but be very honest about her vegan ice cream opinions. Which speaks volumes to the glowing 5 stars she gave to the P.B. Cookies (when I pressed her for ratings), and the very high 4 stars in her still raving review of the Coffee Caramel Fudge. But unlike the high praise of Kathie Lee and Hoda, the Chocolate Fudge Brownie started to lose her attention and she didn't go bananas over the Chunky Monkey.

Go Dairy Free had the opportunity to send Hannah, our resident dairy-free ice cream expert, direct to the Vermont factory for a personal tour and tasting of the new Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream flavors. And we can always count on her for a very honest review …

Ben & Jerry's Non-Dairy Ice Cream - an on-site tour, tasting and honest review of the first four dairy-free flavors!

After decades of craving, years of lobbying, and hundreds of hungry voices calling for action, Ben & Jerry’s has taken the unprecedented initiative to offer a 100% non-dairy frozen dessert. And to say that this brand new line  has sweet teeth celebrating across the country would be an understatement.

Ben & Jerry’s has earned their loyal following through tireless innovation, fearless flavor combinations, and a genuinely inspiring mission statement. Not content to merely spread the sweetness, the brand is arguably more about giving back to back to the community. They’re also trying to make a difference in bigger picture issues. In fact, a big reason for the interest in non-dairy options is to reduce the overall carbon footprint for the mammoth company.

But creating something to smile about for dedicated vegans, those suffering from lactose intolerance, and many dairy-free consumers was the greatest goal, of course, as the demands had been coming in fast and furious. Proving that there are real people at the helm, listening to suggestions (or hungry belly-aching, as it may have been), these four new flavors will be available in most mainstream markets by the beginning of spring.

All of the Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream flavors are built upon a foundation of their own finely-tuned blend of almond milk, pea protein, and coconut milk. The right ratios proved elusive, going through 70 to 90 different trials until the base hit all the right creamy, luxurious, and positively decadent notes. I had the chance to sample each flavor, firsthand at the Ben & Jerry’s facility. Flawlessly smooth and luscious, their hard work paid off in full for an impeccable texture that exudes a premium impression at first lick.

Ben & Jerry's Non-Dairy Ice Cream - an on-site tour, tasting and honest review of the first four dairy-free flavors!

Tasting Notes for Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream

After the above taste-testing, I also trialed a pint of each at home, just to firm up my initial thoughts. Here was my take on each vegan flavor of Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream:

P.B. & Cookies

This flavor starts with vanilla ice cream and stuffs every square scoopable inch with giant chunks of classic sandwich cookies and thick ribbons of what I can only describe as pure peanut fudge. Pieces of crunchy roasted peanuts complete the overall nutty picture. For peanut butter lovers, this is one little pint of pure, sweet heaven. Easily my favorite of the quartet, every bite sang of bold, sugary peanut flavor, with all the crunchy, chewy, gooey mix-ins one could ever ask for. At some points, I wondered if each spoonful was filled with more cookies than ice cream… Definitely not a bad thing at all.

Coffee Caramel Fudge

This flavor offers the frozen dessert equivalent of a dressed up latte. Sure to appease both caffeine addicts and fair-weather fans of the cup of mud. Warm and toasty coffee notes intermingle beautifully with the subtle edginess of burnt sugar in the soft caramel swirl. Strong enough in coffee flavor, but still quite demure as far as a coffee concoction can go. If a milkier cuppa is your thing, you’ll be thrilled by the balance.

Chunky Monkey

Unfortunately, it’s not all smooth sailing in this turbulent sea of frozen almond milk. Things begin to go south a little upon cracking open this container. One of Ben & Jerry’s best known inventions, a time honored and beloved combination of banana ice cream, chocolate fudge pieces, and walnuts, the original has been around since the very beginning. Although it’s been years since my last experience with the pioneering pint, I don’t recall it being quite so intensely and unapologetically sweet. The banana notes proved elusive, hidden behind the cotton candy-like base. Impeccably fresh, crisp walnuts and rich chocolate bombshells brought me back for more. In the end, it’s not the instant winner I had imagined from this ice cream titan.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Layered with more brownie pieces than seems physically possible for a single scoop of ice cream! Those generous squares are the absolute saving grace of the whole assembly. Made by Greyston Bakery and soon to be offered by the brand exclusively in Whole Foods Markets, those fudge bar cookies are more than worth seeking out solo. But sad to say, I wouldn’t have known that the base itself was meant to be chocolate if I had tasted it blind. Even Jostein Solheim, CEO of Ben and Jerry’s, readily admits, “The chocolate one is too chalky for me. It’s a hard product to make”. True enough, the taste is reminiscent of a cocoa protein shake at best. Thankfully, those abundant brownie pieces do reinforce the decadent dessert angle. Despite catering to a market of alternative eaters, these treats were never intended to be health food, after all.

All in all, there’s a lot here to love, and it’s part of a bigger evolution. The goal is for Ben & Jerry’s to reduce carbon emissions by a whopping 80% by the year 2050, despite continuing to grow the business and put even greater demands on their factories. The only way to accomplish that is by making dairy-free desserts a bigger piece of the puzzle.

Ben & Jerry's Non-Dairy Ice Cream - an on-site tour, tasting and honest review of the first four dairy-free flavors!

Answering Your Questions on Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream

Will the non-dairy flavors be in the Scoop Shops? For the full ice cream parlor experience, the P.B. & Cookies will soon be available in Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops nationwide.

Do they really still care about the environment? Since Ben & Jerry’s was bought by Unilever, their “corporate conscience” has been called into question. Nonetheless, it looks like they are still making efforts. Evidenced by the vegan, non-GMO and fair trade certifications and Hannah’s notes above. Even so, she diligently inquired to dig beyond the mission statement they were waving … going straight to a current concern: almond sourcing. Since Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream is almond-based, how do they address the controversy over California almonds and the water supply? She confirmed that they do actually get over 80% of their almonds from Israel instead, to reduce the strain on the limited resources domestically. This may create mixed emotions, since it is outsourcing outside of North America, but it’s hard to win them all.

Do they us xyz in the ingredients? This is not health food. If you are looking for the purest of ingredients rather than an occasional dessert, move on. But they are carrageenan-free (except for the Coffee Caramel Fudge)!

Are they “allergen safe”? With highly sensitive milk allergies (and other food allergies) I would use caution with Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert. Hannah inquired on site and they do use the same equipment for both their non-dairy and dairy-based ice cream flavors. The lines receive a very thorough and complete washout between batches. This may be enough for those who are vegan, lactose intolerant, or who have a milder milk allergy. For my gluten-free friends, only the Chunky Monkey is made without gluten (the cookie and brownie flavors contain wheat flour while the coffee one contains barley). I’m guessing that cross-contamination with gluten could be a real possibility in all flavors. Nonetheless, Ben & Jerry’s is reportedly in the process of exploring gluten-free options for the future.

Ben & Jerry's Non-Dairy Ice Cream - The Taste Test! We trialed all four flavors of the new dairy-free, vegan frozen dessert ... here's our honest opinions ...

The Facts on Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream

Certifications: Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream is Certified Vegan, Certified Fair Trade, and Non-GMO Verified.

Dietary Notes: By ingredients, Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, vegan / plant-based, and vegetarian. Select varieties are made without wheat (just one is made without gluten), and all contain soy lecithin. Nonetheless, check with the company on their manufacturing processes for all varieties if potential allergen cross-contamination is an issue for you. Processes and labeling are subject to change at any time for any company / product.

For More Product Information: Visit the Ben & Jerry’s website at www.benjerry.com.

About Author

Hannah is the author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, and Vegan a la Mode. She is a professional photographer, food stylist and recipe creator. Hannah blogs many of her crafts, photos, and food creations at Bittersweet.

34 Comments

  1. I can’t eat nuts…….high fiber is my enemy, so the chunky monkey and pb and cookie flavors were a big disappointment……..how about a pb and cookie without the chunky peanut butter? When are you coming out with new dairy free flavors??

  2. I have to say trying other non-dairy ic cream this is the best , because most others are strictly coconut based which I do like coconut but not when that’s all you taste no matter what flavor you buy. Ben & Jerry’s actually taste like different flavors which is awesome . The complaint I have is the price I think it’s a little crazy to spend over $ 5. For pint of ice cream , for people who are on a budget it’s not something you can buy often. But other than that it is great ice cream !!!!!!!!

  3. Just picked up a couple pints of PB & Cookie (the only flavor they had left…obviously I thought I was going to love them, buying 2…sorry, there are better frozen non-dairy ice creams available. B&J’s is spongy (for lack of a better word.) I should have looked at the ingredients, it’s got some not so great stuff in there that gives it that texture. My fave brand is So-Delicious, clean and yummie!

  4. I just bought the chocolate brownie flavor. It seems to be the least likes of the new flavors. I have to say, I’m surprised. I loved it from the first bite lol I can’t wait to try the other flavors.

  5. I had to try them since I have a very low tolerance to dairy products, not quite allergic but they have always bothered me. I tried the one I knew I would like, the coffee, caramel, choc. chunk one and became addicted to it. But, can’t ever find it in stock anymore around where I live. All of the other flavors are there, but this one sells out before I get to the store to buy it. Very frustrating, wish the dairy managers would ask for their guys to put more of this variety in and less of the others that aren’t selling as well.

  6. Soy bean oil and soy lecithin are additives that make myself and millions of people very ill. It’s in most processed foods. So sorry to find these in the almond milk ice cream from Ben and Jerry. Was really looking forward to this product . Darn !,

  7. These just appeared in my local grocery. I’ve been reading about these and super excited – since my lactose intolerance means no real ice cream. I tried the Fudge Brownie one (cue losing game show music). The chocolate was a little weird but most disappointing was no brownie pieces!!! I thought Ben and Jerry’s was famous for loading up their ice cream with yummy goodies. Not this one. I became obsessed and literally dumped the whole pint and dug through to find at least ONE piece of brownie. I ended up throwing it out :(( Maybe I’ll try another flavor, but it’s not promising.

    • I’m surprised by the sparse brownies, but as you can see in our review above, we agree on that flavor and the chocolate base. I hope you find our review helpful for picking other flavors – note that we only recommend two of them and not the Fudge Brownie 🙂

  8. i miss the sugar free ones they had a long time ago. it was the best sugar free ice cream i have ever had and my store carried it a few months before it was gone forever.

  9. Thank you, Thank you!! I have not had ice cream in 18 years because of a severe milk allergy, I was in pure bliss with the first bite to the last. I have had all of the flavors. I’m such a fan!

  10. I have a dairy-allergy and did have a slight reaction to the PB & Cookies. Not enough to be a full blown allergic reaction, but enough that I won’t spend my money on it again unfortunately. Too bad, because it tasted great. Thanks for sharing the warning for people with true dairy allergies!

  11. Pingback: Ben & Jerry’s – The Inside Scoop | BitterSweet

  12. What’s the point of making a milk-free ice cream that milk allergic folks can’t eat? Given that Milk Allergy is the most common childhood food allergy, it seems that they are cutting out a good chunk of their potential market. Lame Ben & Jerry, lame!

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  14. Do you have an ingredients list? Is the “non-dairy” formula soy-based or coconut or what? Too many with diary allergies are also soy and gluten intolerant, so I hope this was taken into consideration. thank you.
    BTW – Thank you for your MOST INFORMATIVE and helpful site.

    JMS

    PS: the type on this section is so light tht I can barely read it. Please address this. Thanks!

    • Very odd, you are the only one to ever mention this problem. I’ve actually bolded the ingredient notes we included. It is an almond, coconut and pea protein base. It does contain soy lecithin, most of the varieties contain gluten – this is a product more targeted at “plant-based” not nutritional issues, so unfortunately it isn’t a one size fits all. The ingredients are on the Ben & Jerry’s website: http://www.benandjerry.com

      • ALISA, EACH ONE OF THESE HAVE CHOCOLATE IN THEM. HAVING CAFFEINE ALLERGY MEANS NO CHOCOLATE OR COFFEE. BUTTER PECAN OR STRAWBERRY WOULD SOLVE THIS. THANK YOU.

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