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It’s hard to beat a cool, sweet, creamy scoop of ice cream on a hot summer day — or any other time of year.
Although you can include small amounts of ice cream in a balanced diet, this dessert often harbors large quantities of added sugar. In fact, some flavors pack up to three times the daily recommended intake of added sugar in a single serving.
That’s one reason why sugar-free options have become increasingly popular.
These desserts rely on natural or artificial sweeteners that drastically lower their sugar and calorie contents.
Although these sweeteners may come with their own downsides — such as digestive symptoms like gas or bloating — if you consume too much, sugar-free ice cream can make a terrific treat as long as you keep your intake in check (
Here are 9 of the best sugar-free and low sugar ice creams — all of which were chosen according to texture, flavor, nutrition profile, and ingredient quality.
Rebel Creamery produces a robust line of 14 ice creams that contain no added sugar.
They’re tailored for the low carb, high fat ketogenic diet — but you don’t have to be on keto to enjoy these treats.
Made with whole ingredients like cream and eggs, these products maintain the texture and mouthfeel of regular ice cream. They’re sweetened with sugar alcohols and natural sugar substitutes like stevia and monk fruit.
Stevia and monk fruit, two zero-calorie sweeteners sourced from plants, are among the most popular sugar alternatives.
Keep in mind that this product is higher in fat and calories than other low sugar brands.
Each 1/2-cup (68-gram) serving of Rebel mint chip ice cream provides (3):
|Sugar alcohols||8 grams|
Enlightened produces popular low calorie ice creams. Although not completely sugar-free, they’re sweetened with a combination of sugar, sugar alcohols, and natural sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit.
They come in a variety of flavors, many of which boast protein and fiber — two nutrients that can help balance blood sugar and keep you feeling full (
The majority of Enlightened products are very low in fat, which keeps them low in calories but makes them less creamy than other varieties.
A 1/2-cup (69-gram) serving of Enlightened cookies and cream ice cream has (8):
|Sugar alcohols||6 grams|
Since its debut in 2012, Halo Top has become a household name in the world of light ice creams.
This creamery produces a wealth of dairy and nondairy ice creams — all of which boast low calorie, sugar, and fat contents.
Although not entirely sugar-free, their products use a combination of organic cane sugar, sugar alcohols, and stevia.
Most flavors don’t exceed 6 grams of sugar per 1/2-cup (64-gram) serving, whereas regular ice cream may contain nearly 3 times that amount (
What’s more, Halo Top includes nutrients like protein and fiber that may help balance your blood sugar.
Remember that these ice creams aren’t as creamy as what you may be used to due to their low fat content.
A 1/2-cup (66-gram) serving of this brand’s chocolate mocha chip ice cream provides (10):
|Sugar alcohols||6 grams|
SO Delicious, which is renowned for its creamy dairy alternatives, makes everything from dairy-free ice cream to coffee creamer.
Their line of ice cream pints and bars use a base of coconut milk, making them perfect for anyone following a dairy-free or vegan diet.
In lieu of sugar, they’re sweetened with sugar alcohols and monk fruit. Their fiber content also keeps you feeling full.
While they don’t have as many flavors as other leading brands, SO Delicious offers vanilla bean, mint chip, chocolate, and butter pecan in their line of sugar-free ice creams.
Each 1/2-cup (85-gram) serving of SO Delicious vanilla bean frozen dessert provides (11):
|Sugar alcohols||3 grams|
New to the sugar-free ice cream scene is Keto Pint.
This brand offers a variety of low carb ice cream products made with whole ingredients, including cream, eggs, and whole milk.
They use a combination of sugar alternatives like monk fruit, stevia, and sugar alcohols. Plus, most of their six flavors pack a decent amount of protein and fiber.
As its name implies, Keto Pint makes keto-friendly items, giving its products more fat than most other low sugar brands. Though they’re especially creamy, you’ll want to look elsewhere if you’re seeking low fat ice cream.
A 1/2-cup (75-gram) serving of Keto Pint’s strawberry ice cream contains (12):
|Sugar alcohols||6 grams|
Arctic Zero specializes in low calorie, low fat, low sugar frozen desserts. They make pints of dairy and nondairy ice creams, plus a selection of ice cream bars.
While not completely sugar-free, their products are much lower in sugar than traditional ice cream. Almost all of their products use organic cane sugar and sometimes other natural sweeteners, such as stevia or monk fruit.
Furthermore, they provide fiber and don’t contain any sugar alcohols — which may be particularly appealing for anyone who has difficulty tolerating these sweeteners.
Like many other low fat frozen desserts, Arctic Zero products don’t have the same creamy, smooth texture of high fat ice creams.
A 1/2-cup (58-gram) serving of Arctic Zero cherry chocolate chunk offers (13):
|Sugar alcohols||0 grams|
Skinny Cow has offered popular low fat ice creams since the 1990s.
They recently bolstered their product line with no sugar added ice cream sandwiches, which offer fiber and protein — and are remarkably creamy for being so low in fat and sugar.
Yet, their ingredients aren’t as high quality as many competitors’. These sandwiches include several food additives and rely on sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners.
You can find Skinny Cow products in numerous grocery stores and supermarkets in the United States.
Each ice cream sandwich (71 grams) offers (14, 15):
|Sugar alcohols||2 grams|
You can use frozen ripe bananas to make simple, delicious, low sugar ice cream at home.
Widely dubbed “nice cream,” fruit-based ice cream only requires a few ingredients and a food processor or blender. For this one, you just need to blend a frozen ripe banana, a splash of dairy or nondairy milk, and any additional flavorings you desire.
Given that bananas are naturally sweet, you don’t need to add any sweeteners. That said, you can include stevia drops or monk fruit to boost the sweetness to your liking.
To vary the flavor, mix in vanilla bean paste, cocoa powder, or other frozen fruits like mangoes, peaches, or raspberries. You can also add sugar-free nut or seed butter to impart protein and a rich, creamy texture.
- Calories: 99
- Fat: 1 gram
- Protein: 1 gram
- Carbs: 23 grams
- Fiber: 2.6 grams
- Sugar: 12 grams (all natural, none added)
Although homemade banana-based ice cream doesn’t contain any added sugar, the natural sugars in the fruit contribute to your total carb intake. Thus, if you’re watching your carb intake or blood sugar levels, you should eat small servings or choose a different ice cream.
If you’re looking for a homemade ice cream that doesn’t contain added sugars and is low in carbs, try using full fat coconut milk as a base.
For a classic vanilla flavor, mix coconut milk with vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, and your favorite sugar-free sweetener — stevia, monk fruit, and sugar alcohols work well. Other sugar-free ingredients like nut butters, matcha, and cocoa powder make great optional add-ins.
Freeze the mixture in small, blender-friendly portions, allow it to thaw slightly, then blend it until smooth and creamy.
A 1/2-cup (113-gram) serving with no extra ingredients provides approximately (
- Calories: 223
- Fat: 24 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Sugar: 1.5 grams
Although there’s no sugar added and it’s very low in carbs, this particular ice cream is higher in fat and calories than many other options. Thus, if you’re following a low fat diet or trying to reduce your calorie intake, it may not be the best choice.
Choosing the right sugar-free or low sugar ice cream depends on your dietary goals and personal tastes.
Blood sugar balance
If you want to improve your blood sugar control, focus on total carb content. Regardless of the source, carbs can contribute to blood sugar increases.
Therefore, look for sugar-free ice creams that are low in total carbs.
If you’re counting calories, opt for ice creams with the lowest calorie content. These options are usually lower in fat, as fat packs more calories than other macronutrients.
That said, if you prefer higher fat versions for their creaminess, you can still eat them. You’ll just want to watch your portion sizes so that you stay within your calorie limits.
If you’re focused on food quality, be sure to pay close attention to ingredients.
In some cases, regular ice cream may contain more nutrient dense, whole foods than sugar-free alternatives.
Many light or low sugar ice creams tend to have lots of additives, such as preservatives, gums, artificial colors, and stabilizers, to achieve an appearance and consistency similar to those of regular ice cream.
Though these ingredients aren’t likely to cause side effects, especially at the small amounts present, some people may still wish to avoid them.
In particular, sensitive individuals may experience allergic reactions or uncomfortable digestive symptoms after consuming additives (
If you know that you’re sensitive to any of these ingredients, steer clear of products with additives.
Homemade options are almost always the best choice to ensure whole, high quality ingredients, as you have complete control over the ingredients and level of sweetness.
Ice cream is a beloved, classic dessert, but it tends to be very high in added sugar.
If you don’t want to give up this dessert but are trying to reduce your sugar intake, consider one of the sugar-free or low sugar ice creams in this list.
It’s also easy to make your own by using fruit like coconut or banana as a base.