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Summer’s best ice cream flavors

Summer time is prime ice cream season! Hot weather calls for cool and refreshing treats, and ice cream definitely delivers. Every US city has its share of ice cream parlors, paleterias, gelato shops, artisan restaurants, and street vendors selling regional specialties. Read on to learn which ice cream flavors are trending in eight major US cities.

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How we track flavor trends

Vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry have long been the most popular ice cream flavors. These flavors have a rich history in American and global ice cream tradition and will always be important. However, consumers appreciate variety and are increasingly seeking out novel and innovative ice cream flavors. This is especially true for younger consumers. Driven by their motivation to stay on trend and a willingness to spend more for food experiences, Gen Z consumers are more likely to try new ice cream flavors. Global, exotic, fusion, experiential, and fanciful ice cream flavors are popping up to meet this growing consumer need for excitement and discovery.

We used our social listening tool* to find out what ice cream flavors are trending in eight major US cities. While many of these trends showcase the cultural and local flavors of a region, one flavor popped up more than any other: Spicy Honey. We’ll take a deeper look into this hot (pun absolutely intended) flavor in another blog – and why it’s the perfect match for ice cream.

Read on for a coast-to-coast snapshot of the trendiest ice cream flavors in the US, starting with our hometown of Los Angeles!

Ice Cream Flavor Trends Los Angeles

Los Angeles Ice Cream Flavors

Warm and sunny Los Angeles, with its beach vibe and Hollywood stars, is the perfect setting for ice cream innovation. The diverse culture and close proximity to some of the best produce in the world supports limitless opportunities for flavor creativity. Piña colada tops the chart as LA’s strongest ice cream flavor trend with a whopping +574% year-over-year (YoY) growth in social conversations. Root beer flavor is another rising star (+394% YoY), dipping into the soda flavor trend. Salted egg yolk flavor (+127% YoY) is creating buzz. This East Asian preserved food product has a complex savory flavor that is buttery, rich, cheesy, and salty at the same time. The creamy sweetness of ice cream both complements and contrasts this robust taste. On the fruity side, mulberry (+106% YoY) is emerging as a unique take on the popular berry ice cream flavor pairing.

Ice Cream Flavor Trends Seattle

Seattle Ice Cream Flavors

Seattle may be colder and wetter than most of the cities on this list, but that doesn’t mean it lacks an ice cream scene! Here the spicy honey flavor (+188% YoY) is heating things up, both as a bold ice cream flavor and saucy topping. Stronger and more esoteric ice cream flavors tend to prevail in Seattle, with gorgonzola cheese flavor (+92%) and durian fruit flavor (+90%) offering novelty and cultural exploration in a single scoop. The nutty and boozy notes of amaretto flavor (+70%), a popular Italian liqueur, round out this impressive list of Seattle ice cream flavor trends.

Ice Cream Flavor Trends Chicago

Chicago Ice Cream Flavors

Deep dish pizza and chili dogs step aside: it’s time for Chicago’s ice cream culture to step into the limelight! This northern city with its commercial food and beverage industry has long been at the center of flavor trends. Its diverse population also makes it a hotbed for exciting culinary fusions. In ice cream trends, comfort food takes center stage with Rice Krispie Treat flavor (+159% YoY), a nod to the influence of both nostalgia and popular food brands. Next up are oolong tea flavor (+84% YoY) and espresso martini flavor (+89% YoY), showcasing the trend towards fusing sophisticated beverage flavors with food products. Chicagoans are also hot for spicy honey flavor (+68% YoY), though perhaps less passionately so than the Seattleites.

Ice Cream Flavor Trends Houston

Houston Ice Cream Flavors

The proximity of this Texas metropolis to the Gulf of Mexico offers the perfect climate for tropical produce and Hispanic flavors. The two top ice cream flavor trends are hibiscus flavor (+68% YoY) and mangonada flavor (+66% YoY), which are traditional Mexican paleta and agua fresca flavors. Hibiscus flavor is extracted from the dried flower, which produces a naturally tart, cranberry-like taste and vibrant magenta color. Mangonadas are frozen beverages made from mango, lime, chamoy, and a dusting of chili-lime salt. Houston’s next offering harkens back to the nostalgia of southern cooking: apple crumble flavor (+54% YoY), an indulgent cross between the fruity-sweet notes of apple and cinnamon and bakery notes of browned butter and biscuit. Another emerging flavor trend is falooda (+34%), which is a popular Indian dessert made from vanilla ice cream, milk, rose water, sweet basil seeds, and vermicelli noodles.

Ice Cream Flavor Trends New Orleans

New Orleans Ice Cream Flavors

It’s not hard to find flavor innovation in the Big Easy. This melting pot of international culture and culinary ingenuity is home to some of America’s most iconic foods, from bananas foster to gumbo and muffuletta. Today’s trending ice cream flavors keep in step with NOLA’s tradition of embracing global flavor. Pecorino cheese flavor (+72% YoY) offers a robust and savory option with an Italian flair (some say it tastes like acini di pepe pasta). Not far behind is cola flavor (+71% YoY) which, like root beer in Los Angeles, leans into the soda flavor trend. Speculoos flavor (+62% YoY), based on a gingerbread-like biscuit from Belgium, and chestnut flavor (+61% YoY), popularized in French pastries as crème de marrons, touch on New Orleans’ affection for both European flavor and sweet brown profiles. We’ll see chestnut pop up again in Nashville, another city on our list.

Ice Cream Flavor Trends Miami

Miami Ice Cream Flavors

Miami is a melting pot of upwardly mobile and energetic young professionals mixed with laid-back vacationers and retirees. Naturally, Miami’s ice cream flavor trends are as diverse as its population. Topping the list is spicy honey flavor (+78% YoY) which fits right in with the “so hot it’s cool” mood of Florida’s seafront city. Next up is sage flavor (+70% YoY) which fits both the botanical and savory sweet culinary movements. Chai tea flavor (+67% YoY) hints at East Asian and Indian influence, while rhubarb flavor (+62% YoY) takes its cue from vegetable flavor trends. This celery-like stalk is tangy and fibrous, but when mixed with sugar and cooked it takes on a delightful tart cherry note.

Ice Cream Flavor Trends Nashville

Nashville Ice Cream Flavors

Home of country music and country-fried steak, you’d think Nashville ice cream flavors would toe the Americana line. However, there’s plenty of global flavor influence in Nashville, turning this middle America metropolis into a hotbed of culinary innovation. Speaking of hot, this is yet another city where spicy honey flavor (+111% YoY) is all the rage. Next up is pandan flavor (+80% YoY), a leafy palm-like plant native to South Asia and China. It has a complex custardy flavor with hints of toasted nuts, soy, coconut, and vanilla. No wonder it pairs so well with ice cream! Nashville is also serving Middle East with the nutty, honeyed, and brown butter notes of baklava flavor (+72% YoY). As in New Orleans, chestnut flavor (+70% YoY) is gaining speed, impressing palates with its sweet and earthy nuances. With a flavor list like this, what foodie could resist a trip to Tennessee?

Ice Cream Flavor Trends Manhattan 1

Manhattan Ice Cream Flavors

Manhattan is a city where flavors wax, wane, and get remixed just like fashion…an ever-changing amalgam of urban style and haute couture. Its ice cream flavor trends follow a predictably eccentric path, wavering between exciting and exotic to sophisticated and simple. Once more, spicy honey flavor (+126% YoY) leads the charge, which is not surprising as nearby Brooklyn is home to Mike’s Hot Honey. Melon flavor (+114% YoY) is also becoming popular, bringing a refined and refreshing fruitiness to ice cream creations. New York’s love for sushi and energy is on full display with wasabi flavor (+102% YoY), a palate shocker that puts a dessert interpretation on the traditional Japanese condiment. Finally, we have croffle flavor (+78% YoY). Croffles are a mash-up between the French crepe and the Belgian waffle (basically, a puffy waffle cone) so this flavor trend makes total sense.

What’s trending in your city?

Regional flavors are playing an increasingly bigger role – not just in consumer conversations, but in commercial food and beverage development as well. Companies who quickly pivot their product offerings to meet flavor trends in different markets can win big with younger consumers.

What ice cream flavors are emerging in your city or town? Tell us!

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Natural ice cream flavors

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*Data Source: Tastewise, date range May 2023-2024

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