According to the International Dairy Foods Association, approximately 6.4 billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts were produced in the US in 2019. The US ice cream industry generated total revenues of $13.1 billion. Needless to say, people love ice cream! But, with an increasing variety of flavors to choose from each year, it’s hard to guess which is the most popular flavor among consumers.
No need to guess anymore! We’re about to reveal the top 15 ice cream flavors. Scroll through to see the top flavor (and the most popular flavor may surprise you)…
15. Chocolate Marshmallow (1.3%)
If you can’t choose between the creamy, vanilla marshmallow and the rich, sinful taste of decadent chocolate, don’t worry. You don’t have to. When it comes to ice cream, chocolate bar, and cookie flavors, chocolate marshmallow is always a winner.
Chocolate marshmallow ice cream is the perfect summer camp flavor because it’s reminiscent of s’mores, the classic campfire treat. Traditional s’mores are made using a toasted marshmallow, a square of chocolate, and a graham cracker. However, in this case, chocolate and marshmallow ice cream is combined and the cone acts as the sweet cookie. Try it with a waffle cone for even more sweetness.
14. Rocky Road (1.5%)
It’s hard to resist a heaping scoop of Rocky Road ice cream. Rocky road ice cream is a decadent combination of chocolate ice cream, chopped nuts, and marshmallows. However, there have been plenty of versions and fresh twists on the Rocky Road flavor over the years.
Rocky Road, the ice cream flavor, was first introduced in the years 1929 by a man from Oakland, California. His name was William Dreyer. Legend has it that Dreyer was experimenting with ice cream flavors when he used his wife’s sewing scissors to slice up nuts and marshmallows to add to his bowl of chocolate ice cream. Currently, walnuts are often shunned in favor of almonds in the famous ice cream flavor.
13. Coffee (1.6%)
Craving a pick me up at lunchtime? You can sip your coffee or you can eat it as an ice cream flavor…minus the awful pain that comes with switching from a hot beverage to a cold dessert. Coffee ice cream is more of a European favorite, however, the sensuous flavor is gaining ground in North America too, especially among coffee-loving adults.
You can even make your own coffee ice cream at home. All you require are a few simple ingredients. Start with double cream, mix in condensed milk, espresso liquor (or flavor if you prefer no alcohol), and a few tablespoons of espresso powder. You can opt for decaffeinated coffee if you don’t want the excess caffeine.
12. Chocolate Almond (1.6%)
Want a nutty crunch in your bowl of chocolate ice cream? Almonds add a nutty twist on regular old chocolate ice cream. You can add them chopped or slivered to your bowl, many flavors even simply roll a scoop of chocolate ice cream into a mound of almonds to incorporate them that way.
Almonds are a nice way to add a little protein to your dessert. I prefer raw, unsalted almonds instead of the salted variety. However, many folks like the combination that salty nuts and sweet, creamy ice cream create. The best thing about screaming for ice cream is that you get it how you want it.
11. Cherry (1.6%)
There’s something so whimsical about a bowl of vanilla ice cream with a cherry on top. However, when there’s just one cherry, sometimes that’s just not enough. Instead, try cherry ice cream with layers or chunks of sweet cherries (or dark cherries) enveloped between sweet vanilla ice cream.
You will feel like a kid again, even if you’re not it really doesn’t’ matter. Cherry ice cream is the perfect bowl or cone for a hot summer’s day because it’s less heavy than the chocolate, nut, caramel, and marshmallow versions. Cherry ice cream offers a nice light dessert that won’t weigh you down.
10. Praline Pecan (1.7%)
If there’s not enough Southern charm in your family, dish up a few bowls of pecan praline ice cream. This flavor provides a polite yet satisfying take on the traditional chocolate and vanilla flavors. Many praline ice creams even feature a shot of bourbon or bourbon flavoring for a unique twist.
You will certainly go back for seconds when you try this chopped praline nut and pecan nut taste. Pralines are sugar candies made from nuts and sugar syrup. When enveloped in sweet vanilla ice cream and brown sugar, pralines offer a sinfully indulgent Southern hiatus on your spoon.
9. Vanilla Fudge Ripple (2.6%)
It’s the simple things in life that are often the greatest and most rewarding, which is why it shouldn’t surprise that vanilla fudge ripple is one of the most famous flavors of ice cream. Simply vanilla ice cream featuring ribbons of decadent fudge ribbons (or ripples), this flavor is always a crowd-pleaser.
I don’t think I’ve ever been to an ice cream stand that didn’t feature chocolate ripple. It’s a great ice cream flavor for a group dessert or to go a la mode with cake or pie because it doesn’t feature nuts. You can never be too careful with nut allergies in large groups.
8. Cookies and Cream (3.6%)
The always famous cookies and cream (or Cookies ‘n Cream) ice cream flavor will never go out of style even though it’s an age-old tradition. Basically, it’s the flavor based on another milkshake flavor. Made so popular at diners and shake counters, cookies, and cream with its delicious chocolate cookie crumbles is a crowd-pleaser.
Traditional cookies and cream ice cream feature vanilla or French vanilla ice cream and crumbled cookies. These can be chocolate wafer-style cookies, but more recently Oreo cookies (featuring two chocolate wafers and a sweet cream ice cream center have taken priority. There are also variations that use chocolate ice cream and mint chocolate cookies.
7. French Vanilla (3.8%)
It shouldn’t surprise you that traditional vanilla ice cream is still a favorite, especially in North America where vanilla ice cream is so…American. This ice cream’s popularity is likely due to the sweet, fragrant flavor infused by the vanilla bean, which is actually a type of edible orchid.
6. Chocolate Chip (3.9%)
Chocolate chip cookies are a favorite so it shouldn’t surprise you in the least that chocolate chip ice cream is also almost at the top of the charts. In fact, if you recall the famous Howard Johnson’s restaurants, which featured an impressive list of delicious ice cream flavors…28 to be exact, ever since the year 1928.
The restaurant prided itself on traditional favorites, like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, but gradually increased that list of incorporate 28 in total, which was manufactured in Johnson’s own factories. Chocolate chip remained the number 3 most famous flavor overall, according to a 1948 story in Life (magazine).
5. Neapolitan (4.2%)
First created in the late 19th century, Neopolitan ice cream features the evident blocks of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream attached side by side in the same container with no packaging in between. Although some brands do intermix the flavors with more of a swirl effect, the color blocking method is the most famous.
Neapolitan ice cream was named for its Italian origins. The ice cream flavor was believed to be made popular by Neapolitan immigrants when they first traveled to the U.S. If you compare the color blocking of white, brown, and pink it slightly resembles the colors in the Italian flag, but also the red, white, and blue of the American flag.
4. Strawberry (5.3%)
Fresh, sweet, and summery strawberry ice cream is never a disappointment. Strawberry ice cream of today is typically made with fresh strawberries (chunks or ripples) or with strawberry flavoring, along with vanilla, eggs, cream, and sugar. The famous pink ice cream has an iconic reputation as one of the most favorite flavors.
However, this ice cream flavor dates back to roughly 1813, when it was served at the second inauguration of James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, a man hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for his role in drafting the US constitution. That’s quite a serious legacy for such a fun-filled ice cream flavor.
3. Butter Pecan (5.3%)
Always among ice cream shops (like Baskin Robins) famous menu of flavors, butter pecan ice cream features roasted and chopped pecans, vanilla, and crispy butter coating. It’s the slightly buttery (or toffee) flavor that has made butter pecan one of North America’s most famous flavors.
Oftentimes, butter pecan ice cream will feature a cookie crumble, however, the actual butter pecan is meant to be nuts covered in a signature sweet, buttery coating. You will likely find many variations of butter pecan, including butter almond, butter almond, and almost every other nut imaginable.
2. Chocolate (8.9%)
It shouldn’t surprise you that chocolate ice cream lands second on the list of most famous American ice cream flavors. The first chocolate ice cream is reputed to have been enjoyed in Naples, Italy around 1692. Chocolate was also created prior to vanilla ice cream, as hot chocolate was turned into a frozen dessert way back in seventeenth-century Europe.
However, chocolate ice cream didn’t become popular in America until well into the late nineteenth century. At this time its’ believed that Italian immigrants brought the recipe over and shared it with their new countrymen and women. The chocolate ice cream of today is made with eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla ice cream, and cocoa powder. However, cocoa powder and chocolate liquor are often added to give it a chocolatey taste.
1. Vanilla (29%)
Vanilla as a flavor was first recorded as used in food by the Aztecs during the 1500s. It was introduced to the Spanish conquistadors when they traveled across Mesoamerica. The Spanish were transfixed by the many ways vanilla was used in traditional Indian food and drinks, which is why the Spanish brought the vanilla bean back to Spain and throughout Europe by the 1600s.
Vanilla ice cream was thought to have been invented in Asia in the fourteenth century. Ice cream making spread from East to Europe when Moors and Arabs traveled to Spain and refrigeration became prominent in Europe. By the early 18th century, Italians and French were making vanilla ice cream, or frozen vanilla desserts by making smooth iced concoctions blended with sugar, eggs, and egg yolks in the recipe. The first ice cream recipes recorded by the French in the early eighteenth century did not include egg yolks.
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