Dig out your ice cream scoop, because America’s best-selling ice cream has landed. The cult brand is swooping into Canada on March 5, bringing 12 of its 25 coveted flavours to stores nationwide. Why all the hype? This frosty Instagram sensation promises less sugar, fewer calories and more protein than your usual pint while delivering the satisfaction of eating real ice cream.
Launched in 2012, Halo Top has been a runaway hit, dethroning both Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs in 2017 to become top-selling pint of ice cream in the U.S.
What makes Halo Top so popular?
The packaging is smart. Each tub comes with a gold-rimmed lip and cleverly designed message underneath, telling you to “Stop When You Hit The Bottom” or declaring “I’m Cold, Let’s Spoon.” Cute. The real draw, however, is that each pint has just 80 to 100 calories per 125ml serving, far fewer than regular ice cream. With more air whipped into the product, the texture is decidedly lighter, but the flavour variety offers something a lot of brands don’t.
Halo Top cuts back on the sugar by using three different sweeteners: Stevia (a low-calorie natural sweetener), erythritol (natural sugar alcohol) and cane sugar. In a comparison of Halo Top Vanilla Bean and Häagen-Dazs Vanilla, Halo Top has just 80 calories, 2.5g fat, 5g protein and 15g carbs while Häagen-Dazs has 290cal, 18g fat, 5g protein and 26g carbs.
But does Halo Top taste any good? And, more importantly, is it as good as the real thing? The Chatelaine food team tasted all 12 flavours to find out. Here are our tasting notes and top three flavours.
The Halo Top Flavours
While this isn’t our favourite vanilla ever (we’d reserve that ranking for a creamier, richer product), it wasn’t cloyingly sweet and the vanilla tasted authentic, making it a nice alternative.
The lighter texture was more obvious in this pint, but otherwise it delivered on everything a normal chocolate ice cream would.
Peanut Butter Swirl
No one’s favourite flavour (read on for the top three), but we didn’t have any complaints, either. It just didn’t have the rich density you hope for.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
More cookie dough, please. The real thing is more satisfying, but this variation works. The dough component and tasty chocolate chip-like bits are both here.
Very minty! Surprisingly, this flavour had a slight aftertaste that didn’t agree with many of our tasters. Our food director — a self-professed, mint-chip purist — missed the rich creaminess of the classic.
Cookies and Cream
A great variation that got high marks from a few tasters. It just doesn’t have the same flavour oomph we love in the classic ice cream pint.
Our associate editor rated this as her top choice. Coffee ice cream fans: this is right up your alley.
Pancakes and Waffles
We predicted this pint would be our favourite as it’s one of the most buzzed-about flavours, but as much as we liked the chunks of waffles and pancakes, the maple syrup tasted more like table syrup. It’s worth a try.
A contender! This was one of our food editor’s favourites, but it didn’t make it through the final group vote. With its sweet candy-bar deliciousness — featuring chocolate and caramel swirls with chunks of peanuts — we definitely recommend trying a scoop.
Our Top Three Halo Top Flavours
3. Birthday Cake
Maybe the trendiest flavour of the bunch. It’s swirled with sprinkles and really does taste like a slice of birthday cake. We’d definitely celebrate with a bowl of this guy.
2. Sea Salt Caramel
This pint is everything you love about a chewy sea-salt caramel, in ice cream form. This one ranked highly among over half our tasters — coming in strong at second place. Simple and satisfying when paired with an afternoon cup of java.
1. Oatmeal Cookie
A shocking surprise to all, this flavour won by a large margin. But, who doesn’t love a homemade, chewy oatmeal cookie? With rolled oats and cinnamon blended in, we didn’t want to stop until we hit the bottom.
Our Halo Top Verdict
It’s good — but not as good as the real thing. If you’re an ice cream purist, this isn’t for you, and that is where most of our tasters landed. Aside from oatmeal cookie, our team ultimately felt they’d simply prefer eating less of the traditional stuff. The rich creaminess we crave in the perfect scoop just isn’t there. But we were pleasantly surprised how much we did like it (there were some skeptics) so for anyone seeking low-sugar options, unique flavours (like pancakes and waffles) or just looking for a pint-sized way to fill snack cravings, Halo Top may be the best thing that’s happened to the freezer aisle.
Watch: How to make easy and elegant ice cream sandwiches