Where to Find the Best Soft-Serve Ice Cream in Greater Boston

It was hard to narrow 'em down, but these scoop shops and restaurants have the sweetest, creamiest cones.


Two cones are full of pink swirls of soft-serve ice cream, one topped with a cherry and big cookie crumbles.

Soft-serve ice cream at Buttermilk & Bourbon. / Courtesy photo

If you’re generally looking for the best ice cream in Boston, we’ve got you covered here. Sometimes, though, it’s specifically soft-serve that you’re craving—the lightest, smoothest stuff you can lap off a cone or scoop out of a cup. When those hankerings hit, please turn your attention to the handful of top spots below. It was hard to narrow ’em down, but they’ve got the best soft-serve in town.

 

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Broadway Dairy Maid

Neither snow nor early sunsets nor subarctic temperatures will stop us—hardy Bostonians will eat ice cream any time of year. Which is why we’re always a little sad that this retro-style stand in Everett (look for the blue-and-yellow awning!) is a seasonal operation that usually shutters by the end of October. We want more time to snatch the swirls of banana/strawberry, pistachio/coffee, and other soft-serve flavor combos that have made Broadway a local star since 1981.

960 Broadway, Everett, 617-389-3433, facebook.com/broadwaydairymade.

A blue ice cream cone is full of a swirl of vanilla ice cream with a dusting of Oreo crumbs and two big Oreo chunks.

Soft-serve ice cream at Buttermilk & Bourbon. / Courtesy photo

Buttermilk & Bourbon

As a chef, blue-haired Hell’s Kitchen star Jason Santos has a rep for crowd-pleasing playfulness of the Guy Fieri sort. It’s no surprise, then, that the soft-serve featured at his New Orleans-inspired restaurant, Buttermilk & Bourbon, comes in rotating varieties that sound straight out of Flavortown: peanut butter and jelly, Fruity Pebbles, and cotton candy, to name a few. At Buttermilk & Bourbon, they’re typically served in salted pretzel cones; at Santos’ other Boston restaurants, Citrus & Salt and Nash Bar, meanwhile, soft-serve is—even better!—dispensed in drinking glasses as a base for brunchtime mimosas.

160 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-266-1122; 100 Arsenal Yards Blvd., Watertown, 857-760-7128, buttermilkbourbon.com.

 

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Dairy Joy

Frankly, the fried clams, lobster rolls, and hot dogs already give us plenty to be happy about here. That said, at this charming roadside stand in the suburbs—a walk-up window with a smattering of picnic tables, basically—the truly unbridled joy is definitely saved for dessert: soft-serve ice cream in signature flavors such as creamsicle and javaberry (coiled swirls of coffee and raspberry). Oh, and despite the name, there’s a strong selection of dairy-free options to cheer up the cream-free set.

311 North Ave., Weston, 781-894-2600, facebook.com/dairyjoyweston.

A swirl of caramel-drizzled soft-serve sits in a brown paper cup with Eventide branding.

Eventide’s brown butter soft-serve. / Photo by Zack Bowen/Knack Factory

Eventide Fenway

The dialed-back Boston outpost of Portland, Maine’s lauded Eventide Oyster Co. only serves one flavor of soft-serve. You know what? One is all you need when it’s brown butter (ooh!), drizzled with bourbon caramel (ahh!) and studded with maple candied pecans (drool!). It’s a singular sensation—and one you won’t even find at Eventide’s original Pine Tree State restaurant. Fenway for the win.

1321 Boylston St., Boston, 617-545-1060, eventideoysterco.com.

 

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Far Out

Okay, okay—if you want to get technical, Far Out ice cream isn’t soft-serve by strict definition. Ultimately, though, if you’re looking for the same kind of lightly luscious texture, you’ll find it in Far Out’s New Zealand-style “real fruit ice cream”: hard-packed ice cream that has been machine-blended with (what else?) fresh fruit. The result, offered at this year-old Brookline shop in flavors like mango, pineapple, and kookaberry, is supremely sweet and delicious soft-serve…in spirit.

419 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-487-8102, farouticecream.com.

 

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Honeycomb Creamery

The first thing to know about one of Boston’s best ice cream shops is that you should show up on a Tuesday: That’s when Honeycomb doles out its famous ice cream tacos (!) on a first come, first served basis. The second thing to know is that the soft-serve is no side project here. Sure, Honeycomb only offers two rotating flavors at a time—mocha and rum mascarpone are currently on the agenda—but they’re made with the same small-batch care and super-fresh dairy (sourced from Mapleline Farm in Hadley) as the hard-packed stuff.

1702 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-714-3983, honeycombcreamery.com.

 

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Milk Bar

Don’t allow reverse snobbery to turn your nose up at this growing NYC-born phenom, which opened a shop in Harvard Square in 2019. Sure, its hard-packed ice cream is now sold by the pint at grocery stores—but it’s worth hopping the Red Line to get the soft-serve stuff, which is what put Milk Bar on the map. For good reason: The signature cereal milk flavor, which tastes like the sweet bottom of a Frosted Flakes bowl, is grrrrreat! Plus, you can build your own pint of soft-serve ice cream layered with chunks of cake, sauces, and crunch toppings. Chef’s kiss! (In this case, credit James Beard-winning pastry guru Christina Tosi.)

3 Brattle St., Cambridge, 857-321-8430, milkbarstore.com.

Hands hold up colorful swirls of soft-serve in fish-shaped ice cream cones with high-rise buildings in the background.

Taiyaki NYC soft-serve. / Photo courtesy of the Boston Seaport

Taiyaki NYC

Another New York-founded entry in Boston’s soft-serve scene, Taiyaki stands out for its namesake fish-shaped cones, a popular street food in Japan. Here, those waffle-like fish mouths are filled with flavors like chocolate, matcha, and strawberry-mango, as well as fit-for-TikTok toppings like unicorn sprinkles, whole cookies, and rainbow mochi.

119 Seaport Blvd., Boston, 617-531-3514, taiyakinyc.com.

 

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Vinal General Store

It’s been open for under a year, but this marvelous, modern spin on an old-school sandwiches-and-sundries shop—a sibling operation to neighbor Vinal Bakery—is already earning notice for its soft-serve, in particular. Not only does this general store offer excellent renditions of classic flavor swirls, such as black raspberry with vanilla, but it spruces them up with New England-made products pulled from its shelves: You might find the ice cream covered in crumbled maple potato chips from Vintage Maine Kitchen, for instance, or used in floats with Worcester-made Polar soda.

220 Somerville Ave., Somerville, 617-718-0568, vinalgeneralstore.com.