Savory (and Surprisingly Delicious) Ice Cream Flavors You Need to Try

Because, vanilla is so...well, vanilla.

Photography by Beth Kirby for food52

As far as ice cream flavors go, you have your traditional scope options—strawberry, vanilla, know the drill—and then the slightly more daring flavors where blend-ins are involved. And then you have the truly avant-garde options: we're talking savory, spicy, and every other untraditional ingredient one can think of. So with National Ice Cream day coming up (Sunday!) we decided to explore the flavors that err on the more daring side of things. Read on to see the wild flavors we'll be making this weekend. 

Sweet Corn and Black Pepper Ice Cream
Make the most of that sweet summer corn with this decadent recipe, comprised of brown sugar and a healthy helping of black pepper for a dynamic burst of flavor. Your taste buds won't know what hit them. 

Photography by Con Poulos for food and wine

Saffron and rosewater may be the two staples of Iranian cuisine but this clever recipe utilizes them in a rather untraditional form. The foundation is the standard but the flavors, significantly more developed. While this one definitely skews towards the sweeter side the savory elements of the saffron do not go unnoticed. 

Photography by salty canary

Spicy with a sweet side is definitely something we can get behind on—enter this ingenious take featuring everyone's go-to hot sauce. In lieu of drizzling it on top of your favorite scoop of vanilla, why not blend it in from the very start? Serve this one in a sugar cone for an added dose of sweetness. 


Red Wine
Whether you’re well versed in the complexities of wine or unapologetically pick the one with the prettiest label, you’ll love this subtly tart, icy alternative to your favorite glass of red.

Photography by ABROWNTABLE.COM

Beet, Rose Water, Honey, + Goat Cheese
This is some highbrow ice cream. Impress your pals with the most discerning palates — roasted beets and honey complement tangy goat cheese, while rose water lends a lightly floral note to this unexpectedly delightful scoop. As an added bonus, the deep magenta shade will look lovely on the table. “Oh, this? I just threw it together between arranging the floral centerpiece and organizing my life. No big.” 

Photography by @DOMINIQUEANSEL

From the real-life Willy Wonka who gave us the cronut, behold burrata ice cream. Dominique Ansel offers an alternative to basic vanilla with this creamy mozzarella-flavored soft serve, presented in a crisp honey tuile cone with a whole confit strawberry inside, then drizzled with balsamic caramel and dotted with fresh micro basil. Luckily, this confection is way easier to get your hands on than a cronut.

Photography by COOLHAUS

With flavors like Peking Duck and Fried Chicken & Waffles, LA-based Coolhaus is no stranger to the strange scoop. Their latest creation captures the essence of a slice in one cold, creamy cup, with a mascarpone base, flecks of sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil, olive oil, and a little salt. The only thing missing is the chewy crust, so instead order your ice cream sandwich on a brioche bun for an entirely new (but no less tasty and portable) way to eat pizza.

Photography by LEELA CYD ROSS

Pear & Blue Cheese
Portland’s Salt & Straw takes the best parts of a cheese plate—with local Oregon Trail Northwest Bartlett pears and Rogue Creamery Crater Lake Blue Cheese—and mixes them into this weird and wonderful ice cream.  Much like the city itself, this flavor is a sweet and funky alternative to ordinary. 

Photography by SAVEUR

It turns out basil isn’t just for pizza and pesto. Two cups of the fresh, fragrant herb deliver a bright green hue and sweet, slightly spicy flavor to this beautifully aromatic ice cream.

Photography by SAVEUR

Roasted Garlic
While this oddball ice cream is a little sweeter and nuttier-tasting than you’d expect, thanks to roasting the garlic before blending into a vanilla base, it retains enough of its signature flavor that should have mints on standby. 

Photography by HONESTLYYUM.COM

Made with a healthy dose of dark, chocolatey stout, beer ice cream brings new meaning to finishing the whole pint. Add two chocolate chip cookies and a roll in crushed peanuts and pretzels for a boozy, grown-up version of a chipwich. 

Photography by BONAPPETIT.COM

Olive Oil
With so much versatility (seriously, it’s the foundation of pretty much every dish in our repertoire) olive oil is a kitchen MVP.  But don’t draw the line with dinner. The right olive oil will add a fruity, slightly floral flavor to this deliciously mellow dessert. Add toasted pine nuts, dark chocolate shavings, or just a pinch of sea salt if you want to show off.

Photography by ODDFELLOWS

Foie Gras
OddFellows transforms fattened duck liver from fine dining delicacy to quirky dessert with their Foie Gras Drumstick. At the shop’s Brooklyn headquarters, co-founder and flavor visionary Sam Mason makes the uber-rich ice cream with foie gras (from local Hudson Valley Foie Gras), puts it in a chocolate-lined sugar cone, and coats it with more chocolate and toasted hazelnuts for a decadent spin on the classic ice cream truck treat. 


Tomato Sorbet
If frosty tomato sounds strange, remember how refreshing gazpacho tastes on a sticky summer day, or how a Bloody Mary, ahem, restores after a particularly late night. Ingredients like bell pepper, tarragon, and basil mean this vivid red sorbet is best served with dinner instead of after.

Photography by ALTONBROWN.COM

If you thought you couldn’t love an avocado any more than you do on toast, wait until you try one in frozen form. The buttery texture makes perfect sense in ice cream, and with only five ingredients, it’s easy to whip up a batch and taste for yourself.

This story was originally published on March 16, 2016, it has been updated with new information.

Related reading: 
The Coolest Ice Cream Parlors in NYC Right Now 
NYC's Best New Soft Serve Ice Cream
Brigadeiro Ice Cream Recipe

Published on July 13, 2018 - 10:40am EDT

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