Best ice cream in LA: Cool off with LA's best frozen treats

When LA gets hot, reach for local remedies: an ocean breeze, shady trees and, of course, the best ice cream in LA

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Mother Moo Creamery

Endless summers in Los Angeles mean non-stop cravings for the best ice cream in LA. Not key lime pie, not jelly donuts—ice cream. When temperatures climb and the Santa Ana winds roll in, treat yourself to the city's tastiest frozen treats—and there are a lot of options to choose from after a hike or even a sweaty yoga class. After all, what's the point of a great workout sesh if you don't indulge?

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Salt & Straw

Critics' pick

Transplanted from the hipster-foodie capital of the west (Portland, of course), Larchmont's craft creamery Salt & Straw puts an artisanal churn on the standard scoop. Their extensive menu boasts flavors both sinful and curious including Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, Freckled Woodblock Chocolate, Avocado Strawberry Sherbert and Santa Ynez Valley Walnut Oil—many of which feature ingredients exclusive to Southern California, reflecting the company's "farm-to-cone" philosophy. The best part? You don't have to choose just one. For $10, guests can opt for an ice cream flight including your choice of four flavors from both classic and seasonal menus. The pristine globules are served in healthy scoops across four individual glass bowls, presented on a (undoubtedly reclaimed) wood tray. Can't decide which to pick? Salt & Straw's staffers, who are about as chipper as you'd expect artisanal ice cream scoopers to be, are thrilled to help you assemble the perfectly complementary quartet.

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Hancock Park

Ramekin

Critics' pick

This hipster haven creates a sweet experience with a coffee-shop-meets-bakery feel at Ramekin. Named for the ceramic bowls used for baking (think: crème brûlée), every item on the menu is baked to order, so carve out about 20 min for your visit. Order a cup of coffee or tea (all local) while waiting for a cookie, cobblers, cake or pie. If you don’t feel like waiting, get a bowl of freshly made ice cream or sorbet. Stop drooling over your computer and go see what all the hype is about. Your tastebuds will thank you.

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Los Feliz

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream

Critics' pick

As one of the best NY imports to arrive in LA recently, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream is taking their beloved dessert to our city streets. The company, founded by Pete and Ben Van Leeuwen and Laura O'Neill, uses the finest ingredients to make star quality ice cream in continually rotating flavors, such as pistachio, earl grey tea, espresso and mint chip. Their latest addition, vegan ice cream, flips the stereotype of lackluster dairy-free ice cream on its head—here, the use of raw cocoa butter makes it creamy and rich (try the chocolate peanut butter!). The Van Leeuwen truck can be found on Abbot Kinney throughout the week, as well as Little Tokyo and in front of the LACMA.

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Sweet Rose Creamery

Critics' pick

Santa Monica darling Sweet Rose Creamery has added a third location to its growing franchise, opening a friendly spot on Beverly Boulevard just a couple blocks east of The Grove. Not one to play favorites, Executive Chef Shiho Yoshikawa brings her signature seasonal flavors to this outpost as well, where visitors can choose from farmers' market-inspired flavors such as ginger, licorice, and cognac prune. Classic options are on the menu as well—vanilla, salted caramel, and fresh mint are all staples—but if customization is your thing, try adding one of Sweet Rose Creamery's homemade toppings, like pecan crumble or cacao nibs.

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West Hollywood

Blockhead's Shavery Company

Critics' pick

Teenagers, families and sugar hounds alike flock to this perpetually packed emporium for "snow cream"—Hawaiian shaved ice meets ice cream in layers of icy ribbons. Start with a base flavor from original and black sesame to seasonal mango and avocado, then choose your own adventure with toppings from boba to brownie bites and "drizzles” such as condensed milk and chocolate sauce. The blackboard menu guides you through the three-step, build-a-bowl process and lists favorite house combos. We love green tea snow cream with red bean, chewy mocha (rice cakes) and sweet condensed milk.

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Mother Moo

Critics' pick

Sierra Madre locals and families stop in for a root beer float, milkshakes and ice cream in flavors like chocolate made with three types of chocolate and salt and triple milk that combines buttermilk, cream and non-fat milk. Karen Klemens handcrafts her ice cream using local, seasonal produce and Strauss, organic milk.

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San Gabriel Valley

Peddler's Creamery

Critics' pick

Everyone knows ice cream tastes best when it's churned by bicycle. There’s something about a little exercise that makes your sweets even sweeter.  Peddler's Creamery, now with a storefront in hip DTLA, has capitalized on this universal truth.  They offer house-made (and often customer-churned) ice cream, sorbet and vegan desserts prepared with local and organic ingredients. Edward Belden, Peddler’s founder, started his sustainable-centric creamery as a single bike unit that could be set up all over Los Angeles. In 2012 he ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to open a brick-and-mortar in Downtown LA and now sweet-seeking foodies can swing by, peddle up a small batch and enjoy quality ice cream.

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Downtown

Sprinkles Ice Cream

Critics' pick

The immaculate, all-white shop gets as creative with its ice cream flavors as its big sister cupcake bakery, which sits right next door (you know, by the cupcake ATM machine. Totally normal.). A rotating list of flavors is offered each week, with red velvet, Cap'n Crunch and salty caramel ranking as the most popular flavors. Just show up ready to wait in line—and keep your eye out for celebs who swear by the famed ice cream shop.

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Coolhaus

Critics' pick

This popular, architecturally-themed ice cream sandwich truck (Coolhaus takes its name after famed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas) has set up shop in Culver City's Arts District with a permanent brick and mortar (another Pasadena location recently opened). Construct your own "cool house" with tasty, creative ice cream flavors such as fried chicken and waffles or cherry cheesecake, sandwiched between a variety of housemade cookies. Locals and nearby families stop in for a post-dinner icy treat or sit down to Blue Bottle–spiked hot chocolate beverages.

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Los Angeles

Oasis Ice Cream

Critics' pick

Cross the train tracks on Marmion Way to get to a true diamond-in-the-rough. The sign might say “ice cream” but at Oasis, it's all about the sorbet. Co-owner Doris Feliz makes more than 50 sorbet flavors each morning, including tropical papaya, mango and mixed berry, as well as savory spinach, alfalfa, beet and carrot. All her sorbets are made with fresh juices sweetened with agave. Feliz also creates her own juice cleanses, but for those wanting a sugar rush, the respados (Mexican shaved ice) made with real fruit-juice syrups and no artificial flavors or coloring are a must-try. Cash only.

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Highland Park

Comments

5 comments
Cletus P
Cletus P

Whoever made this list knows little about L.A. ice cream. No one who has any knowledge of ice cream would leave Carmela off this list. Ice creams like Coolhaus are sugary crap. Carmela is better than Scoops or Rose Creamery. Few ingredients, fresh, local, organic ingredients. NO extracts. All real flavors. Seriously, if you are going to make a best list, you need to know more about ice cream.

Allison P
Allison P

No Milk?  I die over their Nutella ice cream and Grasshopper macaroon ice cream sandwiches.
Also would have liked some love for the old fashioned ice cream stands at the Farmer's Market/Grove.

Kelly Wine
Kelly Wine

Very surprised that Carmela Ice Cream isn't on your list. They rank right up there with Sweet Rose Creamery and Scoops. They have a location in Pasadena and a newer location near LA Farmer's Market / The Grove. Here's the link. Delicious!!! http://www.carmelaicecream.com/

neil
neil

Fosselman's in Alhambra needs to be on this list. Not only does it preceed any of these ice cream joints historically, they also have incredible ice cream made right on the premises.

sparklepony
sparklepony

I look forward to trying some of these but can't believe Sprinkles didnt make the cut. Their ice cream outranks their cupcakes by miles.