Summer is… different this year. But at least one thing is the same: ice cream is still delicious. And while places aren’t giving out free samples anymore, that just means you can get it faster, and you won’t be annoying everyone with your fifth taste of salty caramel. Ice cream makes everything feel better, even a global pandemic. You can probably use some right now, and these are the 15 best places to get it.
Usually, we like to think we’re cooler than Portland (because we are), but they did a valiant thing by bringing us Salt & Straw. This is the best ice cream in Seattle. Whether you’re keeping it simple with the chocolate gooey brownie flavor, or going completely off the rails with chevre marionberry habanero, everything here is something you want to eat. There’s one location in Capitol Hill and one in Ballard, and the lines at both are always ridiculous but worth it.
If Salt & Straw didn’t exist, Frankie & Jo’s would serve the best ice cream in Seattle. This 100% vegan and gluten-free shop is proof that great frozen desserts don’t need dairy. Every flavor here delivers, from the fermented “creme fraiche” with a berry swirl and cubes of lemon cake to salty chocolate tahini cookie dough. There are even some that contain ingredients you’d find on a camping trip, like pine needles and charcoal. Get it all scooped on a homemade maple oat waffle cone, and don’t be surprised if you go on to choose this place over others that use actual milk and cream. We do all the time.
Husky Deli has been a West Seattle staple for more than 80 years, and with good reason. Their ice cream is perfectly creamy but also light, and there’s a ton of variety - you can get peppermint, caramel pecan fudge, Kona coffee rum, and blackberry cheesecake (good luck deciding on a flavor). They also have Oreo, chocolate Oreo, mint Oreo, and coffee Oreo flavors. Talk about getting your priorities straight.
If you’re looking for a place to really go all out, Old School Frozen Custard is where you want to be. Their custard - churned fresh all the time - is extremely rich, and available in chocolate, vanilla, and a couple of other rotating options (we like the matcha and mint chip when they’re available). Pick a flavor and then decide between a sundae, concrete, cone, or homemade cookie sandwich. There’s no wrong choice, unless you don’t get hot fudge.
When we eat ice cream at Parfait, we feel really good inside. It probably has something to do with the fact that everything’s homemade, down to the Oreo-style cookies in the coffee-steeped flavor, peanut butter cups in the dark chocolate, or the herbs they grow themselves for the spearmint stracciatella. But if you can only get one flavor here, it has to be the one that’s sweetened only with local honey. It’s like taking a big bite out of a honeycomb without the risk of getting stung by a bee.
Operating out of The Stone House Cafe in Rainier Valley, Laina’s is our newest favorite ice cream spot, and not just because they have a bunch of outdoor seating where you can stare out longingly at Lake Washington. More importantly, their small-batch ice cream is just straight-up delicious - especially the dairy-free ube (made with coconut milk) that’s got a super creamy consistency. We’ve also combined scoops of their peanut butter and mixed berry, which ends up tasting like a frozen PB&J. No white bread of course.
We all know how your relationship with Molly Moon’s goes. You stroll past and catch the scent of hot waffle cones wafting across the block, something inside of you snaps, and you immediately hang a sharp turn inside and order a triple scoop. Whether or not it was originally your intention to eat some ice cream, we think you made a good decision, because a trip to Molly Moon’s is a Seattle rite of passage. Their flavors focus on local products, like organic Washington peppermint, lavender harvested from the Olympic peninsula, and chocolate spun with melted Theo bars. Look out for seasonal options that usually taste even better than the mainstays - like salted toffee, or vegan cherry chocolate chunk.
Maybe you’re not interested in ice cream made with freshly-picked garden herbs or real fruit scooped into a griddled housemade waffle cone. Sometimes you just need artificial chocolate and vanilla soft serve pumped into a cake cone from a box. For that specific-but-necessary situation, Little Coney is the place. You can count on a reliable, creamy cone of soft serve by the beach. Maybe with sprinkles if you’re feeling wild.
If there were ice cream shops as good as Sweet Alchemy near every college campus, nobody would graduate. This University District spot has flavors like makgeolli, smoked chocolate, and Persian rose, and some even have housemade cakes and cookie doughs mixed in. Our favorite is the “Jitter Bars,” which is overloaded with caramel and homemade espresso shortbread (something we could have used a whole lot more of in college).
Cupcake Royale makes some of the best cupcakes in the city. So logically, when you crumble said cupcakes into custard mix and freeze it, you’re going to get some of the city’s best ice cream, too. Like buttermilk blended with red velvet cake, and a salted caramel ice cream that’s heavy on the salt (in a good way) but also on the dark chocolate cake. Bonus points if you get the aforementioned ice cream scooped on top of an actual cupcake, which is a thing they allow people to do here.
The Cookie Counter earns its spot on our guide not only because the interior looks like a kindergarten classroom for unicorns, but also because of how convincing the vegan ice cream here is in mimicking one made with dairy. Go ahead and smush the (very delicious) mint chip and chocolate scoops in a huge waffle cone, and we’d truly never know the difference. Pair all that with their homemade fudgy brownie if you’re in the mood for a sundae.
This is the best gelato shop in Seattle, and the closest you’ll come to replicating what you ate on your trip to Rome last year. The flavors are all great, from stracciatella to rice - which tastes like the best rice pudding you’ve ever had, but frozen, and without any cinnamon or rum.
Street Treats is a food truck serving homemade ice cream, cookies, and frozen bars. Everything is made from scratch, and it’s highly likely that your ice cream sandwich will involve ridiculously good chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven.
Not many spots in Seattle have soft serve to begin with, and even fewer offer the option to dip their ice cream. Thankfully, we have Hot Cakes - a molten cake bakery with locations in Ballard and Capitol Hill. Trust us, the fudgy lava cakes are great, but you’re really here for the soft serve, dipped in magic shell made from their smoked chocolate chips. It’s kind of campfire-y, not overly-sweet, and gets along really well with the creamy vanilla.
The gelato at D’Ambrosio is so good that you’ll find it in Italian restaurants that don’t feel like making their own. They use local ingredients, like Fremont Brewing Company beer (in the chocolate porter flavor), and the D’Ambrosio space doubles as an espresso bar in case you want an affogato. No matter what, you’ll want a scoop of the biscotti flavor.