Sure, ice cream is a summertime staple — from the Pavlovian thrill of hearing the ice cream truck’s lilting song, to the pleasure of catching rivulets of melting ice cream on your tongue as they wind their way down the side of the cone. But, let’s get real: Ice cream is perfect year-round, daily even. In fact, if you aren’t eating ice cream right now, you are making a mistake that will resonate for generations to come. Even our president knows what’s up when it comes to the rich treat; the man may face a lot of criticism, but there isn’t a single person who said he was wrong for demanding twice the ice cream serving given to everyone else.
To find out where some of the best ice cream in the world is made and sold, we asked some renowned culinary pros. You might expect to find yourself in a world of Jack Rabbit Slims five dollar milkshakes and unconventional flavors, but most of our chefs went with the classics. When it comes to something as deeply satisfying as ice cream, it doesn’t need to be monkeyed with to be the best.
Try reading through the answers below without deciding that “RIGHT NOW” is the perfect time for a cone or a scoop. You have our complete support if you decide to go full sundae.
Chef Mark McDonald — Executive Chef and Owner, Old Vine Cafe
Although mainstream, I have to say that Baskin Robbins Gold Medal Ribbon would have to be my all time favorite for as long as I can remember.
Chef Craig Connole — Executive Chef, La Casa del Camino, K’ya Bistro Bar, The Rooftop Lounge
Florentino Ice Cream is the best! I tried it for the first time in 1989 at Zeppa at Fashion Island, where I was chef, in Newport Beach, California. Mike Florentino and his daughter came by with samples they had made, and it was amazing. They were just starting out the company! I still use it today and always have.
Chef Danny Allen — Executive Chef, Ways & Means Oyster House
The best ice cream is definitely Thrifty’s Ice Cream! My favorite has always been to get 2 scoops, Pistachio and Butter Pecan! I have enjoyed that ice cream since I was a kid, and it always brings back great memories.
Chef Elizabeth Blau — Founder/CEO, Blau + Associates
Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn. If ice cream was given gold medals — Ample Hills in Brooklyn would take the cake! They also have locations in Manhattan & Queens. The amazing flavors (including go-to favorites like Salted Crack Caramel, Munchies, and Ooey Gooey Butter Cake). We make Ample Hills a must-stop visit every time we’re in New York. The rooftop adds an element of NYC cool and they even offer to-go pints which is great for entertaining or just a night on the couch or in a hotel room!
Chef Matthew Lemery — Chef, Duchess
Hailing from upstate New York, there are a few classic go-tos. Martha’s Dandee Crème soft serve ice cream always has and always will hold a special place in my heart. It’s a place that fills me with childhood memories. Standing in line absolutely giddy about the delicious creamy treat waiting for you. For my mother and I, it was chocolate dipped in butterscotch. My dad always got a triple thick chocolate shake, and my little sister would get a baby vanilla cone with rainbow sprinkles and candy eyes. Alas, times change as does ownership. No need to fret, Rob and Deb opened a new spot and its closer! OMG Frozen Dreams is just like Martha’s. Hooray for summers and soft serve ice cream in Glens Falls, NY.
Chef Oscar Cabezas — Executive Chef, Teleferic Barcelona
Restaurante Arzak, San Sebastian. Arzak’s ice cream has character. They make Basque ice cream with universal will: genuine and original. The ice cream I enjoyed most was roasted piña (pineapple): the tongue fuses itself to the cream, the sweet tanginess awakens the pupils and deafens the ears just slightly. It is a pomade of crystals, the perfect mixture between a creme brule and the most frozen acidic bite of the North Pole. It embodies aromas of the grill.
Chef Garrett Pittler — Executive Chef, City Winery Nashville
The best ice cream, hands down, is and will always be a Cookie Dough Blizzard, with extra cookie dough, from Dairy Queen because I’m literally a glutton for punishment (did I mentioned that I’m also lactose intolerant?). Forget any fancy, expensive soft serve places — Dairy Queen was one of the original spots serving soft serve ice cream, and they’ve always done it right in my mind. My mom also used to work at a Dairy Queen in the ‘60s and so she would make us Dilly Bars and parfaits at home when we were kids, so I have this particular affection for Dairy Queen.
Chef Jon Melendez — Owner and Chef, CIVIC and Mar
Currently addicted to Scoops. I’m pretty simple when it comes to desserts, all I need is chocolate chip cookies and ice cream, and Scoops does the ice cream right. Their ice cream is always very light and fresh, and they are very creative with their flavors.
Chef Andrew Gruel — Multiple Concepts at TRADE
McConnell’s Ice Cream is by far the best ice cream in the land. It is creamy, rich, velvety, and dense with dairy. This is the type of ice cream you wake up at 3 a.m. to eat. Always have a tub on hand. They have both storefront operations and are available retail, so my addiction can always be fed. Chocolate covered strawberries and dark chocolate are a must.
Chef David Smith — Executive Chef, Second Floor Regionally Inspired Kitchen
The best ice cream I ever had was at Ray’s Ice Cream in Royal Oak, Michigan. The place has been there forever and has a sense of nostalgia thanks to the old-school ice cream parlor feel. What do I get? Don’t try to get fancy, go for the chocolate double scoop. You seriously can’t go wrong.
Chef Isaac Miller — Chef and Partner, Maven
I grew up in Oakland, California. For a special treat we would visit Loard’s Ice Cream and get a bowl of mocha chip. As a kid, I’d eat all the ice cream and save all the chocolate chips to eat at the end. As an adult, I still get excited when I see the Loard’s logo at an ice cream parlor and can’t say no to a bowl of mocha chip ice cream.
Chef Lorena Garcia — Featured Chef, CHICA at The Venetian Las Vegas
I have to go hometown favorite here. The Frieze Ice Cream Factory is such a great ice cream place on Lincoln Road, local to Miami Beach, and they make their ice creams daily from all natural ingredients. Apparently, they have been in business for twenty-five years, although I have not been going for that long. Some of my favorite flavors are the super decadent dulce de leche, and when I am feeling a like something lighter, the passion fruit sorbet. They are certified kosher (old-school Miami Beach) and have lots of non-dairy choices too.
Chef Matt Fresinski — Corporate Chef, V&E Restaurant Group
Best ice cream was something one of my chefs and I concocted on a slow Sunday night. We put together an Irish car bomb ice cream. Creamy, smooth and slightly bitter Guinness ice cream with Jameson and Baileys swirled in. I honestly don’t believe I have had anything better.