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Given 2019 appears to be the year of the sugar-free, Lime-scooter-riding vegan, it's not surprising ice cream companies are promoting a range of dairy-free alternatives.

While some promise to offer you an extra dose of protein, others claim to cut your calories in half while still giving your sweet tooth a satisfying hit. But are any of these alternatives actually as good as the real deal?

We took six brands with alternative ingredients and put them up against a Kiwi classic, Tip Top creamy vanilla, to see if any of them actually stacked up.


Ice cream enthusiasts Cam and Gracie graded the options on taste, texture and, most importantly, if they could satisfy a naughty late night sugar craving.

Here's how they went.

The test

How would these alternatives stack up against the classic Tip Top vanilla?
How would these alternatives stack up against the classic Tip Top vanilla?

Magnum Dairy Free

We managed to get our hands on the newly released vegan Magnum bars. The little morsels were an instant hit with Gracie and Cam, who loved the dark chocolate coating.

The ice cream bars, made from pea protein, were easy to eat, but Cam noted they did lack a bit of that creaminess he loves in classic ice cream.

While both our taste testers gave the chocolate coating top points they found the centre lacking when compared to traditional dairy ice cream.

Halo Top

The colourfully decorated packaging was a hit, as were the sprinkles inside the pint.

Halo top's birthday cake flavour lived up to its name, too. The low-calorie ice cream really did taste like frosting.

With only 280 calories in the entire tub, Cam felt this was the kind of dessert he could eat and not feel guilty about.


Tip Top

The classic Kiwi offering gave both testers the thick creamy taste they were after.

Gracie and Cam agreed the taste was familiar and delicious and that the classic ice cream made from dairy is still as good as ever.


Zilch vanilla ice cream started off well: Our participants loved the packaging and the initial sugar free taste. However they were met with a "strange" after taste and disappointing texture. Gracie and Cam noted this was one they'd be unlikely to choose again.

Isocream protein ice cream

While it might be a good protein shake alternative, it was agreed this wasn't a top pick.

While the taste was similar to a protein shake and the texture and smell reminded the panelists a bit of hair mousse.

Gracie and Cam agreed they would leave this high protein alternative to the gym junkies.

Little Island coconut ice cream

Little Island coconut ice cream delivered on the rich texture our taste testers were after - and a delicious taste.

While definitely different to traditional ice cream, it still gave them a tasty dairy-free option which stood up well all on its own.

Ben & Jerry's Coconut Seven Layer Bar

This Ben & Jerry's dairy-free ice cream is made from almond milk, which Cam could taste from the get-go.

While the texture was different to what they were used to, Cam and Gracie found themselves reaching for more of this one.

The verdict

The best dairy alternative according to our taste testers was the Ben & Jerry's almond milk option, which Gracie noted she would go as far as choosing over traditional Tip Top ice cream.

However, if given the choice, Cam would still reach for classic dairy milk ice cream, because if you're not vegan or allergic to dairy and you want to indulge in ice cream, it may as well be the real deal that will give you the taste you want, right?