I Scream, We All Scream for These Frozen Dessert Trends

From fresh flavors to foreign treats, there’s something for every sweet tooth

Here’s a great reason to scream: Ice cream and other cool treats continue to push boundaries that delight the eyes and the tongue. Bold flavors, unique textures and presentation styles popular in other countries are finding wider audiences hungry for something special and sweet. 

And momentum is growing. The global ice cream market is expected to reach $78.8 billion by 2025, according to one report that cites artisanal and lactose-free selections as key market drivers. Also popular are low-fat varieties and natural ingredients such as herbs and tropical fruits—a far cry from cookie dough and other standby favorites. 

No matter the approach or presentation, there are plenty of unique ways to help your guests chill out. Consider these frozen dessert trends that are undeniably hot: 

Dairy-free options: Ice creams made with alternative milks are catching up to their cow-sourced competitors in flavor and texture, according to a 2019 trends report from Whole Foods Market. And they aren’t sourced only from familiar alternatives such as almond, cashew or soy milks: The report predicts new, nutrient-rich bases—think avocado, hummus, tahini and coconut water—will make their way from farm to freezer.  

Savory, global flavors: As our dining palates become worldlier and less vanilla, ice cream chefs are keeping pace. Which is why turmeric, sweet-and-sour chamoy sauce, guajillo chili paired with chocolate, and even spicy harissa paste all could be flavor contenders for new frozen dessert concepts in 2019, a recent report from food and beverage giant Mondelēz International says. Expect salty and savory profiles to lead.

Rolled, shaved and stretchy formats: The recent stateside explosion of mochi, a bite-size Japanese rice cake filled with ice cream, has put more frozen foreign styles in the spotlight. Among them: Thai rolled ice cream, which starts as liquid and is prepared over a cold steel plate; hand-churned Mexican sorbet known as nieves de garrafa; and Turkish dondurma—a stretchy and chewy ice cream infused with plant resin.

Upgraded frozen boozy treats: Have your cocktail and eat it, too! Alcohol-forward slushies and gelato will remain popular, the Whole Foods report notes (bourbon and cider are surfacing in more desserts, according to Mondelēz). Chefs and hosts may consider freezing any liquors already popular with guests. Instagram-ready options might entail French 75, margarita or sangria popsicles, or spicy bourbon snow cones. 

Liquid nitrogen ice cream: Fancy a flair for the dramatic? Heads will certainly turn with a nitrogen ice cream station. The process involves mixing cream, milk, sugar and flavoring with nitrogen that has been cooled to -320 degrees Fahrenheit in order to transform the gas into a liquid. The ultra-cold and quick approach produces smaller crystals than traditional ice cream, so the result is creamier and denser.