While everyone knows that New York City is home to some of the nation’s best bagels, pizza, and cheesecakes, many are surprised by just how great the ice cream scene is. With the city’s proximity to renowned upstate dairy farms and its abundance of innovative foodie minds, there is nothing short of absolutely creative and scrumptious when it comes to ice cream. With so many options though, it may be overwhelming to decide where exactly to find the best ice cream in NYC.
Your Guide to the Best Ice Cream in NYC
Whether you are a local in the city or traveling through, we have your back. New York is massive and there are so many great places to eat! If you are having a hard time narrowing down a spot, take a look at this guide to the best ice cream in New York City.
10. OddFellows Ice Cream Co.
For a unique ice cream experience, we recommend trying OddFellows Ice Cream Co. It’s a fantastic ice cream establishment rotating 400 flavors of ice cream with each week offering 8 flavors. The establishment started in 2013 when the founders were expecting a child and pregnancy cravings were abundant. The flavor archive consists of an eclectic range such as Cheese & Carrot, Purple Rice, Lemon Meringue Pie, and Black Pepper Fig. We recommend the Coconut Caramel Chip Chocorta made with sour cream (makes for the best texture and flavor), dulce de leche, and cookie bits. OddFellows pasteurizes and makes its ice cream using locally sourced dairy in Brooklyn which makes it some of the best ice cream in NYC.
9. Milk Bar
Milkbar is one of the most creative dessert sensations in New York City that offers a unique ice cream experience that unfolds nostalgia. This soft-serve is a blend of milk, cornflakes, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. It emanates the experience of being nine years old, drinking leftover milk from your breakfast cereal. The cereal milk soft-serve is delightful, luscious, and smooth, and the cornflake topping is an absolute must! Milk Bar serves some of the best ice cream in NYC with creativity and ingenuity you won’t find anywhere else.
8. Mikey Likes It
A born and bred New Yorker, Mikey created his parlor, “Mikey Likes It” to push the boundaries of ice cream creation. This pop culture-inspired ice cream shop has served the likes of Jay-Z but still focuses its relationships with local businesses and customers. Mikey rotates seasonal flavors and offers customized flavors according to your sweet heart’s content. We recommend the Blueberry Hibiscus ice cream with crushed pepper and cayenne pepper swirl. This ice cream flavor is strong and refreshing while the crushed pepper and cayenne pepper are subtle — no doubt some of the best ice cream in New York City.
7. Emack and Bolio’s
If you are looking for a classic cone with flavors galore, Emack and Bolio’s is your place. Emack and Bolio’s consistently carries a variety of flavors to satisfy any craving. The ice cream at this parlor is velvety, delicious, and simply melts in your mouth. We suggest pairing two complementary flavors to maximize the experience. For example, the grasshopper creme de la menthe and serious chocolate addiction paired wonderfully together. Remember to grab a cone as some are lined candy, sprinkles, and chocolate! What makes Emack and Bolio’s the best ice cream in NYC is how simple flavors are combined with toppings like fudge, chocolate flakes, and oreo cookies to enhance those flavors even further. For traditional flavors mixed with a twist, this parlor provides the classic ice cream experience.
6. Sugar Hill Creamery
Located in the heart of Harlem is a charming locale known as Sugar Hill Creamery. It welcomes you with a fun ambiance and extraordinary ice cream which makes it one of the best ice cream in NYC. Flavors are matched with distinctive names such as “So Fresh, So Clean,” “Love Lucy,” and “Chair Person of the Board.” Where else can you find vanilla-flavored ice cream titled, “Andy Griffith!?” Not only were the flavors rich, but the texture was creamy and had spurts of crunch. The blueberry cheesecake surprised us with chunks of crust and a flavor so distinct to ice cream but incredibly true to a NY cheesecake. This Harlem establishment not only offers incredible ice cream but it is a true New York experience.
5. Big Gay Ice Cream
The name of Big Gay Ice cream makes it memorable for that reason alone, however, it isn’t just the fun name and atmosphere that makes this ice cream parlor the most well known in the country. Big Gay Ice Cream serves soft serve in both simplistic and extravagant ways that are fun, delicious, and contemporary. The ice cream itself is mind-blowing. Big Gay uses dairy from Ronnybrook farms which is one of the reasons why this ice cream is irresistibly creamy. The must order cone here is “the Salty Pimp” which is vanilla soft serve drizzled with dulce de leche, sprinkled a pinch of sea salt, and dipped in chocolate. This amalgamation is a match made in heaven which makes it the best ice cream in NYC. Each topping only enhances the ice cream. If you are looking for something fun, luscious, and modern look no further than Big Gay Ice Cream.
4. Van Leeuwen’s
The best ice cream in NYC for vegans and non-vegans alike is Van Leeuwen’s Artisan Ice Cream. What started as a small food truck in NYC, Van Leeuwen now has locations all throughout the city. They make classic and vegan ice cream from scratch in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We recommend the Vegan Cinnamon Cookie Raspberry Swirl made with oat milk — you’ll completely forget that you’re eating non-dairy ice cream. The consistency is thick, the flavor is rich, and the non-dairy products are just as creamy. We don’t know what magic goes on behind the scenes at Van Leeuwen’s but this vegan ice cream is incredible.
3. Ice and Vice
Smooth and creamy are the immediate adjectives we think of when we hear the words Vice and Ice. Located in the lower east side, Ice and Vice provides a rich ice cream tasting experience with experimental flavors. There are set flavors at this establishment along with seasonal flavors and each flavor is unique and cannot be found at any other ice cream shop in the city. We recommend the “Violet” and “Persephone.” The Violet ice cream consists of violet, blueberry jam, marshmallow, and graham crackers. The jam gives the ice cream a unique experience and blends well with the smooth creamy ice cream. The blueberry overpowers the taste of violet leaving it a perfect combination of a homemade pie with a smidgen of a floral touch. The chunks of graham cracker and marshmallow add the finishing touch that makes you feel you’re eating pie at grandma’s. Persephone is a pomegranate sorbet with apricot jam — it’s a refreshing combo we highly recommend. The best ice cream in NYC cannot be finished off without a good cone. Don’t forget to pair your ice cream with one of the unique cone options offered at Vice and Ice, the blue corn waffle is to die for.
2. Ample Hills Creamery
Ample Hills Creamery is a Brooklyn establishment with locations all across New York City. Not only does the creamery provide locally churned ice cream, but it also provides an extensive collection of flavors changed regularly. Whether you are spending a hot summer day in Far Rockaway or taking a stroll in the dead of winter, Ample Hills will always be on the back of your mind. Ample Hills is one of the few ice cream establishments with indoor seating and is a safe haven in the blazing heat of summer or cold frost of winter. Order the Strawberries & Cream which is a pure strawberry ice cream and the Salted Crack’d Caramel which is a salted butter caramel ice cream mixed in with saltines coated in butter, sugar, chocolate, and Deb’s famous crak’d cookies. These unique and classic flavors make Ample Hills some of the best ice cream in NYC!
1. Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
If your soul is looking for a cleanse and some of the very best ice cream in NYC, look no further than to Morgenstern’s (yes, they have burnt sage ice cream). Don’t let Morgenstern’s fresh, simple atmosphere fool you, there are over 80 incredible flavors to choose from on any given day. Nicholas Morgenstern, owner and founder, developed each individual recipe to stir feelings of nostalgia and to create a new kind of ice cream experience. The conventional flavors like Madagascar vanilla and salted chocolate are equally as delicious as the unique and innovative flavors like burnt sage (surprisingly refreshing and tasty), French fry, and charred banana. Enjoy a scoop or two in a cup or a cone, or if you’re feeling something a bit more extravagant there are ice cream sandwiches, cakes, pies, and sundaes to choose from!