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We Tried And Ranked Salt & Straw Nostalgic Cereal Ice Cream

Salt & Straw cereal ice creams
Salt & Straw cereal ice creams - Crawford Smith/Tasting Table

Ice cream and cereal — two childhood favorites that taste great together. That's the reasoning behind a new line of nostalgic cereal-inspired ice cream creations by Salt & Straw. The "Cereal-sly Delicious" series, as it's called, includes five ice cream flavors, each infused in some way with sweet, delicious breakfast cereal. Ice cream may not be part of a balanced breakfast, but that doesn't mean cereal can't be part of a killer dessert.

I received all five flavors from Salt & Straw for review consideration — this ranking is based on my opinion of the flavor and texture of each ice cream. Some of the varieties were crafted using my personal favorite breakfast cereals, while others were made with cereals that were new to me, but each one brought something worthwhile — the lowest-ranked selection on this list was still pretty darn tasty. From pandan coconut to chocolate peanut butter, here is my unbiased ranking of Salt & Straw's cereal ice cream.

Read more: 25 Best Ice Cream Brands Ranked

5. OffLimits Zombie W/ Coconut & Pandan

OffLimits Zombie ice cream
OffLimits Zombie ice cream - Crawford Smith/Tasting Table

This is the only vegan ice cream in the Cereal-sly Delicious series, and it suffers slightly because of that. The coconut ice cream base just doesn't have quite the richness or velvety texture that the dairy one does — I noticed some ice crystals when I dug in, and this ice cream melted faster than all the others, too. That's why OffLimits ranks last here, but it's still delicious, and it's a great option if you're not able to eat dairy or just love pandan.

The coconut taste in the ice cream is quite strong, as is the pandan, which tastes almost like a tropical version of vanilla — at first it hits you with vanilla-esque flavor, and then you get some grassy and fruity notes in the aftertaste. It mixes well with coconut, and the combo should be familiar to anyone who's a big fan of Asian desserts.

While the pandan flavor in the OffLimits Zombie cereal puffs gets overwhelmed by the taste of the ice cream itself, the puffs do hold together better than the cereals in the other Salt & Straw varieties. They provide pleasing chunks of chewy crispness that vary the texture of each ice cream bite. The only negative thing about the flavor of this ice cream is its slightly earthy, health-food aftertaste. Looking at the ingredients, I'd guess the culprits are the pea protein in the ice cream base and the pea fiber in the cereal.

4. Pots Of Gold & Rainbows

Pots of Gold ice cream
Pots of Gold ice cream - Crawford Smith/Tasting Table

As somebody who has used Lucky Charms as a topping for vanilla ice cream, I was very excited to try this. I liked it, but I thought the Lucky Charms actually lost something from being mixed into the ice cream rather than just being sprinkled on top.

The ice cream base is flavored with vanilla and steeped with Lucky Charms, which infuses both the oat taste of the cereal pieces and the artificial vanilla essence of the marshmallows into the mix. You occasionally get grainy pockets of cereal, but for the most part, the cereal pieces are completely dissolved into the ice cream. Salt & Straw adds more marshmallows in at the end, so they stay more intact. The marshmallows provide some extra pops of sweetness, but they don't do much texture-wise — they melt in your mouth almost instantly.

Overall, I wanted a more intense Lucky Charms taste. While Lucky Charms flavor is present throughout this ice cream, it's relatively mild. I also wished that Salt & Straw had been able to incorporate the crispness of the cereal somehow. However, this still beats the OffLimits because Salt & Straw's non-vegan ice cream base is better than the coconut one — perfectly creamy and rich, with no ice crystals.

3. Cornflake Cookies W/ Marionberry Jam

Cornflake Cookies ice cream
Cornflake Cookies ice cream - Crawford Smith/Tasting Table

I didn't know what marionberries were before receiving this ice cream, but apparently they're an Oregon specialty, which makes sense for a company that was founded in Portland. To me, the jam in this ice cream tasted like a combination of blackberry and raspberry, with sweet juiciness tempered by a tart bite and a hint of pleasant bitterness.

There's plenty of jam swirled into the vanilla ice cream mix, and the cornflake cookie component matches it perfectly. The cornflakes are incorporated by first baking them into brown butter cookies, then crumbling them into the ice cream. This process really intensifies the taste of the cereal — you get tons of delicious toasted cornmeal flavor in every bite. The brown butter adds richness and a savory edge that helps bring everything together. The overall effect is not unlike eating a sweet corn muffin topped with jam.

I have no complaints about the taste of this ice cream at all — it delivers the intense cereal flavor I wanted from the Pots of Gold. My one gripe is textural: The marionberry jam is full of seeds, and they got stuck in my teeth while I was eating.

2. Rum Custard W/ Raisin Shortbread & Bran Butter

Rum Custard ice cream
Rum Custard ice cream - Crawford Smith/Tasting Table

At the time of writing, this flavor isn't listed on Salt & Straw's website, but I received it for the review, and it's included in the Cereal-sly Delicious press release, so it might be worth reaching out to your local Salt & Straw location to see if they have it. This ice cream is basically a combo of classic rum raisin with raisin bran cereal.

The rum is the least dominant flavor in the mix. It does add some caramel and molasses notes, but this ice cream doesn't taste boozy. It's all about raisins, bran, and butter. Raisins are used in three ways: baked into shortbread cookies, blended into frosting for the cookies, and added to a buttery goo that's swirled into the ice cream. Likewise, bran is added in multiple forms: In addition to infusing the ice cream base, it's in the swirl and the cookie frosting as well.

More than raisin bran cereal, this ice cream tastes like a toasted bran muffin slathered with a hefty dose of butter. It's amazing, and the chewy bits of frozen raisin add a really satisfying texture. I wish the cookies weren't crushed quite as finely as they are, but that's my only complaint. I can't give this the top spot, though, because it's for raisin lovers only, and some people really, really hate raisins.

1. Peanut Butter Brownie Cereal Puffs

Peanut Butter Brownie ice cream
Peanut Butter Brownie ice cream - Crawford Smith/Tasting Table

Oh boy, this Reese's Puffs-inspired cereal is intense — in a good way. It lays on the chocolate flavor thick, with a chocolate ice cream base as well as a generous amount of brownie chunks. The brownie pieces have a deep, dark, cocoa taste. They're also pretty big, so they give this ice cream a satisfying chew.

Also adding some nice texture is the sweet peanut butter that's swirled into the mix. When it's freezer-solid, the peanut butter has a taffy-like mouthfeel, but as it warms up, it gets creamy and soft. The swirl tastes quite similar to real Reese's peanut butter. The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is, of course, wonderful; it almost feels unfair to judge the other flavors in the line against this one, because chocolate and peanut butter is always a winning pairing.

The taste of cereal is in this ice cream, but it doesn't make much of an impression. The one-two punch of the brownie pieces and the peanut butter swirl totally overwhelms the comparatively mild flavor of the cereal. Honestly, that's fine, because this ice cream delivers the vibe of Reese's Puffs without tasting exactly like them — in fact, it tastes better than its cereal inspiration. I had to hold myself back from eating the whole pint in one sitting.

Methodology

assorted Salt & Straw pints
assorted Salt & Straw pints - Crawford Smith/Tasting Table

Salt & Straw sent these ice creams to me free of charge, but this review reflects my unbiased opinion. I took them out of the freezer to warm up for five minutes, then sampled them all back-to-back to create my ranking.

My primary criteria for evaluating the ice cream were intensity, deliciousness, and balance of flavor. I also weighed texture heavily, factoring in the creaminess of the ice cream itself and whether or not the toppings added interesting nuances to the mouthfeel.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.