There are plenty of GF and DF ice cream options in grocers’ freezers. But what about the summertime tradition of going out for a scoop? K.C. Cornwell melts the summer season’s heat with a roundup of the nation’s top parlors providing special gluten free (and often dairy free) experiences, perhaps even with a cherry on top.
NOTE: The establishments listed here are not all entirely GF or DF, but they have a protocol for guests with allergies. Be sure to let staff know about any dietary concerns before placing your order.
The Scoop: The ice creams and sorbets at this San Joaquin Valley shop are crafted daily from direct-from-the-farmer produce and fresh ingredients.
Get This: Honeycomb ice cream (made with local honey) and Black Pepper Plum sorbet (available only during summer)
City: Los Angeles
The Scoop: Hollywood’s fun and friendly shop serves 100% gluten-free, vegan, coconut milk–based ice cream plus vegan, GF cones and custom GF ice cream cakes.
Get This: Unicorn Magic (pink vanilla ice cream with marshmallows, GF animal crackers, and sprinkles on a house-made GF waffle cone)
Three Twins Ice Cream
Cities: Various Northern California locations
The Scoop: The shops connected to this quirky brand (which has nationwide retail distribution) always offer at least two nondairy options and several gluten-free flavors, served in cups or on GF cones by request.
Get This: Butterscotch pecan ice cream (butter pecan’s more sophisticated sibling); strawberry ice cream made with fresh fruit grown near Three Twins’ California plant and flavor-boosted with a splash of balsamic vinegar
Little Man Ice Cream
The Scoop: House-made traditional and vegan ice creams and sorbets are served from inside a 28-foot-tall cream can.
Get This: Purple Cow (black-raspberry ice cream studded with dark- and white-chocolate chips) on a GF cone, or mango-chili sorbet
City: Lakewood Ranch
The Scoop: Gluten-free, low-sugar soft-serve ice cream; regular ice cream; vegan and paleo-friendly nice cream; and coffee star at this family-owned shop.
Get This: Cold Brew Coffee Float (fair-trade cold-brew coffee and vanilla soft serve with or without caramel sauce)
Cities: Grand Rapids and Rockford
The Scoop: Gluten-free soft serve with two or more vegan flavors daily, locally made ice cream, and handmade GF waffle cones and GF mix-ins are served through a walk-up window at two locations.
Get This: GF/vegan “Twix” Flurry (salted-caramel soft-serve ice cream with crunchy cookies) or any of the 12 dairy-free milkshakes with GF-cookie-dough mix-in
Wally’s Frozen Custard
City: St. Clair Shores
The Scoop: A firehouse-style brick building just North of Detroit puts out summer’s heat with 100% gluten-free frozen custard and the same GF/ DF Dole Whip treats served at Disney resorts. You can also find Wally’s fire truck, outfitted with custard machines, at events.
Get This: Chocolate-covered strawberry custard on a GF cone with Detroit Tigers sprinkles, or a Dole Whip
The Scoop: You’ll find inventive, made-from-scratch, traditional and vegan ice cream flavors and house-made toppings at this downtown, family-owned shop near Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Get This: Salted butter–caramel ice cream or vegan chocolate ice cream on a GF cone with a swirl of coconut whipped cream
Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
City: New York City (Manhattan)
The Scoop: An old-school vibe meets new-school technique at this small-batch ice cream shop, where additional ingredients are “scooped in” upon ordering so flavors and textures are their freshest.
Get This: Salted-chocolate ice cream, bitter dark-chocolate ice cream, or coconut-espresso vegan ice cream served affogato (with a shot of espresso)
City: Cleveland area
The Scoop: At all nine locations, traditional and vegan ice creams are made from the highest-quality ingredients, including products delivered from “farmer friends” around the world.
Get This: Coffee–chocolate chunk (ice cream made from a blend of two kinds of coffee plus dark-chocolate chunks) or vegan salted caramel–pecan (toasted pecan butter and caramelized brown sugar in a coconut-cream base)
Back to Eden Bakery
The Scoop: The baked goods and soft-serve and hard-scooped ice creams at all of this plant-based paradise’s locations are 100% gluten-free and vegan, from kombucha floats to whoopie pies.
Get This: Oregon Trail Sundae (soft-serve ice cream topped with chocolate-creme cookies, white-chocolate chips, and chocolate sauce; we recommend adding house-made fresh berry sauce)
The Scoop: This real-deal burger joint with two locations welcomes all eaters with lots of paleo, vegan, and gluten-free options. It serves 100% gluten-free, from-scratch desserts and traditional and vegan ice cream.
Get This: Paleo Parfait (maple-cashew-crème ice cream with cocoa-almond cookie crumbles and raspberry compote) or a thick, vegan chocolate shake
Little Baby’s Ice Cream
The Scoop: With two locations and a fleet of ice cream tricycles circulating around downtown Philly, there’s plenty of opportunity to try these wildly delicious traditional and vegan ice creams.
Get This: Chipotle chocolate (sweet, spicy, and slightly smoky ice cream with vegan and dairy versions)
Spun Ice Cream
The Scoop: Liquid nitrogen is used to make spun-to-order traditional and nondairy ice creams blended with mixins like brown-butter powder and edible glitter sprinkles; the delicacies are served at three locations.
Get This: Dark chocolate ice cream with a vegan salted chocolate shell and fresh berry-blend sauce
Sweet Ritual Ice Cream
The Scoop: The creative flavors made with local ingredients at this 100% vegan ice cream shop are so revered that would-be vegan-treat sellers fly to attend Cool School, which is taught by founders Valerie and Amelia.
Get This: Cookies & Creme (vanilla ice cream with GF chocolate cookies from local GF bakery Pie Jacked) or a fully loaded banana split with housemade sauces
Frankie & Jo’s
The Scoop: Both locations feature seasonal ice creams and sorbets and waffle cones that are house-made, plant-based, and gluten-free.
Get This: Date shake (ice cream made with dates, vanilla, cocoa butter, and coconut milk) or gingered golden milk (turmeric-coconut ice cream with spices and crystallized ginger)