As most people know, regular ice cream is high in calories, fat, saturated fat, and sugar and is generally not considered to be “good for you.“
So, what are the best healthy ice cream alternatives? Is there a healthy alternative to ice cream for weight loss?
Can you make a healthy ice cream substitute that tastes good and satisfies an ice cream craving but serves as a healthy ice cream alternative with less fat, fewer calories, more protein, or some other nutrient profile that makes it a healthier ice cream substitute?
In this article, we will briefly discuss why you may want a healthy alternative to ice cream and provide a list of some of the best healthy ice cream alternatives to substitute regular ice cream for a diet-friendly ice cream that better meets your weight loss, nutrition, or health goals.
We will look at:
- What Is a Healthy Alternative to Ice Cream?
- 10 Healthy Alternatives To Ice Cream
Let’s get started!
What Is a Healthy Alternative to Ice Cream?
According to Statista, over 291 million Americans reported consuming ice cream in 2020, which represents 85% of the population.
Furthermore, according to the International Dairy Foods Association, the average American consumes 20 pounds of ice cream per year, or 4 gallons, with 73% of consumers enjoying ice cream at least once a week.
Despite the rise in ice cream alternatives that are lower in calories or fat, regular ice cream remains the most popular type of ice cream purchased and represents about 80% of the ice cream market worldwide.
Most people looking for a healthier alternative to ice cream are looking for a cold, refreshing dessert treat that satisfies an ice cream craving with fewer calories, less fat, less sugar, or more nutrients, depending on your dietary goals.For example, someone who wants to eat ice cream while on a weight loss diet will likely want a low-calorie substitute for ice cream, whereas someone who wants to eat ice cream on a low-carb diet, such as the keto diet, will want a no-carb ice cream substitute or sugar-free ice cream alternative.
10 Healthy Alternatives To Ice Cream
Here are some of the best healthy ice cream alternatives to substitute regular ice cream:
#1: “Nice Cream”
If you want a low-calorie ice cream substitute, “nice cream” is one of the easiest and best ice cream alternatives for weight loss.
Nice cream is made by blending bananas into a smooth texture and then freezing the concoction.
All you have to do is freeze unpeeled bananas. Then, take out one or two and slice them into 1- or 2-inch chunks and blend them in a high-quality blender.
Depending on how frozen the bananas are, you can incorporate a fresh banana if the fat-free ice cream alternative is too thick or won’t blend, or you can add some unsweetened almond milk to thin out the purée.
If you like more of a whipped, soft-serve healthy ice cream alternative, you can enjoy the mixture right away.
If you prefer hard-packed fat-free ice cream, you can pour the blended banana sorbet frozen treat into cups and then freeze it until it sets more.
You can also add flavorings or toppings mixed in, like cinnamon and cocoa powder, coconut flakes, cocoa nibs or chocolate chips, freeze-dried strawberries or blueberries, or nuts, depending on your taste preferences and dietary needs.
Note that this is one of the best nonfat, low-calorie ice cream alternatives because bananas contain no fat and are lower in calories than the cream, egg yolks, and sugar used to make regular ice cream.
Bananas also provide potassium, magnesium, and a little bit of fiber.
However, this is not a good ice cream substitute for those on a low-carb diet since bananas are high in carbohydrates and natural sugars.
#2: Frozen Banana Pops
If you love ice cream bars and want a healthier Klondike bar alternative or healthier ice cream cone alternative, you can make a 100-calorie ice cream pop by cutting a banana in half and sticking a popsicle stick in each half.
Then, melt a little bit of dark chocolate and twirl the banana in the chocolate to coat it, and set it in the freezer.
Each pop will have only about 80 calories and makes a surprisingly indulgent snack of less than 100 calories.
Even if you have both halves, you’ll have only about 160 calories in your healthy ice cream cone substitute.
Plus, the chocolate hardens nicely, and the frozen banana takes a while to eat, so you can savor this treat just as you would an ice cream cone.
#3: Frozen Pudding
You can actually freeze pudding cups and then let them thaw slightly for a healthier alternative to ice cream.
Although commercial pudding can still be high in sugar, there are sugar-free pudding options (though artificial sweeteners in these products are not necessarily “better“ for you than regular sugar, depending on your dietary needs).
Thus, this is a low-calorie ice cream swap, but it is not necessarily packed with nutrients.
#4: Greek Yogurt Ice Cream
One of the best high-protein ice cream alternatives is to make Greek yogurt frozen yogurt ice cream.
This is a great healthy alternative to ice cream for anyone who wants a more nutritious, protein-packed, low-sugar healthier ice cream and doesn’t necessarily need healthy non-dairy ice cream alternatives.
If you are going to make Greek yogurt frozen yogurt ice cream, it is best to use full-fat Greek yogurt so that the ice cream has more of a creamy texture.
Otherwise, frozen Greek yogurt ice cream can be kind of icy unless you add an additional fat such as coconut milk to the base.
Smoothies can be a good alternative to ice cream.
You can even blend one up and then pour the smoothie into popsicle molds and freeze it.
#6: Protein Shake Ice Cream
You can freeze homemade protein shakes just like smoothies for healthy, creamy, high-protein ice cream.
#7: Shaved Ice
Shaved ice made with a little bit of juice is a very low-calorie ice cream alternative that still gives you that frozen treat feeling on a hot day.
#8: Avocado Ice Cream
If you are following the keto diet and you want a low-carb or no-carb ice cream alternative, you can make a delicious, creamy keto ice cream using avocados.
The simplest sugar-free ice cream recipe with avocados is to blend one whole, very ripe avocado with 1/3 of a cup of cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/3 cup of full-fat coconut milk, and your favorite keto sweetener such as Stevia into a smooth, creamy purée.
Then, set the mixture in the freezer until it has firmed up to the texture that you like.
This is a great keto ice cream because it is high in fat and contains no sugar and very few carbs.
Plus, avocados are a great source of potassium, vitamin E, vitamin K, and fiber. The natural fat in the avocado and in the coconut milk makes for a very smooth ice cream consistency.
You can tweak this low-carb ice cream alternative if you want to cut calories more and you’re not on keto by skipping the coconut milk and just adding a few tablespoons of unsweetened almond milk until you get a smooth texture.
#9: Silken Tofu Ice Cream
One of the best healthy alternatives to ice cream for those who want to cut calories and fat while boosting protein and having a healthy plant-based ice cream is to make ice cream with silken tofu, which is the softest variety of tofu.
Unlike firm tofu that will not work well because it won’t whip up, silken tofu falls apart almost like a thick Greek yogurt when you purée it.
Tofu is not sweet, so you will either need to add a natural sweetener such as maple syrup, honey, or agave syrup or a non-caloric sweetener (such as liquid stevia) if you are following a low-carb diet.
Flavor it with vanilla extract or cocoa powder.
#10: Healthier Store-Bought Ice Cream Alternatives
If you don’t want to make your own healthy ice cream, there are healthier alternatives to regular ice cream that you can buy at the grocery store.
Most of these frozen treats will still have a fair amount of sugar, but depending on your reason for wanting a healthy alternative to ice cream, one of these options may work well for you:
- Fruit popsicles
- Lower-calorie ice cream like Halo Top and Enlightenment Light Ice Cream
- Sugar-free ice cream
- Frozen yogurt
- Greek yogurt ice cream pops
- Plant-based ice cream such as So Delicious coconut milk ice cream, oat milk ice cream
- Mochi, such as Bubbies Ice Cream
- Italian Ice
- “Light” ice cream
- Slow-churned ice cream
For more healthy food substitute ideas, check out our guide to healthy alternatives to butter here.