Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Gelato

Trader Joe's Salted Caramel Gelato

Man, doesn’t that look delicious? How could that not be delicious?

Oh, what a disappointment you are Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Gelato. Trader Joe’s has brought so many wonderful things into my life, I try and not get too let down when something falls flat. They dream big, and for that, at the very least, they deserves our every consideration of leniency. And yet I am simply crushed by overwhelmingly lackluster execution of what could have been a mouth-melting delight.

Deserts, like everything else in life, can be broken down into closely detailed hierarchy of what-beats-what (this is the sort of thing usually done by bored nerds. For instance, me, right now). The way I see it, frozen deserts generally beat baked deserts (ice cream beats cake). Within the domain of frozen treats, we have ice cream at the bottom, then sherbet, then sorbet, and finally, at the very top, theoretically you have your gelato.

Unfortunately, what we have here is a failure of gelato. What I look for in a good gelato is something creamy, dense and bursting with rich, overwhelming flavor. For something like salted caramel it seems like this should be a grand slam. Salted caramel, so simple but under-appreciated for so long, is one of the most satisfying flavors on the market. When it comes to intense, tongue pleasing tastes, there are ways to get fancier with it (and ice cream makers certainly twist themselves in knots coming out with convoluted, over-the-top flavors), but you just can’t beat the simple blast of savory and sweet you get from a well executed salted caramel. My tongue tingles just thinking about that rich buttery sugar melting into flashes of brilliant salty bursts.

This is the first gelato Trader Joe’s has ever brought to market, and it makes sense to choose such a decadent flavor – so why does Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Gelato fail so badly?

Mainly, there really isn’t anything interesting going on here. The gelato is creamy, but lightweight – more like a scoop of Rite Aid Thrifty brand vanilla than a premium ice cream experience. This wouldn’t be such a failure if the gelato itself was as rich, sweet or salty as you might expect it to be. Instead of being blasted by a tongue-grabbing saltiness or charmed by impossibly sweet and creamy custard, you’re presented with a blandly “meh” sort of middle of the road flavor. Less creamy than their vanilla, less sweet and savory than their cookie butter ice cream, there’s no reason to come back to this mediocre confection.

In fact, Trader Joe’s has a plethora of delectable ice cream treats to choose from. Despite the name on this bucket, don’t expect it to beat out any of the other ones. I’d buy much more likely to buy another half gallon of Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Frozen Desert before I bought more of this – not just because it’d be healthier, but because the vegan soy milk is at least doing something interesting with flavor.

The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: No way – go for the Cookie Butter ice cream first.
Would I Buy It Again: Not so long as I have any other choice.
Final Synopsis: “Salted” “Caramel” “Gelato” that fails to live up to any part of the name.

Trader Joe's Salted Caramel Gelato - Nutrition Facts

Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Gelato – Nutrition Facts


10 Comments on “Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Gelato”

  1. Natalie says:

    Yeah, this was sadly, a total fail for us too. Never again.

  2. Shauna says:

    Wow, it’s strange how different people’s preferences can be! I LOVED the salted caramel gelato but hated the cookie butter ice cream. I think it may be my favorite ice cream. It wasn’t lightweight in my opinion and tasted reminiscent of butterscotch.

  3. Deane Alban says:

    Funny, because I love this stuff. It’s smooth, creamy, and very flavorful. It keeps me out of the local gelato shop right up the street from Trader Joe’s where the gelato is excellent but I spend more for one scoop than I do for a whole tub of TJs! The cookie butter didn’t do it for me. Viva la difference!

  4. Michelle says:

    I also loved this (much richer and creamy than other salted caramel ice creams or gelatos I’d had in the past), but am not enough of a fan of salted caramel to buy it again unless I have someone else to eat it. By the time I got to the bottom, I was burned out on the flavor 😉 My sister who is a HUGE salted caramel fan thought it was comparable to her go to Talenti Salted Caramel gelato.

  5. Murray says:

    This is indeed a failure both with regard to texture and flavor balance. Absolutely pass on this! Try this next to a best of breed flavor like McConnell’s Salted Caramel Chip as a frame of reference.

  6. Janet says:

    I had this at my daughter’s house. I thought it was great. Her husband and son are also big fans. Strange how differently it seems to different people.

  7. rick says:

    most incredible gelato

  8. Arthur says:

    Seriously – you must have been testing their pizza dough. This Gelato is/was nothing less than spectacular. It is the sole reason I found an excuse to get back to TJs on a weekly basis.
    But then, alas – they no longer carry it. Guess I have no reason to go back to TJs.

  9. Sophie says:

    I wholeheartedly disagree. I’ve lived in Italy and this gelato is definitely up there on my list of favorites. Also it tastes EXACTLY like a creamy, chewy, soft caramel. How could you go wrong??

  10. Jo says:

    Despite the fact that I am not a huge salted caramel fan, and there’s no fun stuff in it, this is one of the best ice creams I have ever eaten. Probably top 3! I’ve had gelato in Italy and US supermarket “gelatos” have been very disappointing in taste and texture. More like ice milk. This one is very creamy with a strong flavor. One of my two favorite TJ’s products, along with the sticky toffee cake.

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