Flavor of Love
With so many excellent artisan ice cream shops opening across the country over the last few years, every day seems to bring with it a new and exciting flavor, be it wildberry lavendar from one of our all-time favorites, Jeni's, or maple bacon from a family-run dairy farm in Connecticut.
As self-declared ice cream freaks here at Tasting Table, we have no complaints about the variety. No, instead, we've taken it upon ourselves to seek out the very best flavors this summer has to offer, so that you, and we, can make the most of ice cream season this year.
Searching the country far and wide to find the most original and crave-worthy scoops wasn't easy, but someone had to do it, right? Here are 23 of our favorite ice cream flavors in the U.S.
Peaches 'n Honey: Churn
If one major city in America needs a dependable ice cream fix, it's got to be Phoenix, where the average temperature hovers over 100 degrees in the summertime. Thankfully, Churn keeps things interesting with flavors like Vietnamese Coffee and Bailey's Crunch that won't bore its frequent-by-necessity clientele. Our top choice, though, is Peaches 'n Honey, a perfect mix of refreshing and indulgent.
Cookie Monster Milky Bun: Afters Ice Cream
Costa Mesa, California
Take your childhood-favorite cookies and cream, add chocolate chip cookie chunks, and then dye it all vibrantly blue until Muppet approved, and you end up with one of this California chain's most popular flavors. And since modesty at this point has gone out the window, opt for it in the form of a milky bun, where the ice cream is stuffed inside a homemade brioche-like doughnut before being flashed in a sandwich press until the outside is just warm enough to necessitate extra napkins.
Biscuits & Jam: Sweet Action Ice Cream
For a scoop of ultimate comfort food, Biscuits & Jam is where it's at. The lovely burst of sweetness from the jam will satisfy your sweet tooth, while actual pieces of biscuits in the ice cream lend an addictive texture. This nostalgic ice cream will make you feel like it's Sunday morning any time of day.
Maple Bacon: Rich Farm Ice Cream Shop
Located on a family-run dairy farm, the Rich Farm Ice Cream Shop is home to an extensive list of specialty flavors, all made fresh on-site. Though favorites include salted caramel espresso and sweet red wine, nothing can quite compete with the sweet-and-salty combo of the maple bacon. It's a flavor pairing that might just give you an excuse to eat ice cream for breakfast.
Abuela Maria: Azucar Ice Cream Company
You don't have to go all the way to Havana to get a taste of Cuba. In Miami's Little Havana, Azucar Ice Cream Company is scooping a true Cuban classic with its Abuela Maria flavor. Vanilla ice cream is swirled with cream cheese, chunks of red guava and crushed Maria cookies for a super-creamy ice cream with perfect texture, thanks to the mix-ins.
Tutu's Anniversary: Lappert's Ice Cream
If you need to find a way to permanently move to Hawaii, do what Walter Lappert did: Open an island-inspired ice cream shop. Reserve the top of your oversize waffle cone for a scoop of Tutu's Anniversary, where bright ribbons of passion fruit and raspberry sorbets are folded into coconut ice cream. And if you're not a local island hopper, luckily, Lappert's ships its premium pints to the western half of the U.S. (If you live east of the Rockies, looks like you're just going to have to book a trip to Kauai. We know, poor you.)
Rainbow Cone: The Original Rainbow Cone
The rainbow cone has been a Chicago staple since 1926. Though technically it isn't a single flavor, this colorful combination of five different frozen treats is worthy of any "best ice cream" list. It consists of chocolate, strawberry, pistachio and Palmer House (New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts) ice creams topped with orange sherbet, all stuffed into a sugar cone. It's the ideal treat for when you can't pick just one flavor, because let's face it: When it comes to ice cream, more is more.
White Chocolate Truffle Popcorn: The Creole Creamery
New Orleans, Louisiana
While the flavors are constantly changing at this NOLA favorite—think options like chocolate amaretto cheesecake and something called A Chockwork Orange—it doesn't get much better than the white chocolate truffle popcorn. With the intense sweetness of white chocolate, salty crunch from the popcorn and aromatic savory notes from the truffle, we'll take at least three scoops. Luckily, the creamery also offers the Tchoupitoulas sundae, made with eight scoops, eight toppings and the works.
Sweet Avocado Cayenne: Rococo Hand-Crafted Ice Cream
Calling all avocado lovers! The flavor from Rococo Hand-Crafted Ice Cream was inspired by an avocado milkshake the ice cream maker had during a trip to Brazil. Made with fresh avocados and local wildflower honey to balance out the heat of the cayenne, it's super creamy with just a hint of spice. And if avocado ice cream isn't your thing, try the goat cheese blackberry Chambord or the strawberry habanero.
Cinnamon Hot Tamale: Gracie's Ice Cream
Looking for a scoop that will fire up your taste buds? Head to Gracie's, where they're not afraid to combine bold flavors. Take this Cinnamon Hot Tamale, which starts with a base of cinnamon ice cream, then gets chopped-up Hot Tamales (those spicy cinnamon candies from your childhood) folded in.
Almond Joy: Stucchi's
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Stucchi's has been an Ann Arbor classic since 1986, and with such a lengthy list of ice cream and frozen yogurt flavors, it's easy to see why. We're partial to the Almond Joy, which, with big chocolate chunks and coconut flakes, is worth the inevitable line out the door.
Irish Moxie: Izzy's Ice Cream
Slipping a little booze into your ice cream is never a bad idea, especially when that booze is Jameson Irish whiskey and that ice cream is also mixed with Oreo cookie chunks and Heath bar candy pieces. It's no wonder this flavor is a major favorite in the Twin Cities.
Goat Cheese and Fig: Glacé Artisan Ice Cream
Kansas City, Missouri
The small-batch, artisanal flavors at this shop, helmed by celebrated chocolatier Christopher Elbow, range from honey lavender to spiced carrot. In our book, though, nothing beats the goat cheese and fig, which is a perfect balance of tangy and sweet, and very on trend right now.
Turkish Pistachio: Marash Turkish Ice Cream
Las Vegas, Nevada
In an endless sea of tourist-trap ice cream parlors, Marash differentiates itself by offering seldom seen Turkish-style ice cream. An addictively chewy texture (think, semi-frozen marshmallows) and the use of salep, a flour made from orchid roots, also means this custardy, frozen delicacy is actually resistant to melting in the scorching desert heat. The shop's Turkish pistachio, while deceptively ordinary looking, is so intensely nutty that it will convert even the staunchest ice cream fans who think they know the flavor.
Scotty Lago's Bronze Run: Lago's Homemade Ice Cream
Rye, New Hampshire
It's hard to go wrong at this ice cream stand, a family-owned favorite and winner of NH Magazine's Best Ice Cream award. But the flavor that always takes the gold for us is the one named after Olympic snowboarder Scotty Lago. It's caramel ice cream churned with toasted coconut, chocolate, pecans, graham crackers—and victory.
Sweating Through Your Caramel Sombrero: The Bent Spoon
Princeton, New Jersey
Fans of boozy ice cream, look no further. Troon Brewing and Conclave Brewing teamed up with The Bent Spoon to create this special flavor, which combines cinnamon and goat's-milk caramel with a coffee base, and also includes a new Imperial Milk Porter. The name says it all.
Banana Leaf Candy Ginger: La Lecheria
Santa Fe, New Mexico
When you need to wash down all those green chiles, head to this little shop where chef Joel Coleman of Santa Fe restaurant Fire & Hops specializes in stabilizer- and preservative-free exotic flavors, like miso brown sugar. This season, look out for the banana leaf candy ginger, which combines some of our favorite Asian flavors into a perfectly balanced scoop.
Snap, Mallow, Pop: Ample Hills Creamery
Brooklyn, New York
Locals line up at the perennial favorite shop, and you can bet many are there for the marshmallow ice cream—or, even more so, for the buttery clusters of cereal treats within. It's like cereal milk ice cream turned up to 11, with a texture unlike any other ice cream we've ever had, and is a personal favorite of multiple TT editors. Bonus: This one's available to ship nationwide.
Wildberry Lavender: Jeni's Ice Creams
For anyone who loves floral flavors, this is simply the best thing you will ever put in your mouth. Tart berries combine with fragrant lavender for a vibrant purple ice cream that truly tastes like summer. Even if you typically steer clear of flower-flavored desserts, Jeni's will convert you with just one scoop.
Breakside Brewery's Spent Grains & Bacon S'mores: Salt & Straw
Salt & Straw continues to win hearts with its well-meaning motives and top-notch execution—the latest of which is essentially inception in ice cream form. It toasts grain waste from the Portland brewery for the base, and then turns bacon cured from local pigs—which are fed with goods from a gleaned food redistributor—into a bacon marshmallow fluff swirl. These geniuses are cutting down on food waste and producing some of the finest ice cream around, all at once.
Bayside Bait: Half Pint Creamery
If you love Shark Week as much as the next guy (admit it), then you're in for a treat with this limited-edition flavor from Half Pint Creamery. Bayside Bait infuses vanilla ice cream with Old Bay seasoning and layers of gooey caramel into a scoop that will keep you coming back for more all week long.
Vegan Scout Mint: Molly Moon's
Seattle is no stranger to great artisanal ice cream, and Molly Moon's boasts some of the longest lines in town, for good reason. This year, the beloved Scout Mint, which incorporates real Thin Mints and Washington-grown peppermint, comes in a vegan flavor made with coconut milk. As fans of good vegan ice cream, we're really into this new version.
Hair Bender Espresso Gelato: Dolcezza Gelato
Yes, it's technically not ice cream, but we have to make an exception for this one, because it's that good. Based in D.C., Dolcezza Gelato is known for focusing on quality ingredients and local produce. With a coffee lab powered by Brooklyn's Stumptown Coffee Roasters in its factory, Dolcezza's able to produce a coffee gelato unlike anything you've ever tried. Made with freshly pulled shots of espresso every morning, the scoop has subtle tones of cherry, toffee and fudge.
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