Is ice cream good for you? Well, it’s good for your soul. But it’s also high in sugar and fat, and more of an occasional treat than a nutritional staple. But our motto is “everything in moderation,” and instead of cutting the category from your diet altogether, why not look for a boost in the protein department? It’s an essential macronutrient for muscle building and repair and helps your body produce important hormones, plus it keeps you satisfied and can help prevent a sugar crash. Luckily, there are many high-protein ice cream brands to choose from—here are eight to try.
What is high-protein ice cream?
Sure, milk, cream and eggs all have some protein, but how does ice cream fit into a diet if it’s high in calories, sugar and fat? High-protein ice cream is a little bit different:
It contains added protein. High-protein ice cream can be made with regular or non-dairy milk depending on the brand, but it usually contains added protein in the form of milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate or plant-based protein concentrates (like those made from peas or soy).
It’s made with low-fat dairy. This also depends on the brand, but since many high-protein ice creams are also “light” or low-calorie, they’re often made from skim milk instead of whole.
It’s sweetened with sugar substitutes. Many high-protein ice cream brands also swap sugar for low-calorie and sugar-free alternatives for sweetness, such as stevia, erythritol, monk fruit extractand vegetable glycerin. This doesn’t affect the protein content, but it lowers the overall sugar content of the pints.
8 High-Protein Ice Cream Brands to Try
1. Halo Top
Nutrition per ⅔ cup serving: 100 calories, 6g protein, 2g fat, 21g carbs, 7g sugars
Halo Top is well-known for good reason: It packs approximately 20 grams of protein into each pint, while still being low-cal. That’s thanks to ultrafiltered skim milk, which has been processed to remove lactose and water, concentrating the protein molecules. Despite its healthy label, Halo Top manages to excite with its extensive and creative flavor lineup—think key lime pie, caramel macchiato, s’mores and sea salt caramel in addition to more traditional flavors.
Flavor to try: Blueberry Crumble
2. Arctic Zero
Nutrition per ⅔ cup serving: 50 calories, 2g protein, 0g fat, 11g carbs, 8g sugars
All of Artic Zero’s high-protein pints are non-dairy and made with a plant-based faba bean protein concentrate, so they’re keto-friendly, low glycemic and vegan. The flavor lineup—which includes classic favorites like vanilla, mint, cake batter and cherry chocolate chunk—is largely peanut-, tree nut- and soy-free too. (Just check the label on the flavor you choose first.)
Flavor to try: Pistachio
3. Enlightened Light Ice Cream
Nutrition per ⅔ cup serving: 100 calories, 7g protein, 3g fat, 20g carbs, 5g sugars
While Enlightened more recently launched a selection of keto ice creams, the brand’s O.G. low-calorie line is a high-protein staple. Each pint contains 280 to 400 calories and 20 to 24 grams of protein (depending on the flavor) and the frozen dessert is made with milk protein concentrate. It also contains 60 to 80 percent less sugar than traditional ice cream and comes in fun flavors like cold brew coffee and marshmallow peanut butter.
Flavor to try: Chocolate Peanut Butter
4. So Delicious Dairy Free Light
Nutrition per ⅔ cup serving: 110 calories, 1g protein, 5g fat, 20g carbs, 6g sugars
If you don’t eat dairy, you can still partake in a scoop of this plant-based high-protein option, which is made with pea protein and coconut oil. While there are only two flavors currently available (peanut butter and cocoa chip), they each contain just 330 calories per pint. And though So Delicious’s pints don’t contain nearly as much protein as other brands, it’s offset by the low-fat and low-carb factors.
Flavor to try: Peanut Butter
5. Skinny Cow
Nutrition per serving: 170 calories, 3g protein, 5g fat, 28g carbs, 14g sugars
Skinny Cow’s frozen desserts aren’t the highest in protein on this list, but they still pack a punch (plus, they’re lower in fat and calories than regular ice cream). The light ice cream is made from a blend of skim milk, cream and, surprisingly, buttermilk. We like the nostalgic cones best.
Flavor to try: Next Level Vanilla Caramel Cones
6. Snow Monkey
Nutrition per serving: 150 calories, 7g protein, 4g fat, 25g carbs, 17g sugars
Snow Monkey’s pints are plant-based, allergy-free and paleo-friendly, in addition to being high in protein. (The brand was founded by female athletes.) And instead of relying on dairy alternatives, the flavors are made from fruit purees and hemp protein powder and sweetened with maple syrup.
Flavor to try: Strawberry
7. Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt Bars
Nutrition per serving: 100 calories, 5g protein, 1g fat, 18g carbs, 16g sugars
Instead of pints, Yasso makes a variety of ice cream treats (like sandwiches and chocolate-dipped bites) with Greek yogurt as the base. That’s because it’s naturally high in protein with a rich, creamy texture. Each of the brand’s dessert bars contains 5 grams of protein from milk protein concentrate, with flavors like butter pecan and cookies and cream.
Flavor to try: Sea Salt Caramel
8. Keto Pint
Nutrition per ⅔ cup serving: 190 calories, 4g protein, 16g fat, 18g carbs, 1g sugars
You don’t have to follow the keto diet to enjoy the high-protein benefits of this ketogenic ice cream brand. (Keep in mind, though, this means it has more calories and fat than other light ice cream options.) Keto Pint uses local dairy to craft its ice cream, which is available in traditional flavors, like chocolate chip cookie dough, coffee and strawberry. Each one is sweetened with erythritol, monk fruit and stevia, and the base is a blend of cream, water, egg yolks and milk protein concentrate.
Flavor to try: Black Raspberry