Ice cream could be the greatest food creation of all time. Threatening to escape a waffle cone on a hot summer afternoon, accompanying confetti cake at a sprinkle-spattered birthday party, scooped on top of a warm chocolate brownie in the bleak midwinter, or savored straight out of the carton by the light of the refrigerator after a long, long day: We all scream for ice cream.
Now that ice cream has been established as an ideal food (maybe even meal?), on to the next challenge: establish the ideal brand of widely available commercial ice cream. Well, heard through the grapevine, Blue Bell Creameries is coming in hot. Err, cold.
When some Texas local businessmen decided to make the most of their extra farm-fresh cream and distribute it by horse and wagon way back in 1907, little did they expect to become the beloved company they are today. Slowly but surely, they expanded the business beyond their hometown; Blue Bell ice cream ranks as one of the best-selling ice creams in the country (per Statista), despite being available in only 23 states. Here’s to hoping it goes nationwide, or even worldwide, because everyone deserves to sample the best ice cream on the market.
For those lucky enough to have Blue Bell in stock at their local grocery store, here is our ranked guide to many of their best and most popular flavors. While you truly can’t go wrong with any single one of them, some are the cream of the crop. Pun intended.
20. Chocolate Chip
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this popular Blue Bell flavor but something has to be at the bottom of the list, right? With its classic vanilla-scented base as a canvas, Chocolate Chip does exactly what’s expected from its name and tosses in a healthy dose of chocolatey morsels. Blue Bell nails the perfect chip-to-cream ratio and made the right decision when choosing semisweet chocolate chips as opposed to milk chocolate or dark chocolate; the happy medium allows both the mix-ins and the vanilla backdrop to shine without one overpowering the other. Also, since semisweet is typically the variety used in those famous and universally beloved chocolate chip cookies, the flavor is comfortingly familiar.
The only caveat here is that some prefer either completely smooth textures or more exciting additions in their ice creams. Frozen chocolate chips can be rather hard, which to some will be a wonderfully toothsome experience and to others a deterrent. For anyone who wants those distinct little pebbles of semisweet goodness dotting their scoop, this will more than hit the spot and be the best version of it you’ve ever tasted.
19. Homemade Vanilla
The company also has the lovely Natural Vanilla Bean available year-round and often rotates in French Vanilla to sweeten the deal, but none are as beloved as Homemade Vanilla. It’s everything comforting and familiar you expect from a bowl of ice cream, but better because it’s coming out of Blue Bell’s creameries. There is no better choice for a classic milkshake, as topping to a slice of warm apple pie, or the single ice cream that earns a permanent place in your freezer. It quite simply goes well with everything.
The stalwart flavor made its debut all the way back in the early days of the company, 1969, and has remained the most popular flavor ever since. It’s famous for good reason, and after a bite, you’ll see why. Move over Breyers, Turkey Hill, Friendly’s, and all the rest … you are all wonderful and you are all beloved, but Blue Bell makes the homiest vanilla out there. This is something a toddler and a grandpa would enjoy equally and side by side.
18. The Great Divide
Slide your spoon carefully right along the centerline of The Great Divide. If you aim right and shoot straight, you’ll get a perfect 50/50 ratio of Homemade Vanilla and Dutch Chocolate ice cream in your bowl without having to buy two separate cartons. Now that’s a sweet deal right there! There’s a lot to be said for desserts that combine the best of both worlds and bring all the good things together under one roof. This is such a dessert.
Chocolate or vanilla? It’s an age-old question that can become the topic of heated debate. In one poll, where Harris Interactive asked a wide sample of Americans what their ride-or-die favorite ice cream flavor was, the race was tight. Chocolate just barely eked out a victory, garnering 28% of votes, while vanilla was a close second with 26%. If this is an impossible choice, never fear, you can soothe your decision fatigue with a big bowl of The Great Divide. This way, everybody is a winner, especially you!
If, looking at the aforementioned flavor, you were worried about that third flavor in the golden trio, all is well in the world now. Blue Bell’s pretty-in-pink Strawberry half-gallon is calling your name. Packed full of real strawberries and a really spot-on strawberry flavor, you’ll feel like you just walked in from the local berry patch. Somehow both juicy and creamy, and made from what is arguably the tastiest fruit ever, you’ll be wondering why all strawberry ice creams don’t succeed the way this one does. For these reasons, Strawberry is No. 17 in our ranking of popular Blue Bell flavors.
National Pick Strawberries Day falls on May 20 every year, and you know what sounds like an amazing idea for celebrating? Go out and find the best berries of the season, whether from your own backyard, local grocery, or fruit farm, and after you get in from the sun, wash and plop all those delicious fresh berries onto some of this refreshing flavored frozen dessert. If you can get your hands on some strawberry syrup, even better. No matter what additions you put on top, however, the star of the show will be the ice cream below.
16. Banana Pudding
In the expanding universe of fusion desserts, this is one of the most creative. Combining cookies and ice cream, chocolate and ice cream, cake and ice cream: pretty standard. But combining pudding and ice cream? As "Alice in Wonderland" so delightfully put it, "curiouser and curiouser." Banana pudding is an authentically Southern staple (per Serious Eats). Blue Bell ice cream is a product of the South and a verified Southern treasure. Evidently, the mashup was meant to be.
This creation captures the taste of a Southern grandma’s homemade pudding by starting with a banana-flavored ice cream base and folding in both whipped topping and vanilla wafers. The fruit is naturally creamy in texture and so it lends itself perfectly to this treatment. Meanwhile, the butter-yellow hue is cozy and welcoming. That whipped topping swirl adds a nice lightness to the texture and the vanilla wafers further boost the nuance. And, most importantly, they keep the flavor in a perfect imitation of the source material.
15. Dutch Chocolate
It’s always a good time for any chocolate ice cream, but why choose Blue Bell’s Dutch Chocolate over the rest of the competition? This decadent and rich, creamy chocolate ice cream is made with the finest imported chocolate. The name Dutch Chocolate comes by way of the cocoa powder used in the ice cream. According to Serious Eats, in the Dutch process (as opposed to natural), cocoa powder undergoes a treatment that reduces the acidity of the chocolate and makes for a smoother, more mellow flavor. Smoothness is what ice cream is all about, right?
Versions of chocolate ice cream featuring all sorts of additions flood the shelves, but sometimes you want it pure and simple; and this one’s anything but plain. While Blue Bell also makes a winsome Milk Chocolate variety, Dutch Chocolate is the original favorite. The classic would be ideal with some hot fudge sauce, chocolate sprinkles, whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top to make a perfect sundae. If you’re looking for the preferred brand of your go-to flavor, look no further.
14. Cookie Two Step
How do you do Blue Bell’s version of the Texas-treasured two-step? Start with creamy vanilla ice cream with subtle kicks of warming brown sugar, combine with chunks of chocolate crème-filled cookies and, for good measure, shuffle in some homespun chocolate chip cookie dough pieces. Now that’s a dance designed to delight your taste buds! Even just one tiny spoonful of Cookie Two Step is certainly a move in the right direction. Besides, though it’s a two step dance, it’s a one-of-a-kind creation.
While it was brand-new back in 2016, this creative flavor is a new sensation every time you enjoy it because, with such an assortment of mix-ins, no two bites are ever going to be the same. You’re getting some crunch, some rich chocolate, some lighter notes of chocolate, that soothing vanilla foundation, the clever secret ingredient of brown sugar, and those chewy cookie dough chunks spread throughout; fans never get tired of this flavor. All the best elements of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough plus Cookies ‘n Cream make this one a real stunner.
13. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Speaking of cookies, chocolate chip cookies are indubitably some of the greatest cookies ever. Actually, they are some of the greatest desserts ever. There’s a good chance that they are also one of the greatest foods ever. Adding chocolate chip cookies to ice cream? It’s genius. Adding the sneakily best part of chocolate chip cookies — the dough — to ice cream? Whoever first thought of it deserves only the very best, which means they deserve Blue Bell’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream.
In case you have been living under a rock and have never tasted this flavor of ice cream from any brand before, here’s the lowdown: It’s a thick, creamy vanilla ice cream base with plenty of chunks of chocolate chip cookie dough. This version raises the bar (raises the chocolate bar?) by incorporating another kind of chip, too, this time of the dark chocolate variety. If you’re someone who eats more dough straight from the bowl than the fully baked finished product, and if you’re someone who always wishes their cookies had more chocolate chips, this is going to make your day.
Maybe you’re reading this with a coffee in hand right now. Maybe simply reading the name of this flavor reminded you just how much you love, and need another cup of, coffee. But if you simultaneously feel the need for dessert, and an ice cream dessert in particular, Blue Bell’s Coffee will more than suffice. This is a no-frills take on the flavor — simply a rich, creamy ice cream infused with real, natural coffee beans. No mix-ins muddle the flavor, so for the coffee purist, this is literally the dessert version of your morning lifeline and comes in at No. 12 on our list.
As it says in the website description, "The best coffee breaks aren’t just in the morning," but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your coffee and eat it, too; why not try a scoop of coffee ice cream in your travel mug on your way to work? If you’re an iced-coffee enthusiast, this is just taking it to the next level, right? Or, on the flip side, put the two together and enjoy an affogato with Blue Bell’s coffee ice cream instead of regular old vanilla just to really jazz things up. Double the coffee, double the fun (and it takes way more ice cream to meet your caffeine edge than it does coffee.)
11. Cherry Vanilla
Strawberries find their way into ice cream all the time, but there’s another fruit that certainly gives them a run for their money. Check out another ruby-red jewel, the cherry, which goes so well with the smooth flavor profile of vanilla that Blue Bell simply had to put them together into one of its half-gallons. While cherries themselves aren’t always in season, and even if they are, can be uneven, this Cherry Vanilla ice cream is in the permanent lineup so it’s always in season and always in reliably good form.
The carton’s bold red color beckons you to open up and see what’s inside: maraschino cherry halves mixed into lovely, mild vanilla ice cream. The aroma alone, fresh and fruity but sweet as pie, is worth buying the whole tub. While walking to the grocery store register, be sure to stop and grab a jar of maraschino cherries and a can of whipped cream. The finished creation will be almost too pretty to eat … but you’ll find a way. Like springtime blossoms on gently-waving branches, Cherry Vanilla is sweet, subtle, and appealing.
10. Strawberries & Homemade Vanilla
More pink is coming your way! Basic Strawberry is great, of course, and Blue Bell does it very well. But add the berries to Homemade Vanilla and it’s a whole new world. Remember Cherry Vanilla? It’s difficult to pit — as always, pun intended — two fruits against each other, but to soften the blow we’re putting them right next door to each other on this list. Maybe the deciding factor was the specific version of vanilla, Blue Bell’s pristine Homemade Vanilla, as the backdrop to the cheerful berries. Yes, Strawberries & Homemade Vanilla is the best combo of fruit and ice cream available, not just from Blue Bell, but potentially from all other brands as well (but fingers crossed Blackberry Cobbler becomes a permanent flavor soon.) This is one of the three contenders in the Ultimate Neapolitan (which you’ll meet soon and why it earns its high place on this list).
There’s something so soothing and pure about this flavor; just think about strawberries and cream, strawberry shortcake, or any of those other delicious desserts that highlight the plucky pair. And, come to think of it, any of those desserts would benefit from a big scoop of this ice cream flavor on the side. But if your grandma who brought her traditional strawberry custard to the family potluck gets offended because everyone’s going for the ice cream instead, well, don’t be too surprised. This is your fair warning.
9. Rocky Road
And now, step off those well-trod pink trails and tread one that’s a little more risky. Strap yourselves in for a deliciously bumpy ride. This is one mischievous misadventure you’ll be glad you took. Starting with the ice cream base, Milk Chocolate and Dutch Chocolate would have both been great options, but the addition of sweet, fluffy mini marshmallows and warmly roasted almonds requires a little extra support. Enter rich, dark chocolate ice cream to provide the perfect dramatic backdrop. This is the Rocky Road that all other rocky roads wish they could be.
The textural contrast in this one is unbeatable. The squishy marshmallows clash beautifully with the crunch of the almonds and there aren’t too many of either to create an imbalance. Also, the flavor of each addition is nice and subtle; marshmallows are mild in their sweetness, and as far as nuts go, almonds are far less aggressive than, say, peanuts or hazelnuts. The perfect spoonful has some of both but not too many of either, because Blue Bell’s state-of-the-art ice cream is always the real star of the show. If Blue Bell were to offer just the dark chocolate ice cream even without the additional gadgets and gizmos, it would definitely still be worth the buy.
8. Buttered Pecan
Another point of Southern pride rises to the occasion with our No. 8 flavor Buttered Pecan. The title does a great job of making it sound extra appealing; not just butter (which is kind of expected in ice cream anyway) plus a smattering of raw pecans out of a bag, this conjures up images of pecans "that have been buttered." There are some great marketing tactics coming to play here, and it shows, because this has been a customer favorite for more than 50 prolific years.
This flavor is a satisfyingly buttery, savory, and nutty ice cream base with just the right amount of lightly salted and perfectly roasted pecan halves flecking every scoop. They certainly had it right when they said some things never go out of style. There is something elusive about the flavor of butter pecan that nothing else can capture. A vanilla base, or, say, a Brazil nut, just wouldn’t do. Again, when craving that authentically Southern dessert experience, it’s a safe bet that Blue Bell will do it right. Now try spreading this all over your morning slice of toast.
7. Black Walnut
Walnuts are quite the little nutritional powerhouses. According to Healthline, they pack a ridiculous punch of antioxidants, vitamins, Omega-3s and healthy bacteria. They also reduce inflammation, may reduce cancer risks, and all those nutrients are magical for your brain. All these are wonderful reasons to partake in Blue Bell’s Black Walnut-flavored ice cream, but the best reason is that it tastes absolutely heavenly. This is definitely an underrated choice, so if you’re surprised to see it so high up on the list (or surprised to see it at all) you’re not alone. But here’s your invitation to rewrite your ice cream narrative.
There are plenty of jokes one could make with the word "walnut" as the punchline, but the quality of this particular flavor is no laughing matter. The company makes a perfectly innocent little quip in the description by saying that "In a nutshell, it’s great!" Blue Bell’s vocal, and faithful, fanbase agrees, with one (potentially Southern?) gentleman exclaiming, "Yeehaw! My very favorite flavor of all time!!!" A scoop or three of this flavor will have you saying whatever local version of said exclamation you have on the tip of your tongue.
6. Cookies ‘n Cream
Oh goodness, this one is good. How could it not be when it incorporates Milk’s Favorite Cookie into the platonic ideal of milk? Well, OK, the cookies peppering this flavor are not officially name-brand Oreos anymore, though they once were. In fact, Blue Bell claims to have been the first to invent this now-iconic flavor, and while the evidence isn’t absolute, a New York Times article reports that the company "certainly pioneered the flavor, buying Oreo cookies at retail prices from Nabisco, painstakingly cutting open each package and dumping the contents into the mixers." As it grew to the giant it is today, Blue Bell bakes its own version of those signature snacks that are just as good. Also, if they ever bring it back, be sure to sample the nostalgic Milk & Cookies flavor or brand-new changeup Cookies ‘n Cream Cone.
The delectable crunch of the cookies melts just slightly into the ice cream, leaving them fantastically cakey and chocolatey. Meanwhile, the creme filling of the cookie sandwiches naturally melds gracefully with ice cream. Blue Bell’s stroke of genius in putting these cookies straight into their already amazing ice cream paved the way for just about every other brand to hurry up and jump aboard the bandwagon. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but all the imitators pale in comparison.
5. Pistachio Almond
Go green! This multi-nutty-flavored ice cream is a pistachio base accented with pieces of crunchy, chopped roasted almonds. Pistachio provides that funky, fun, and rather sophisticated foundation that perfectly cushions the nuggets of a different nut, the almond (which is actually a seed). What would happen if this was reversed, an almond-flavored base filled with chopped pistachios? The world may never know, but if Blue Bell decides to go through with it, the result would indubitably be delicious.
Not to be confused on shelves with Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, another stellar Blue Bell flavor, or the seasonal straight-up Peppermint, this one owes at least a portion of its pretty shamrock color to the natural essences of the pistachios. If you’re hesitant about a flavor like this one because it’s a little out of your usual ice-cream comfort zone (the comfiest comfort zone ever) consider this No. 5 ranking your gentle nudge in a slightly nuttier direction. Unless you’re allergic, of course, you likely won’t regret it and may even discover your new favorite flavor.
4. Pecan Pralines ‘n Cream
The final top-ranking nut-centric variety on this list has to be pretty darn great, doesn’t it? Chock-full of even more Southern charm, Blue Bell brings the best yet. Pecan Pralines ‘n Cream is a candy-like confection of indulgent praline sauce swirled into a creamy vanilla ice cream sprinkled with praline-coated pecans. That thick ribbon of sauce is like caramel, but caramel that has been taken up a notch.
Have you had the distinct delight of watching a particular episode of the classic sitcom "I Love Lucy" in which the quartet are on a road trip and struggle to procure some of Aunt Sally’s pecan pralines? No? Well, first of all, go watch it (the episode is called "First Stop" and is utterly hilarious). Once you’ve got it queued up, bring a bowl of this ice cream to the viewing party. You’ll appreciate the television antics so much more when you can enjoy all the delicious ice cream-enrobed pralines your heart desires … all the pralines that the sitcom crew traumatically misses out on. And even if they had eventually gotten ahold of those pecan pralines, the ice cream part would still be missing. Spoiler alert, the ice cream part is always the best part. Talk about a scene stealer!
3. Ultimate Neapolitan
Reader, you have waited patiently for this one to officially land on the list. You have now seen Homemade Vanilla, Dutch Chocolate, and Strawberries & Homemade Vanilla all given their due diligence prior to the bronze medal spot. You’ve even survived The Great Divide and enjoyed the combo of both chocolate and vanilla. Now introducing the best of all: Ultimate Neapolitan, truly the ultimate medley of these fan-favorite flavors all at the same time.
The origins of food creations are usually a little dubious, but this one seems relatively clear. According to PopSugar, Italian immigrants, specifically from the city of Naples in the southern part of the country, arrived in America with a passion for delicious food and the recipes to back it up. They brought the brilliant idea of combining three flavors in one ice cream, and since American tastes most favored chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, those were the three flavors that became immortalized in this classic dessert.
Blue Bell goes the extra step to choose its favorite manifestation of each flavor (Homemade Vanilla edging out Natural Vanilla Bean, for example, or Dutch Chocolate coming in ahead of Milk Chocolate) to create an ice cream that has come out and won each of its brackets.
2. Bride’s Cake
This flavor is marriage material. Bride’s Cake is probably unlike any other confection on the market: Blue Bell unveiled a luscious almond ice cream with white cake pieces surrounded by a rich, amaretto cream cheese icing swirl in 2017 and stayed true to this committed relationship. This one’s going to make you wonder why more manufacturers don’t get onboard the almond-flavored ice cream train. Everyone knows that pecans are great in the frozen dessert, pistachio has its time and place, and almonds themselves are a popular mix-in to other base flavors, but why isn’t almond right up there with chocolate and vanilla as a foundation for everything else? This one proves that it should be.
Naturally, the intriguing and elegant base flavor is only the honeymoon phase. To really capture the real reason guests RSVP "yes" on all those invites, Blue Bell incorporates lots of pieces of fluffy white cake. Cake and ice cream is always a hit, but cake "in" ice cream is the real treat (serve cake on the side of this ice cream for some extra brownie points.) Last but not least is the icing on the cake. Actually, it’s the icing in the ice cream, and not just icing of the regular variety; cream cheese frosting infused with sophisticated amaretto brings everything full circle and will have you waltzing down your grocery store aisle in bliss no matter what your relationship status happens to be.
1. Moo-llenium Crunch
One could moo on and on about why this ice cream is the best of the best, but why ramble when Blue Bell’s own description sort of says it all: "In recognition of the new millennium, we introduced this classic vanilla ice cream with a combination of dark chocolate chunks, creamy caramel chunks, roasted pecans, chopped almonds and walnut pieces." The only way to figure out how all this comes together in eventual perfection is to try it yourself. All that goodness just defies any further description. In short, it’s good stuff, this Moo-llenium Crunch, and our No. 1 selection from Blue Bell’s most popular flavors.
If you live somewhere that doesn’t have Blue Bell in stock, you are seriously missing out. Next time you visit a state that welcomes these half-gallons in all their glory, be sure to pick some up and share with whoever you’re with. And if you decide to move there just to have access to the ice cream, well, no judgment. You have good taste. Said one satisfied Facebook commenter, "Blue Bell the very best ice cream no matter the flavor!!!!" What better endorsement can there be?