The 5 best strawberry ice creams — and 3 to avoid

The sweet-tart burst of ripe, juicy strawberries stirred into sweet, frozen cream is a summer pleasure unlike any other. It’s light and refreshing and tastes like summer on a spoon. It’s no surprise that strawberry ice cream is the third most popular ice cream flavor.

Trivia buffs may be interested to know that strawberry ice cream has deep roots in presidential history. It’s believed the icy treat was inspired by freed slave Sallie Shadd, then popularized when Dolley Madison served a giant mound of it at President James Madison’s second inauguration in 1813.

As anyone who has tried to make their own strawberry ice cream knows, it’s not an easy task. Too many berries turn the ice cream hard and icy. A dearth of berries is a flavor bust, but big frozen berries escalate brain-freeze. And how much sugar to add to the mix is always a mystery, as it depends on the sweetness of the berries.

The great news is that there are some astoundingly luscious options on store shelves — many made locally — that are ready to be scooped. The best versions are infused with ripe strawberry flavor and have fresh chunks of mashed berry throughout. The worst are oozy pink sugar bombs laced with chemically-engineered flavorings that lack even a trace of fresh strawberry flavor.

Here’s the scoop on the bright, creamy bites of berry-forward deliciousness — and the sticky pink scoops that no one is screaming for. Nutrition details refer to 2/3 cup of ice cream.

Tillamook Oregon Strawberry Ice Cream

Natural pink color and bold strawberry flavor — from lots of strawberry puree — deliver a sweet bite that leads to another and another. This is strawberry ice cream at its very best. 200 calories, 10 g fat, 45 mg sodium, 24 g sugar, 3 g protein. $5.49 for 1.5 quarts at Sprouts. (4 stars)

365 Organic Strawberry Ice Cream

A generous scoop of mashed berries and rich, sweet cream spiked with vanilla make this a decadent, silky bite. 170 calories, 9 g fat, 40 mg sodium, 20 g sugar, 4 g protein. $5.65 for a pint at Whole Foods. (4 stars)

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