Chocolate and vanilla are so passé. These days, ice cream shops are delving into far more adventurous flavor territory. Here are 43 of the weirdest ice cream flavors you can try today:
You can get a lot of odd lobster products in New England, not least lobster-laced desserts. Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, a line of sweets shops in Maine and Massachusetts, began serving lobster ice cream as a way to prove to their customers that their ice creams were really made in-house. The butter-flavored ice cream is blended with chopped bits of cooked lobster meat. You can buy it by the bucket, and yes, they ship.
2. Potato chips and Cap'n Crunch
At Beenie’s Ice Cream in Morristown, New Jersey, you can satisfy your cravings for salty, sweet, and children’s cereal all at once. "Midnight Snack" is a flavor that combines vanilla ice cream with chocolate-covered potato chips and Cap’n Crunch pieces. Note: The shop, which is named after the owner’s dog, is very pup-friendly.
3. Almond charcoal
Little Damage in Los Angeles is an ice cream shop with a goth soul. It colors its house-made cones and ice creams with activated charcoal, resulting in flavors like Almond Charcoal and Black Roses. Mmm, tastes like darkness.
4. Squid ink
Ikasumi, or squid ink, is a sought-after ice cream flavor in Japan. If you can’t make it to Tokyo, you can make your own with wasabi sprinkles. It’s a little briny and a lot photogenic. Squid ink is becoming a hot trend in cocktails and food, though, so squid ink desserts could become a lot more common in the U.S. soon.
Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco is known for its incredibly innovative flavors, some of which tend toward the meaty. The pink ice cream, made with the help of the local pork supplier Boccalone, sold so fast the first time it appeared on the menu in 2011 that the shop immediately decided to whip up some more for the next weekend. While it's not an everyday item, if you visit at just the right time, you might see it on the menu.
At Prague’s Absintherie Bar and Museum, you can try 60 different kinds of absinthe, and not all of them in cocktail form. The bar also serves up an ice cream made with its eponymous spirit.
7. Juniper & lemon curd
Inspired by the late American writer James Thurber, this flavor that once made its way onto Jeni’s ice cream menu was designed to taste like a martini with a twist. It’s cool juniper berry notes get a little zing from the lemon curd.
The purple yam Ube is a popular dessert ingredient in the Philippines and Hawaii. The tuber-flavored ice cream makes for a subtle, addictive flavor. You can buy Purple Yam ice cream at the grocery store from Magnolia, which makes a host of tropical-flavored ice creams. Oh, and it’s very Instagram-friendly. Magnolia has several scoop shops in California and can be found in specialty stores across the country.
9. Corn on the cob
Since opening Max & Mina’s in Queens, New York in 1998, brothers/owners Bruce and Mark Becker have created more than 5000 one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors, many of them adapted from their grandfather’s original recipes. Daily flavor experiments mean that the menu is ever-changing, but Corn on the Cob (a summer favorite), Horseradish, Garlic, Pizza, and Jalapeño have all made the lineup.
10. Pig’s blood & koji
Blood sausage? Meet blood ice cream. Blood can be used as a substitute for eggs in recipes, and in 2014, the expert chefs at the nonprofit Nordic Food Lab developed a recipe for blood ice cream using koji, a fermented barley, instead of cocoa for flavor. But if you do have chocolate, it’s a classic pairing for pig’s blood, used in Italian desserts like sanguinaccio dolce.
11. Caribou fat
Traditionally, "eskimo ice cream," or akutaq, is made with caribou or another animal fat that’s whipped up with berries. These days, some substitute in Crisco, and it can also be made savory by mixing in ground meat instead of berries. Either way, it’s a frothy dessert that has been a favorite in Alaska for centuries. The recipes vary from family to family and place to place, so you should probably try a lot of it.
Coolhaus’s Candy Cap Mushroom ice cream has hints of maple, vanilla, and naturally, earthy mushroom. It’s made by soaking sweet Candy Cap mushrooms in the Coolhaus ice cream base to achieve a potent, foresty taste.
13. Carrot ginger
Carrot ginger ice cream is like eating a very creamy smoothie. At Sweet Action Ice Cream in Denver, it’s made with real carrot juice and fresh-grated ginger to give it a little zing. You're welcome to pretend it's part of your juice cleanse.
Garlic ice cream is a must-have at the annual Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California. At The Stinking Rose, an L.A.- and San Francisco-based restaurant where the motto is "we season our garlic with food," you can top off your meal with Gilroy garlic ice cream drizzled with caramel mole sauce. Or you can make your own garlic-tastic ice cream at home.
15. Burnt sage
Morgenstern’s in New York City recently debuted Burnt Sage, an herby ice cream made with sage that has been charred over an open flame then soaked in cream. The savory delicacy is then dipped in chocolate.
16. Ranch dressing
Little Baby’s Ice Cream in Philadelphia debuted its Ranch ice cream in 2015, and it’s now on steady rotation. The ice cream base is loaded up with buttermilk, garlic, chives, and dill to give it that cool salad taste.
17. Grape nuts
New Englanders sing the praises of Grape-Nuts-laced ice cream, a regional specialty. The Grape-Nuts (a wheat and barley breakfast staple) are blended into vanilla ice cream, creating a delicious dessert you can justify as being at least somewhat fibrous. Try it at Grass Roots Creamery in Granby, Connecticut.
18. Beet greens
The Portland-based shop Salt & Straw is turning beets into frozen treats. Previously, Salt & Straw's Los Angeles outpost used discarded beet greens to create Top of the Beet, a beet jam and beet-leaf sugar brittle flavor. In August 2017, the Portland store debuted Aquabeet, a bright pink flavor that combines locally grown beets with Aquavit, the Scandinavian-style spirit.
19. Earl Grey Sriracha
If you’re a Sriracha addict, it’s not difficult to get your favorite hot sauce onto your dessert spoon. At Glacé Ice Cream in Kansas City, they've been known to mix Sriracha with the cool bergamot of Earl Grey tea to create an ice cream that’s a perfect mix of sweet, creamy, and spicy.
At Max and Mina’s Ice Cream in Queens, New York, ice cream is an appropriate brunch food. Their lox flavor consists of vanilla ice cream mixed with bits of Nova smoked salmon, cream cheese, and salt for that perfect bagel-and-lox taste.
21. Cheddar cheese
If you’re going to eat your apple pie with ice cream and cheddar cheese, you might as well just eat it with cheddar cheese ice cream. That’s what Joy Williams, the pastry chef at Wednesday’s Pie in Denver, was thinking when she began testing out her frozen cheese dessert. She ended up using a cheddar cheese powder instead of fresh cheese to retain the smooth texture of the ice cream, but the bright orange dessert was still a huge hit. You can keep an eye out for the off-menu special on the shop’s Instagram page.
OddFellows Ice Cream in New York City has come up with hundreds of wacky and original flavors since it opened its first location in 2013, and they haven’t shied away from using miso, the popular Japanese soy paste. They've recently had Miso Cherry on rotation, which combines the salty, earthy flavor of miso with more traditional dessert tastes. If you want to make your own miso ice cream, most recipes suggest using white miso, a more subtle variety that pairs well with fruits, caramel, and more.
23. Goat cheese cashew caramel
Black Dog Gelato in Chicago is famous for its goat cheese-cashew-caramel ice cream, which is the only flavor on the rotating menu that you’re guaranteed to find every time you visit. The goat cheese gives it a flavor similar to a cheesecake, and the sweet-savory combo is a huge hit.
24. Port wine and fig
Why kick back with a glass of wine after a hard day's work when you can grab a cup of port wine and fig ice cream from Missouri's Glacé Artisan Ice Cream? Seems like a fair tradeoff.
25. Kale lime
Kale lime leaf: healthy salad or delicious dessert? At Frankie & Jo’s in Seattle, it’s definitely the latter. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the shop is all vegan, and the kale-flavored ice cream—which is a specialty item—is made with coconut oil and cocoa butter rather than dairy.
Durian—the world's smelliest fruit, which has had its odor mistaken for a gas leak on more than one occasion—is also a key ingredient in the Snowdae at C Fruit Life, a Hong Kong-based cafe and tea shop which has opened locations in Boston, Chicago, and Portland, Oregon. The dessert is a mix of durian and mango ice cream topped with chewy mochi balls, fresh chunks of mango, and mango "bubbles" that pop in your mouth. With all of that sweet fruit, diners swear the durian flavor is downplayed.
27. Cardamon black pepper
Since 1945, Sonny's Ice Cream in Minneapolis has been churning out small batches of artisanal ice cream, gelato, and sorbet using some fascinating and exotic flavors. Among some of their most interesting varietals: Organic Cucumber Pinot Grigio, Black Licorice, and Cardamom Black Pepper.
28. Black licorice
Frost—a gelato shop with locations in New Mexico, Texas, California, Arizona, and Virginia—has been creating gelato the old-fashioned, Roman way since 2005. Part of what sets the mini-chain apart is its willingness to take chances on unique flavors, like green tea, cioccolato al perperoncino, lotus cookie, Guinness, and black licorice.
29. Goat cheese with red cherries
As one of the country’s most decorated ice cream makers, Jeni Britton Bauer—proprietor of Ohio-based Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams—is constantly pushing the boundaries of unique treats, as evidenced by her lineup of innovative flavors, including Goat Cheese With Red Cherries.
30. Coconut lime jalapeno
Juneau, Alaska's Coppa prides itself on preparing an innovative menu of fresh foods daily, including a regularly rotating lineup of homemade ice cream that has a tendency to get experimental on occasion. They've used turmeric in past iterations, and have found a large fan base for their sweet-meets-sour-with-a-kick coconut cream jalapeno flavor.
31. Foie gras
New York City's OddFellows takes the "odd" in its name seriously, and has become synonymous with experimental flavors. Since opening their doors in 2013, they've concocted hundreds of different kinds of the cold stuff—including a foie gras varietal.
32. Old Bay caramel
Anyone who has ever scarfed down a helping of Boardwalk fries or grew up in the Maryland area no doubt knows the distinctive taste (and smell) of Old Bay seasoning. The Charmery, a beloved ice cream shop with two Maryland locations, has an Old Bay and caramel flavored ice cream as part of their regular rotation of flavors.
Like a little heat with your ice cream? Mason's Creamery in Cleveland, Ohio has a range of unique sauces to pair with your ice cream choices, with a sweet vanilla and Sriracha sauce cream being one of the most (surprisingly) popular combos.
34. Pear and Blue Cheese
“Salty-sweet” is the preferred palette at Portland, Oregon-based Salt & Straw, where sugar and spice blend together nicely with flavors like strawberry honey balsamic strawberry with cracked pepper and pear with blue cheese, a well-balanced mix of sweet Oregon Trail Bartlett pears mixed with crumbles of Rogue Creamery's award-winning Crater Lake Blue Cheese. Yum?
Big Gay Ice Cream started out as an experimental ice cream truck and morphed into one of New York City’s most swoon-worthy ice cream shops, where the toppings make for an inimitable indulgence. One of their most unique culinary inventions? A Cheetos-inspired cone, where vanilla and cheese ice cream is dipped in Cheetos dust.
Fruitcake is the dessert that keeps on giving ... mostly because it seems to last forever, and a lot of them remain unopened. But at Leopold's Ice Cream in Savannah, Georgia, has been serving up a delicious version of the holiday treat for 100 years now: Their Tutti Frutti is a delightful dish of rum ice cream with candied fruit and fresh roasted Georgia pecans mixed in.
37. Horse flesh
There are two dozen attractions within Tokyo’s indoor amusement park, Namja Town, but it would be easy to spend all of your time there pondering the many out-there flavors at Ice Cream City, where raw horse flesh, cow tongue, salt, Yakisoba, octopus, and squid are among the flavors that have tickled (or strangled) visitors' taste buds.
38. Sweet avocado cayenne
Avocado may be one of the world's most popular superfoods, but spreading it on a piece of toast or dropping it into a salad is the way it's most often consumed. However, that's not the case at Rococo Artisan Ice Cream, a popular spot with a handful of locations in Maine. There, you'll find the green stuff churned into a deliciously soft ice cream, then given a little kick of heat with some cayenne pepper. It's a shock to the taste buds—but in a good way.
39. Ghost Pepper
“Traditional” isn’t the word you’d choose to describe any of the 100 ice cream varieties at The Ice Cream Store in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. They don’t have vanilla, they have African Vanilla or Madagascar Vanilla Bean. But things only get wilder from there, and the shop’s proprietors clearly have a penchant for the spicy stuff. In addition to their Devil's Breath Carolina Reaper Pepper Ice Cream—a bright red vanilla ice cream mixed with cinnamon and a Carolina Reaper pepper mash—there's also the classic Ghost Pepper Ice Cream, which was featured in a Ripley's Believe It or Not book in 2016. Just be warned: you'll have to sign a waiver if you plan to order either flavor.
40. Honey and roasted garlic
If our previous mention of a garlic ice cream didn't entice you, maybe this sweeter take on the frozen stuff—which features a little kick of honey—will. It's one of the many unique flavors you'll find at Denver's Sweet Action Ice Cream, which makes fresh batches of ice cream using all sorts of unexpected ingredients daily.
41. Bourbon and Corn Flake
You never know exactly which flavors will appear as part of the daily-changing lineup at San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe, but they always make room for the signature Secret Breakfast. Made with bourbon and Corn Flakes, you’d better get there early if you want to try it; it sells out quickly and on a daily basis.
42. Fig and fresh brown turkey
The sweet-toothed scientists at New York City’s Il Laboratorio del Gelato have never met a flavor they didn’t like—or want to turn into an ice cream. How else would one explain the popularity of their Fig & Fresh Brown Turkey gelato, a popular selection among the hundreds flavors they have created thus far. (Beet and Cucumber are just two of their other fascinating flavors.)
43. Creole tomato
The philosophy at New Orleans’ Creole Creamery is simple: “Eat ice cream. Be happy.” What’s not as easy is choosing from among their dozens of rotating ice creams, sorbets, sherbets and ices. But only the most daring of diners might want to swap out a sweet indulgence for something that sounds more like a salad, as it the case with the Creole Tomato.