People from all over the world adore ice cream, that creamy, frozen delight. But just when you believe you have tasted every flavor of ice cream, the world of frozen desserts astonishes us with innovations that stretch the bounds of flavor and creativity. These unusual ice cream flavors, which range from savory and spicy to strange and seemingly impossible, challenge our preconceptions and open our taste buds to novel and unexpected experiences. Imagine enjoying wasabi, balsamic vinegar, or even squid ink-flavored ice cream. These incredible tastes, created by adventurous and imaginative ice cream makers, are proof of the endless possibilities of this well-liked treat.
Honey Jalapeno Pickle Ice Cream
Based on an unofficial poll on pregnancy cravings, I theorize that a pregnant woman created this ice cream flavor after interchanging bites of dill pickle with spoonfuls of ice cream. That said, many ice cream shops around the U.S. carry this weird ice cream flavor, including Lick and Sweet Action Ice Cream. This ice cream has a sweet cream base, emulsifying pickles, and honey into the mix, then throwing chopped fresh jalapenos for an added zing. I can get behind honey and jalapeno in ice cream, but sweet and pickled in the same spoonful is hard for me to wrap my head around, let alone my teeth.
Lobster Ice Cream
A specialty of Maine, Lobster Ice Cream is a common ice cream flavor originating from Bar Harbor. According to Bar Harbor history, Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium began offering lobster ice cream in 1988, taking a joking suggestion from a patron seriously. Lobster ice cream uses a vanilla ice cream base and mixes in buttery, fresh chunks of lobster. Lobster is usually the most expensive crustacean on any steakhouse menu, but in Maine, lobster is commonplace. We usually enjoy lobster steamed and dipped in melted butter, so a buttery lobster ice cream essentially imitates this flavor profile with the addition of sugar and vanilla. While I’ll stick with vanilla ice cream by itself, the buttery and creamy ice cream with lobster was actually edible.
Smoked Salmon Ice Cream
A favorite breakfast and appetizer dish in countries around the world, smoked salmon, usually combined with cream cheese or another dairy spread to be eaten atop a piece of toast or bagel. So why not use ice cream instead of cream cheese and a cone instead of a bagel? Smoked Salmon ice cream has garnered acclaim in haute cuisine, often an inventive savory appetizer that uses shaved cucumber as a cone and chopped chives as sprinkles. I found a wealth of ideas and recipes for smoked salmon ice cream. Some use the whole salmon as a coating to crème Fraiche ice cream or horse radish ice cream as if it were a dipped cone. As long as you can dismantle the idea of ice cream as a sweet treat, you’ll be surprised at how good smoked salmon ice cream can be.
Curry Flavored Ice Cream
Recipes from India to Japan use curry as a key flavor in pastes, soups, marinades, and powders. Curry is usually a mixture of various aromatic spices, with three main varieties of yellow, green, and red. Curries have strong flavors that most recipes combine with savory and rich ingredients like coconut milk, cream, and starchy root vegetables. Therefore, using it in ice cream is a logical step. You could use it in coconut-based ice cream and add pistachio for added nuttiness and sweetness. My favorite curry dish is the massaman curry, so to honor its main ingredients, I’d try ice cream with peanuts and curry.
Fish-and-Chip-Flavored Ice Cream
England’s favorite street food and pub fare inspired the UK-based ice cream manufacturer Fredericks Dairies to create a Fish and Chips Flavored Ice Cream using:
- Creamed cod
- Pepper batter
They didn’t leave out the chips, creating an ice cream flavor using potato, salt, and vinegar for a double scoop fish and chip cone. Another British artisanal ice cream maker in Yorkshire created a fish and chips sundae featuring mushy pea ice cream, another scoop of battered fish ice cream, and a potato wedge for garnish. A salt and vinegar potato ice cream sparks my intrigue. I would consider the creamed cod ice cream only if it were rolled in batter and fried to at least assume the battered and fried crust that makes cod palatable in the first place.
Oyster Ice Cream
If you’re a fan of raw oysters, oyster ice cream is an upgrade in terms of texture. Oyster ice cream is one of the oldest ice cream flavors on my list, appearing in an early 19th-century cookbook called The Virginia Housewife. It originated from a recipe for cream of oyster chowder that cooks could freeze. Oyster ice cream later saw a revival in the 21st century, debuting as a popular flavor in New England oyster festivals. Newer recipes add ginger for a sweet and spicy aroma, but I’m partial to the frozen chowder recipe. Perhaps you could try fabricating an ice cream bowl out of soda crackers for added authenticity.
Pickled Mango Ice Cream
This is a weird ice cream flavor I can get behind as a lover of mangos in all their forms, from dried to fresh to pickled. Mangos are some of the sweetest fruits on earth, often served with chili, salt, and lime to balance and complement their sweetness. Pickled mangos are a popular delicacy in India and Thailand, so turning them into ice cream isn’t farfetched at all. It’s genius! Pickled Mango ice cream can be a sorbet of frozen, pickled mangos emulsified, or you can add them to a coconut or dairy cream base for added creaminess. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams makes an awesome version of Pickled Mango Ice Cream, deconstructed into a sweet cheese ice cream topped with a pickled mango sauce consisting of:
- mango pulp
- White pepper
- White balsamic vinegar
Pizza Ice Cream
Pizza is a global sensation found in every country, as there’s no more beloved comfort food. Most of us enjoy it as a cold breakfast as much as we love a piping hot slice fresh out of the oven. Maybe cold morning-after pizza-inspired pizza ice cream. It’s especially fitting that NYC-based ice cream maker Van Leeuwen’s debuted pizza-flavored ice cream earlier this year. They had already created a mac n cheese flavored ice cream, so they decided to expand upon cheesy ice cream. Van Leeuwen’s Pizza Ice Cream uses super creamy cheese ice cream that uses extra yolks for a yellowish flavor and creamy texture. The tomato sauce comes in the form of a gooey ribbon of tomato jelly.
Squid Ink Ice Cream
Squid ink is a popular additive to pasta and rice in Mediterranean cuisine, its jet-black color both visually impactful and flavorful. You’ll get the same jet-black color when you add squid ink to cream, which has been a popular ice cream flavor in Japan for decades. A traditional squid ice cream recipe combines squid ink with a starchy root, whole milk, salt, and sugar. The starch and sugar drown out the fishiness inherent in squid ink. I recommend grinding up wasabi peas and sprinkling them on top. The ink makes this ice cream super shiny, which is intriguing, if not appetizing.
Cheese ice cream
Another ice cream flavor that is far from weird, in my opinion, is cheese. Cheese has always been a decadent food that tastes wonderful as a dessert. Many European cultures serve cheese plates for dessert. So many types of cheese are double cream or soft, oozing cheeses that you combine with fruit compote as if they were ice cream already. Cheese ice cream can use any cheese, from sharp cheddar to cream cheese. I think the key is to use egg yolks in any cheese recipe to bring out the creaminess over the cheesiness. If you’re a Midwesterner, you might like a cheddar cheese ice cream to dollop over a slice of apple pie.
Cicada Flavored Ice Cream
I’ll end on the weirdest ice cream flavor of all, cicada-flavored ice cream. Cicadas are a mysterious summer bug, the likes of which we hear in droves but never see. I only know them by the empty shells they shed in the dark of night. Apparently, there was a cicada plague in New Jersey a few years ago, and The Bent Spoon ice cream shop decided to capitalize on it. They combined dried cicadas with chocolate and brown sugar to create cicada-flavored ice cream. It was a major hit because it essentially tasted like chocolate ice cream. The cicadas added an alluring shock factor, not to mention lean protein.