The 30 Best Boston Ice Cream Shops
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Edited by Jacqueline Cain, with reporting by Greta Bjornson, Shaula Clark, Amanda Madigan, Devon Musgrave-Johnson, and Clare Zicari
No one loves ice cream as much as New Englanders do—even in the dead of winter, we’ll brave icy temps to get our cone fix. But there’s no better time to get acquainted with our local ice cream parlors than when summer is in full swing. From old-school snack shacks peddling classic hot fudge sundaes, to allergen-friendly trailblazers exploring delicious, dairy- or nut-free frontiers, here’s our comprehensive guide to the best ice cream in Boston.
If you thought Best of Boston-worthy Blackbird Doughnuts couldn’t get any more decadent, we’ve got news for you: Those pillowy-soft, sugar-glazed treats make the perfect base for some out-of-this-world ice cream sandwiches. Make your own creation from a doughnut of your choice filled with vanilla, chocolate, or swirl soft serve. The South End and Harvard Square locations have their own ice cream machines, so you could just opt for a simple cup or cone. (But why would you skip the doughnut?!) Meanwhile, the Fenway and Brighton locations always have sandwich-ready ice cream discs in-house.
492 Tremont St., Boston; 20 Kilmarnock St., Boston; 15 Holyoke St. (Harvard Smith Campus Center), Cambridge; 100 Holton St., Brighton; 617-482-9000; blackbirddoughnuts.com.
Boston Ice Cream Factory
Ice cream may be a classic kids’ treat, but Boston Ice Cream Factory founder Steve Cirame—a former J.P. Licks employee and the original owner of Christina’s—adds an adult twist to many of the offerings at his Dorchester storefront. Though traditional flavors like chocolate and pistachio hold a place on the menu, the real standouts borrow from the bar. Try a scoop of Barbados Breeze, a fruity fusion made with Malibu rum and blue Curaçao; or Mud Slide, a boozy blend of Baileys, Kahlua, and vodka. Good luck going back to a plain old vanilla cone after stopping here.
777a Morrissey Blvd., Dorchester, 617-436-2189, bostonicecreamfactory.com.
Chill on Park
Calling all locavores: This Fields Corner shop sources offerings, from cookies, to tea and coffee, to the hot fudge they drizzle over sundaes, from Massachusetts businesses. And the ice cream is no exception: Puritan Ice Cream, in nearby Roslindale, supplies such flavors as salted-caramel truffle, peanut butter Oreo, and Dutch apple, which can be ordered by the four-flavor sampler. Waffle cones and bowls, ice cream rolls, cakes and pies, meanwhile, are crafted in-house.
142 Park St., Dorchester, 617-297-5401, chillonpark.com.
Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream
Summer nights in Inman Square mean lines snaking out the door of this neighborhood institution. With well over 50 classic and inventive flavors alike, the shop continues to stay true to owner (and spice-lover) Raymond Ford’s vision to craft “creative, bold and daring” ice cream. Try a few samples that take inspiration from around the world (see: Indian chai, Italian gianduja chocolate, and Japanese adzuki bean), or—in the case of the Concord grape sorbet—from our own backyard.
1255 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-492-7021, christinasicecream.com.
There’s nothing scary about this monster: just colossal heaps of Richardson’s ice cream sandwiched between fresh-baked cookies, roaming the streets of Boston. Once featured on an episode of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations, Cookie Monstah takes a unique spin on the classic bake shop by adding four wheels. Be sure to try the Red Monstah, made with red velvet cookies and mint Oreo ice cream. Since launching as a food truck, it has also opened bake shops in Danvers and Burlington.
Boston Common, Dewey Square, and more regular food truck locations; 75 Newbury St., Danvers; 76 Mall Road, Burlington; 978-539-8564, thecookiemonstah.com.
For 50 years, cone heads have made the pilgrimage south to Sharon’s Crescent Ridge Dairy Bar for frozen Cressies (a chocolate-dipped disc-on-a-stick of vanilla, chocolate, or raspberry ice cream) and Best of Boston-worthy ice creams. But with a stall inside the Boston Public Market, flavors ranging from coffee to coconut, cotton candy to Mississippi Mud, pumpkin to S’Mores are now available within city limits.
Dairy Bar, 407 Bay Rd., Sharon; Boston Public Market, 100 Hanover St.; 781-784-2740; crescentridgedairybar.com.
Sweltering South Shore nights call for a trip to this Quincy institution, which has been slinging sundaes since 1963. If the midcentury signage didn’t clue you into the fact that this place is a classic, the menu certainly will: It’s got all the old-school New England bases covered, from frappes and raspberry lime rickeys to orange-sherbet soft serve and Richie’s Italian ices—and even hard ice cream in pumpkin and cranberry flavors.
635 Adams St., Quincy, 617-471-9768, dairyfreeze-quincy.com.
This roadside ice cream and seafood shack is absolutely worth a leisurely summer drive out to Weston. It’s the only place to find JavaBerry, the raspberry-coffee twist you didn’t know you needed. The creamsicle soft-serve swirl is also a classic, and the stalwart spot has new dairy-free options, too. Don’t forget the chocolate or cherry dip!
331 North Ave., Weston, 781-894-2600, Facebook.
Emack & Bolio’s
Boston’s puritanical stance on early bar-closing times has at least been good for one thing: It’s indirectly given us some darn good ice cream. Bob Rook, a music lawyer who’s worked such with such acts as Aerosmith, The Cars, and U2, founded Emack & Bolio’s in a Coolidge Corner basement in 1975 to provide a post-gig hangout space for bands (back when clubs closed at midnight). In the intervening decades, this local chain hasn’t lost track of its rock n’ roll origins, notably on display in such evocatively named flavors as the salty-sweet Chunk O’Funk and black-raspberry “Deep Purple” Chip.
Multiple locations, emackandbolios.com.
Come for the award-winning fresh oysters and lobster rolls, stay because it would be criminal to leave without trying the brown-butter soft serve. Eventide’s signature ice cream dish may be a frosty treat, but something about this decadent dessert—piled high with smooth caramel and crunchy candied pecans—leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. There’s always a rotating, seasonal sundae option, too.
1321 Boylston St., Boston, 617-545-1060, eventideoysterco.com.
Turns out, some of the most exciting ice cream being churned in Boston these days is actually not cream at all. Its empire rapidly expanding since the first fully vegan scoop shop launched in 2012, the dairy-eschewing FoMu (get it?) serves up such coconut-milk-based flavors as triple-chocolate brownie, raspberry almond crumble, and mango-habanero, all handcrafted in Watertown. More cool news: FoMu owner Deena Jalal just published her first cookbook, Incredible Vegan Ice Cream, featuring these recipes and more.
481 Cambridge St., Allston, 617-903-3276; 655 Tremont St., South End, Boston, 617-982-7955; 617 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-553-2299; 140 Brookline Ave., Fenway, Boston, 857- 284-7229; fomuicecream.com.
Forge Ice Cream Bar
Experience an oh-so-sweet blast from the past at Forge Bakery’s retro-looking ice cream parlor. While the shop’s chrome finishes, vinyl seat coverings, and antique pump system may harken back to a simpler time, its flavors are decidedly modern. A constant rotation of small-batch scoops with rotating options like cucumber-lime sorbet, blueberry, and banana Oreo keeps things fresh. Can’t decide? Forge offers a tasting flight of four small scoops.
626B Somerville Ave., Somerville, 617-764-5365, forgebakingco.com/ice-cream.
Gelato & Chill
This Hingham-based maker uses local ingredients—as well as the finest chocolate, nuts, and spices from around the world—to create recipes developed by an award-winning Northern Italian gelato pro. That means rich bourbon vanilla made with Vermont cultured butter; Marsala-wine spiked Zabaione; and vegan-friendly sorbets like blood red orange. And don’t worry, Bostonians. No South Shore trip is necessary: Gelato & Chill just opened up an outpost inside Fenway’s new Time Out Market food hall.
60 Sharp St., Unit 4, Hingham, 617-717-4989; Time Out Market Boston, 401 Park Drive, Fenway, 617-717-4989, gelatochill.com.
Gracie’s Ice Cream
Fire and ice come together at this Union Square shop, which will serve up its award-winning ice cream in Fluff-filled cones toasted to perfection with a blowtorch. Alongside six “anytime” go-tos, Gracie’s treats their customers to a slew of fun, seasonal flavors, all made fresh in the small Somerville shop. The lineup might include creative takes like honey cornbread, chocolate salty snacks (with chunks of pretzel and potato chip), and even spicy mango. And for those really hot days where you can’t bear to leave the AC, Gracie’s also delivers via Caviar.
22 Union Square, Somerville, 617-764-5294, icecreamgracies.com.
Where else can you get a cone with flavors like port cherry vanilla, horchata, or basil goat cheese? Using local ingredients, this two-time Best of Boston-winning shop is committed to making each from-scratch batch as fresh as it can be: Husband-and-wife duo Rory Hanlon and Kristen Rummel rotate their mouthwatering menu often, designing flavors based on seasonal ingredients like summery sweet corn or cherries. In other words, there’s always a reason to come back and see what’s new.
1702 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-714-3983, honeycombcreamery.com.
The Ice Creamsmith
This second-generation-run shop in Lower Mills has created classics and cool concoctions since 1976: Think Callebaut chocolate chip, coconut pineapple, and birthday cake. Customers are encouraged to dream up their own inventive combinations with the shop’s selection of “Mixins,” which include jelly beans, bubblegum, Skittles, and coconut.
2295 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester, 617-296-8567, theicecreamsmith.com.
Jaho Coffee Roasters
In the depths of winter, there are few things we crave more than Jaho’s red velvet hot chocolate. But as temps climb, that signature flavor is available in a whole new way: as Japanese-style soft serve. Red velvet is among this local chainlet’s roster of rotating flavors, along with vanilla milk, dark chocolate, Uji matcha, pumpkin, and more. Prefer a scoop? The company makes hard ice cream, too, in flavors like butter pecan, apple pie, and açaí pomegranate sorbet.
1651 Washington St., South End, 617-236-1680; 116 Huntington St., Back Bay, 857-233-2704; 665 Washington St., Downtown Boston, 857-233-4094; 197 Derby St., Salem, 978-744-4300; jaho.com.
So many treats, so little time. Along with a cool collection of monthly specials such as Fruity Pebbles cereal milk, fresh cucumber, and sangria sorbet, there are creative classics like salted caramel cookies ’n cream. And with 17 locations of the beloved local chain from Dorchester to Lynnfield, there are plenty of opportunities to try them all.
Multiple locations, jplicks.com.
In 1995, ex-Digital employee Nick Pappas decided to leave behind the world of microchips for the world of raspberry chocolate chip—and we’re so glad he did. Though Pappas passed the torch to the new ownership in 2016, the spark—and Lizzy’s loyal following—remains. The original Waltham location is a prime location for a Sundae Party, but Lizzy’s also caters to bring that experience anywhere.
29 Church St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-354-2911; 367 Moody St., Waltham, 781-893-6677; lizzysicecream.com.
Lulu’s Sweet Shoppe
The North End is home to plenty of gelato vendors, but Lulu’s holds it down in the neighborhood with rich ice cream to accompany its bakery menu. Originally known for delectable cupcakes and an enviable assortment of old-fashioned candy, this shop has gained attention for such intriguing ice cream selections as Thai tea-coconut, and port-wine pistachio. Grab a cupcake and a cone to go, then take a lap around the Greenway to work through the sugar rush.
28 Parmenter St., Boston, 617-742-0070, lulussweetshoppeboston.com.
Owner Morgan Morano’s gelato is a little bite of Italy in New England—and a rather exclusive one at that. She creates 12 to 16 flavors daily, choosing from an ever-rotating, 200-plus repertoire that includes stracciatella (chocolate chip), amarena (cherry), and zafferano (saffron). Heart set on a certain taste? Drop an email request to make sure the flavor you’re hankering for is available during your next visit.
The Shops at Chestnut Hill, 199 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, 617-244-5200, moranogelato.com.
New City Microcreamery
The original Hudson location, founded in 2015, helped kickstart the culinary scene in that quaint Central Mass. downtown, thanks to dozens of liquid-nitrogen-frozen flavors, inspired by nostalgic tastes (see: malted milk ball, Key lime pie, vegan coffee-Oreo). In 2018, the cool newcomers opened up a Central Square shop so city-dwellers can get in on the excitement, too.
28 Main St., Hudson, 978-333-7144; 403 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 978-333-7144, newcitymicrocreamery.com.
This South End mainstay—whose name stands for “Pizza and Ice Cream Company”—draws neighborhood regulars and visiting revelers alike for its carefully curated dessert menu. Highlights are an intensely velvety dark-chocolate sorbet, and an addictive raspberry-drizzled streusel cake à la mode. Feeling festive? Give dessert a boozy boost with specialties like the “adult” ice cream soda: a float of raspberry lambic poured over vanilla ice cream.
513 Tremont St., Boston, 617-927-0066, piccorestaurant.com.
Dairy must flow through the veins of the Rancatore family: Since 1985, owner Joe Rancatore (brother to Toscanini’s Gus and Mimi Rancatore) has been serving up superior scoops to a devoted suburban fan base with daring flavors like Irish coffee-n-cookies, honey-lavender, and rhubarb. Lately, they’ve been increasingly experimenting with dairy-free options—a development worthy of celebrating with a slice of coconut-and-mango sorbet cake.
1752 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington, 781-862-5090; 36 Leonard St., Belmont, 617-489-5090; 333 Walnut St., Newtonville, 617-916-0963; rancs.com.
The Scoop N Scootery
Got the munchies and an empty freezer? Fear not: The Scoop N Scootery has you covered. The delivery-based operation is dedicated to getting custom cups of Phantomberry and Totally Turtle to your door as fast as possible. After a year-and-a-half in business—and regular nights dropping off 200-plus orders—the startup opened a suburban brick-and-mortar in Arlington. In 2020, it expanded into Allston, as well.
112 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, 781-777-2830; 75 Linden St., Allston, 617-208-8016, thescoopnscootery.com.
First opened in 1951, this seasonal, South Boston institution has been plying Castle Island visitors with beachy eats for the better part of a century. Find all the classics, from soft-serve swirls to Hood hard-packed scoops, Richie’s Italian Ice, root beer floats, and hot fudge sundaes. There’s also fried dough on the menu—which we happen to know, is delicious à la mode.
2080 William J. Day Blvd., South Boston, 617-268-5685, sullivanscastleisland.com.
This New York City-based soft-serve company splashed down in the Seaport in spring 2019 with undeniably adorable fish-shaped ice cream cones (the Japanese, waffle-like treat, taiyaki), and toppings like rainbow sprinkles, whole cookies, and unicorn horns. Instagram-worthy, for sure—and definitely delicious, too.
119 Seaport Blvd., Suite B, Boston, 617-531-3514, taiyakinyc.com.
Homemade and always nut-free, Tipping Cow ice cream stays true to its farmers’ market roots and keeps away from additives and preservatives. But owners David Lindsey and Gerly Adrien, who bought the Tipping Cow brand in 2017, don’t just rely on the store’s natural ethos to keep their customers coming back—they also wow them with unusual and seasonal flavors, like cannoli, peach cobbler, ginger lemon, snickerdoodle, and espresso. In 2019, Tipping Cow will expand to Jamaica Plain, as part of an innovative, three-business outfit called Monumental Market.
415 Medford St., Somerville, tippingcowicecream.com.
After more than three decades in Central Square, Toscanini’s sibling-duo Gus and Mimi Rancatore have been temporally displaced from their longtime location and are now slow-churning out the same sinfully rich ice cream in nearby Kendall. Go decadent, or go home—may we suggest an order of the best-selling B3 (brown sugar, brown butter, and brownies)? Just don’t forget to add a dollop of Tosci’s freshly made whipped cream. It’s one of the many reasons this multi-year Best of Boston winner has received so much national attention.
159 First St., Cambridge, 617-491-5877, tosci.com.
Among the jewel-toned paletas emanating from Shira Gold’s Jamaica Plain-based wholesale operation: strawberry mint, tamarind Thai chili, and avocado. You can also find these pops at farmers’ markets all over town, and select shops stretching from Boston to the Pioneer Valley. But for true locavore synergy, head to JP’s Cacao Nuts and Chocolate, where Wild Pops can be dipped in chocolate (otherwise known as pure bliss on a stick).