Cheesecake isn’t for everyone. The decadent mixture of cream cheese (or sometimes ricotta, shout out to Italian cheesecake) crumbly graham cracker crust, butter, eggs, and loads of sugar is more than a bit rich. In fact, it’s a weird dessert overall. It takes two disparate things people love, mashes them together, and ends up being neither cheese nor cake in its final form. Our point is, cheesecake, unlike say, ice cream, is a divisive dessert. So when we learned that Cheesecake Factory had a seven flavor line of cheesecake-flavored ice creams, we knew we had to rank them.
The Cheesecake Factory line — available nationwide — features an ultra-rich blend of cream cheese, sour cream, and ice cream in seven flavors which include Birthday Cake, Chocolate, Cookies & Cream, Key Lime, Original, Salted Caramel, and Strawberry. It is not, for the record, regular ice cream that happens to be made by the Cheesecake Factory. This is cheesecake Cheesecake Factory ice cream, which is important to remember because if you dive into the chocolate thinking there isn’t going to be a tart aftertaste, you’re in for a rude awakening.
To rank these, we’ll be using a five cheesecake rating system. Try them yourself and argue with us in the comments. It is summer after all, and nothing melts away quarantine boredom quite like eating then arguing over something sweet.
Oh boy, we’re in for a rough start here folks. This is… well, it’s not good. Key Lime Pie and cheesecake speak to the same type of sweet tooth, they both utilize egg, are both tart, and both sit atop a graham cracker crust — so this flavor seems like a winner.
Where a slice of Key Lime pie is bursting with a refreshing and tart flavor, the Cheesecake Factory Lime cheesecake ice cream is just off-puttingly sour. Graham cracker swirls try their best to add some much-needed texture and a counter flavor to tamp down some of the sourness, but ultimately the mixture of sour cream, cheesecake ice cream blend, and key lime will convince you that your carton has expired.
Seriously, skip this one.
Eat a real slice of cheesecake instead, even if you hate cheesecake.
When we tried the Salted Caramel entry, a concern rose to the fore: was every flavor of this ice cream going to be bad? We’re not trying to be negative here, but between Cheesecake Factory Key Lime and Salted Caramel ice creams, it was starting to feel like whoever conceived of this ice cream pitched the line of flavors by saying “let’s ruin perfectly delicious ice cream flavors by adding cheesecake into the mix.”
This flavor is all out of whack. The sea salt clashes with the sour cream and cheesecake blend, creating an overwhelmingly sharp and salty aftertaste that lingers on the palate well past its welcome. Good luck trying to cleanse your palate after a spoonful of this stuff. While the caramel flavor is overpowered by the salted cream cheese, it still manages to create a sticky mess that clings too easily to the walls of your mouth and never really mixes into the ice cream base.
1 cheesecake out of 5. Salted Caramel is one of the greatest ice cream flavors of all time, but the near-perfect blend of flavors can’t hold up when you mess with the formula.
Cookies and Cream
We’ve finally woken up from the nightmare. Cheesecake Factory Cookies and Cream ice cream isn’t the best flavor of the bunch, but its a marked improvement over the flavors that precede it. The tartness of the cheesecake blend pairs nicely with creamy chocolate and vanilla ice cream, and the chocolate cookie swirls add an extra dose of rich chocolate and texture. The only thing that let us down about this flavor was the lack of large cookie chunks in the ice cream, bigger pieces of the oreo-like cookie would’ve really kicked this flavor up a notch and brought it more in line with the Cheesecake Factory’s own signature Oreo Cheesecake.
We had high hopes for this one, and while we don’t want to call it a disappointment, it failed to truly wow us.
2 out of 5 cheesecakes. A league above the Key Lime and Salted Caramel flavors, but nothing remarkable.
One spoonful of Cheesecake Factory’s Original Cheesecake ice cream will help you to realize why the franchise decided to shoot their shot by launching seven different flavors. This stuff is good and if the idea of cheesecake ice cream sounds insane to you, this flavor will make you believe it’s as legitimate an ice cream option as rocky road or pistachio.
A nicely balanced blend of vanilla ice cream, graham cracker swirls, cream cheese, and sour cream, Cheesecake Factory’s Original flavor not only belongs in your fridge, but we can easily see it being one of your top 10 ice cream flavors, even if you aren’t crazy about cheesecake.
3 out of 5 cheesecakes. A great place to start if you’re wondering if cheesecake ice cream is for you.
Okay, this is way better than it deserves to be and we’re ashamed to admit it. We don’t want to offend you if you ride hard for Birthday Cake flavored ice cream, but that’s a flavor for babies, fam. It’s like preferring funfetti over devil’s food chocolate cake. So we fully expected this flavor to be absolute trash.
But. It’s. So. Damn Good.
Seriously, we know that the idea of candy sprinkles, swirls of icing, and sour cream sounds disgusting — even typing it out makes us cringe — but this absolutely delicious. In a strange way, the Birthday Cake flavor tastes less like a Birthday Cake and more like the heavy cream and condensed milk Mexican sponge cake, Tres Leches.
The slightly tart and sour flavor is mostly masked in the insane sweetness of the Birthday Cake flavored ice cream, but supplies a pleasing aftertaste that’ll draw you in for another spoonful.
4 out of 5 cheesecakes. The only reason to not have a pint of this in your freezer is that it’s embarrassing.
Cheesecake Factory’s Chocolate cheesecake ice cream is the only flavor in the entire line that could pass as regular ice cream. Rich chocolate fudge swirls work their way throughout this ultra-dense chocolate ice cream — which features a slightly subtle cream cheese after taste, delivering a nearly imperceptible burst of tartness.
We expected this to be one of the more boring flavors in the line, but it managed to be the pint we finished first, thanks to the bitter dark chocolate overtones.
4 out of 5 cheesecakes. It’s not our favorite flavor Cheesecake Factory makes, but it’s a less embarrassing number two than the Birthday Cake!
Trust us, we were shocked to find strawberry in the top spot as well. While I’m by no means a hater of strawberry ice cream, I fully acknowledge that it’s the worst component of Neopolitan. Strawberry rarely tops lists — it’s a mid-tier flavor in the realm of desserts, it’s nobody’s favorite milkshake flavor, easily the worst variation of flavored milk, and the most visually unappealing variation on the Kit-Kat of all time.
But paired with cheesecake ice cream? It works beautifully.
Bits of frozen strawberry and graham cracker swirls pair perfectly with the tart undertones of the cheesecake blend, resulting in a dense, creamy, and rich experience that comes in waves, as layers of complexity reveal themselves only to quickly break down as they melt in your mouth — causing you to reach for spoonful after spoonful.
Be careful with this one!
5 out of 5 cheesecakes. You need a pint of this in your freezer today. Our suggestion is to buy some fresh strawberries and add some crushed graham crackers to a few scoops to really take this to the next level. The extra graham dust will add some texture, and the fresh strawberries will make a few scoops all the more refreshing.