Boston's Best Ice Cream Shops

By Eric Twardzik

Whether it’s hot and humid or peak blizzard, Bostonians always make room for ice cream. Score a scoop from any of these local creameries and you’ll understand why. This cool treat offers countless spins on local flavor, from the New England dairy that's often the base to mix-ins made on Cambridge's Confectioner's Row. Next time you want to chill with a cup or cone, check out the best ice cream in Boston.

Ice cream from Christina's Homemade Ice Cream one of Boston's Best Ice Cream Shops

First opened in 1983, Inman Square staple Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream serves up an almost intimidating range of homemade flavors. More than 50 varieties are offered daily, 36 of which are always available, with dozens more appearing seasonally or occasionally. The possibilities may seem endless, but we’ll go with Burnt Sugar, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, or Carrot Cake in a pinch. A huge selection of sorbet ensures that dairy-free dessert seekers won’t leave hungry.

Gracies ice cream one of Boston's Best Ice Cream Shops

This Camberville company just can’t stop inventing. At Gracie’s in Union Square and sister-cocktail bar Ernest Drinks in Kendall Square, the past-and-present repertoire of flavors spans everything from Apple Jax to Salty Whiskey. At any given time you’ll find novelties and a dozen frozen flavors on offer (including one that’s dairy-free). The innovative spirit doesn’t stop at ice cream: Gracie’s recognizes the sweet heritage of the area. See: a flavor inspired by Cambridge-made Junior Mints; and cones dipped in marshmallow Fluff, which was invented in Somerville. We also just love that you can order up a pair of “Ice Cream Weather” sweatpants.

Vegan ice cream cookie sandwiches from FoMu one of Boston's Best Ice Cream Shops

Boston’s premier supplier of non-dairy ice cream, FoMu is a plant-based treat made with coconut instead of cow’s milk. Flavors like Bourbon Maple Walnut, Avocado, and Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake earn the appreciation of vegans everywhere—and even staunch ice cream traditionalists. FoMu’s brick-and-mortar locations in the South End, Fenway, JP also serve locally roasted George Howell Coffee; while the “earth inspired” desserts also pop up at temporary locations and other restaurants across the city.

Toscanini's Ice Cream

This independent ice cream shop out of Cambridge has existed since 1981 and has earned accolades from The New York Times, Boston magazine, and Bon Appétit (and us, of course!). At two locations—east of Kendall Square, and its renovated original outpost in Central Square—Toscanini’s continues to sling ever-changing unique homemade flavors like Peanut Butter Miso, Butter Almond, and B3 (brown sugar, brown butter, and brownies). Anyone looking for the full after-dinner experience can perk up with Barismo espresso, loose-leaf teas, lattes, and—naturally—an affogato.

Honeycomb Creamery one of Boston's Best Ice Cream Shops

Cambridge’s Honeycomb Creamery takes scratch-made to the next level. Ice cream flavors are thoughtfully composed from local, in-season ingredients whenever possible and span classic, seasonal, and vegan offerings, such as Cold Brew Coffee Chip, Salted Caramel Crackle, and vegan Horchata. Mini ice cream cakes are sold in-house at the shop just outside of Porter Square, while full-sized iterations can be ordered in advance. Bonus: Visit on a Taco Tuesday to try this creative confectionary’s ever-evolving version of a Choco Taco.

The quintessential complement to the deliciously charry pizza at Picco is the slate of homemade ice cream available for dessert. This South End staple—the Pizza and Ice Cream Company—makes every pizza night a party with a dozen or so rotating flavors like Peanut Butter Chip, Chocolate Malt, and Caramel Swirl, as well as sorbets like Blood Orange Raspberry. Fixings like chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and sugar cones are also on hand—if you have room after a few slices of pizza perfection.

OddFellows Ice Cream Co.

Photo credit: Alejandro Ramos

Brooklyn-based, family-owned ice cream company OddFellows—which has a location in Chestnut Hill—specializes in unique flavors like Olive Oil, Miso Cherry, and Irish Coffee. Non-dairy offerings are no less enticing; think Vegan Coconut Caramel Chip and Yuzu Ginger Sorbet. Swing by for a cup or cone plus pints to go, or order from a third-party app to get the goods delivered. OddFellows also ships nationwide. To further sweeten the deal, add a bottle of wine or cans of local craft beer to your in-person order from their tightly curated selection of booze.

person holding ice cream from New City Microcreamery one of Boston's Best Ice Cream Shops
Photo Credit: New City Microcreamery

This local creamery flash-freezes its next-gen ice cream using liquid nitrogen, which ensures a light, airy texture and mouthfeel. At the Central Square scoop shop, available flavors include Vanilla Bourbon, Salted Cookies + Cream, and PB Banana Fluff, plus non-dairy options such as Vegan Chocolate Avocado and Key Lime Sorbet. New City Microcreamery, which was founded in Hudson and also has a brand-new location in Sudbury, might be moving Boston’s ice cream scene forward with its cool techniques and flavors—but it all starts the simple way, with farm-fresh dairy from Mapleline Farm in Hadley.

Tipping Cow

The dessert-driven flavors of Tipping Cow Ice Cream are 100% nut-free, so ice cream lovers with allergies need not worry. Still there’s no limit to the creativity of these confections: From Cannoli and Peach Cobbler to Matcha and Fig & Goat Cheese, the Somerville shop has offered more than 100 intriguing options since debuting five years ago. Led by a husband-and-wife duo with gourmet backgrounds, Tipping Cow is seriously good ice cream that is pure fun.

Updated by Jacqueline Cain

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