The Absolute Best Ice Cream Shops in LA

From Persian ice cream to Halo-Halo, Philly-style water ice, soft-serve, gelato, and the classic flavors you love, LA’s ice cream shops have you covered.

McConnell's Fine Ice Creams
Photo courtesy of McConnell's Fine Ice Creams

If you couldn’t tell from the sweltering temps in LA lately, summer is officially here. And while there’s never a bad time to indulge in ice cream, the season’s arrival simply means another convenient excuse to enjoy every mouthwatering frozen treat in the city. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of delicious ice cream spots on every corner. While ordering out these days can sometimes be complicated or require advance planning, we love ice cream shops for their simplicity, where all are invited to walk in and admire displays of fresh-churned goodness before choosing their favorite flavor(s). From artisanal creameries churning classic favorites and out-of-the-box flavor profiles to Mexican-style paleta masters and plant-based innovators, there’s a scoop shop out there for every palate and preference. And for those who prefer donuts or pies, don’t despair—LA’s got plenty of options for you too!

In search of your next sundae, shake, or soft-serve cone to cool down during the next heatwave? We’ve compiled a list with 24 of the best places in LA.

Awan
Photo by Liz Ward, courtesy of Awan

Awan

West Hollywood

The brainchild of Indonesian-Australian chef Zen Ong, Awan—which means “cloud” in Bahasa—is an homage to his Indonesian roots. After years of recipe experimentation and testing, Ong nailed the formula for a non-dairy ice cream that tastes anything but vegan. The secret? A combination of Indonesian coconut cream and coconut water, which gives each scoop a rich, creamy mouthfeel and gelato-like texture. Made with specially imported Balinese vanilla beans, the original vanilla flavor is a beloved standby at the WeHo takeout counter, but Ong drops new flavors often, always crafted with locally sourced, farm-fresh ingredients. Some of his latest releases? Blackberry, bursting with juicy fruit from a producer in San Luis Obispo; mint chip peppered with Valrhona dark chocolate shards and colored green with ceremonial matcha; refreshing, aromatic lemongrass (a customer favorite); and sweet, caramelly gula jawa, named for the unrefined sugar that’s made by collecting the sap from the flowers of a coconut palm tree.

Meet Fresh
Photo courtesy of Meet Fresh

Meet Fresh

Various locations

Ever since it landed stateside, this Taiwanese dessert chain has grown so popular that it now has over 38 outposts throughout the country, including several in LA. The shop continues to import high-quality ingredients from its native Taiwan—whipping up house-made taro balls, refreshing grass jelly, fragrant red bean, and tofu pudding to enhance its concoctions, which, like many East Asian desserts, are subtly sweet rather than overpoweringly so. Here, you’ll find creamy soft-serve, crushed-ice bowls swimming with the aforementioned treats, and shareable shaved ice towers drenched in condensed milk. Be sure to stop by July 15-31, when Meet Fresh launches a limited-edition QT Cup collaboration with chef Mei Lin of Daybird. Jam-packed with fruit, almond pudding, chewy taro balls, and basil seeds, her Mango Strawberry shaved ice dessert will be available at select locations—including Arcadia, Cerritos, Hacienda Heights, and Temple City—with 100% of sales donated to No Kid Hungry.

Dear Bella Creamery
Photo courtesy of Dear Bella Creamery

We’ve come a long way since the days of chalky, grainy, icy vegan ice cream. Founded by Taiwanese-Americans Alice Cherng and Belinda Wei, Dear Bella is a plant-based creamery that’s making waves for its smooth-textured scoops with a full, velvety mouthfeel. While some vegan purveyors use not-so-great components to achieve a dairy-like consistency, Cherng and Wei are gung-ho about never utilizing artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives, or hydrogenated oils. Instead, the spotlight is on premium, natural ingredients—like fresh farmers market produce and bases rooted in coconut milk, oat milk, and sunflower butter—and hand-crafted everything, including gluten-free cookies, crusts, and crumbles. The dynamic duo also pays homage to their heritage with tasty flavors like Taiwanese Pineapple Cake (bursting with buttery, jam-filled shortcake chunks) and Sweet Red Bean (studded with adzuki and swirled with red bean sauce), although you’ll also find plenty more inspired by their culinary curiosity, such as Halva, Earl Grey Tea, and Passion Fruit Banana. Dear Bella now ships its pints nationally—so you can send delicious ice cream to your favorite out-of-towners.

Hiho Cheeseburger
Photo courtesy of HiHo Cheeseburger

Hiho Cheeseburger

Various locations

Burgers and shakes just make sense together. No wonder the team behind one of our go-to burgs is also responsible for one of our favorite frosty treats. When the small-batch, family-run creamery that HiHo relied on to source its milkshake base closed, the restaurant embarked on a year-long mission of research and testing to create its own in-house base. Made completely from scratch with only six ingredients, including single-ingredient cream, HiHo’s sensational shakes boast the ideal viscosity: ultra-creamy and luscious, but not so thick that it’s difficult to guzzle down through a straw. Flavors and mix-ins are classic and craveable: vanilla starring high-quality Madagascar vanilla, chocolate crafted with Valrhona chocolate, house-made strawberry sauce with whole strawberries, and Oreo cookies.

Bumsan Organic Milk Bar
Photo courtesy of Bumsan Organic Milk Bar

With its photo-worthy treats and millennial pink facade, this Koreatown spot feels like it could simply be an Instagram trap. But its 100% organic soft-serve ice cream—made with milk from the largest organic dairy producer in Korea—is outrageously light, airy, smooth, and just the perfect amount of sweet (that is, not extremely). Delectable flavors include True Milk, Taro Milk Tea, Matcha, Chocolate, Pink Guava, and Pineapple Mango, which we highly recommend asking for in a crisp cone (generously embellished with toppings like Rice Krispies or Fruity Pebbles) or accompanied by a tantalizingly warm Croffle (a buttery, caramelized marriage between a croissant and waffle).

Jollibee

Various locations

This Filipino fast-food joint, often dubbed the McDonald’s of the Philippines, is perhaps most famous for its hand-breaded fried chicken. But don’t sleep on Jollibee’s colorful take on halo-halo, a traditional Pinoy dessert that means “mix-mix” in Tagalog and offers up a hodgepodge of flavors in one plastic cup. Cold fruits, jellies, sweet beans, and coconut meat are layered with shaved ice, topped with creamy Caramel Flan, and a heaping scoop of Ube Ice Cream. Like the name suggests, you’re supposed to mix the various ingredients for a symphony of textures and tastes that are absolutely delicious together.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Magpies Softserve
Photo courtesy of Magpies Softserve

Magpies Softserve

Various locations

Owners Warren and Rose Schwartz are both professional chefs who wanted to create an elevated take on Dairy Queen. Magpies is their brainchild—featuring a made-from-scratch ice cream base, and flavors that remind you of the classics but are infinitely more sophisticated and upscale, like Malted Milk Chocolate and Sweetened Cream. Also on offer? Flavors that evoke the Schwartz’s childhoods, including a Corn Almond and Strawberry Banana Shake, as well as house-made toppings like honeycomb candy, butterscotch krispies, and brown sugar oats. If you’re lucky, their famous fried ice cream pie will still be available—can’t-miss layers of fudge, ice cream, candy honeycomb, whipped cream, and deep-fried corn flakes that meld soft, crunchy, and cold textures all in one heavenly bite.

Wanderlust Creamery
Photo courtesy of Wanderlust Creamery

Wanderlust Creamery

Various locations

What started off as a small shop in Tarzana quickly turned into a household name (to ice cream lovers at least!) after husband-and-wife team Jon-Patrick Lopez and Adrienne Borlongan opened a booth at Smorgasburg LA, as well as locations in Atwater Village, Venice, Fairfax, Tarzana, Pasadena, and most recently, the Sawtelle area. If you couldn’t guess, the flavors here are inspired by far-flung destinations: Thailand’s famous Mango Sticky Rice dessert is channeled into a rice milk with coconut cream and swirls of Alphonso mango, the Philippines are embodied by an Ube Malted Crunch influenced by Adrienne’s Filipino-American upbringing, and a confection from Montélimar, France, is turned into a nutty, mouthwatering treat with Provençal lavender honey and crunchy almond nougatine. Every flavor (and there are new ones every season!) is conceptualized and crafted by Borlongan, who studied food science and developed her inimitable palate while working as a mixologist.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
Photo courtesy of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Founded by Jeni Britton Bauer in 2002, Jeni’s is less about crazy, out-of-the-box flavors and more about interesting pairings—often inspired by her childhood memories. This Certified B corp chain of scoop shops, which first opened in Ohio, ditches synthetic flavors, dyes, stabilizers, and emulsifiers to whip up stuff like Brambleberry Crisp (which is peppered with oat streusel chunks based on a family recipe) and Gooey Butter Cake (a riff on the the moist yellow cake Jeni’s mom would bake for special occasions). Most of all, however, it’s known for its ice cream’s unparalleled texture—thanks to a buttercream-like body, each scoop sports a smooth yet slightly dense, chewy consistency.

McConnell's Fine Ice Creams
Photo courtesy of McConnell's Fine Ice Creams

McConnell’s isn’t just an ice cream shop with cool flavors like Eureka Lemon and Marionberries—it’s an actual dairy located in downtown Santa Barbara that’s been around for decades. Instead of slapping its brand on an outside manufacturer’s ice cream, McConnell’s makes everything from scratch, using grass-grazed Central Coast milk and cream and working exclusively with local farms. The family behind McConnell’s, now in its third generation of ownership, is obsessed with creating perfectly balanced scoops; the higher percentage of milkfat and lower percentage of overrun (the amount of air pushed into the ice cream as it’s made) results in a magnificently creamy product. Flavors run the gamut, from classics with a twist (Sea Salt Cream & Cookies!) to the deliciously creative (Honey & Cornbread Cookies!) with new flavors launching seasonally. Starting July 8, McConnell’s will release its Vacation A La Mode series of boozy, rum-infused scoops, ranging from Espresso Rumtini & Macadamia Nuts to Strawberry Daiquiri Sorbet. Not local? This summer-ready bundle of five pints even ships nationwide.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Coolhaus
Photo courtesy of Coolhaus

Coolhaus

Culver City

Co-founders Natasha Case and Freya Estreller were inspired by architecture when they first started baking cookies, making premium ice cream in boundary-pushing flavors, and combining the two into creative “cool houses” (hence the name Coolhaus). Along with their now-famous pre-packaged sammies, which you can find in the freezer aisle of hundreds of grocery stores across the country, they’ve expanded Coolhaus to include dairy and dairy-free pints in a range of crowd-pleasing flavors—like Street Cart Churro Dough (which combines brown butter ice cream with a sugary cinnamon dough) or Campfire ‘Smores (a hard-to-put-down salted vanilla swirled with graham cracker cookie butter). For the true Coolhaus experience, a store visit to create a bespoke sandwich—consisting of a freshly baked cookie, ice cream, and toppings—is a must.

Scoops

Various locations

One of the first modern artisanal ice creameries to open up shop in LA back in 2005, Scoops set the bar with its cult-favorite flavor—an innovative, Grape Nuts-based brown bread that’s now the only one on offer daily. While the original Scoops in East Hollywood has closed, the other outposts in Highland Park, Chinatown, and Torrance rotate between flavors like Banana Malt Burnt Sugar, Almond Horchata, and Mint Whiskey—relying on the lighter, less fatty base they’ve used for years that allows you to taste the nuances in each scoop.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
Photo courtesy of Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

Various locations

Over the past decade, Van Leeuwen has come a long way—from its humble beginnings operating out of a yellow, refurbished ice cream truck, to its now-ubiquitous pints in fancy grocery stores and expanding brick-and-mortar locations (27 and counting). Even 14 years after the company kicked off, Van Leeuwen still makes all its ice cream from scratch in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, using only a handful of ingredients, including fresh milk and cream, cane sugar, and egg yolks. They’ve also become well-known for decadent vegan scoops—made with either house-made cashew milk or oat milk that’s combined with coconut cream, cocoa butter, and coconut oil for a you-won’t-believe-it’s-not-dairy taste and texture.

Salt & Straw
Photo courtesy of Salt & Straw

Salt & Straw

Various locations

This Portland-based, small-batch ice cream shop now has even more locations in LA (eight!) than in its Oregon hometown. That’s a testament to how much Angelenos go crazy for its tasty scoops and innovative concoctions, often made in partnership with local vendors. In addition to shilling “classic” flavors which are anything but—like Cold Brew Coffee with caramelized praline, or a spectacular take on Cookie Dough that’s made with massive, salty, malty chunks—they have a monthly flavor series that’s resulted in some cult favorites, like March’s Pots of Gold & Rainbows. Each year, the Salt & Straw kitchen sorts through hundreds of boxes of Lucky Charms® by hand, infusing the grainy cereal pieces into sweet cream and stirring marshmallow charms into the finished product for a flavor that tastes exactly like the bottom of your breakfast cereal bowl (only better).

Happy Ice
Photo courtesy of Happy Ice

Happy Ice

Fairfax

A former tattoo artist and reality TV star, Happy Ice founder Lemeir Mitchell has enjoyed an unconventional path to becoming a purveyor of water ice—a type of Philly-style Italian ice that’s rarely found its way out of its hometown. As a born-and-raised Philadelphian, Mitchell was determined to introduce the iconic treat to Los Angeles, which you can now find at his roaming food trucks and Melrose storefront. If you’ve never had Mitchell’s water ice before, the ultra-smooth, ice cream-like texture might tempt you into thinking dairy is involved, but his rich, frozen treats are vegan-friendly and nut-free. In brightly colored flavors like Strawberry Lemon Lush, Mango Madness, or Rainbow Rocket (a vibrant combo of all eight flavors that’s highly Instagrammable), these cool concoctions are the ultimate summer treat.

Mizlala
Photo courtesy of Mizlala

Mizlala

Hollywood and West Adams

Although Mizala is billed as a Mediterranean grill specializing in spit-roasted shawarma and fluffy falafel, one of its best-kept secrets is the dessert—specifically the shakes. In three flavors—Halva Cinnamon, Chocolate Almond, and Salted Caramel—these creamy concoctions are rooted in tahina, a thick, earthy paste derived from ground sesame seeds with a peanut butter-like texture. Generously spread in the restaurant’s stuffed pita sandwiches and often accompanying various plates, the nutty paste is blended with soy milk, ice, and dates for an incredibly rich dessert that tastes like a bonafide, full-dairy milkshake.

Mateo's Ice Cream & Fruit Bars
Photo by Sean Cooley

Founded by late Oaxacan native Priciliano Mateo, beloved Mateo’s has made the fruity, Mexican-style popsicles called paletas for years, and its brightly colored passionfruit, guava, tamarind, and soursop treats match the vibrant interiors of its shops. If you’re not familiar with paletas, the wonderful flavors featured here might be unique to your palate, such as Smoked Milk with Cactus Fruit, Mamey (a berry many describe as a cross between a pumpkin, peach, and sweet potato), and Black Sapote (often called chocolate pudding fruit)—although you’re just as likely to find Strawberry and Banana Split on offer, too.

Founded by brother-and-sister duo James Tatsuya and Elaine Yukari, this South Bay gem churns ice cream fresh five days a week. While they’ve experimented with dozens of flavors over the years—many of them Asian-inspired, like Japanese Barley Tea, Black Sesame, and Kumquat Marmalade—they only carry about six a day, as well as a handful of parfaits. The matcha is particularly popular, a medley of ice cream, matcha jelly, syrup, mochi, corn flakes, sweet red bean paste, and whipped cream. At Kansha, which means “gratitude” in Japanese, the focus is always on giving back to the community— whether it’s by utilizing organic ingredients from local farmers or donating a percentage of sales to charities around the world

Some people say Persian ice cream (known for its stretchy consistency) isn’t for them because the signature flavors—such as Lavender, White Rose, and Jasmine—are reminiscent of perfume. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Located in Westwood’s Little Tehran, Saffron & Rose often has a line of eager customers snaking out the door, waiting for its dense, gooey ice creams (and yes, flavors that often sound like fragrance notes but taste incredible). If you’re into sweet-tasting scoops, they’ve got you covered with milky Cookies and Cream or a luscious Caramel Crunch, while those with a preference for fruity flavors should order the light, delightfully refreshing Cucumber or Watermelon.

Sweet Rose Creamery
Photo by Emily Hart Roth, courtesy of Sweet Rose Creamery

Sweet Rose Creamery

Brentwood and Santa Monica

Part of the Rustic Canyon Restaurant Hroup—which includes Santa Monica stalwarts like Cassia, Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe, and Milo & Olive—Sweet Rose Creamery follows in the tradition of its sister eateries and utilizes the nearby Santa Monica Farmers Market for seasonal ingredients. That’s what gives each flavor a distinct freshness, from year-round offerings (like fresh mint made with organic peppermint leaves) to seasonal options (such as Blood Orange Sorbet). The farm-to-spoon creamery is also renowned for its ice cream cakes and DIY sundae packs to-go, including a bundle that includes six pints, a jar of hot fudge, toppings, and everything else you need for the perfect afternoon.

Midori Matcha

Little Toyko

This little cafe only offers two Kyoto-style soft-serve flavors at a time—Matcha and a rotating seasonal one, like Black Sesame, Ube, or Vanilla Rose—but what they lack in variety, they more than make up for in quality. Honoring their commitment to enjoy matcha as close to its traditional roots as possible, the cafe uses organic, ceremonial-grade Japanese green tea that gives their soft-serve its signature robust, earthy flavor. If you can’t decide, opt for a swirl!

Mashti Malone’s Ice Cream

Hollywood and Westwood

Long-standing Mashti Malone’s is a direct rival of Westwood’s Saffron & Rose, but we’d be remiss not to mention both on this list. Like its competitor, Mashti makes scrumptious Persian ice cream in flavors like Rosewater, Lavender, and Orange Blossom—all colored and flavored naturally using herbs and spices from Lebanon, India, and other countries—and, if you so desire, topped with sour cherry syrup or lemon juice. Ask for a “Mashti” instead of a cone, and you’ll get a fat scoop sandwiched between two crisp, paper-thin wafers and rolled in crunchy pistachios. Order the “Malone” to get your ice cream served on a zoolbeyah—an Iranian take on the carnival funnel cake that’s deep-fried and deliciously sweet.

POPS Artisanal Creamery

San Fernando and Van Nuys

From six generations of ice cream makers, this unassuming shop turns out a massive variety of melt-in-your-mouth tropical ice cream, served in standard cones or Instagram-friendly coconut bowls. Go for the exotic profiles like Lucuma, a Peruvian superfruit with a maple-like taste; Sugar Corn, which owner Marthin Ken (whose father-in-law operated the original Helados Pops) perfected based on an old family recipe, or Almond Avocado, an extraordinarily unique flavor combo you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Uli’s Gelato
Photo courtesy of Uli’s Gelato

Uli’s Gelato

Downtown and Beverly Grove

When owner Uli Nasibova traded in her finance career for frozen treats in 2014, no one could stop raving about her Speculoos flavor, infused with crushed, caramelized bits of the beloved Belgian spice cookies. It’s been eight years since she opened her first location (formerly known as Gelateria Uli) in Downtown LA’s Spring Arcade—often credited with helping usher in the area’s renaissance—and we’ve discovered that the rest of her made-on-site, silky-soft gelatos and sorbets are just as delicious. Profiles like Hibiscus Agua Fresca and Black Sesame are inspired by the city’s diverse communities; Strawberry Balsamic and Meyer Lemon Sorbet represent the region’s seasonal produce; and Stracciatella and Pistachio pay homage to classic Italian gelatos. While her downtown store is temporarily closed for a remodel, her West 3rd outpost is still scooping.

Tiffany Tse is a contributor for Thrillist and has been researching for this article her entire life. Follow her at @twinksy.