Ice cream is a humble, yet essential element of any holiday dessert spread. Is that slice of warm apple pie really complete without a scoop of vanilla ice cream? While it’s crucial to have a basic pint to complement your elaborate pies and cakes (you can’t go wrong with our favorite vanilla), we also like to spice things up with a festive seasonal pint. Flavors like pumpkin pie and peppermint will bring a bit of holiday flair to your freezer and help you stay in the spirit all season long.
Although Blue Bell’s seasonal Christmas Cookies ice cream has been a household favorite for years, Publix’s holiday ice creams may just give it a run for its money. After we crowned Publix’s premium chocolate as the winner of our chocolate ice cream taste test, the Southern supermarket’s private label ice cream has been one of our freezer staples. So when Publix announced the debut of 12 limited-edition holiday ice cream flavors, we readied our spoons and scoopers and set out to try the flavors ourselves.
Publix’s diverse collection of flavors will carry you from Thanksgiving to Christmas, with fall-inspired offerings like Deep Dish Apple Pie and the more wintery Peppermint Stick and Egg Nog flavors. Luckily, all 12 flavors are now available at Publix, so you can stock up on your favorite festive flavors well before the holidays. Can’t decide which quart to take home? Not to worry: We’ll bring you up to speed on all of our top picks.
We tasted 10 of Publix’s limited-edition holiday flavors: Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, Deep Dish Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Turtle Fudge, Buttered Bourbon Truffle, “Marshmallow Icing, Candy Cane, & Cookie Blast”, Hazelnut Amaretto Biscotti, Santa’s White Christmas, Peppermint Stick, and Egg Nog. Ultimately, a few clear winners emerged, but many of these unique flavors earned top marks.
Sweet Potato Pecan Pie
We don’t know how Publix did it, but this flavor seriously tastes like authentic sweet potato casserole. One tester commented that it “tastes like fall,” while another said it’s “a pie in ice cream form.” This flavor tastes very natural, but the verdict’s still out on whether we really want to enjoy our sweet potato pie in ice cream form.
Deep Dish Apple Pie
This flavor has a lot going on. The chunks of literal apple pie mixed into the ice cream add great depth, but the apple-flavored ice cream base tips the scales to reach super-sweet territory. All of the components taste good individually but, when combined, are slightly overwhelming.
Hazelnut Amaretto Biscotti
Want a bite or two of an indulgent post-dinner treat? Look no further than this Hazelnut Amaretto Biscotti ice cream. It mixes a base of hazelnut-chocolate ice cream with amaretto cookie crumbles and chocolate flakes to create a texturally interesting, dynamic flavor. Some found this ice cream to be a bit too indulgent (it’s not light on the amaretto), but most agreed that a bite or two would make a lovely dessert nightcap.
Buttered Bourbon Truffle
The promise of a buttered bourbon ice cream immediately excited a crowd of Southern testers, but even with a base of brown butter bourbon ice cream and brown butter-bourbon truffles dotting the quart, the flavor lacked a strong bourbon kick. This quart tasted more like a brown butter-caramel ice cream (it also touts a stunning salted caramel swirl), which some testers absolutely adored, but others lamented the absence of the promised bourbon flavor.
This ice cream tastes exactly like egg nog. Publix has somehow managed to distill all the rich, custardy, slightly-spiced flavor of this holiday drink into a smooth, creamy ice cream. If the challenge was to create an egg nog ice cream, Publix overwhelmingly succeeded—but there’s one problem: Egg nog is quite a polarizing holiday beverage. Some adore it, but others can’t stomach it, which resulted in split opinions on this classic flavor. All testers agreed that if you like egg nog, you’ll love this ice cream. Testers also noted that this ice cream would be the great base of a holiday sherbet punch or a festive seasonal float. (For the adults, spike with a splash of Bailey’s to truly embrace the holiday spirit.)
Marshmallow Icing, Candy Cane, & Cookie Blast
Yes, you read that right: All three of these flavors are packed into one decadent quart. With a marshmallow icing base, a generous chocolate cookie swirl, and flecks of crushed candy cane, this ice cream recalls the delightful creamy-chocolatey-minty profile of a peppermint mocha. The ingredients may seem a bit eclectic, but each individual component comes together to create a well-balanced bite. While some found the marshmallow base to be a bit too sweet, others commended the nice textural element of the crunchy peppermint pieces. All the kids (or the kids at heart) will enjoy this whimsical holiday flavor.
This ice cream is the Thanksgiving hero we never knew we needed. While pumpkin pie is one of our favorite recipes to bake all fall long (it’s a staple in any holiday dessert spread), we’d never expected a pumpkin pie ice cream to deliver such lovely seasonal flavor. This ice cream doesn’t go overboard on the pumpkin or the spices, resulting in a flavor that's subtle and natural. Plus, finding one of the jewels of pie crust that are swirled throughout the quart will be a pleasant surprise.
Pecan Turtle Fudge
When they tasted this ice cream, three different testers commented, “YUM!” A scoop of this Pecan Turtle Fudge truly channels all the flavors of a turtle, one of the South's signature candies. This ice cream is heavy on the pecans, with a butter pecan base and roasted pecans mixed in, but what really helps this flavor stand out is the Mackinac butter pecan fudge studding the silky ice cream. The one drawback to this ice cream is that it’s not as hyper-seasonal or festive as some of the other holiday flavors. Nevertheless, any Southerner who loves pecans will swoon over this seasonal delight.
WATCH: How to Make Chocolate Turtle Cake
If you’ve lost touch with the peppermint ice cream of your childhood, it’s time to get reacquainted. This ice cream’s genius rests in its pairing of smooth, creamy vanilla ice cream with bright and crunchy chunks of peppermint. Instead of packing the severe, artificially minty taste that peppermint ice cream bases often slip into, the pairing of vanilla and mint keeps the peppermint from overpowering all the other flavors. It’s light, fluffy, and refreshing, and it would go beautifully with a cup of coffee. Aren’t sold yet? Read what one tester writes about this flavor: “Peppermint ice cream is my favorite. As a kid, my sister and I couldn't wait for our local grocery store to stock the seasonal flavor. This version takes me back to those blissful days.”
Santa’s White Christmas
“Ask Santa for a White Christmas and he will deliver.” This tester’s comment pretty much sums up our thoughts on this fan-favorite flavor. The ice cream features Barnie’s® Santa’s White Christmas® Coffee, mixed simply with cocoa espresso flakes for a double-coffee punch. It’s rich and indulgent, and the chocolate-espresso shavings provide a break in texture and elevate the flavor above your standard scoop of coffee ice cream. This ice cream just feels cozy; you’ll want to stock up on this stunning seasonal flavor while it lasts.
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