20 Frozen Treats from Around the World

From gelato in Italy to halo-halo in the Philippines, here's the scoop on the most refreshing frozen treats from around the world.

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India: Kulfi

Creamy kulfi is a unique treat that garners its signature flavors from cardamom, nuts and saffron threads. It’s similar to ice cream, but with a denser texture, thanks to kulfi’s no-churn cooking process. This sweet treat is often served in small pots and bowls or on a stick. You could even serve it alongside some of these cookies from around the world.

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Italy: Gelato

It’s not summer in Italy without scoop upon scoop of silky gelato. This frozen treat has a similar texture to ice cream, but it’s creamier and made with more milk. Dig in to classic flavors like chocolate, hazelnut and pistachio. Or try our take on the treat with this Strawberry Gelato recipe.

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Helado de Potecito
Courtesy Clara Gonzalez

Dominican Republic: Helado de Potecito

For Clara Gonzalez, who runs the blog Dominican Cooking, helados de potecitos were a highlight of her childhood summers in the Caribbean. “This summer treat is just frozen mango puree mixed with strawberries, like an extra-simple mango and strawberry trifle,” she says. “It turns out incredibly creamy and needs no added sugar whatsoever. It’s so easy to make that your kids can pitch in, and you can get creative by adding other fruits if you wish.” Wish you were in the tropics? Try these Caribbean recipes at home.

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Strawberry Basil Honey Paletas

Mexico: Paletas

Made with just a handful of ingredients, paletas are a summertime staple. They’re bursting with the rich, vibrant flavor of summer produce—like fresh strawberries, herbs, mango or pineapple—and a touch of sweetness from honey or agave. What to try creating your own paletas? Learn more about making homemade popsicles.

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A traditional South African dessert tart made on a base of crushed biscuits, and the topping consists of condensed milk, cream, caramel and peppermint crisp chocolate. Decadently sweet and delicious!
cookedphotos/Getty Images

South Africa: Peppermint Crisp Fridge Tart

This refrigerated dessert is made with South African products: thin Marie biscuits, peppermint chocolate candy bars, caramel flavored-condensed milk and Orley Whip, a dairy-free cream topping. South African chef Hugo Uys makes the frozen treat by heating the milk and mixing it with the Orley Whip. Then, he creates a base layer of biscuits in a rectangular or square dish, spoons over the cream and caramel sauce, and sprinkles on some crushed peppermint crisps. The dessert is both decadent and refreshing! Check out these other tasty chocolate desserts from around the world.

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Acai Bowl With Fruits Salad Banana Mango Kiwi and Strawberry, Delicious Açaí Brazilian Cream Dessert, Açai na Tigela with copy space
Marcelo Alcantara/Getty Images

Brazil: Acai Na Tigela

Acai is a deep purple superfruit—and the centerpiece of this frozen Brazilian breakfast dish. The acai berry gets pureed and frozen before it’s blended with guarana syrup and topped with add-ons, including sliced banana and granola. You can make something similar at home by topping a smoothie bowl with frozen acai.

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Pennsylvania, USA: Banana Split

Frozen treats in the U.S. don’t get more iconic than the banana split. While its exact origins are up for debate, one theory is that the popular treat was created in the early 1900s by a pharmacist in Latrobe, Pennsylvania—and it sold for a mere 10 cents! Today, a classic banana split hasn’t changed much. It still includes three scoops of ice cream—vanilla, chocolate and strawberry—nestled between a halved banana and topped with nuts, chocolate syrup and whipped cream.

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Scoop of Vanilla Berry Ice Cream in the Container, close up image
Manuta/Getty Images

England: Raspberry Ripple

This frozen treat originated in Britain around the 1920s. Other flavors can be used, but over time raspberry became the go-to, complete with a syrup made of fresh raspberries. You’ll spot the raspberry flavor in cakes, meringues and other tasty treats, but the classic ice cream cone tops the list of traditional British desserts. Serve it with one of these sponges—err, cakes—from around the world.

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Pour strawberry sauce over a pink milk kakigori or Japanese shaved ice dessert flavored, Topped with pink whipped cream, blueberry and red currant, same as Bingsu Korean dessert.
Theerawan Bangpran/Getty Images

Japan: Kakigori

This shaved ice dessert was originally served during Japan’s early Heian period as an aristocratic summer treat. It became more publicly accessible during the 19th century, with the first kakigori store opening in Yokohama in 1869. The most popular flavors include strawberry, cherry, lemon, green tea and sweet plum. For a creamy texture, condensed or evaporated milk is often added.

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FRANCE - CIRCA 1950: Paris. Ice-cream seller in the Eiffel tower. (Photo by Roger Viollet via Getty Images)
Roger Viollet/Getty Images

France: Glace Plombieres

This vanilla ice cream is made with eggs, almond extract and candied fruits soaked in kirsch. As the story goes, the frozen treat was invented to cover up a cook’s mistake at a dinner party for Napoleon III in Plombieres-les-Bains. The cook messed up a custard for the French emperor and scrambled to save it by whisking in kirsch!

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Maple Taffy
via brandcanadalibrary.ca

Canada: Maple Taffy

This frozen lollipop is a Canadian wintertime treat. To make maple taffy, maple syrup is heated and drizzled over a patch of clean and fresh snow. Then, a wooden popsicle stick is placed at the base to pick up the treat and eat it. Like the sound of it? You’ll want to try snow ice cream, too.

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Picton, Marlborough Sounds/New Zealand - February 1, 2020: Tourists eating ice creams engrossed with their cellphones in an ice cream shop in Picton, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand.
Gary Webber/Getty Images

New Zealand: Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

This vanilla-based ice cream specialty gets its name from added bits of a honeycomb toffee known as hokey pokey, a beloved New Zealand candy. The candy is made by heating sugar and golden syrup and adding baking soda. Each year, New Zealanders devour about a million gallons of hokey pokey ice cream!

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Close-Up Of Spaghettieis
Eddy Zecchinon / EyeEm/Getty Images

Germany: Spaghettieis

Meaning “spaghetti ice” in German, this dish literally looks like the Italian pasta. In Mannheim, ice cream maker Dario Fontanella came up with it by pressing vanilla ice cream through a spaetzle press to create the look of spaghetti. The frozen treat is topped with strawberry sauce, to replicate tomato sauce, with bits of white chocolate filling in for the Parmesan cheese. If that doesn’t tempt you, how about one of these doughnut recipes from around the world instead?

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Halo Halo is Filipino dessert of mixed sweetened beans, sweetened fruits, flan, ube jam, shaved ice and milk.
Juan Paulo Gutierrez/Getty Images

Philippines: Halo-Halo

Meaning “mix-mix” in Tagalog, this popular layered dessert has several variations. The base is shaved ice, sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk, and some form of sugar. Colorful mix-ins might include layers of fruit, like coconut, jackfruit or ube jam, coconut jelly, sweet beans and flan, topped with a scoop of ice cream and something crunchy, like toasted rice cereal.

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Homemade Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas on a Stick
bhofack2/Getty Images

California, USA: Frozen Chocolate Banana

The United States is known as the birthplace of the banana split. It’s also the home of the frozen banana, a treat that was born in Newport Beach, California. Each frozen banana is skewered, dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts, sprinkles or other various toppings. Bring the recipe home with bite-size frozen bananas.

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Courtesy Melina Aguilar Colón, Isla Caribe Tours, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico: Limber

Growing up in Puerto Rico, Jessica van Dop DeJesus of Dining Traveler would ride her bike to her neighborhood store to get parcha (passion fruit) limber, a mix of fruit juice and sugar frozen in a cup. The most popular flavors are tropical: coconut milk with cinnamon, passion fruit, tamarind or soursop.

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Preparing frozen ice cream made of fruit, cookies and mint at freeze pan
ArtMarie/Getty Images

Thailand: I Tim Pad

Rolled ice cream starts off as a base of milk, cream, sugar and flavorful add-ins that gets mixed together on a steel surface that’s as cold as -15° F. Vendors selling this sweet frozen dessert use metal paddles to quickly chop the ingredients together and spread the mixture into a thin layer. Once the layer firms up, the ice cream is scraped into thick rolls and ready to serve.

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Courtesy Giusy Urso

Sicily: Granita

Similar to a sorbet, granita is tied to the story of a Sicilian tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. In wintertime, men would gather snow from the mountains and store it away for summer. During warmer months, the snow would be collected, then grated and mixed with fruit syrup or lemon juice. You can make your own zesty version of lemon granita.

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Trinidad and Tobago: Soursop Ice Block

Felix Padilla of Simply Trini Cooking remembers looking to quench his thirst after playing cricket or soccer outside with friends. He loved ice blocks! “They came in a variety of flavors,” Felix says, “usually fruit juices or Kool Aid frozen in ice trays, but I liked the milky ones.” His favorite flavor was soursop, which was made with four ingredients: soursop pulp, condensed milk, water and a splash of bitters.

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TMB Studio

Wisconsin, USA: Custard

If you’ve ever been to Wisconsin, you know that custard, not ice cream, is all the rage. While the two may look similar, custard is richer, creamier and denser thanks to the addition of egg yolks. You’ll find it in eateries all across the state, from national chains to local neighborhood shops.

Michele Herrmann
Michele Herrmann writes regularly about travel, food/drink, culture and other subjects of personal interest. Her byline has been featured on Readers Digest, Travelocity, Forbes, Lonely Planet, Orbitz, am New York Metro, The Daily Beast, Smithsonian Magazine, Fodors, Travel Age West, BBC Travel, Atlas Obscura, Budget Travel, Frommers, Matador Network and USA Today's 10 Best. She has also created marketing and promotional content for SLE Lupus Foundation and Bigelow Tea.