July 17, 2024

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Halo Top frozen treats are a lower calorie alternative to traditional ice cream.

The company offers more than 47 products, including high protein ice cream pints and pops. They also offer several nondairy and keto-friendly options, which are available in a variety of flavors.

However, some people wonder whether these frozen treats really are all they’re cracked up to be.

We tried the most popular Halo Top flavors to provide an inside scoop on the taste, texture, ingredients, and nutrition.

Owned by the Iowa-based company Wells Enterprises, Halo Top was founded in 2012 by Eden Creamery.

The pint-size ice cream is a bestselling frozen dessert brand that’s available throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, and some European countries.

Halo Top has significantly fewer calories than traditional ice cream because it contains natural sugar substitutes and less cream.

It’s also made of a mix of natural and organic ingredients. For example, Halo Top uses dairy products from conventionally raised cows and organic cane sugar.

In addition to the original dairy-based varieties, Halo Top comes in versions suitable for people following vegan or keto diets. The brand also offers dairy- and fruit-based pops.

Dairy series

The dairy-based pints are among the most popular Halo Top products and boast the largest selection of flavors.

Current Halo Top dairy-based flavors include:

  • Birthday Cake
  • Blueberry Crumble
  • Candy Bar
  • Caramel Macchiato
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate Caramel Brownie
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  • Chocolate Mocha Chip
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Devil’s Food Cake
  • Mint Chip
  • Oatmeal Cookie
  • Peaches & Cream
  • Peanut Butter Cup
  • Pistachio
  • Red Velvet
  • Sea Salt Caramel
  • Strawberry
  • Vanilla Bean
  • Vanilla Caramel Milkshake

The brand also has a variety of dairy pops, which are individually wrapped and sold in packs of four.

These pops are available in several flavors, including:

  • Brownie Batter
  • Chocolate Fudge
  • Dark Chocolate Caramel
  • Mint Chip
  • Sea Salt Caramel
  • Strawberry Swirl

Fruit pops

In addition to being made with real fruit, most of the fruit pops from Halo Top are dairy-free and lower in calories than the other pops they offer.

Some of the available flavors are:

  • Strawberry
  • Coconut
  • Mango
  • Lime
  • Pineapple

Nondairy series

Halo Top offers a small selection of dairy-free ice cream pints, which are made with coconut cream instead of milk.

The pints are currently available in four flavors:

  • Chocolate Almond Crunch
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  • Peanut Butter Cup
  • Sea Salt Caramel

Keto series

Halo Top provides several keto-friendly options for both pints and pops, which are higher in protein and contain a low amount of net carbs per serving.

The flavors in Halo Top’s keto series of pints are:

  • Banana Cream Pie
  • Brownie a la Mode
  • Caramel Butter Pecan
  • Chocolate Caramel Lava Cake
  • Chocolate Cheesecake
  • Macadamia Nut Cookie
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate
  • Vanilla Bean

The varieties of keto pops available are:

  • Berry Swirl
  • Chocolate Cheesecake
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate
  • Sea Salt Caramel

Halo Top is often compared with premium — higher fat and super creamy — pint-size ice cream products. However, it’s also important to compare it with regular ice cream.

Here’s how vanilla Halo Top stacks up against regular and premium vanilla ice cream, per 1/2-cup serving (1, 2, 3):

*This includes lactose — the natural sugar in milk — as well as added sugars.

As shown above, Halo Top ice cream contains about half the calories of regular ice cream and less than a third of the calories of premium ice cream. This is because it’s lower in fat and sugar.

Additionally, a 1/2-cup (64-gram) serving of Halo Top has 5 grams of protein, or 10% of the DV. Though modest, this is more than twice the amount of protein in regular ice cream.

From a vitamin and mineral standpoint, the main contribution of any ice cream is calcium, which is important for strong bones. Still, one serving of Halo Top contains only 10% of the DV for calcium, while a 1-cup (240-ml) serving of milk has 21% of the DV (1, 2, 4).

Keep in mind that the nutritional value can vary for different Halo Top products.

For example, products in the keto series are higher in protein and lower in carbs, with 6–7 grams of protein and 2–3 grams of net carbs — which are calculated by subtracting the amount of fiber from the total amount of carbs — per 2/3-cup (87-gram) serving (5).

On the other hand, nondairy pints contain 100–120 calories and 3–4 grams of protein per 2/3-cup (87-gram) serving, while fruit pops provide 35–90 calories each and contain less than 1 gram of protein (6, 7).

Halo Top ice cream comes in more than two dozen traditional and whimsical flavors, such as Birthday Cake and Peanut Butter Cup, all of which contain the same core ingredients.

Generally, most flavors include ingredients like skim milk, erythritol, eggs, prebiotic fiber, cream, organic cane sugar, vegetable glycerin, and organic stevia leaf extract. However, the ingredients may vary slightly for specific flavors.

For instance, in addition to the ingredients listed above, the vanilla flavor also includes milk protein concentrate, natural flavors, sea salt, vanilla beans, organic carob gum, and organic guar gum.

The dairy-based pops contain most of the same ingredients as the pints in varying amounts but are made without soluble corn fiber.

In vegan versions, the milk and eggs are replaced with a base of coconut cream mixed with water, which is essentially reduced fat coconut milk.

Most Halo Top fruit pops are made with real fruit and contain other ingredients such as soluble corn fiber, sugar, stevia, natural flavors, citric acid, and lemon juice concentrate.

Meanwhile, items in the keto series have most of the same ingredients as the dairy-based ice creams and pops but contain more cream and are made without cane sugar.

Here’s a closer look at some of Halo Top ice cream’s core ingredients.

Sugar substitutes

In addition to cane sugar, Halo Top contains two natural sugar substitutes — stevia leaf extract and erythritol.

Stevia leaf extract comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant and is calorie-free (2, 8).

Erythritol is virtually calorie-free in the amounts typically used. The source of this sweetener varies. The erythritol used in Halo Top ice cream is made from yeast fermentation of corn starch (9, 10).

Because of its chemical structure, erythritol is classified as a sugar alcohol. In contrast to other sweeteners of this type, including sorbitol, it’s unlikely to cause nausea or diarrhea unless you eat more than 50 grams. One pint of Halo Top ice cream contains 20 grams (11).

Fiber and gums

Ice cream doesn’t naturally contain fiber. However, Halo Top contains added prebiotic fiber, which may fuel the growth of good bacteria in your large intestine (12).

Two gums — carob and guar — are also used in the ice cream. They come from carob seeds and guar beans, both of which are legumes (13, 14).

These gums are soluble fibers, meaning they absorb liquid and form a gel. They are added to Halo Top to help replace fat and stabilize the product. This helps reduce ice crystal formation, resulting in a smoother texture (15, 16).

Nevertheless, Halo Top doesn’t have the same creamy texture as regular ice cream. Rather, it may feel somewhat dry in your mouth.

Protein concentrate

Some of the protein in dairy-based Halo Top products comes from skim milk and eggs. The rest comes from milk protein concentrate — milk that has been filtered to collect the proteins (17).

The protein in the nondairy, vegan versions is isolated from rice and peas. It amounts to only 3 grams per 1/2-cup (64-gram) serving, compared with 5 grams in the dairy varieties.

Other additives

Vegetable glycerin, natural flavors, and natural colors are also added to Halo Top products.

Glycerin, which is made from vegetable oil and helps retain moisture, improves the product’s texture and may provide subtle sweetness (18).

It’s uncertain what the natural flavors are, because they’re regarded as trade secrets. “Natural” simply means they’re derived from plants, animals, or the action of microbes (19).

The natural colors come from the juices of vegetables and fruits, as well as golden-colored turmeric and annatto, a red plant extract.

Like many other processed foods, Halo Top ice cream has pros and cons for your health.

Potential benefits

Halo Top ice cream contains significantly fewer calories than traditional ice cream and supplies hunger-satisfying protein. This enables you to enjoy a treat while staying within your calorie goals (20, 21, 22).

What’s more, due to its lower content of added sugars, Halo Top ice cream may not increase your blood sugar as much as the same serving size of regular ice cream (23, 24).

Lastly, sugar substitutes such as stevia and erythritol don’t promote tooth decay and may even help kill bacteria that erode tooth enamel (25, 26, 27, 28).

Potential downsides

The pull-top foil on Halo Top ice cream says, “Stop when you hit the bottom,” and the face of the vanilla carton notes that it contains 280 calories per pint. This seems to imply that it’s fine to eat the entire container in one sitting. However, it contains four servings per pint.

Eating it by the pint may encourage unhealthy portion control habits and cheat you out of the vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that more nutritious foods could provide. It could also significantly increase your intake of added sugars (29).

While Halo Top uses stevia and erythritol for sweetness, it still contains cane sugar.

Consuming too much added sugar isn’t good for your health and is linked to various health conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes (30, 31).

Though lower in calories, Halo Top should not be viewed as healthy but instead as what it really is — a lower calorie alternative to ice cream.

Aside from calcium and protein, Halo Top is not a good source of nutrients. Plus, it doesn’t have the same creaminess as regular ice cream, which could leave you feeling dissatisfied.

Additionally, overeating Halo Top products could make you gassy, because your gut bacteria ferment the prebiotic fiber added to the ice cream (32).

Lastly, in rare cases, certain ingredients in the product, including erythritol, guar gum, and carob gum, have been linked to allergic reactions in some older case studies (33, 34, 35, 36).

The price for Halo Top varies depending on where you buy it.

Typically, a pint of Halo Top — including dairy-based, nondairy, and keto varieties — can range from around $4–$6.

Fruit pops, dairy-based pops, and keto pops are available at a similar price point and typically cost around $4–$5 for a pack with 4–6 servings.

Halo Top ice creams and pops can be purchased at most major supermarkets. To find a specific product, you can enter your zip code on the brand’s website to locate a store near you that has it in stock.

Though it’s lower in sugar than regular ice cream, Halo Top generally does have a sweet taste and rich flavor.

However, because it uses stevia and sugar alcohols for added sweetness, certain flavors do have a stronger aftertaste, and some people may find that it tastes artificial.

It also doesn’t have the same creamy consistency as ice cream, which is a result of its lower fat and sugar content. Instead, it has an icy, slightly grainy texture and freezes harder than regular ice cream.

For this reason, it’s recommended to let Halo Top ice cream sit out on the counter for a few minutes before eating it. This helps soften it up a bit before you dig in.

Healthline Nutrition and Fitness Editor Kelli McGrane, MS, RD, and I sampled a total of 10 of the most popular Halo Top ice cream flavors to determine which are worth the hype and which ones you should skip. Here’s what we found.

Peanut Butter Cup: 4.5/5

As a peanut butter lover, I was definitely not disappointed by this flavor, which features a smooth, peanut-flavored ice cream with crunchy chunks of peanut butter cups mixed in.

I enjoyed the flavor quite a bit and found that it tasted almost as creamy, rich, and indulgent as regular ice cream.

Chocolate: 4.5/5

According to McGrane, this Halo Top classic was her favorite, thanks to its rich and satisfying chocolaty flavor. Though it didn’t have the same creamy consistency as regular ice cream, it’s still delicious and worth a try.

Vanilla Bean: 4/5

“With the exception of the Mint Chip, the fact that Halo Top isn’t as creamy as traditional ice cream was most noticeable with this flavor,” notes McGrane.

“Yet I still really enjoyed Halo Top Vanilla Bean. I found it to have a delicious vanilla bean flavor that didn’t taste at all artificial. I could see it being particularly tasty next to a slice of cake, on top of a brownie, or in a bowl with fresh strawberries.”

Sea Salt Caramel: 4/5

This flavor had a rich and pleasant taste and featured a drizzle of caramel throughout to give it an extra boost of creaminess. The caramel could have been dispersed more evenly, but it was still one of my favorite flavors.

Oatmeal Cookie: 3.5/5

McGrane found that this flavor was sweeter and had a creamier texture than the Vanilla Bean. It also included a variety of warming spices, which she notes were reminiscent of a real oatmeal cookie.

However, she didn’t love the texture, noting that the flakes of oats seemed strange in ice cream and that oatmeal cookie chunks may have worked better instead.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: 3/5

While some may enjoy this flavor, I found that the chocolate chips were too small and there weren’t enough chunks of cookie dough to really match the taste and texture you might expect from regular cookie dough ice cream.

However, though it wasn’t my top pick, I still enjoyed it and would buy it again.

Mint Chip: 3/5

“I’m sure some people will disagree, but as a mint chip fan, I was pretty disappointed by Halo Top Mint Chip,” says McGrane.

While there was a good amount of chips mixed in and she found the mint flavor nice and refreshing with the first bite, she also noted that there’s a slight aftertaste, which felt more artificial than the other flavors she tried.

Cookies & Cream: 2.5/5

Though the texture of this ice cream was pretty smooth and creamy, it had a bit too much of an artificial flavor and aftertaste. I also found that there wasn’t a lot of cookie bits and most were around the outside edges of the pint rather than mixed evenly throughout.

Candy Bar: 2/5

“With flavors meant to bring back memories of a Snickers Ice Cream Bar, you’d think Halo Top Candy Bar would be a slam dunk,” says McGrane.

“While there are swirls of caramel throughout, which are tasty, I found the overall flavor to be too peanutty, with just the slightest hint of chocolate. While not necessarily bad, my taste buds weren’t begging for a second bite.”

Birthday Cake: 2/5

I had high hopes for Halo Top Birthday Cake, with its rainbow sprinkles and yellow cake-flavored ice cream, but it ended up being a miss. It tasted slightly more artificial than other flavors, and it took me a few spoonfuls to even find any sprinkles mixed in.

All things considered, Halo Top ice cream is a decent frozen dessert option, as long as you stick to reasonable portion sizes.

Its ingredient list is relatively natural, and it’s a better option than other light ice creams that contain artificial sweeteners and artificial colors (37, 38, 39).

Still, its low fat content cheats it out of a creamy texture and may leave you feeling dissatisfied. In this case, you may be better off eating a small portion of natural or organic regular ice cream, which generally contains fewer additives.

At any rate, Halo Top products can be eaten as an occasional treat, though we don’t recommend eating the whole carton in one sitting. In particular, we found the Chocolate, Peanut Butter Cup, Vanilla Bean, and Sea Salt Caramel flavors worth trying.

Is Halo Top actually healthy?

Though Halo Top is a low calorie, low sugar alternative to regular ice cream, it’s still highly processed and shouldn’t be a staple in your daily diet.

Instead, enjoy Halo Top in moderation as an occasional treat, similarly to other frozen desserts.

Does Halo Top taste like ice cream?

While certain flavors of Halo Top taste more like ice cream than others, there are still slight differences in flavor and texture.

For instance, because it’s sweetened with stevia and sugar alcohols, some varieties may have a slight aftertaste.

Additionally, because it’s much lower in sugar and fat, it isn’t nearly as creamy or smooth as regular ice cream.

Why is Halo Top ice cream so low in calories?

To keep the amount of calories per serving low, Halo Top uses less cream and sugar than regular ice cream.

The products also use sugar alcohols and stevia in place of regular sugar to add sweetness without the extra calories.

Can I lose weight eating Halo Top?

If you’re swapping Halo Top for high calorie desserts, it could help you lose weight by reducing your overall daily calorie consumption.

Halo Top frozen treats also contain a good amount of protein, which can increase feelings of fullness to help you maintain a moderate weight (22).

However, regardless of your health- or weight-related goals, it’s best to moderate your portion sizes and enjoy Halo Top products as an occasional treat as part of a balanced diet.

Diet desserts like Halo Top ice cream are enticing because they allow you to indulge in sweets that normally contain high amounts of calories and sugar.

While Halo Top’s more natural ingredient profile is appealing, it doesn’t offer much nutritionally, aside from modest amounts of protein and calcium.

Overall, while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a serving as a tasty treat — the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cup flavors in particular are worth trying — we recommend putting the pint back in the freezer after a few spoonfuls.


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