updated about 2 hours ago
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
There is no shortage of nostalgic ice cream novelties in the freezer case, but ice cream sandwiches definitely rank at the very top for me. The classic stick-to-your-fingers cakey cookie and smooth, frozen filling remind me very much of childhood summers. Someone’s mom would always pull out a box of them while we were out in the pool (which was smart for easy cleanup, as the ice cream melts down your arm quickly during a 115°F July day in Phoenix), and after we were done eating we’d inevitably end up with chocolate cookie under our nails.
But how do you decide on which brand to get at the grocery store? For this little experiment, I wanted to test the classic chocolate wafer sandwich, as well as a chocolate chip variety. I also tried five dairy-free versions of the wafer ice cream sandwich. In the end, I chose three winners and a special runner-up. These are the ones came out on top.
How I Tested Ice Cream Sandwiches
I stuck with brands available in chain grocery stores and tried them all on my own first. I was honestly surprised how different each version was, considering that some looked nearly identical. I then offered them up to my husband to get his take. I repeated the process with my kids (14 and 10) when they got home from school.
A note on what I was looking for: To me, chocolate ice cream sandwiches are one of those things that fall under nostalgia. (See the above story.) If I want artisanal ice cream between two freshly baked cookies, I’ll head to my local ice cream shop. For this taste test I prioritized flavor and texture for sure, but I was looking less for custardy vanilla ice cream than I was what Stella Parks refers to as “cold, creamy whiteness. Frosty simplicity.” That flavor of “white” is seen most often in soft-serve treats like Dairy Queen‘s Blizzard or a McDonald’s hot fudge sundae. It’s not an egg-rich vanilla custard — it’s got a cleaner-flavor filling in the best way possible. To me, that refreshing lightness is what you’re looking for on a triple-digit day.
The Best Ice Cream Sandwich: FatBoy Premium Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches
FatBoy ended up being the winner, with three out of four taste testers (my husband being the outlier). A solid chunk of ice cream finds itself between two thin chocolate wafers. The ice cream in these is dense, more like a premium ice cream, compared to the fluffy/foamy texture a lot of the other sandwiches have. Its flavor was more rounded rather than just straightforward sweet, without being overly complex or heavy. This felt like an ice cream treat rather than a “novelty.” Plus, my kids loved these.
The Best Dairy-Free Ice Cream Sandwich: So Delicious Coconutmilk Vanilla Bean Sandwiches
These So Delicious sandwiches were dreamy. The first ingredient is coconut milk, making them super creamy, with a rich chocolate wafer cookie that was soft and sticky like my memory told me it should be. I also liked the smaller size. They were a nice sweet snack without feeling overly indulgent. Admittedly, they do taste distinctly of coconut, which I love. They’re even better if left on the counter to soften slightly for a few minutes before eating. I’d buy this box again and again.
Runner-up: Alden’s Organic Vanilla Bean Sammies
If you’re not a fan of coconut, these sandwiches earned a solid second place. The first ingredient of the nondairy ice cream is water, offering a denser texture and more neutral flavor. But the flavor is still good, with flecks of vanilla bean and a sweetness that doesn’t overwhelm. And this sandwich is definitely on the larger size compared to the So Delicious one. (Note that there is still coconut oil in this product. While not detectable by taste, it’s important to note for a coconut allergy.)
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich: It’s-It Chips-It Jumbo Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches
This testing round was another surprise. I had high hopes for the more homemade-looking (and more expensive) versions. But overall, this category as a whole really fell flat. While the ice cream on the two more artisanal brands was very good, the cookies tasted really underbaked. My guess is that this is to keep them soft enough to bite through while still frozen. This may work for some types of cookies, but a good chocolate chip cookie is defined by the toffee edges. If I want cookie dough, I’ll stick to a scoop of cookie dough ice cream.
All that said, the unanimous winner was It’s-It Chips-It. The two cookies on this sandwich are nice and crisp, breaking off easily with each bite without too much crumbling. The ice cream was nice and fluffy with that classic “white” flavor I love, and there is a considerable amount of it stuffed between the two cookies. Chips-It are, unfortunately, only found west of the Rockies. If you can’t get your hands on them, I’d recommend sticking to the chocolate sandwich variety.
Did your favorite make the list? Tell us about it in the comments below.