In addition to perfecting classic scoops, the purveyors of fine ice creams over at Van Leeuwen have mastered the art of dreaming up odd and unexpected flavors over the years. You might recall the commotion around their Kraft Mac & Cheese-inspired release (which Eater staff writer Amy McCarthy found “nothing short of magical“) or their limited-edition Grey Poupon flavor, complete with a honey-Dijon swirl and salted pretzels.
Keeping with the tradition of transforming savory foods and condiments into ice cream (don’t ask us how they do it), today Van Leeuwen announced their latest collaboration: Hidden Valley Ranch. Yep, that’s right, ranch-flavored ice cream is headed to a Walmart freezer section near you starting on March 20. Ahead of the launch, the Van Leeuwen team sent a pint to the Food52 office for a sneak-peek taste (more on the results in a moment).
Like Van Leeuwen’s other dairy-based ice creams, this new flavor features a base of cream, milk, cane sugar, and egg yolks. The ranch-y twist: Buttermilk powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and sea salt are also included in the ingredients. On first taste, my brain couldn’t reconcile the herby, every-so-slightly garlicky notes with the creamy-sweet richness of the ice cream. But once I got over the fact that I was indeed eating ranch in dessert form, I went back for a second taste and then another, embracing the inescapable weirdness of the combination.
I also tried it with potato chips (both sprinkled on top and used as a scooper in place of a spoon), which the Van Leeuwen and Hidden Valley Ranch teams recommend for a complementary salty crunch, and found it to be a little too reminiscent of dipping into actual ranch dressing—but maybe that’s the point?
Here’s what the rest of the Food52 team members who dared to give it a taste thought:
- “I haven’t tried any of their other collaborations, but I was just shocked at how balanced it was—you still got the savory ranch flavor. I’m surprised that it had me going back for seconds.”—Allison Buford, Test Kitchen Director
- “Interesting and new taste! It would definitely get guests talking at any occasion, big or small.”—Roman Arispe, Office & Sample Coordinator
- “Ranch ice cream! Van Leeuwen nailed the flavor, but it’s a no from me. (It probably has something to do with the fact that it’s my least favorite condiment.)”—Anna Billingskog, Food Stylist
- “I wasn’t sure at first, but after a second taste I have to admit that I’m actually surprised that I kind of like it! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it was herby, like a refreshing cold soup.”—Sebastian Sardo, Brand Manager, Pantry
- “You definitely know it’s ranch, but I love the subtlety of the flavor. For me, it was weird eating it with chips—I would eat it all on its own.”—Nikki Jessop, Test Kitchen Freelancer
If Hidden Valley Ranch-flavored ice cream isn’t your thing (though we like Roman’s idea of bringing a pint or two to a party for a fun taste test), Van Leeuwen is launching other new flavors that are less likely to be controversial—like Sweet Maple Cornbread, Blood Orange Chocolate Chip, Limoncello Cake, Strawberry Shortcake, Carrot Cake, and Honey Graham Cracker.
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Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Brand Partnerships at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.