Review: Halo Top Ice Cream (As Good As Real Ice Cream?)
Halo Top Ice Cream has become one of the leading brands in the food and dessert category, and after hearing so many strong recommendations from friends and online, I decided to try out a few of their flavors and provide reviews.
The company makes different flavor ice cream products that are so low calorie an entire pint is practically guilt-free. The most important initial questions, how does it compare to real ice cream? And of course, what is being put in this product to make it taste good if it only has 200-350 calories per pint? Is it healthy? The brand has recently surpassed leading brands like Breyer’s and Ben and Jerry’s and takes the “bestselling pint” title, a remarkable shift that’s come very recently, as sales have soared by about 3000% in the past two years. So is Halo Top worth the hype? The marketing is certainly ingenious, right down to the serving size being the entire pint (doesn’t that just beg you to eat the entire thing in one go?) I wanted to review the company and some background, list some main pros and cons, and examine the nutritional aspect further. This is not a review for every single flavor, but I did sample all of the bestsellers, not in one sitting.
Results were nothing short of delicious, and the company has developed a pretty ingenious creation.
In terms of the taste, I thought it was wonderful (for most flavors, and I will review the ones I tried), but not comparable to “real” ice cream. I wasn’t anticipating that, and think that’s impossible, so I will denote this is the best quality ice-cream product I have tasted considering the calorie count.
And it may save an extra trip to the gym or two.
Usually we have really self-indulgent and negative connotations in mind with regard to eating large quantities of ice cream, particularly a pint of ice cream, and somehow Halo Top has managed to use marketing to deconstruct this thinking, a brilliant sales ploy and one which has made it psychologically justifiable to indulge in a pint of ice cream without self-hatred and subsequent, let’s be honest, shame. With a $7 per pint price sticker, that still makes for a pretty indulgent habit that could quickly add up to hundreds throughout the course of a month if you’re consuming it at the rate the company suggests.
Halo Top has become a hit with dieters and the general population alike, the latter who have switched up a weekly habit to a daily one. The former may still be eating this in moderation. Halo Top replaces traditional sugars and fats with stevia and prebiotic sugar, and of course, the product would not be complete without additional air bubbles. They use erythritol, an all-natural sugar alcohol that tastes like sugar but contains .24 calories per gram. Additional organic sugar cane (regular sugar) is used in moderation, adding flavor but only what is necessary, and still coming in at around 80 calories for the pint. It should be noted that even if the marketing suggests a pint is a serving size, most nutritionists still do not recommend this serving size, even if it is a low fat alternative.
The traditional and recommended serving size does remain 1/2 cup, but since Halo Top provides most metrics and information using the pint as a serving, for the purposes of review that’s what will be used.
Here is a brief summary/review of some of the brands most popular offerings, and it must be taken with the reasonable understanding that we certainly all have different preferences and individual tastes, so one customer may love a certain flavor, and another may hate it. Halo Top is available in 17 different flavors, of which I sampled some of the most popular. I will note that in reading about favorite flavors I noticed many discussing a love for the cookie dough chocolate chip flavor, but I was unable to find this flavor at any local grocer.
I’ve also read great reviews about the red velvet flavor, which adds in brownie mix as filler.
Birthday Cake (280 calories per pint)
This has a vanilla base and adds a heavy amount of rainbow sprinkles for filler. It definitely has a birthday cake taste, I would compare it to frosting, without heavy sweetness overload. It’s a bit much to stomach a lot in one sitting, as it can be quite sweet, but I suppose that’s a good temptation to avoid to begin with. Excellent for cup or half cup servings.
1/2 Cup: 70 calories, 6g Protein, 15g Carbs, 2g Fat, 5g sugar & 5g sugar alcohol.
Peanut Butter Cup (320 calories per pint):
This was absolutely delicious, with large swirls of peanut butter throughout the entire pint. I questioned if the calorie count could even be real, it’s incredible. While it doesn’t taste like an actual peanut butter cup, it’s got a flavor that’s absolutely peanut butter, without being artificial at all. There’s also a plain peanut butter flavor, for those who don’t like chocolate or just want the peanut butter for taste. This is likely my favorite flavor.
1/2 Cup: 80 calories, 6g Protein, 12g Carbs, 3g Fat, 5g sugar & 4g sugar alcohol.
Chocolate (280 calories per pint)
This tastes great but it’s much more comparable to a fudge pop than to traditional chocolate ice cream. It certainly does not compare to a full fat ice cream chocolate, but it will absolutely satisfy cravings and for those who enjoy fudge type flavors, it’s delicious. It pairs well with an ice cream cone and sprinkles or a sprinkles served in a cup.
1/2 Cup: 70 calories, 5g Protein, 12g Carbs, 2.5g Fat, 5g sugar & 5g sugar alcohol.
Rainbow Swirl (Sorbet, 280 calories per pint):
This flavor was pretty good, and tasted exactly like any sorbet I’ve tried before, with presumably far less calories. It was so good I questioned if the calorie count could even be true. I would definitely recommend this over a higher calorie sorbet or even a gelato, as the taste is not just similar, it’s exactly the same. It’s incredibly sweet and may even be too sweet for some, but if you enjoy sorbet in general, you will probably like this as well. The flavors are raspberry, orange, and lime. I will say, many reviews for this online are extremely negative- so this very much comes down to personal preference. It may have a very artificial quality of taste for some, as most score this option fairly low on the list.
1/2 Cup: 60 calories, 2g Protein, 14g Carbs, 2g Fat, 5g sugar & 5g sugar alcohol.
This was probably my second favorite to the peanut butter cup flavor, it’s delicious and highly well reviewed. The ice cream tastes like fresh cinnamon and rolled oats act as a filler, they pair together quite nicely. Highly recommended!
1/2 Cup: 70 calories, 6g Protein, 12g Carbs, 2.5 Fat, 5g sugar & 4g sugar alcohol.
Pancakes and Waffles (280 calories per pint)
Sometimes diets have us craving pancakes and waffles in one go, for those moments you can turn to this for relief without a carb-heavy breakfast meal. There are pieces of waffle cone mixed in and the ice cream is a buttery maple, definitely delicious. I will note there is a slight aftertaste thats a bit artificial.
Ouch… I am just realizing how much money this sampling session must have added up to. Well, at least the same can’t be said in the nutritional department, it feels justified.
If you have an allergic reaction or food allergy to this product, you can expect a full refund of the purchase price. Halo Top will provide a refund upon allergy to the product, but as with any food item, this typically is not eligible for refund upon general dissatisfaction. If you have a customer service related issue, you may contact the manufacturer to help resolve the problem and hopefully mitigate any losses.
Positives and Negatives
The overwhelming consensus from others, and I would agree with after trying out several different flavors for comparison and researching the nutrition further, is that the positives outweigh the negatives.
The negatives are typically price constraints and some have qualms about the texture of the ice cream. But with an entire pint of ice cream coming in at the same calorie count as a 1/2 cup serving of a regular vanilla, we can only expect excellence, not miracles. For those who really love ice cream and purchase it regularly, this will be a switch and the difference will be noticeable, in fact some may not even enjoy it. For those who follow diets, don’t purchase ice cream often, or don’t even purchase it, this is typically delicious. Your main regret will be in the addictive quality of finishing entire pints, but sans the guilt.
Here is a look at some of the main pros and a couple of downsides, with respect to Halo Top:
- The taste compared to calorie count, and just in general, is really great (sweet, light, the flavor tastes accurate)
- Great range of flavors to pick from, including more traditional flavors and ones that are fairly unique to any other brand
- Taste is better than many competitors in the market offering fat free, low fat, or low sugar alternatives (including Bryer’s delights)
- Calorie count is lower than any other vendor per pint (including Enlightened and The Skinny Cow)
- Calories are typically 240-360 per pint, although the 200-range pints seem just as delicious as the 300-range ones
- Low carb friendly: an entire pint has only 4 net servings of carbs (about 12 grams)
- Protein is added in, for some health benefit, with 20 grams of protein per pint
- Halo Top now has the title of most popular brand of ice cream and bestselling pint of ice cream in the U.S.
- The oatmeal cookie, birthday cake, chocolate, and peanut butter options get 5/5 stars (this is based on preference of course)
- Price: at $7 per pint (NY price, it retails for 5.99 in some states), it comes in at around $2 more than a gallon sized container of Bryer’s ice cream, and is the same as a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or Hagen Daaz, the difference in cost is of course relative to consumption here (as the pint of Ben and Jerry’s would likely last you the week)
- This one is rather obvious but this shouldn’t be viewed as a healthy diet food, while it is low calorie, it is in no way a health food or food that serves much nutritional purpose, it is a processed ice cream with added sweeteners, but then again we can say the same or worse about traditional ice cream
- The texture is a bit watery, so it can’t be compared to the creaminess or texture of a traditional ice cream
The Final Verdict
This was definitely a fun review and a great way to justify ice cream purchases that felt a little too expensive for my typical grocery store budget, but at least from a nutritional standpoint, the process was fairly guilt-free.
While I wouldn’t want to eat the entire pint (honestly, mostly due to cost) in one sitting, I do enjoy being able to eat a little bit extra of something that I would traditionally steer away from all together. While nobody can argue Halo Top is a health food item, and the addition of protein is a marketing ploy (unless you’re supplementing the ice cream for your dinner, no judgment), it is pretty delicious. It can’t be compared to a full fat competitor, but in most respects this is a positive. I certainly didn’t find myself craving additional sugar or sweets after eating this, which was my trepidation prior to purchase, as often artificial sweeteners have that effect. I also really enjoy that this yields a low-carb alternative, as many low calorie or diet options come with hidden carb counts that are often surprisingly high. This can definitely safely fit into both a low calorie and carb plan.
While I don’t recommend eating entire pints of this daily, it’s nice to have an alternative that you can still enjoy if you are conscious of your diet and daily intake.