Who doesn’t love ice cream? Everyone has happy memories of a cold, creamy treat on a hot summer day. Today, ice cream has evolved far beyond the familiar vanilla, chocolate, and butter pecan flavors in New York City. The best ice cream in NYC has to offer has some highly innovative flavors from elite creameries pushing the boundaries of what ice cream can be. Adventurous ice cream lovers will find treats made from food items as diverse as avocado or bacon. Those wanting a more comforting, traditional treat will be stunned by just how different vanilla and chocolate can taste when made with the best ingredients. Here at dessertmenus.com, we’ve compiled a list spotlighting the best ice cream in NYC has to offer, and there’s something for every taste.
Best Ice Cream in NYC FAQ’s
1. How many flavors will the average ice cream parlor in NYC offer?
If you’re staying away from the mass-produced ice cream chains like Baskin-Robbins, you won’t see the dozens of flavors common at the cheap places. That’s because the best ice cream in NYC offers is hand-crafted from original recipes. Expect up to a dozen flavors, often seasonal and rotating. Some older chains like Emack and Bolio’s have lineups approaching those of the chains.
2. I don’t eat dairy due to health, allergy, or ethical reasons. Do any of these creameries offer dairy-free options?
Yes! Several have a house-made line of non-dairy ice cream.
3. Will children enjoy the more unique flavors offered by these specialty creameries?
Mixed in among the unique and unusual flavors will be flavors familiar to everyone. There will always be a chocolate or caramel option on offer, which will please almost every kid.
4. Where can I find these creameries? Are they easy to reach?
The majority of these creameries are in Manhattan, only a bus or subway ride away from anywhere in the city. A few are in hot areas of Brooklyn that are also easily reached via public transportation.
5. How are the prices of the best ice cream in NYC compared to major chains?
These are small-batch products made with fresh ingredients. You can expect to pay about double for a cup or cone of ice cream what you would at Baskin-Robbins, with some chains like Van Leeuwen going higher.
How We Reviewed The Best Ice Cream in NYC
The following creameries were reviewed based on the following parameters – flavor, selection of flavors, price, unique varieties of ice cream, and appeal for kids.
Overall Price Range Of This Product
A cup or cone at most of these creameries will begin at $6, with a double scoop falling in the $-$$ range.
What We Reviewed
- Emack and Bolio’s Ice Cream
- Ample Hills Creamery
- Mikey Likes It Ice Cream
- Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
- Laboratorio Del Gelato
- Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
- The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
- OddFellows Ice Cream
This Kosher ice cream parlor offers ice cream, frozen yogurt, and micro-brewed soda in an old-school location that calls back to classic soda shops. Although they began in Boston and have multiple locations in New York and New Jersey, their most famous location is on the Upper West Side. They currently offer thirty-two ice cream flavors, six frozen yogurt flavors, and three sorbet flavors. They also offer a duo of no-sugar-added flavors sweetened with Splenda.
A single scoop of ice cream, frozen yogurt, or sorbet at Emack and Bolio’s Ice Cream begins at around $5.
- Wide range of kid-friendly flavors
- Old-school ice cream parlor vibe will appeal to those looking for a nostalgic experience
- Lighter options available, including sorbet, frozen yogurt, and no-sugar-added ice cream
- Limited non-dairy options available
- A growing chain, so the wide menu is not small-batch like many others
- Does not feature the more innovative flavors of many creameries
This Italian-accented ice cream parlor has been serving the Upper East Side for over thirty years. It’s a no-frills ice cream parlor that makes up for its humble appearance in a wide variety of time-tested flavors. Besides thirty-seven regular ice cream flavors, five sorbets, and five rotating seasonal flavors including the popular pumpkin and eggnog, Sedutto offers a wide range of toppings and dessert options. These include big sundaes and classics line banana splits and ice cream sodas. They also have multiple flavors of hard-serve and soft-serve frozen yogurt. Their line of wine-infused ice cream and sorbet is popular with adults.
A cup or cone of Sedutto ice cream, yogurt, or sorbet begins at around $4
- Long-running independent ice cream parlor has a wide range of proven flavors.
- More toppings and dessert options than any other ice cream parlor in New York
- Wine-infused line of desserts not found at many of these creameries
- One of the most reasonably priced ice cream options in New York
- No-frills environment means many people may walk right by
- Limited non-dairy options
- Seasonal favorites not always available
Ample Hills Creamery, with eight locations in New York, one in New Jersey, and one in Walt Disney World, has gained a reputation as one of the most innovative ice cream makers in the country. They offer six custom flavors available in pints for nationwide shipping, but their ice cream parlors have an additional array of flavors up to eighteen. Their most famous flavors are Ooey Gooey Butter Cake and PB Wins the Cup, and their Shirley Temple Vegan ice cream is a popular non-dairy alternative.
Ample Hills sells their cups and cones starting at around $7, with their pints available for $10 on site.
- Innovative, rich flavors that can’t be found anywhere else
- Sells ice cream both in cup/cone and pint forms
- Small-batch ice cream made from original recipes
- Inventive non-dairy ice cream option
- More expensive than many of their competitors
- Limited options for toppings and desserts
- Only six options available for shipping
A relatively new small-batch ice cream parlor, this East Village shop was founded by an ex-con and specializes in elevated comfort food flavors with a hip-hop/R&B vibe. Mikey Likes It offers nine original flavors, including their highly popular Southern Hospitality. This richer take on Butter Pecan has become their signature flavor. Their ice cream can be served on waffles or in milkshakes, and they offer to make custom flavors for anyone with special dietary needs, although these are not on the standard menu.
Ice cream at Mikey Likes It begins at a little over $6.
- Made with fresh, local ingredients
- Rich, full-flavored ice cream appeals to a wide audience
- Colorful, music-themed ice cream parlor is a welcoming atmosphere
- Limited number of flavors on the standard menu
- Non-dairy options not always available
Known as an “ice cream magician”, Nick Morgenstern has gained a reputation as one of the most inventive ice cream makers in New York. His Rivington Street ice cream parlor is known for its unique mixing process, which decreasesfat and sugar while increasing flavor. The parlor offers an average of thirty flavors, divided into familiar categories like vanilla, chocolate, caramel, and strawberry with unique twists.
The parlor’s claim to fame comes in its specialty section, which features unique flavors including Durian Banana, Burnt Sage, Raw Milk, Salt and Pepper, and Fernet Black Walnut. Seven vegan sorbet flavors are also offered, including unique flavors like Raspberry Lychee. A wide selection of dessert and topping options are available in this state-of-the-art creamery.
A single scoop in a cup or cone at Morgenstern’s hovers around the $ mark, with an additional scoop running $ extra.
- Widest range of flavors of any ice cream parlor in New York
- Good mix of familiar and comforting with unique originals
- A wide range of non-dairy sorbets
- Reasonably priced compared to other artisanal ice cream parlors
- Certain flavors may be very off-putting to young kids
- Dessert options comparably expensive to the ice cream
A Chinatown institution for over forty years, this ice cream parlor has a no-frills appearance combined with a wide assortment of Chinese-influenced flavors. Although these recipes are old, many of them cannot be found anywhere else in the city. With over forty regular flavors, customers from outside of Chinatown may be amused to see Taro and Pandan listed in the standard flavors – and items like Butter Pecan or Chocolate Cherry listed as “Exotic flavors”! A rotating mix of additional flavors may include a non-dairy sorbet. They don’t have a wide dessert menu, but they will make custom ice cream cakes for parties with 24-hour advance notice.
Ice cream scoops begin in the $4 range, with additional scoops adding about $2 to the price.
- The only place in NYC to get flavors like Almond Cookie, Taro, or Pandan
- Good mix of classic and original flavors
- Among the most reasonably priced options in New York
- No-frills appearance may lead to it being overlooked
- Very limited non-dairy options
- Limited dessert/topping options
Specializing in extra-rich Italian gelato, this East Village parlor features a wide range of rotating flavors. They have over a dozen varieties of chocolate, but you’ll also find experimental flavors including wasabi, cheddar cheese, rice, prune Armagnac, or Su Jung Kwa (a rye tea popular in South Korea). Their sorbet laboratory is no less ambitious, featuring five distinct apple sorbets and unusual flavors like Prosecco or Acai berry. All flavors are rotating and appear on the menu on different days.
A small scoop is a little over $3, with a large going for around $5. However, sizes overall are much smaller than in most creameries.
- The extremely ambitious menu, living up to the name “laboratory of gelato”
- The most ambitious sorbet program at any New York creamery
- Offers both on-site scoops and pints for sale
- Reasonably priced for gelato
- Some flavors may be off-putting to children
- Rotating flavors mean a favorite could go away indefinitely
- Small portions
After beginning life as a wildly popular ice cream shop, Van Leeuwen has expanded into a mini-empire with a primary location in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. All their flavors are made in small batches from fresh ingredients, and they have a successful line of vegan ice creams made from non-dairy milk substitutes. They have a line of ten traditional ice cream flavors, eight vegan ice creams, and seven specialty flavors including two vegan specials. Their ice cream parlor offers milkshakes, sundaes, and the Italian coffee treat Affogato. Even toppings like whipped cream and hot fudge have vegan alternatives.
Van Leeuwen has a higher price point, with scoops going for around $7 and pints going for $10 at most retail locations.
- Widest selection of vegan options in the city
- Small-batch ice cream considered to be among the city’s best
- Good mix of traditional and experimental flavors
- Seasonal specials mean there’s always something new to experience
- Among the most expensive creameries in the city
- Not in Manhattan, making it a longer trip
Although this creamery began life in Williamsburg, its signature location is in the East Village with a third location in Soho. Each location features a unique mix of flavors every day, comprising eleven hard ice cream flavors, one vegan sorbet, and two soft serve flavors. Flavors are a mix of more traditional choices like cookies and cream or oatmeal cookie dough, and unique flavors like Avocado and Raspberry Pink Peppercorn Sorbet.
Scoops at Oddfellows begin at around $4.
- Good mix of classic flavors with experimental originals
- The entire lineup of flavors is made from small-batch local ingredients
- Different lineups of flavors at each location
- A different lineup at each location means you might have to go to a different shop to find your favorite
- Very limited non-dairy options
Right on the edge of Central Park, Grom is the first New York location of a popular Italian gelato chain. Featuring a standard lineup of ten gelati with two specialty flavors, accompanied by four fruit sorbets and four granita (a simple semi-frozen non-dairy dessert from Italy), this authentic gelateria features traditional flavors like Stracciatella and unique flavors like Pastry Cream with Corn Biscuits and Chocolate. All gelato and sorbet at Grom is gluten-free and can be bought in scoops or pints.
Gelato at Grom begins at $5.25 for a single scoop.
- Focus on authentic Italian gelato and frozen desserts
- Extensive non-dairy dessert selection
- Entirely gluten-free menu
- More expensive than many alternatives
- Traditional American ice cream flavors are missing
Deciding on the best ice cream in NYC has to offer heavily depends on personal taste. Do you want traditional flavors or originality? Are you looking for old-school ambiance? A modern parlor? Are you okay with a no-frills counter? All ten of these creameries are representatives of the best ice cream in NYC offers, but one stands out above the rest. Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream boasts the city’s most unique array of flavors, inventive twists on classics like chocolate and vanilla, and a sorbet program that’s as thoughtful as their ice cream – all at a price that easily beats most of its competitors. It gets our nod for the best ice cream in NYC has available.