I admit that South Korea’s summer is hot and humid. But, this not-so-pleasant weather has a silver lining: a never-ending variety of Korean ice cream! Korean ice cream is famous for its various flavors from the normal vanilla taste to the creative corn flavor to unfamiliar red beans. In addition, the flamboyant packaging surely grabs your attention.
Whether you shop at a Korean market near you (lucky you) or actually visit South Korea yourself (luckier you), you may be overwhelmed by the variety of Korean ice creams and sometimes you would hesitate to try one because of unexpected flavors or names like Jaws Bar (FYI, it doesn’t taste like a shark).
Don’t worry. Here I have a list of best-selling Korean ice creams for you. Because taste is such a subjective matter, I can’t tell you which Korean ice cream tastes the best. But, these ice creams on the list are beloved by Koreans, so you can trust 50 million Koreans. By the way, the list is based on the most sold Korean ice creams in South Korea in the first half of 2022.
Go ahead and try out Korean ice cream. Share how you like them and what your favorites are in the comments below.
No. 10 Pangtoa
Pangtoa (빵또아) has two soft slices of castella bread covering the cookie and cream ice cream inside, unlike other Korean ice cream sandwiches that usually use wafers for the outer layer. If you are not familiar with castella bread, imagine a sweet soft sponge-like cake.
This texture makes the ice cream sandwich a unique dessert. Be aware, though, that the castella bread can make your fingers sticky so either keep the wrapping cover while you are eating it or simply eat fast.
Cookie and Cream flavor is a steady seller but Binggrae has introduced some varieties such as Choco Chiffon and Red Velvet Cake. The name may sound like French or Portuguese, but the name is a Korean abbreviation of ‘bread’, ‘and’, and ‘ice cream’ meaning eating bread and ice cream together.
No. 9 Double Bianco
When you try Double Bianco for the first time, you may wonder what the name of this Korean ice cream means. When you are about to finish the upper part, you will realize the real meaning of the name. The bottom part of this cup-style ice cream is the apple sherbet. ‘Bianco’ means white in Italian, so it means the double pleasure of white vanilla ice cream topped with strawberry syrup and white apple sherbet.
The packaging also has its own charm. At the bottom of the cup, you will find a hidden foldable spoon so you can conveniently scoop the sherbet.
No. 8 Natuur
Natuur is a premium ice cream brand by Lotte Confectionery in South Korea. The brand not only sells ice cream products in Korean supermarkets and convenience stores but also has its own stores including signature cafes.
Natuur offers a full range of products from pints to bars and even ice cream cakes. The Korean ice cream brand also serves vegan-certified ice cream, the first one in South Korea. Customers have quite a number of options for flavors including Snow flower with Red Bean, Cherry Blossom, Green Tea with Fudge, Almond, Piperita Mint Choco, Pure Coconut, French Affogato with Vanilla, Strawberry with Cheese Cake, and its most popular one, Green Tea. Of course, regular flavors like chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla are available. Ice cream cakes and bars have even more flavors such as Yuja Trinity Bar.
Natuur claims to be a premium ice cream brand, thus the price doesn’t come cheap. The bars cost three times or more than other Korean ice cream bars depending on where you buy them.
No. 7 Pangpare (Fanfare)
Introduced in 1983, Pangpare has been a steady seller in the Korean ice cream market. The name, Pangpare, is ‘fanfare’ pronounced in a Korean way. The ice cream has had a variety of other flavors, but nothing really has beaten the original vanilla flavor.
It’s a little hard to eat the bottom part with the crispy wafer. You can see the little curved part at the edge of the plastic package (in the picture above.) Supposedly, we are able to hold and take out the ice cream. Obviously, they are too small. Instead, squeeze the very bottom part of the plastic until the wafer pops up. Not too strongly, though.
No. 6 Goo Goo Cone
This is an ice cream version of Goo Goo Cluster, the beloved American candy bar. Lotte Confectionery paid loyalty to bring this recipe and turned it into ice cream. Goo Goo Cone is a delightful combination of chocolate ice cream, marshmallows, caramel syrup, and peanuts. If you are a fan of a rich flavor of ice cream, you would like this cone.
In addition to the original chocolate-flavored cone, Goo Goo series comes with strawberry and salted caramel flavors. You can also choose containers of Goo Goo clusters, slices, or bars.
No. 5 Bravo Cone
Oldies but goodies. Bravo Cone may not be as cool as before, but it has been a living history of Korean ice cream and the brand is still a household name. Bravo Cone holds many records: It is South Korea’s first ice cream cone by Haitai Ice Cream. It came to the world in 1970. It is in the Guinness Book of World Records as South Korea’s longest-living ice cream brand. In 2010, the sales record marked 4 billion cones for 40 years since its introduction.
The jingle, ‘Let’s get together at Twelve with Bravo Cone,’ is considered one of the most successful commercial songs in South Korea’s advertising history. Over 50 years, many Korean celebrities have appeared in Bravo Cone commercials including the top-class actor, Lee Byung-hun, in recent ones (see the commercials below).
There have been a variety of flavors have been introduced (and gone) over 50 years. Currently, there are flavors of milk, pistachio, strawberry, and choco chunk in addition to the original vanilla. TMI: Recently, Binggare, a major Korean ice cream company, bought out Haitai Ice Cream but it lets Bravo Cone be produced under Haitai’s brand.
No. 4 Melona Bar
Since its introduction in 1992, Melona has always been one of the best-selling ice creams in South Korea. As Korean food and culture spread around the world, Melona has become one of the most popular Korean ice creams in the world. Melona bars can be easily found at Korean groceries and supermarkets outside South Korea. According to Binggrae, the manufacturer, Melona is sold in 22 countries in the world.
When you unwrap Melona, first, the unusual pale green color would grab your attention. When you have a bite, you would be surprised because of its creamy texture. It looks just like a popsicle but it is softer. And, finally, the sweet taste of melon spreads out in your mouth.
It is ironic to me that Melona has other than the melon flavor, but you can find banana, mango, and pina colada flavors of Melona.
No. 3 World Cone
World Cone came to the world in 1986 and it was an immediate hit thanks to its larger size compared to its rivals at that time. This Korean ice cream cone is still relatively larger than others, but the difference is not recognizable as before.
Since its first appearance in the Korean ice cream market, World Cone has topped the best-selling ice cream list several times. According to Lotte Confectionery, if you line up World Cones sold so far, they would wrap the globe 15 times (honestly, I don’t know why people use this global-wrapping or reaching-moon analogy, though).
When it first came out, people liked a chocolate chunk at the bottom of the cone. The rumor has it that it actually happened by accident with the rival Bravo Cone and people liked it, so Lotte Confectionary put the chunk in the bottom of World Cone on purpose.
No. 2 Samanco
Samanco is one of the most known Korean ice creams to ice cream lovers of the world. Many people know it as a Korean fish ice cream sandwich. No worries, no fish is in it. This Korean ice cream sandwich has vanilla ice cream and sweetened red beans inside of fish-shaped wafers.
The origin of this ice cream came from a popular Korean winter street food, Bunggeoppang (붕어빵), which is a waffle-style pastry filled with sweetened red bean paste. The original name of the ice cream sandwich in South Korea is Bunggeo Samanco. “Bunggeo” is a Korean word for carp fish.
Some people might hesitate to try this one because of the taste of red beans. If you don’t care for red beans, Samanco also comes in chocolate, green tea, and walnut cookie flavors.
No. 1 Together
Here is the No. 1 best-selling Korean ice cream in the first half of 2022, Together by Binggrae. This soft vanilla ice cream was born in 1974, and it is the very first Korean ice cream that used raw milk. Together has been the best-selling Korean ice cream for many years.
One of the reasons for its success is that many businesses such as cafes and restaurants use Together for its menu. For example, a good deal of cafes uses this vanilla ice cream for their Affogato menu and milkshakes.
Together is also popular because it is the king of pairings or combinations. There are numerous ways to enjoy Together with other food from the usual (and expected) ways to what-the-heck methods. Here are some examples:
- Make a sandwich with two slices of the traditional Korean puffed rice (뻥뛰기 /bbeong-tui-gi/) and fill it in with a scoop of Together.
- Put Together on a slice of baguette.
- Pokachip (or any potato chips) + Together
- Traditional Korean cookie, Yakgwa + Together
- Use toppings like cereal, strawberries, crushed Oreos, and more. Be creative.
- Make a sandwich with Chikchok or Digestive filled with Together. Be aware that this may be too sweet.
- (Only for over 21) Pour Guinness into a tall glass up to 2/3. And add a scoop of Together on top of it.
- OK, this needs the courage to try: add olive oil and black pepper on Together. Let me know if you try.
- Another challenge. At the end of cooking Korean ramyeon, add a scoop of this ice cream. People say it tastes like ramyeon with cheese.
Together comes in two sizes: 900 ml (32 oz) and 270 ml (9 oz). If you want to try something different than vanilla flavor, you can choose among chocolate milk, praline & almond, and strawberry milk.