15 Best Frozen Custard Brands, Ranked

Frozen custard is ice cream's creamier, denser cousin. It's a true summertime treat, and like ice cream, you'll get the tasty trifecta of rich cream, sugar, and milk in every bite. What makes frozen custard different from ice cream are egg yolks. Egg yolks lend a silky, robust texture to the mix, making it slightly heavier and more luscious than ice cream. Although you can make sundaes, floats, and shakes from both, frozen custard purists will tell you that the eggy treat is light years ahead of ice cream.

Although frozen custard was originally a Midwestern thing (via Matador), it's picked up steam in other parts of the country. New York City-born Shake Shack has made waves all over the country (and even internationally!) with its inspired spins on custard. Similarly, mom-and-pop shops are stepping up their games and shipping frozen custards nationwide. So if you're craving ice cream but want to level up the experience, these 15 frozen custard brands and shops have you covered.

15. Ted Drewes

While sugar is typically custard's sweetener of choice, honey is what gives Ted Drewes' frozen custard its heft while adding a bright but nuanced burst of sweetness. It also lends Ted Drewes' signature concretes a great, gooey texture. Interestingly, the choice to use the amber-colored natural sweetener was partially due to sugar rationing during World War II (via KSDK). 

Most of the concretes start with a creamy, honey-scented vanilla custard base. Ted Drewes lines the base with nuts, syrups, swirls, and toppings, making delicious offerings like the Dutchman (with butterscotch, chocolate, and pecans) or the Cardinal Sin (a rich cherry-accented concrete with plenty of hot fudge to tie it all together). You can also opt for cookie sandwiches oozing with their classic custard. Although you won't get a bad bite at Ted Drewes, you have a limited number of base custard flavors to choose from. Plus, you'll have to drive to St. Louis to get a cup — this regional staple doesn't sell them outside of its few locations.

14. Anderson's Frozen Custard

Bronx-born (but Buffalo, New York-bred) Anderson's Frozen Custard serves up two hometown favorites: dense, rich custard and a classic beef on weck. According to its website, Anderson's Frozen Custard opened up its first shop in the Bronx in 1946, then rapidly moved to Buffalo the following year opening several locations within Queen City. It's a family-run business and a local summertime favorite, with locals devouring huge bowls of vanilla, chocolate, and specialty frozen custards, along with sundaes and shakes.

The Buffalo News calls Anderson's Frozen Custard the "OG of ice cream places," with several brick-and-mortar locations, a food truck, local delivery options, and even nationwide shipping through Goldbelly. Although it is accessible to people across the country, undeniably delicious, and a staunch Buffalo tradition, Anderson's Frozen Custard lacks some of the more creative flavors that other shops on our list have. As a result, it's made a good showing on our list but isn't a top choice.

13. Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers is an international oasis of comfort-food classics like huge meaty burgers and luscious custard with toppings swirled into its dense chocolate or vanilla base. Rapidly expanding throughout the U.S. (via Biz Journals) and abroad, Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers seems committed to covering the entire world in its glorious version of delectable custard and "concretes" (frozen custard with toppings mixed in).

Although their custard is undeniably good, they lose a few points for being slightly too pedestrian with their offerings — there are only two custard flavors to choose from. Although you can customize your custard, top it with ribbons of fudge or caramel, and crown it with candy, the flavor bases remain the same. This puts Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers' menu behind some of the other frozen concoctions on our list. However, if you're looking for a quick frozen fix, there's probably a Freddy's near you.

12. The Meadows Frozen Custard

The Meadows Original Frozen Custard locations are peppered throughout West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, and offer super thick shakes, ice cream, and chocolate and vanilla frozen custard. This iconic chain, which dates back to 1950, quickly drew in crowds. It prides itself on staying true to the founding recipe, which might be why the flavor of its frozen custard is so tasty, rich, and decadently dense.  

According to Hagerstown Magazine, The Meadows Original Frozen Custard has a unique method for brewing a batch of summer's finest. They use a specific barrel that churns and freezes the cream to minimize any air bubbles and ice crystals. The result is a velvety treat that the team at The Meadows Original Frozen Custard serves up within a scant few hours of making it. The bitter downside? If you're not near one of their locations, you're out of luck. They don't distribute nationally.

11. Gilles Frozen Custard

According to Milwaukee Magazine, Gilles Frozen Custard is a prominent part of the city's frozen custard empire, holding court with other local giants like Kopp's and Leon's. With such stiff competition, Gilles Frozen Custard holds its own — and it certainly doesn't disappoint. The shop serves up heaping bowls of sweet, creamy custard along with robust burgers, hot dogs, and sides. According to its website, Gilles Frozen Custard has satisfied Milwaukee's sweet tooth for nearly a century.

In addition to your standard scoops, you can get "basic" sundaes (think: DIY concoctions) and "fancy" ones (pre-selected mixes), as well as floats and shakes. Gilles does frozen custard right by offering standard flavors along with a host of daily specials featuring innovative flavors like KitKat, mint chocolate chip, and butter pecan. The only truly sour note is that you won't find Gilles' frozen custard sold nationwide. Unless you're in the great state of Wisconsin, it's pretty hard to come by.

10. Shakes Frozen Custard

Headquartered in Arkansas, Shakes Frozen Custard prides itself on speedy, friendly service and impeccable high-quality standards for its splits, concretes, floats, and classic sundaes. Like most top-notch custards, the singular key to Shakes Frozen Custards' success lies in the ingredients. According to its website, Shakes Frozen Custard crafts its treats using "many of the original old-fashion processes."

Its add-in and mixers are off the charts, with some concretes featuring actual swirls of cake batter. They also have "The Pink Poodle," a sweet, summery sundae featuring premium custard, strawberries, and bananas. The only bummer is the accessibility — although Shakes Frozen Custard is now in nine states (via website), you probably won't be able to pick up a pint at your local store. This puts Shakes Frozen Custard lower on the list, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't stop in for one of its dense concretes, classic splits, or cleverly-named sundaes if you find yourself in one of the states it serves.

9. Kreamium Frozen Custard

While Kreamium Frozen Custard has been going strong for a quarter of a century, it only recently began offering shipping all across the United States (via Kreamium Frozen Custard). That's great news for frozen custard fans who don't hail from Leland, North Carolina. However, if you'd prefer to see where the magic is made in person, you can do so. According to WWAY3, curious custard connoisseurs can stop into Kreamium Frozen Custard for a pint or four.

Kreamium Frozen Custard prides itself on using high-quality, globally sourced ingredients, but what really puts this company in a league of its own are the flavors. Instead of vanilla, you can get a packed pint of Madagascar vanilla custard with a rich, buttery, musky undertone that perfectly offsets the sweet custard base. It also offers salted caramel cashew, a fun riff on the sweet-and-salty combo with plenty of crunchy nuts distributed through the pint.

8. Kopp's Frozen Custard

Kopp's is one of Milwaukee's big three custard giants (via Milwaukee Magazine), and its reputation for excellence and down-home custardy deliciousness is well deserved. The matriarch of the Kopp's empire, Elsa Kopp, founded the business nearly 75 years ago, starting with standard flavors and quickly expanding to more whimsical and daring custard concoctions. Although its primary flavors are on point, some of its newer flavors — like Swiss chocolate and maple — are downright heavenly.

One of the most intriguing aspects of this creative creamery is its "My Flavor Alerts" page, where you can plug in your favorite flavors and get notifications when they're in stock. Simply make a free account, pop in your email address, and Kopp's will send you a heads up that the flavor is available either the day before or the day of. It's a fantastic option for custard lovers who want to stay on top of Kopp's luxe line of dreamy flavors.

7. Andy's Frozen Custard

Travel anywhere in the southern part of the United States and you're bound to come across Andy's Frozen Custard. This chain famously scoops up towering cups of everyone's favorite summertime treat. According to Feast Magazine, it started as a hot weather icon in the Ozarks and has expanded to multiple locations in several neighboring states. If you check out Andy's Frozen Custard's website, you'll see that they put a premium on fresh ingredients, all of which pump up the flavor of its classic vanilla custard.

One thing that genuinely takes Andy's Frozen Custard from ordinary to exceptional is its soft spot for seasonal summer fruits. With regular promotions like the "Battle of the Berries," Andy's Frozen Custard gives you a welcome break from heavier mix-ins in favor of delicate seasonal offerings. Of course, sugar lovers can still get their fix of decadence too. And since Andy's Frozen Custard is open year-round, you can ring in the holidays with a creamy peppermint-chocolate custard shake.

6. Double Rainbow Ice Cream

With locations in Alaska, California, and Hawaii, Double Rainbow is a sweet little boutique custard and ice cream shop with a fun retro logo and tons of great flavors to snack on. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, this groovy shop first opened its doors in 1976 and has been scooping up joy ever since. You'll find plenty of classic ice cream flavors at Double Rainbow, and now you can also dig into its lineup of frozen custards.

Double Rainbow features a handful of flavors of frozen custard, which may be one of its downfalls. While the flavors are good, there's simply not enough of them to put Double Rainbow in the premium spot. The custard base, though, is creamy, sweet, and has just the slightest pinch of salt to brighten things up. An added bonus? You can get your sea salt caramel, vanilla custard with strawberry lemon, or chocolate-and-vanilla malt pints delivered to you anywhere in the country.

5. Tillamook

Tillamook hits some sky-high marks because it's a behemoth business with artisan-style frozen custard. According to Dairy Foods, there's simply no skimping on the quality of ingredients. Tillamook's frozen custard is a glorious combination of cage-free eggs, plenty of pure velvety cream, and no artificial ingredients. The result is decadence in a pint — creamy and smooth frozen custard that comes in fun flavors like chocolate fudgy brownie, sea salt and honeycomb toffee, and bing cherry cheesecake.

Better still, you can snag a pint of Tillamook's frozen custard just about anywhere. Although the company is based in Oregon, its reach is nationwide. So tame your custard craving quickly by checking out Tillamook's store locator and picking up a pint of the good stuff to enjoy at home. The accessibility, attention to detail, and inventive flavor combinations make Tillamook's frozen custard some of the best in the country — and possibly even the planet.

4. Abbott's Frozen Custard

With locations up and down the eastern part of the United States, Abbott's Custard is a true regional favorite. Plus, since it ships plenty of its products domestically and internationally, you can get your cool custard fix anywhere from Boston to Bangkok. One thing that elevates Abbott's Custard above the competition is that you can choose from a premade list of yummy custards or make your own. You won't run out of creative options with base flavors like vanilla, chocolate almond, chocolate, and regular daily specials.

According to Boston.com, Abbott's Custard originated in the Great Lakes city of Rochester, N.Y., and is a delicious fusion of buttermilk, eggs, and fresh cream. This frozen favorite wins points for a few reasons; it's easy to get no matter what part of the globe you find yourself in, you can customize your custard, and the basic recipe is simply solid.

3. Hank's Frozen Custard

Unlike some shops where frozen custard plays a sidekick to ever-popular ice cream, Hank's Frozen Custard puts the focus where it ought to be — it's even in the name itself. This Pennsylvania-based creamery offers a regular rotation of delicious custard flavors, from the fruit-forward black raspberry to decadent peanut butter. There are also plenty of other perennial flavors on deck, like cookies and cream, peppermint patty, and butter pecan. This diversion from more-familiar and traditional flavors — like vanilla and chocolate — makes Hank's Frozen Custard one of the top spots in the country.

If you're a custard purist, good news: you can get your chocolate or vanilla fix anytime because Hank's Frozen Custard makes these popular flavors fresh daily. According to Local Flavor, Hank's Frozen Custard has been serving up this creamy, classic dessert for nearly 75 years, and there's no reason to think that they will be stopping anytime soon.

2. Shake Shack

New York's Shake Shack has certainly captured America's imagination and is even scheduled to open international branches in places like Malaysia. But what exactly makes this custard colossus so intriguing and irresistible? In short, Shake Shack fuses premium vanilla custard with off-the-wall ingredients to create whimsical concoctions that somehow work. For example, take "The Wake & Shake" made with custard, coffee, orange, maple syrup, and crushed candies (via The Coast News). It's a wacky combination that cleverly taps into a breakfast vibe and has a textural interest. That's the beauty of Shake Shack.

Of course, you can still get traditional favorites like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry-flavored custard shakes at the Shack, along with more sophisticated offerings like coffee and salted caramel. But ultimately, Shake Shack's formula works because it's not afraid to color outside the lines while providing solid standard fare (hello burgers!) and a tasty frozen custard base.

1. Culvers

Culver's custard gets its creamy and authentic kick from local Wisconsin farms. Although it's a nationally-renowned company with locations across the United States, this small-batch process yields a profoundly nuanced, traditional custard taste that puts it squarely in the top spot of our rundown. Additionally, Culver's rolls out inventive flavors daily (like Oreo cheesecake and toffee pecan), so you can sink your spoon into the originals or try something fresh and new.

Culver's custard is also not as cold as ice cream, and the slightly warmer temperature allows you to appreciate the various flavors in each scoop. Although conventional vanilla and chocolate are delicious, Culver's shows its confectionary chops with inspired flavor combos like a strawberry chocolate parfait and fresh Georgia peach. You can check out its calendar of concoctions to learn what's on deck next. Inventive, accessible to everyone, and made with love and fine ingredients. What's not to love about Culver's?