Yogurt, Vegan, Gelato, Sorbet? Your Best Frozen Ice Cream Alternatives

Get the scoop on alternatives to regular and premium ice cream
variety of sorbet

Ready to splurge on a frozen treat? It’s hard to find an ice cream that’s good for you as much as it is delicious. But you can try looking beyond regular and premium ice creams for other “slightly less-unhealthy” options, says Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDE.

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“A pint of premium can set you back up to 1,200 calories,” she notes. “But there are other options than can reduce your calorie intake. Remember though that each one comes with its own set of pros and cons, so you’ll have to choose according to your own health (and tastebuds’) needs.”

Pros and cons of your best ice cream alternatives 

Sorbet/Granita

Pros

  • Made from whipped puree.
  • Dairy-free and lower in calories than ice cream.
  • Usually no saturated fat.

Cons

  • Often higher in sugar than ice cream .

Sherbet

Pros

  • Fruit-based with some milk added.
  • Fewer calories than ice cream.
  • Less fat than ice cream.

Cons

  • Often higher in sugar than ice cream

Gelato

Pros

  • High-flavor, dense ice cream with less air whipped into it.
  • By weight, lower in saturated fat than ice cream.
  • Lower sugar and calories than ice cream.

Cons

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  • One serving is only three-fourths the size of a regular serving of ice cream.

Frozen Yogurt

Pros

  • May contain live, good-for-your-gut probiotics (but check the label).
  • Lower in calories than ice cream.
  • Lower in saturated fat than ice cream.

Cons

  • As high in sugar as ice cream.

Frozen Fruit Bar

Pros

  • Can be made with real, healthy fruits like vitamin- and nutrient-rich berries.
  • May be made with water instead of dairy.
  • Lower in calories than ice cream.
  • Typically very low in saturated fat.

Cons

  • May be high in added sugars, so compare labels.

Light Ice Cream

Pros

  • Has 25% less fat than regular ice cream.
  • Typically has 33% fewer calories than regular ice cream.

Cons

  • Despite being less than regular ice cream, can still be higher in sugar, fat and calories than other ice cream alternatives.

Vegan Ice Cream

Pros

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  • Non-dairy made typically made with coconut, soy, almond or cashew milk or pea protein.
  • Nut-based milks provide heart-healthy plant-based monounsaturated fat.​

Cons

  • May be higher in saturated fat than alternatives.
  • May still be high in sugar.
  • May be higher in calories than other options.

It’s all about portion control

“While all of these have pros in their own ways let’s be clear — none of these frozen desserts are health foods,” Taylor says.

She advises sticking to one serving (2/3 cup) at a time and making them an occasional treat.

“When buying single-serve frozen treats, choose one with no more than 150 calories per serving, then stick to one serving,” she adds. “If you’re comparing items pick the one lowest in saturated fat and sugar.”

Follow her tips for choosing frozen sweet treats — and your heart and waistline will thank you.

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