Since 1949 the California family-run ice cream maker McConnell’s has been churning out fine velvety artisan ice creams. With ingredients from its own dairy and from many of the same local farms and purveyors it has partnered with from the beginning, McConnell’s has spent nearly 70 years getting it right. That makes ranking each flavor an arduous task. Like ranking all of your children. You love and cherish them all, but secretly you have a favorite, the one whose existence is not a reflection of everything you dislike about yourself. So, for the record: McConnell’s can do no wrong. All of its flavors are heavenly. But when you’re in a time of need, and that need calls for a pint of ice cream, some flavors do better than others.
1. Pistachio Amaretto
The surprising favorite. It wasn’t on our radar before we undertook these very necessary rankings, but this flavor won me over–a true underdog story. If you aren’t yet a fan of pistachio ice cream, McConnell’s will make you one. The smooth, rich flavors of pistachio and almond are just sweet enough intrigue, and the crunch of the salty, nutty pistachios seal the deal.
2. Salted Caramel Chip
This silky salted caramel flavor is almost too good. It’s flavor-rich with deep toffee notes and little chips of bittersweet chocolate. There is more than a hint of salt, which send your taste buds into a frenzy.
3. Wild Berry Chip (Limited Edition)
Can ice cream be sexy? This flavor kind of is. Think chocolate-covered berries and luscious sweet cream.
4. Double Peanut Butter Chip
McConnell’s makes this flavor by folding peanut butter and flecks of chocolate into peanut-butter-infused milk and cream. We applaud the audacity of going so heavy on the PB. If it had any more peanut butter in it, we’d run into the classic tongue-sticking-to-top-of-mouth situation.
5. Toasted Coconut Almond Chip
There are so many flavors and textures happening here. Shredded coconut, salty almonds, bittersweet chocolate, and buttery smooth sweet cream. If McConnell’s had a Greatest Hits album, this would be the first track.
6. Strawberry Rhubarb (Limited Edition)
Under normal circumstances strawberry-flavored anything is for children. But this is not normal strawberry ice cream. With a luscious texture and chunks of tangy, sweet strawberries, it’s a more refined version of your childhood favorite.
7. Churros Con Leche
There are few things simpler and more satisfying than a churro. Churros always deliver. McConnell’s pays proper homage to the beloved treat with milky cinnamon flavor and chewy little morsels.
8. Whiskey & Pecan Pralines
Has the sweet, smoky taste of bourbon, and crunchy pecans. Even non-whiskey drinkers can appreciate this.
9. Eureka Lemon & Marionberries
Eat this and try not to make a sour face. It’s bright and tart with marionberry (blackberry) preserves folded in. If you’re not into sweets, this flavor is a tangy departure from the others.
10. Dark Chocolate Chips & Nibs
For the chocolate purist that loves no less than 70 percent cacao. This chocolate is so dark and decadent that it’s almost bitter. If you aren’t down with dark brown, it might help to pair it with another flavor.
11. Mango Sorbet
McConnell’s does not discriminate against the lactose intolerant. This non-dairy delight is intensely refreshing. It’s light in texture and rich in flavor. The only sorbet on the menu.
12. Mint Chip
This is the most minty mint chip ever. Like, fresh breath minty, with crunchy little chocolate chips. With a mint flavor so pure, it’s a very respectable mint chip showing.
13. Cookies & Cream
Although it might not blow your mind like some of the other flavors, it’s still pretty damn good. C&C is the most reliable ice cream choice when you can’t make up your mind.
14. Earl Grey Tea & Shortbread Cookies
When you’re in the mood for tea and cookies but somehow you ended up at McConnell’s instead. The distinct flavor of Bergamot oil-infused black tea is very pronounced, and the chewy shortbread cookie chunks are nice, but this works best in a pair. Try it with a scoop of dark chocolate or the Eureka lemon and marionberries.
15. Vanilla Bean
There’s nothing wrong with this classic vanilla. It tastes great. It’s just very…vanilla. Take it up a notch by pairing it with another flavor like literally anything else.
16. Sweet Cream
This flavor is actually the base for the rest of the flavors, so it’s obviously good. But it’s the least exciting of the bunch. Perhaps if you plan on creating your own flavors at home, a pint of sweet cream could be fun to experiment with. But at the shop, you’re better off getting another flavor.
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