The 20 Best Ice Cream Shops in NYC
From old-school joints specializing in nostalgia to unique or dairy-free offerings, these scoops are the cherry on top of summer.
While there’s nothing sweeter than the summertime soundtrack of ice cream truck jingles drifting through our NYC apartment windows, luckily for us, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy ice cream across the city without chasing a vehicle down the street.
From old-school joints specializing in nostalgia to dairy-free havens serving up delectable vegan options, this year’s National Ice Cream Day on July 17 is a perfect excuse to treat yourself to a scoop (or two). So pre- or post-perusing the goodies at The 5th Annual NYC Summer Ice Cream Blizzard and staying extra cool all summer, here are the best spots to grab ice cream in NYC.
Ample Hills Creamery
Founded in 2011, this nationwide brand and local favorite born in Brooklyn makes their ice cream in a 15,000-square-foot factory in Red Hook and has ten scoop shops across the city. The newest parlor debuted in the Upper West Side earlier this month and along with best selling flavors like Ooey Gooey Butter Cake (vanilla ice cream, butter cake) and Corn to Run (crunchy cornmeal crumble, tangy blueberry swirls), it’s the only Ample Hills location serving an exclusive new item called Night at The Moo-seum (pretzel swirls, chocolate sandwich cookie dust, colorful candy rocks), which is inspired by the nearby American Museum of Natural History.
Big Gay Ice Cream
After starting as an ice cream truck in 2009, Big Gay Ice Cream expanded to several storefronts across the city and currently has locations in the Upper West Side, Southstreet Seaport, and Madison Square Garden. The shop’s signature item is a soft serve in classic flavors such as Vanilla, Chocolate, and the Combo Twist. In addition to weekly specials and menu offerings like the Dorothy (vanilla with dulce de leche and rolled in wafer cookies) or Strawberry Shortcake (vanilla with homemade strawberry sauce, wafers, whipped cream), order up milkshakes and ice cream sandwiches as well.
Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain
When Brooklyn Farmacy first opened its doors in 2010, one of its many goals was to offer Brooklyn’s best egg cream. Not only is egg cream available in both Chocolate or Vanilla, but the self-proclaimed soda “jerks” behind the counter will also serve you other delights like floats, milkshakes, and specialty sundaes with toppings like potato chips or chunks of buttermilk biscuits. Expand your sweet tooth expedition even further with a selection of natural sodas in flavors like Hibiscus and Old-Fashioned Cola; along with a summery take on a frose: a rosé float made with rosé and strawberry ice cream.
Opened by Hallie Meyer in 2019, Caffè Panna in Gramercy Park has become a favorite among NYC’s ice cream stans in part to its daily changing selection of Italian-inspired offerings. Guests can expect a permanent lineup of classic flavors including Vanilla and Chocolate, while all other flavors remain a mystery until stepping through its doors. For a sneak peek at what to expect in store, be sure to check peep their IG page, plus secure at-home bites via nationwide shipping through the website.
The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
This iconic, family-owned shop has been scooping up homemade ice cream in Chinatown since 1978. With locations also in the Lower East Side and Flushing, the second generation purveyors of Chinatown Ice Cream Factory have made it easier to enjoy its regular flavors like Lychee, Pandan, Black Sesame, and more, in addition to a rotation of special appearances like Cherry Vanilla, Jelly Doughnut, and Banana Durian. Also, in collaboration with Chinatown’s Kam Hing Bakery, the shop is serving up a limited-time flavor called the Kam Hing Strawberry Lavender Sponge Cake.
Creme and Cocoa Creamery
For the husband-and-wife duo, Astrid and Omar Thorpe, the inspiration behind their Brooklyn ice cream shop is rooted in childhood memories from their respective home countries of Haiti and Panama. At Creme & Cocoa Creamery, the result is a range of Caribbean-inspired tropical flavors with highlights like the Island Gal (coconut, ginger) and Nana Cookie (banana, crumbled Nilla Cookie). In addition, there’s also a boozy list of spiked dairy or non-dairy options including the Southern Belle Went Yard (bourbon vanilla, hibiscus bourbon swirl).
Eddie's Sweet Shop
The corner location of Eddie’s Sweet Shop has been a Queens staple serving up sweet treats in Forest Hills since 1925. Made with homemade ice cream and overflowing with toppings and syrups, enjoy classics like sundaes, banana splits, and more from a quintessential New York ice cream parlor where respect for old-school traditions is the cherry on top of every dish.
Originally started as an at-home project motivated by missing the taste of their home country of Trinidad, the husband-and-wife team of Khalid Hamid and Shelly Marshall have been the proud owners of Island Pops since 2018. After years of perfecting the recipes within their apartment, the Crown Heights shop now churns out a lengthy menu of frozen treats inspired by the Caribbean with highlights like Soursop, Honey Roasted Peanut, and Vegan Caribbean Chocolate. On their ever-changing seasonal menu, guests can expect summertime inspired flavors like Lemon Nutmeg Cookie and Cherry Blossom. During these next few months, in addition to their year-round online offerings, a specialty seasonal box filled with signature ice creams, sorbets, and toppings is also available for local and nationwide delivery.
Made on premise in small batches and with limited quantity, Lady Moo Moo operates out of a walk-up window in Bed Stuy every April to November. Open only from Fridays to Sundays, this year marks their seventh summer season and in addition to their classic flavors like Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Cookies and Cream, and Butter Pecan, a rotating set of menu items include the popular Rooftop Honey made with locally-sourced Brooklyn honey. If you’re feeling like the stars are aligned in your favor, try your luck at the gumball machine for a chance to catch a golden gumball, which wins you a free scoop on the house.
This ice cream shop born out of Brooklyn offers eggless scoops inspired by Southeast Asian ingredients. Founder Pooja Bavishi started Malai in 2015 with the notion that her favorite childhood spices (like rose petal and nutmeg) could be used to create these cold delights, and has since become known for signature flavors like Rose with Cinnamon Roasted Almonds and Masala Chai. For those looking for non-dairy options, a range of vegan ice cream selections are available with limited-edition seasonal flavors including Pineapple Pink Peppercorn. In addition to pints, ice cream cakes and party boxes are also available for nationwide shipping.
Max and Mina's
After discovering their grandfather’s ice cream recipe book, two brothers opened Max and Mina’s in 1997. Since then, the Queens spot has been serving inventive ice cream flavors that include everything from pickles to blueberry pancakes. The duo is also known to draw inspiration from different types of cereal—for both the aesthetic of their shop and the flavors of their ice cream—with some of their latest menu offerings being Cinnamon Toast Crunch Kit Kat and Louisiana Crumb Cake Pecan Meltaway.
Mikey Likes It Ice Cream
Michael “Mikey” Cole first opened his East Village ice cream shop in 2013 and now has a second location in Harlem along with a spot inside Gotham West Market. Mikey Likes It’s pop-culture inspired flavors are regularly available through collaborations with cultural icons like Jay-Z or at local bars like Thief in Williamsburg. Signature scoops include the Ice Ice Mikey (a blend of triple vanilla), the Foxy Brown (mocha with chocolate wafer cookies and a sea salt caramel), and the Incredible Hulk (vegan with spinach, kale, spirulina, sea moss).
Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
With its flagship location on Houston Street plus an LES storefront, the menu at this “new American ice cream parlor” offers up to 55 flavors, with some favorites being Burnt Honey Vanilla, Olive Oil Chocolate Eggplant, Green Tea Pistachio, and Crème Brûlée. In addition to cold treats, Morgenstern’s also launched a special burger program last summer with a lineup of specialty burgers that founder Nick Morgenstern spent two years developing. But when it comes to their renowned ice cream, hop on this summer’s hottest new flavor: Pineapple Salted Egg Yolk.
Ray's Candy Store
The phrase “East Village institution” is often associated with Ray’s Candy Store, a 24-hour spot where beloved owner and local legend, Ray Alvarez, can most likely be found working the night shift. Since 1974, this adult version of a candy store has been a favorite stop for barhoppers and weekend warriors looking to scarf down on both savory and sweet treats alike. For your ice cream fix, go for a sundae or some soft serve and add on an order of the popular Beignets or Deep-Fried Twinkies and Oreos.
Sam's Fried Ice Cream
At Sam’s Fried Ice Cream, toppings aren’t the only element that enhance the ice cream experience. Here you choose from different crusts—bread crumbs, Frosted Flakes, or Oreos—for your ice cream to be breaded and deep fried in, adding a crunchy and oh-so-good layer that can then be drizzled with caramel, condensed milk, honey comb, and more. The specialty dessert spot, which is celebrating its fifth birthday at the end of July, is also taking part in this year’s Queens Night Market every Saturday in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Smoove Ice Cream
Helmed by co-owner Christy Lang and the team behind Kulu Desserts (an Asian dessert company with three NYC locations), Smoove Ice Cream launched into the frozen dessert scene in October 2020 armed with a creative menu of Asian- and Asian American-inspired flavors. Among the more than 15 ice cream choices, Ube, Jasmine Milk Tea, and Lychee Rose reign supreme on the menu. Also, a new collaboration special for the summer is slated to launch this month with NYC-based boba tea brand, Chun Yang Tea, for tea flavored selections like Hojicha and Oolong.
At Soft Swerve, the ice cream here is all about a dazzling signature swirl that’s especially a big hit on IG. Founded in 2016 by friends (and Chinatown natives) Jason Liu and Michael Tsang, the central flavors include Frozen Hot chocolate, Black Sesame, and the popular Ube Purple Yam, in addition to options like Thai Tea and Matcha. Choose from a set of pre-selected swirl combinations available in cones or cups in addition to NYC-inspired sundae’s with names like Woodside and Broadway.
Sugar Hill Creamery
As longtime Harlem residents, the husband-and-wife team behind Sugar Hill Creamery opened their popular shop in 2017 to be a place for the neighborhood to grab a seat and enjoy artisanal ice cream made from scratch. In addition to offering an array of flavors like the Chairperson of the Board (blueberry cheesecake), Nunu’s Peach Cobbler (peach with cobbler crumbler), and First Day Out (corn jalapeño with hibiscus blackberry), they also regularly host community based programs throughout the year meant to empower the Black experience while facilitating connection and storytelling. Additionally, there’s also a second storefront located in Hamilton Heights and products are also available for nationwide shipping.
What started as yellow ice cream trucks roaming the city back in 2008 has grown into an empire with scoop shops nationwide and 19 alone across Manhattan and Brooklyn. Best selling flavors include Cookies & Cream, Sicilian Pistachio, Earl Grey Tea, Honeycomb, and Mint Chip. Popular orders also include selections from the vegan flavorways, which are made with oat or cashew milk, like Churros & Fudge and Rocky Road. And in collaboration with San Diego- and Miami-based coffee brand Big Face, an exciting limited-edition flavor just dropped called Coffee Affogato.
Whipped Urban Dessert Lab
With up to 75% of the African American community being lactose intolerant, sisters Courtney Blagrove & Zan B.R. initially founded Whipped Urban Dessert Lab as an ice cream option for those in search of dairy-free choices. The result is a creamy and wonderful treat made solely from oat-milk and offered in menu items like Salted Pecan (coated with crushed salted pecans) and Strawberry Shortcake (coated with strawberry crumble & strawberry sauce). And if you’re looking to avoid the perpetual long lines at the Orchard Street spot, pints of the Oat Milk Ice Crème are also available for nationwide shipping. Plus, for fans of interactive family/children’s retail store and play space, CAMP, through mid-September the two companies are teaming up for three exclusive flavors—Birthday Sprinkle Surprise, Sensational Strawberry Shortcake, and Pretzel Crunch Magic—which will only be served at the NYC location of CAMP on Fifth Avenue.