The 11 Best Summer Ice Cream Flavors Of 2016

Happy summer, y'all!

Ice cream is appreciated 365 days of the year, but it's during the summer months that it becomes essential. This is the time of year we need the sweet stuff. If you're in the Northeast, ice cream season is marked by the opening of ice cream stands for the warm months ahead. Elsewhere in the country, the start of the season might be marked by the introduction of new summer-specific flavors. That's what we're going to talk about today.

We set out on a mission to find the very best flavors of ice cream we could get our hands on. And boy did we get some great pints. We tested (and retested) the most exciting new ice cream flavors of the season -- plus some good ol' classics -- to find the pints best fit for your summer needs.

Folks, the lineup this year is awe-inspiring. The flavors are bold, fresh and lovingly sweet; they are all winners in our hearts (and stomachs). But still, some pints rose up above the rest. Here they are: the 11 best summer ice cream flavors of 2016 -- in no particular order.

Snoqualmie Blueberry Cardamom Crisp
Julie R. Thomson
What we love about this flavor -- aside from the perfect blueberry and cardamom pairing -- is that it's interesting enough to satisfy the food-loving adult, but simple enough to make a 4-year-old say, "Yum!" (This happened in real life.)
Ample Hills' 'Baby I Was Churned This Way!'
Julie R. Thomson
This batch of salty hazelnut ice cream, studded with chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, is a beautiful sight. Scooping it out of the pint reveals rainbow after rainbow of candy-coated ice cream. If you like Nutella, you'll love this pint because the hazelnut flavor really shines through. But hurry to get your taste, the flavor will be pulled from the shelves at the end of June.
Jeni's Splendid Ylang Ylang & Fennel Ice Cream
Jeni's Splendid
If you don't know what ylang ylang is -- a flower from Asia -- then you don't know how perfect it is for ice cream. And surprisingly, fennel makes a perfect complement. You won't be able to put the spoon down once you get a taste of this flavor. Consider yourself warned.
Salt & Straw Caramel Corn On The Cob
Julie R. Thomson
Yes, this is an actual flavor of ice cream. And yes, we are also aware of how genius it is. This is basically the quintessential summer experience churned and packaged into one of the most memorable pints you'll ever get your hands on. The caramel is generous and spot on and the ice cream that holds it all together truly tastes like buttered corn. It's perfection.
McConnell's Whiskey And Pecan Pralines
Julie R. Thomson
We know this flavor sounds like it should be eaten in the fall, but one bite of this creamy, boozy blend and you'll see that it's meant for enjoying any time of the year -- and any time of the day. The caramel-coated pecan pralines are nice and crispy and a true smokey Kentucky bourbon flavor shines through, giving the ice cream a balanced sweet and savory taste.
Steve's Ice Cream Strawberry Ricotta
Julie R. Thomson
This is like strawberry ice cream 2.0. A mellow strawberry flavor, with a richness that is more than welcome from the ricotta.
Salt & Straw Sea Salt With Caramel Ribbon
Julie R. Thomson
This is salted caramel at its very best. The rich creamy ice cream is slight salted and the thick gobs of caramel are unapologetically sweet. This pint of ice cream is a revelation.
Graeter's Mint Chocolate Chip
Everyone does mint chocolate chip -- it's a summertime classic -- but no one does mint chip like Graeter's. The mint-flavored ice cream is spot on, but what really sets them apart are their chocolate chips. They're insanely delicious.
McConnell's Boysenberry Rosé Milk Jam
Julie R. Thomson
Milk jam is what you get when you boil sugar and milk down into a thick, delicious caramel. That's what McConnell's did to make this flavor, only they stop one step short of caramel and use that gooey goodness as their base for this seasonal ice cream. They then mix in boysenberry jam to make a summer treat not to be missed.
Steve's Vanilla Creme Fraiche
Julie R. Thomson
Forget vanilla bean ice cream, get this instead. This is the ice cream your pie has been waiting for. It's subtly sweet, refreshing and light, tastes great by the spoonful and like heaven on top of dessert.
Jeni's Spelndid Savannah Buttermint Ice Cream
Jeni's Splendid
Peppermint with sea salt, butter and white chocolate flecks, this is everything all summer ice cream aspires to be. Creamy and rich, refreshing and exciting, all churned into one flavor that you can't stop eating. It's modeled after those soft pillow mints you ate as a kid.