Post Overview: Roundup of the best ice cream in New York City
Looking for the best ice cream in New York City? I’ve got you covered. Searching for exceptional ice cream in NYC (the foodie capital of America!) is no easy task, but someone had to do it.
One of my favorite things about living in the Big Apple is having access to cuisines that span the gamut. But I’d be lying if I didn’t disclose that 80% of my diet consists of sweets, and my insatiable sweet tooth is the culprit, no doubt.
But it’s not all bad news! I mean, I’m able to power through New York City ice cream shops like a bull in a china shop. At the end of the day, I didn’t want the 40,000 calories I consumed on my “quest” to go to waste. Allow me to share my personal list of the best ice cream in New York City.
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Best Ice Cream New York City
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
Van Leeuwen first started serving great ice cream in NYC from a food truck. It didn’t take long for word to spread, and they quickly expanded into brick-and-mortar stores across numerous states. But New York City is still their true home, made evident by the fact that they have 19 ice cream shops in New York City alone!
What sets them apart from other popular ice cream shops is their creativity. In addition to exciting monthly flavors, Van Leeuwen stocks unique flavors like brown sugar cookie dough, Scicilian pistachio and earl gray tea (my favorite!).
But the best part about this beloved New York City ice cream shop is their adamant refusal to use artificial flavors, keeping the ice cream as natural as possible. None of that artificial junk here folks. Oh, and did I mention that they also churn out some of the best vegan ice cream in NYC as well? Seriously, you won’t be able to tell the difference.
So if you’re in search of unique ice cream in NYC, you need not look further than this local gem.
Emack & Bolio’s
History time, folks, but I promise this little “aside” is important when discussing this particular ice cream shop in NYC. Back in the 1970’s Boston was a popular scene for the rock bands. Unfortunately, due to Massachusetts’s blue laws (laws prohibiting activities on certain days/times, originally for religious reasons) clubs had to close at midnight.
Bob Rook, a music lawyer, found a way around the law by opening an ice cream shop in a basement. This created a space where music could be played quietly in front of smaller crowds.
Thus Emack & Bolio was born. They’ve gone on to grow both nationally and internationally including serving locals some of the best ice cream in New York City in 4 different locations. Here you will find flavors like Deep Purple Chip (black raspberry ice cream with white and dark chocolate chips) , which refers to the famous rock band from England. They also sell small batch vegan ice cream and sorbet for those interested.
The ice cream at Emack & Bolio emulates the unruly nature of the rock stars that played a big role in it’s success. With the ability to order scoops into cones dipped in Reese’s Puffs, Rice Krispy Treats and Fruity Pebbles you’re giving in to your inner child and sticking it to the man!
Address: 4 ice cream shops in New York City
Sundaes and Cones
Sundae and Cones is one of the best ice cream shops in New York City. Located 10 minutes from Union Square Park, this East Village treasure offers unique Asian-inspired ice cream flavors like taro and Thai iced tea.
At the counter you’ll be greeted by eager workers who are always open to giving suggestions, so don’t hesitate to ask for help. If you’re a fan of bubble tea, I suggest trying the taro flavor. My wife went with red-orange sorbet and contemplated going back for a second scoop after devouring her first.
For those of you who have a real sweet tooth, Sundae and Cones offers cookie and brownie toppers. Some call it excessive, others (like myself) consider it a stroke of genius. Pick up a cone and head to the park for some prime people watching opportunities while enjoying some of the best ice cream in NYC.
Address: 95 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003
Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
Think of the quintessential American diner, and now upscale it. That’s the vibe that Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream in NYC gives off. Clean white and black tiles give way to friendly staff wearing aprons and retro diner caps. The classic New York City ice cream is the star of the show, but food is on offer too (think burgers and booze).
Morgenstern’s is popular because of the innovative ways they encourage patrons to enjoy some of the best ice cream in New York City, like the ice cream burger! Neapolitan ice cream flavors sandwiched between hamburger buns, served with a side of fries.
In a world of constant innovation Morgenstern is sticking with the times all while paying homage to the classics. All while serving some of the best ice cream in NYC. Can’t fault them for that.
Address: 88 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012
Oddfellows Ice Cream Co.
The first time I had OddFellows it was 93 degrees out and I was 5 miles into a walk that I chose to do in heavy boots (story for another time, or never). As you can imagine, the ice cream was a very welcome reprieve, downright euphoric.
I’ve since returned to double check whether OddFellows was really that good or if the flavor was simply just a product of my desperation. Well, after a handful of visits I can confirm that this New York City ice cream shop passes with flying colors.
Having released more than 500 flavors since opening their doors in 2013, OddFellows is at the forefront of frozen-dessert ingenuity. Put another way, Oddfellows has practically released a new flavor once a week for 9 years straight. Reason alone to visit!
Address: 4 ice cream shops in Brooklyn
Ample Hills Creamery
Boasting several locations throughout the Big Apple, the Fireboat House Scoop Shop near DUMBO is easily my favorite spot for delicious ice cream in NYC. It’s a feel-good ice cream shop under the looming Brooklyn Bridge with views of the East River. However, regardless of which location you visit you’re guaranteed one thing: quality.
With the largest ice cream production facility in New York City and pasteurization occurring on-site, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a fresher scoop of ice cream in New York City. Oh, and did I mention that they bake all the toppings in-house?
The reason is simple, by keeping every step in house they’re able to make ice cream with the highest quality control. Just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
Ample Hills mission is to “share joy with our neighborhoods, one scoop at a time.” It’s safe to say that serving some of the best ice cream in New York City definitely sets them up for success.
Address: 9 ice cream shops in New York City
Mikey Likes It
Michael “Mikey” Cole has one of the best ice cream shops in New York City. Located in the East Village, the shop sells artisan ice cream from natural and organic ingredients. The small business makes small batches upping the quality and freshness of their frozen treats, therefore this one of the best ice cream shops in New York City.
Each month there’s a new flavor of the month inspired by notable and famous people. The most recent flavor was “Pachanga” inspired by Luis Guzman (a coconut ice cream with mango compote). The artist that inspired the flavor of the month also gets their mural painted onto the locking gate of the shop.
Mikey Likes It is perhaps best known for serving the best ice cream sandwiches in New York City (called a Mac Daddy). Any scoop of your choosing can be sandwiched between tasty waffles. But don’t just take my word for it, these bad boys were mentioned in Forbes, ABC News, and the Food Network.
Address: 199 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
I was born and raised by Mexican immigrants, so believe me when I tell you I know about authentic Mexican sweets. La Newyorkina makes me nostalgic of the days I would buy ice cream from a paletero (popsicle vendor, usually on a bike).
These are the exact tantalizing flavors I remember growing up, which is why I consider this some of the best ice cream in New York City. My only complaint with La Newyorkina is that they only have one brick and mortar location.
Although they only have one physical scoop shop, they offer a multitude of savory frozen desserts. Mangoneadas and babka ice cream sandwiches are among some of the most popular items, as well as the classic paletas.
La Newyorkina also has a kiosk at the Highline. Although it is a smaller selection of paletas, it is a great place to give them a try.
Address: 61 Commerce St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Sugar Hill Creamery
Sugar Hill Creamery made it to my list of best ice cream in New York City after just one tasting. That’s all I needed to be hooked.
One day while exploring Brooklyn, my wife and I took a lunch break at TimeOut Market. Like any sane person, after lunch we had to finish with something sweet and to our luck Sugar Hill Creamery was right there.
Sugar Hill Creamery is self described as “Harlem’s OG Family-Owned & Operated Ice Cream Shop” and I find it suiting. Sugar Hill Creamery bridges community and food and creates the perfect treat year round. The names of the ice cream flavors are playful and cheeky and the handmade ice cream speaks for itself.
The ice cream is among the best in New York City and is growing because of it. Flavors rotate seasonly and are inspired by Caribbean and midwestern cultures along with flavors inspired by Harlem.
Address: 3 in New York City
If you ever find yourself in Gramercy Park, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to Caffe Panna. Seriously, you won’t regret it! I’m not sure if luxurious is the right word to use when describing ice cream — but man oh man, Caffe Panna tastes rich.
Caffe Panna is an Italian-inspired ice cream shop. The word “panna” translates to “cream” in Italian. In terms of the ice cream, all flavors are made in-house and this NYC ice cream shops takes great pride in churning out innovative flavors.
Expect to find 7 traditional flavors (think chocolate, strawberry, vanilla) in addition to 5 rotating flavors weekly. As if picking one flavor wasn’t hard enough, they also offer extra ice-cream centered treats like milkshakes.
Personally, I’m a sucker for an affogato (ice cream doused in espresso), so coming across Caffe Panna was like a match made in heaven. I highly recommend checking out their instagram beforehand to see the weekly flavors – but be warned, it’s easy to get sucked into scrolling because they have some of the best ice cream in New York City.
Address: 77 Irving Pl, New York, NY 10003
It’s near impossible to name a more popular place to get ice cream in New York City than Milk Bar. The place became a viral sensation — largely thanks to the cereal-milk soft serve and the Milk Bar Pie, better known as “crack cake.” Regardless, this hot-spot doesn’t show signs of slowing anytime soon.
Another item on their menu that has a cult-like following is quite possibly the most popular birthday cake in NYC, Milk Bar’s iconic Birthday Cake (available in the original vanilla flavor and chocolate). Suffice it to say, there’s definitely something for everyone at Milk-Bar.
Address: 8 locations in New York City
Sweet Churros might seem like an odd addition to a list of the best ice cream in New York City, but hear me out. It’s a complete experience. The churros are made to order (right in front of your eyes!) and you can watch everything from start to finish.
The churros are a crowd favorite, no doubt, but it’s the ice cream pairing that does it for me. Warm churro with cold, sweet ice cream. It’s everything a dessert lover dreams about.
This unique combination is a sure-fire guarantee to satisfying any ice cream craving. That’s why I couldn’t resist adding it to this list of best ice cream in New York City.
My wife and I split the Fruity Pebble churro with taro ice cream. It was a quite large, so this NYC ice cream makes the ideal dessert for sharing.
Address: 11 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001
L’Arte Del Gelato
A common theme you’ll find on MY list of the best ice cream in New York City is that most of the shops use fresh and natural ingredients. L’Arte Del Gelato is no exception. This Sicilian artisanal gelato shop has been serving some of the best ice cream in New York City since 2005. (For those wondering gelato means ice cream in Italian.)
This NYC gelato shop has several colorful stands throughout NYC. Adorned in vibrant shades of pink, these charming carts exude an authentic old school, which makes the treat extra special. Every time I’ve had L’Arte Del Gelato, no matter the flavor, I’ve never been disappointed.
If you find yourself craving Italy, head to one of their many locations. Grab a scoop and let your taste buds take you on a little Italian escape. You’ll soon realize what locals know, which is that L’Arte Del Gelato is among the best ice cream shops in New York City.
Address: 4 ice cream shops in New York City
If you’re a bit of a control freak or simply like to have creative freedom- 16 Handles is the best ice cream shop in New York City for you. This NYC ice cream chain is a self-serve franchise. With a plethora of flavors and toppings to choose from, the world is truly your oyster. The price is determined by weight, so you have the liberty to choose just how much of everything you want.
Upon entering you are able to test the flavors that speak to you and when you find the winner you fill up your cup. If you’re like me, picking one flavor is an impossible task so you can imagine the giddiness that takes over me knowing I can mix 5 flavors if I wanted to!
16 Handles is one of the best ice cream shops in New York City because you have full control of sweetness, portion and toppings. There’s nothing worse than ordering a scoop of ice cream and you just so happened to get stuck with the part of the tub that has NO toppings in it. At 16 handles you can load up or lightly sprinkle whatever your heart desires.
Address: 11 ice cream shops in New York City
If you’re going to take my recommendation on any of these spots for the best ice cream in New York City, let it be this one. Stumbling upon Venchi was the sweetest accident to have happened to my wife and I. We just so happened to be in the Columbus Circle area and saw a line for an ice cream shop. Lines in New York City basically scream “c’mon try me- I’m worth the wait!” and worth it it was.
I went with a regular (two scoops of ice cream) and was able to enjoy both the raspberry and strawberry sorbet, while my wife got the tiramisu gelato.
The gelato was so fresh and soft, it was practically floating on the cone. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything quite like it. The tiramisu was the perfect consistency and had flakes of slivered chocolate that gave it a satisfying crunch. The sorbet was equally as good, sweet and tart- very refreshing in the heat. I feel extremely confident calling this one of the best ice cream shops in New York City.
Address: 8 ice cream shops in New York City
New York City Best Ice Cream (Post Summary)
In summary, here’s the best ice cream in New York City:
- Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
- Emack & Bolio’s
- Sundaes and Cones
- Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
- Oddfellows Ice Cream Co.
- Ample Hills Creamery
- Mikey Likes It
- La Newyorkina
- Sugar Hill Creamery
- Caffè Panna
- Milk Bar
- Sweet Churros
- L’Arte Del Gelato
- 16 Handles
- Venchi 1878
Map of the best Ice Cream in NYC