Best Ice Cream Shops in the U.S.

My Favorite Ice Cream Shops

I enjoy visiting ice cream shops during my travels across the country. My favorite ice cream consists of high-quality ingredients and creative flavors.

Here’s my list of the best ice cream shops in the U.S.

P.S. I made a list you can save HERE.

1.    Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Columbus, Nashville, Atlanta, St. Louis, Charleston, Los Angeles, Cleveland: Jeni’s is my favorite ice cream!

Click here for Jeni’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream recipe. For more of Jeni’s delicious ice cream recipes, pick up a copy of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s at Home and Jeni’s Splendid Desserts.

Visit Jeni’s Ice Cream for online ordering, scoop shop locations and where to buy by the pint in other states.

Must-order: Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso and Buckeye State *GF menu

2.    Bi-Rite Creamery San Francisco: The lines are really long at Bi-Rite, but it’s worth the wait! The best flavor is the Salted Caramel.

Click here for the salted caramel ice cream recipe. For more recipes, check out Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones: 90 Recipes for Making Your Own Ice Cream and Frozen Treats from Bi-Rite Creamery.

Must-order: Salted Caramel *V *GF menu

3.    Lick Austin and San Antonio: The attention to quality ingredients make Lick ice cream so tasty. The ice cream is made without using any preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial colors or flavors. I love the non-dairy flavors.

Must-order: Texas Sheet Cake *V *GF menu

4.  Amy’s Ice Cream Austin, Dallas, and Houston: Amy’s is a hip Texas ice cream chain. Many employees of Amy’s will do “tricks” with the ice cream as they prepare it and before the customer receives it. These tricks include, but are not limited to, throwing ice cream scoops under the leg, behind the back, and over people.

Must-order: Mexican Vanilla *V *GF menu

5.    Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream New York City: Pastry chef Nicholas Morgenstern traded high-end restaurants for his own ice cream parlor, where he whips cream to order and fills cones with burnt honey vanilla and Szechuan peppercorn chocolate. There are five types of chocolate, three caramels, three coffees, and five vanillas on the menu. The ice cream is eggless, relatively low sugar, and also relatively low butterfat and tastes AMAZING!

Must-order: Salted Caramel Pretzel and the Bourbon Vanilla *GF menu

6.    Humphry Slocombe San Francisco:  I love the creative flavors at Humphry Slocombe. If you can’t make it to San Fransico, pick up a copy of the Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book.

Must-order: Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee, Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple, Secret Breakfast (Bourbon and Cornflake Ice Cream) *GF menu

7.    Ici Berkley: Ici is run by a former chef from Alice Water’s famous restaurant, Chez Panisse. The homemade cones are amazing! They’re made fresh and has a crispy-waffle-cookie like texture.

Must-order: Chicory-Chocolate Chip and the Rose Pistachio *GF menu

8.    McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams Los Angeles, Studio City, and Santa Barbara: McConnell’s uses a high-precision process called French pot, which churns ice cream very slowly in an enclosed system and eliminates the need for stabilizers. What you end up with is a particularly lush, creamy ice cream with a light mouthfeel.

Must-order: Turkish Coffee and the Double Peanut Butter Chip *GF menu

9.     Gran Caffe L’Aquila Philadelphia: The gelato is made by Stefano Biasini, an international gelato champion from Italy.

Must-order: Hazelnut

10.  Franklin Fountain is an old fashioned ice cream parlor that I also recommend in Philadelphia.

Must order: Teaberry and the Hydrox Cookie *V *GF menu *Cash only

11.    Salt and Straw Portland Oregon and Los Angeles: Salt & Straw is a chef-driven ice cream kitchen that partners with local artisans, producers, and farmers to create delicious handmade ice cream. The company started in Portland, OR. Meet the co-founder, Kim Malek here.

Must-order:  Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons and the Almond Brittle *GF menu 

12.  Ample Hills Creamery Brooklyn and Manhattan: Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna are the husband-and-wife team behind Brooklyn’s wildly successful Ample Hills Creamery. The ice creams at Ample Hills are creative and delicious.

Here’s the recipe for the popular Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Ice Cream. For more recipes, pick up a copy of Ample Hills Creamery: Secrets and Stories from Brooklyn’s Favorite Ice Cream Shop

Must-order: Salted Crack Caramel and It Came From Gowanus *GF *V menu

Question of the Day:

What is your favorite ice cream shop in the U.S.?

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  • Next time you’re in Denver/Boulder, don’t miss Sweet Cow Ice Cream. It is awesome!

    I also love Martha’s up in Lake George, NY. It’s soft serve-style that is just SO creamy.

    • marlayoung

      Thanks for the recommendations! I’m hoping to visit Boulder soon!

  • Oooh this list is RIGHT up my alley! Loved Amy’s when we were in Austin, and Graeter’s was our favorite in Cincinnati, but I’m really a sucker for the little local walk-up window ones (we call that type a “whippy dip” in my family) for a classic flurry or something like that. Basically I’ll just go for any ice cream 🙂 Little Man Ice Cream in Denver was really great with fun flavors too!

    • marlayoung

      I have not been to Cincinnati yet, but I remember you told me to try Graeter’s. The Austin airport has an Amy’s ice cream so it’s very tempting when I working flights out of Austin. I love your story about the “whippy dip.” I am from a small town, and we loved the local drive-ins that served soft serve dipped in chocolate, hot fudge sundaes, and banana splits. I guess that is part of the reason I still love ice cream.

  • I have been to Lick here in San Antonio and I LOVE IT!!!! But the best Ice Cream I have ever had was from Lumpy’s in Wake Forest, NC! Highly recommend! Perfectly creamy and all sorts of fun flavors! If you’re ever in that area it’s a must stop! 🙂 Thank you for sharing this list! Now I need some ice cream! haha!

    • marlayoung

      Thanks for sharing your favorite ice cream shop. Maybe I can visit on one of my layovers in Raleigh Durham N.C.