Trailblazing Dairy-Free Ice Cream Flavoring

According to the Plant Based Foods Association, more than 10% of households are now purchasing plant-based ice cream.

Where consumers were previously limited in dairy-free ice cream options, they are now overwhelmed with the innovations of the ice cream industry.

To stand out on grocery shelves, many food manufacturers are experimenting with daring fruit combinations, twists on classic nutty flavors, and savory flavors.


Daring Fruit Combinations

According to 2024 Food Trends, a Datassential report, 34% of consumers say they treat themselves to an indulgent food treat a few times a week. A great way to delight these consumers is with pairings that imply fun, approachable combinations. Starting with fruit makes these ice cream combinations approachable. Experimenting with daring combinations makes them fun.

Here are some unconventional fruit combinations that can lead to unique and exciting flavor profiles:

  • Blackberry Sage Lemon: Tart blackberry, fragrant sage, and zesty lemon combine for a complex and aromatic ice cream.
  • Blueberry Lavender Lemonade: Blueberry, lavender, and lemonade flavors blend for a floral, fruity, and slightly tangy ice cream.
  • Guava Habanero Lime: The tropical sweetness of guava, the heat of habanero, and the acidity of lime create a bold and spicy flavor.
  • Passion Fruit Chili Basil: Tangy passion fruit, spicy chili, and aromatic basil combine for a tropical and spicy twist.
  • Pineapple Rosemary Coconut: Tropical pineapple, earthy rosemary, and creamy coconut come together for a unique and exotic flavor.
  • Watermelon Mint Chili: Sweet watermelon, cooling mint, and a hint of chili create a refreshing and mildly spicy summer treat.

Nutty Infusions

Nuts, known for their nutritional value and diverse flavors, have historically been popular among consumers. When it comes to their popularity in ice cream, the added texture of real nuts is a standout benefit. But, nothing tops flavor. The most common purchasing driver - especially for ice cream - is flavor. In 2023, the top 10 nuts used in dairy and non-dairy ice creams were: almond, hazelnut, peanut, cashew, pistachio, pecan, walnut, macadamia, praline and chestnut.1 All of these flavors have the potential for growth as both an inclusion in the ice cream and a flavor.

Simultaneously stay safe and get creative with new versions of indulgent nut desserts. Here are some unconventional nutty twists on three classic nut ice cream flavors:


  • Cherry Almond Amaretto: Add cherry and a hint of amaretto for a fruity and almond-flavored ice cream reminiscent of the classic Italian liqueur.
  • Chocolate Orange Almond: Integrate chocolate with the citrusy notes of orange for a decadent and refreshing flavor profile with almond.
  • Coconut Almond Joy: Incorporate coconut and chocolate to recreate the classic Almond Joy candy bar in ice cream form.
  • Coffee Toffee Almond: Mix coffee with toffee for a rich treat that complements the nuttiness of almond.
  • Lavender Honey Almond: Combine the fragrant essence of lavender with the sweetness of honey, enhancing the nuttiness of almond for a sophisticated and floral treat.


  • Chai Spiced Pistachio: Blend in chai spice for a warm and aromatic ice cream experience that compliments pistachio.
  • Chocolate Cherry Pistachio: Integrate chocolate and cherry with pistachio for a delightful combination of sweet, tart, and nutty flavors.
  • Coconut Lime Pistachio: Mix coconut and lime to create a tropical and zesty ice cream that pairs well with the buttery taste of pistachio.
  • Honey Lavender Pistachio: Combine the floral sweetness of honey and lavender with the nutty taste of pistachio for a sophisticated and fragrant ice cream.


  • Coconut Pecan Pie: Combine the rich flavor of coconut with pecan to create an exotic and tropical twist on the classic pecan pie ice cream.
  • Banana Bread Pecan: Combine the flavors of banana bread with pecan for a unique and comforting ice cream experience.
  • Honey Fig Pecan: Fig with honey, along with pecan makes for a sweet, fruity, and nutty combination.

Savory Standouts

According to a 2022 survey from market-research firm Mintel, 25% of consumers aged 25-34, plus an additional 13% of adult Americans, would be encouraged to buy more ice cream if there were more savory offerings. Several companies have already started to meet demand. For example, in 2021, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream launched the Everything Bagel ice cream. It sold out in nine days. Meanwhile, Van Leeuwen was developing their own savory flavor: Kraft macaroni and cheese. According to Food & Wine, 6,000 pints sold out in one hour.

Maybe you’re not ready to create a ranch or pizza flavored ice cream, but here are some ideas to ease you into savory ice cream:


  • Blueberry Rosemary: The sweetness of blueberry can contrast with the earthy tones of rosemary, providing a delightful balance.
  • Fig Rosemary: Fig has a natural sweetness and earthiness that can complement the herbal notes of rosemary.
  • Orange Rosemary: Orange can add a citrusy brightness that pairs well with the herbal qualities of rosemary.
  • Vanilla Rosemary: The classic sweetness of vanilla can be enhanced by the herbal undertones of rosemary for a sophisticated twist on a traditional flavor.


  • Chocolate Jalapeño: The richness of chocolate can be enhanced by the spicy kick of jalapeño, creating a bold and indulgent flavor.
  • Coconut Jalapeño: The creamy and tropical taste of coconut can complement the spiciness of jalapeño, creating a unique and exotic ice cream.
  • Lime Jalapeño: The citrusy notes of lime can add brightness to the spiciness of jalapeño, creating a vibrant and refreshing ice cream.
  • Mango Jalapeño: The sweetness of mango can balance the spiciness of jalapeño, creating a tropical and zesty flavor.
  • Strawberry Jalapeño: The sweetness of strawberry pairs well with the heat of jalapeño, offering a sweet and spicy contrast.
  • Peach Jalapeño: The sweetness of peach also pairs well with the heat of jalapeño, offering a sweet and spicy summer-inspired treat.
  • Pineapple Jalapeño: The tropical and tangy flavor of pineapple complements the heat of jalapeño, resulting in a refreshing and spicy combination.


  • Banana Bacon: The sweetness of banana can complement the savory elements of bacon, creating a unique and enjoyable combination.
  • Chocolate Bacon: The richness of chocolate can enhance the savory notes of bacon, resulting in a decadent and indulgent treat.
  • Coffee Bacon: The bold and bitter notes of coffee can contrast with the smokiness of bacon, offering a complex and intriguing flavor profile.
  • Peanut Butter Bacon: The nuttiness of peanut butter pairs well with the smokiness of bacon, offering a satisfying blend of flavors.
  • Salted Caramel Bacon: Combining the sweet and salty caramel can create a balanced and addictive flavor with the addition of bacon.


In the realm of dairy-free ice cream, a revolution is underway, marked by a significant shift in consumer preferences. The current market trend sees manufacturers pushing the envelope by experimenting with daring fruit combinations, inventive nutty twists, and even savory flavors, making dairy-free ice cream a dynamic and ever-evolving landscape.

Bickford Flavors can help you dive in and find your place on the playground of creativity and innovation. Check out our wholesale programs or how we work with others in the ice cream industry.


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