10 Unexpected Ice Cream Flavors and Ingredients

By: Heather Kolich

The ice cream company Ben and Jerry's is known for developing unique flavors with creative names. One of their latest flavors -- vanilla ice cream, salted caramel and chocolate-covered potato chip nuggets -- is inspired by the talk show Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
The ice cream company Ben and Jerry's is known for developing unique flavors with creative names. One of their latest flavors -- vanilla ice cream, salted caramel and chocolate-covered potato chip nuggets -- is inspired by the talk show Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Ben & Jerry's

Americans can't claim to be the inventors of ice cream. In fact, it's been around centuries longer than the U.S. has, but back then, it was a delicacy reserved for the ruling class and the very rich. So what can we take credit for? Inventing the things that make ice cream easier to make and affordable for us common folk: ice cream parlors, ice cream making equipment, methods of distribution, ice cream cones, and most importantly, refrigeration. As a culture, we've made ice cream one of our national pastimes.

Americans eat more ice cream than almost every other nation. We usually think of it as a sweet confection flavored with fruits, nuts, chocolate and candies. While the traditional flavors -- chocolate, vanilla and strawberry -- are still the top sellers, there are some inventive ice cream makers putting their own stamp on America's favorite dessert. Here are 10 ice cream flavors -- and added tidbits -- that you probably never expected to see.

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10. Fire and Ice

Sorry, but we're not talking hot fudge and warm, gooey caramel on these scoops. Before you raise a spoon to these international flavors, you may want to grab a glass of water. The ice cream encased in the deep chocolate shell of the frozen Finnish bar is laced with chili powder. And that green globe in the delicate dish isn't pistachio ice cream; it's wasabi, a pungent Japanese horseradish that's typically served with sushi. And if you're in the mood for Indian food, you can order up a scoop of curry ice cream.

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9. A la "Mowed"

Like drinking green tea? You might like green tea ice cream more.
Like drinking green tea? You might like green tea ice cream more.
The Agency Collection/Getty Images

We all know green tea is loaded with health-boosting antioxidants, but you have to drink a lot to get the benefits. Consider an alternative: green tea ice cream. It's a natural, really. Instead of putting cream in your tea, you put tea in your cream. Japanese recipes call for Matcha green tea powder, which is a special ceremonial tea. While green tea is supposed to help you fight high cholesterol and heart disease, don't count on green tea ice cream to do the same: It's loaded with eggs, heavy cream and sugar. Tasters have trouble describing the flavor, but some say it reminds them of grass.

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8. Taste of Summer

Is anything more fresh and cool on a hot summer day than a crunchy slice of cucumber? Cucumbers and ice cream are two naturals for summer eating. So why not put them together? A Boston ice cream café, J.P. Licks, combines these summer tastes each July. They offer other vegetable flavors, too, such as avocado ice cream, available in May.

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7. Pass the Breath Mints

Those of us in the "no such thing as too much garlic" camp may rethink that stance after reading about this flavor. Each year at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif., you can find garlic ice cream: While it looks like a scoop of butter pecan, this ice cream reeks. They don't stop with the pure flavor, though. These ice cream innovators combine garlic with tasty ingredients like pecan praline, roasted almond and chocolate. Enjoy a serving at sunset to keep the vampires away.

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6. Breakfast Bliss

Can't get enough bacon? You're not alone. That salty, smoky flavor is turning up in loads of places other than the breakfast table. Maybe bacon burgers started the craze; maybe bacon is just too darn good. Anyway, now we've got bacon-flavored salt, chocolate-covered bacon and cookbooks devoted to nothing but bacon. So why not bacon ice cream? Professional dessert creator David Lebovitz used brown sugar to put a candy glaze on bacon, and then crumbled it into ice cream. Imagine blending candied bacon into coffee ice cream and serving it in a waffle cone. Talk about a tempting breakfast to go! "Commuter Tracks," anyone?

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5. Fishing for Flavor

Fried squid is delicious but squid ice cream? We'll let you be the taste tester on that one.
Fried squid is delicious but squid ice cream? We'll let you be the taste tester on that one.
©iStockphoto.com/Bartlomiej Senkowski

As an island nation, it's understandable that Japanese people eat plenty of seafood, but apparently, they just can't get enough of it. They package (and presumably sell) a range of fish-flavored ice creams. Squid ink flavor is midnight black. No word on what color it turns your tongue. Octopus flavor is available with or without tentacles. And then there's eel. These flavor choices could be the reason Japan has the lowest ice cream consumption of all nations -- about two teaspoons (0.01 liters) per person [source: University of Guelph].

If you prefer grilled seafood, try mixing in a little charcoal-flavored ice cream. We can thank the Japanese for that one, too.

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4. All in the (Dairy) Family

If Stilton or cheddar ice cream doesn't sound appealing, consider the mild flavors of cheese curd ice cream with nuts and honey.
If Stilton or cheddar ice cream doesn't sound appealing, consider the mild flavors of cheese curd ice cream with nuts and honey.
Anel Fernandez/Cover/Getty Images

Some people like cheese with their apple pie. Others prefer it a la mode. If you want the best of both worlds, top your pie with a scoop of Stilton (for blue cheese lovers), cheddar ice cream or even Parmesan ice cream -- sort of a frozen Alfredo sauce.

Fancy another fruit? Try goat cheese ice cream served on a warm, roasted fig. It's a specialty of Charlie Trotter's restaurant in Chicago. You might want to skip the Japanese version of goat's milk ice cream, though. Instead of fruit, they add goat parts!

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3. Put a Head on It

Why not upgrade the childhood favorite of a root beer float to a more adult version using real beer? Try chocolate or coffee ice cream with a stout or a fruity wheat beer with peach or strawberry ice cream.
Why not upgrade the childhood favorite of a root beer float to a more adult version using real beer? Try chocolate or coffee ice cream with a stout or a fruity wheat beer with peach or strawberry ice cream.
©iStockphoto.com/Julie Vader

If tea drinkers can have their brew in ice cream, why can't beer drinkers? Actually, beer ice cream is more traditional than you might think. Way back in the early centuries, one of the primary uses of harvested and stored ice was to make chilled wines.

Beer ice cream needs extra eggs and sugar in the custard; otherwise, it turns icy rather than creamy. Try using flavored beers, ales or stout to create your own taste sensation. Then get your ice cream maker spinning while you cut grass. You'll have something even more refreshing after your hard work -- and it's still beer!

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2. Eat Your Veggies

Kids refusing to eat their vegetables? Have them give this slightly sweet veggie and berry soup with a dollop of lemon ice cream on top a try.
Kids refusing to eat their vegetables? Have them give this slightly sweet veggie and berry soup with a dollop of lemon ice cream on top a try.
Jose R. Aguirre/Cover/Getty Images

If you've tried every way you can think of to get your family to eat more vegetables, here's one more: Veggie-packed ice creams can help you scoop up a well-balanced meal. Need a vegetable appetizer? Try salad ice cream, with cucumber, tomato, bell peppers and lettuce in a cool strawberry base. Veggie dip? Surround a bowl of avocado ice cream with tortilla chips. Pull out the sweet corn ice cream for a side dish. Spice things up with a hot sauce-based ice cream with bits of chili peppers stirred in. Finally, for a sweet ending, dish up candied mushroom ice cream for dessert. Who could refuse that gourmet meal?

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1. Are They Serious?

No, that's not peanuts in caramel sauce as the ice cream topping -- it's chili con carne. We can't figure it out either.
No, that's not peanuts in caramel sauce as the ice cream topping -- it's chili con carne. We can't figure it out either.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

For the meat lovers who feel left out with the veggie ice creams, now it's your turn. What say you to some traditional foods from the British Isles, like pork pie, bangers and mash or haggis ice cream? (No, haggis isn't a misspelling of Häagen Dazs. It's a Scottish dish made of minced sheep organs cooked inside the poor beast's stomach.) Not appealing? Try another island's innovations: In Japan, you can satisfy meaty cravings with cow tongue, pit viper and raw horse flesh ice creams.

These are just some of the unexpected ice cream flavors and ingredients you can find in stores and online. As long as there are ice cream makers, people will experiment with unique and surprising ingredients. Maybe a few will even make you wonder why you didn't think of it first!

Find even more fabulous food sensations on the next page.

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