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.

Ice cream from Christina's Homemade Ice Cream

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.

Interior of Gracie's Ice Cream

This Camberville company just can’t stop inventing. At Gracie’s in Union Square, Somerville, and sister shop Ernest Drinks in Cambridge’s Kendall Square, the past-and-present repertoire of flavors spans everything from Apple Jax to Salty Whiskey. At any given time you’ll find 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 Union Square with Fluff cones, which can be rimmed with bacon bits, fruity pebbles, and more—and you can also order up a pair of “Ice Cream Weather” sweatpants.

Vegan ice cream cookie sandwiches from FoMu

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 four brick-and-mortar locations across town also serve locally roasted George Howell Coffee.

Toscanini's Ice Cream

This independent ice cream shop comes with a serious pedigree: Toscanini’s has existed since 1981 and has been praised by The New York Times, Boston magazine, and Bon Appétit. At its spot east of Kendall Square (the original Central Square outpost remains closed), Tosci’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.

Cambridge’s Honeycomb Creamery takes scratch-made to the next level. Flavors are thoughtfully composed from local, in-season ingredients whenever possible and divided between classic, seasonal, and vegan offerings, like Cold Brew Coffee Chip, Salted Caramel Crackle, and vegan Horchata. Mini ice cream cakes are sold in-house while full-sized iterations can be commissioned. Bonus: Visit on a Taco Tuesday to try their ever-evolving version of a Choco Taco.

The quintessential complement to Picco’s deliciously charry pizza is the slate of homemade ice cream available for dessert. Select from a list of 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 pie.

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. To further sweeten the deal, add a bottle of wine or sake from their tightly curated selection of booze to your order.

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. With its cool techniques and flavors, New City Microcreamery might be moving Boston’s ice cream scene forward, but it all starts the simple way, with farm-fresh dairy from Mapleline Farm in Hadley.

Tipping Cow

The creative, 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, there are plenty of intriguing options at the Somerville scoop shop. In summer 2021, Tipping Cow is also opening a second location in Brighton at the Charles River Speedway marketplace.

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