It's a testament to our durability as a species that we can experiment as much as we do and continue to not only survive but thrive. We don't limit our experiments to certain areas, either as evidenced by the incredible range of ice cream flavours out there today. While the local ice cream shop may offer between ten and 31 flavours at any given time, only a little digging will turn up more adventurous shops that are curating some truly unique flavours, pushing the envelope when it comes to (good) taste and experience.
It's not just shops that are breaking new ground in the ice cream world. Home epicurists are whipping up private batches of whatever they've got at hand. Some ice cream lovers are dismayed and feel like some food items simply cross a sacred line when incorporated into the sweet treat, while others think that anything can and should go as they throw out the ice cream rulebook. A few shops haven't just thrown the ice cream rule book out, but have set it on fire and (probably) rolled the ashes into next month's newest ice cream trend. They didn't, but after reading this list, that'll seem like a less extreme flavour.
25 Corny But True
Corn isn't such an unusual ingredient when we remember how sweet corn can be. While it's certainly not a commonly served ice cream flavour, some parlors and shops do sell it, and there are tons of recipes for whipping up a batch of homemade sweet corn ice cream, according to PBS. When looking for a more adventurous ice cream experience than mint chocolate chip, just a couple of ears of corn with a few other basic ice cream ingredients will result in a surprisingly sweet treat.
24 We Can't Believe It's Cicadas
We've heard it's best not to waste a good opportunity, and it's also a good idea to use the resources at hand, but when cicadas crawl out of the ground every thirteen years, some ice cream parlors are reaping the bounty. One shop in Missouri couldn't keep their new flavour in stock when they first introduced cicada ice cream in 2011, as per NPR. The cicadas were gathered by employees from their backyards, boiled and rolled in brown sugar and milk chocolate, and folded into an ice cream base.
23 Cow Tongue Tied
People in Japan have gone from refusing to eat meat from any four-legged creature to incorporating beef tongue into ice cream—and it's highly sought after. These days, beef tongue dishes of all kinds are in demand, so perhaps it's not surprising that the Japanese have incorporated beef tongue into ice cream, according to Ohio Country Journal. As US interest in tongue wanes and cow tongue dishes fall into obscurity, the folks over in Japan have grown fond of it—even in their ice cream—and both tourists and locals devour it.
22 Can't-Miss Curry
The blend of spices in curry is delicious on meat or even potatoes or rice, but some chefs are now incorporating curry into ice creams, with surprisingly delicious results. One curry recipe that people can mix together quickly at home blends peanut butter with spicy Thai curry, as per La Tourangelle. The savory spices get a creamy and sweet boost, and it's a sophisticated ice cream flavour that few shops serve, so many gourmets have to make it at home. Just means there's more to share!
21 Proposing Pickled Mango
Some people love everything pickled, and others can barely tolerate a simple pickled cucumber. Pickled mango might not seem like a go-to ingredient for ice cream, but Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream in Ohio is used to the long lines when serving up flavours like pickled mango scoops, reveals Popsugar. Sometimes it's great to deviate a bit from plain ol' vanilla, and the tang of the pickled mango is softened by the creaminess of the custardy ice cream for a twist on a summer treat.
20 Creamy Coronation Chicken
We all commemorate good memories in different ways, but one ice cream shop in the UK is celebrating a dish created for UK hierarchy with its coronation chicken ice cream, according to The Guardian. Those who don't live or travel often in the UK might not know what coronation chicken is, but it's essentially a style of curry, and the ice cream pays homage by incorporating Marsala-soaked sultanas (a bit like a raisin) chicken jus, and other ingredients like cayenne pepper and cumin. Long may she reign!
19 A Little Bit Of Basashi
Once visitors to certain prefectures in Japan get over the shock of finding that raw horse meat—basashi—is considered a delicious delicacy, they may find basashi ice cream an even greater shock. Ice Cream City in Tokyo serves up this unusual ice cream flavour, as per Travel + Leisure. Chunks of meat are chopped and mixed into a vanilla base. The meat pieces are a bit chewy, but horse meat is reportedly lean and has a bit of a venison-y taste. Tourists often seek it out for the novelty.
18 Salt And Pepper's Here
When adding sea salt became all the rage, it wasn't surprising to see cracked black pepper following soon after. Gourmet ice cream shops began looking into ways to please adventurous palates who were looking for unique flavour combinations. Both sea salt and black pepper are seen as perfect foils for the sweetness and creaminess of ice cream, explains Mintel. Some scoops combine the salt and pepper, as in Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream Parlor, who mixes salt and pepper with pine nuts. Globally these ice cream ingredients are gaining in popularity.
17 The Goodness Of Garlic
A Garlic Festival can't claim it's everything garlic if it doesn't offer garlic ice cream, right? In Gilroy, the self-proclaimed garlic capital of the world, locals are only too happy to invite visitors to try the garlic ice cream, according to Atlas Obscura. The garlic is often roasted, which brings out a sweetness, but nothing can completely eliminate that garlic warmth and flavor. Ice cream lovers don't have to stick to a plain vanilla base for their garlic adventure—shops blend the garlic with pistachio, chocolate, and other flavors, too.
16 A Few Licks Of Lox
Maybe it wasn't such a long stretch to move from lox and cream cheese to lox in ice cream. Lox—salmon that is brined and filleted—is often eaten with cream cheese, so taking it one step beyond was bound to happen. Max and Mina's in Queens, New York serves lox ice cream regularly, as per For. Vanilla ice cream is turned a pretty pink when small bits of lox are mixed in. It is not served in bagels, but in cones like other ice cream flavours.
15 Pass The Parakeet
It's great to be open to new things and experiences, like sitting in a cafe eating ice cream with chirping pet birds all around, but when it comes to sitting in a cafe full of birds eating parakeet ice cream—well, not everyone is ready for that. In Japan, those who are bored with the same ol' ice cream flavors can head to Torimi Cafe and try a scoop of cockatiel, sparrow or parakeet flavored ice cream, as per Huffington Post. The flavours just might defy description.
14 Foie Gras Foibles
Foie gras on its own is controversial, as it involves force-feeding a duck, and then the fatty liver is used. Several ice cream shops who have made a name for themselves as pushing the envelope, like Humphry Slocombe, have incorporated the already creamy foie gras into ice cream, according to Lit Hub. Humphry Slocombe serves it up sandwiched between ginger cookies. They caramelize the foie gras, and it's a strangely decadent combination of game, fat and sweet. The shops that make the foie gras treats often make them in small batches.
13 Uncommonly Caviar
Only two things might stop a person from trying caviar ice cream. One, it's made of caviar, and two, it's wildly expensive. One enterprising ice cream maker in France who had already worked on foie gras and truffle ice cream offerings has created a white sturgeon caviar ice cream—but his only ships in France, as per Luxuo. While some ice cream shops offer an ice cream base with caviar folded in, Philippe Faur's version is 60% caviar blended into a sorbet and meant to accompany scallops or a smoked salmon.
12 Give Up The Ghost Pepper
Anytime a waiver has to be signed before consuming a food, a person should really ask themselves about their life decisions. An ice cream shop in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware will let customers have a scoop of ghost pepper ice cream if they're between the ages of 18 and 65, aren't pregnant or lactating, and don't suffer from erectile dysfunction or heart problems, according to The Daily Meal. Vanilla ice cream is blended with ghost chilies and smothered with more than one hot pepper sauce and strawberry sauce—for the tang.
11 Well, It's Still Milk
It was launched in 2011 and quickly rounded up like contraband, but mother's milk ice cream is back in London and is far more popular than people thought it would be, as per Eater. Donated milk is screened and blended with vanilla to create an animal-cruelty free ice cream provided by the company Licktators, in a collaboration with advocate Victoria Hiley. If the shops nearby aren't serving this ice cream, don't despair—the Interwebs are teeming with home recipes for the treat that nourishes kids of all ages.
10 Jumping For Jellyfish
It's not enough for some innovators to incorporate every flavour into ice cream. Some shops, like Lick Me I'm Delicious, think that ice cream should also do tricks, like glow in the dark, according to LA Times. Jellyfish protein is blended into the ice cream, and the green glow is activated when the eater licks the ice cream. It's not a casual afternoon treat—one scoop costs well over $200. We always wondered how we'd keep track of our ice cream in the dark—now we don't have to worry anymore.
9 This Chicken Wing Won't Fly
In 2014, Perry's Ice Cream did an April Fools joke pretending to offer free pints of chicken wing ice cream, and were shocked at the number of requests they got, according to Perry's Ice Cream. While they may not be offering the treat, Namja Land in Japan does offer something labeled chicken wing ice cream, as per The Daily Meal. Since they also offer basashi ice cream or raw horse meat ice cream, we aren't really surprised, and we suppose it does have little bits of chicken mixed in.
8 Little Bites Of Lobster
From its humble beginnings in Ben & Bill's Chocolate Emporium in Bar Harbor, Maine, lobster ice cream has cultivated a fandom both Down East and throughout New England, as per Mic. Chunks of buttered lobster are folded into a buttery vanilla base. During tourist season, the shop's current owner claims they're making it nonstop to keep up with demand. Many people think the lobster will give the ice cream a fishiness, but lobster is a bit sweet on its own and is well-buttered before being incorporated.
7 The Horseradish Hustle
Purbeck Ice Cream in Dorset was inspired to make a beetroot and horseradish ice cream after talking with author Julie Cohen, according to Purbeck Ice Cream. Cohen had thought it up as a weird flavour one of her characters suggests, but there are recipes galore for horseradish ice cream on the Internet for home gourmets. Whether mixed with the beetroot to sweeten the spiciness, or made without a lot of sweetness to pair with rich meats, this ice cream flavour is a cold shock to the system.
6 You Say Tomato; We Say Ice Cream
We know tomatoes are technically a fruit, but they don't really spring to most minds as a great ice cream flavour. Some chefs want to change that outlook and feel like the tomato just needs to be paired with the right spices to really shine as an ice cream, according to The Washington Post. One Top Tomato finalist recipe mixes tomato paste from fresh tomatoes with garam masala—a blend of Indian spices—and shredded ginger into the typical custard ice cream base.
5 It'll Take Your Breath Away
There's nothing like the threat of imminent bodily harm to liven up a dull afternoon. One ice cream shop in Scotland won't let customers near one of their specialties until they've signed a waiver agreeing that they're aware of the danger of consuming the world's hottest pepper in an ice cream. Aldwych Ice Cream Parlor has served Respiro Del Diavolo since 2017, and it's so spicy that the few employees who know the secret of making it have to wear special equipment to prevent serious injury to themselves, reveals Forbes.
4 Must Be Mayo
Mayo lovers must be flocking to Scotland—mayo ice cream is real and it's being served up by ICE Falkirk, according to Delish. When word got out, Twitter had a small meltdown over the combination of condiment and cream, but a few brave souls chimed in with their willingness to try it. The owner of ICE Falkirk explains that it's a fatty, creamy tasting ice cream with a bit of egg flavour—understandable since it's a custard base with an egg-based condiment mixed in.
3 Feeling Like A Fried Oyster
For those who like to combine a meal with dessert, Okayama prefecture in Japan has delivered. Oysters are the specialty in Okayama, so enterprising entrepreneurs have gotten creative with incorporating oysters into every meal and type of food, as per Tokyo Treat. Locals describe the oysters as creamy and say the combination is cream from the sea with cream from the land. The oysters are deep fried and are served perched on the cone-like crunchy brown ears and add a texture to the melty treat.
2 No Fork Needed Spaghetti And Cheese
For those who might already be struggling with cheese flavoured ice cream, this might be going a step too far. Spaghetti noodles are smothered in a cheesy sauce and mixed into cheese ice cream, according to Mashable. There's no marinara sauce on this scoop, and we're surprised—if we've gone this far, why not go the whole distance? Heladeria Coromoto serves up this, along with dozens of other flavours. The spaghetti noodles are chopped, so no forks are necessary to enjoy this cold and cheesy dessert.
1 Check Out Charcoal Ice Cream
One the initial buzz from glow in the dark ice cream faded, charcoal ice cream quickly stepped into the gap. This dark grey scoop is made with activated charcoal that is usually livened up with another flavour, such as vanilla or coconut, according to Isle Of Bites. Activated charcoal doesn't have a taste or smell, so it's more an eye-popping experience. Many claim that consuming activated charcoal can be beneficial as a detoxifying agent. So maybe a spoonful of ice cream helps the charcoal go down.