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FoMu Ice Cream
Photograph: Courtesy FoMu Ice Cream

The best ice cream shops in Boston

Here’s the scoop on the city’s finest ice cream shops, where the cones are decked out and the flavors go far beyond chocolate and vanilla

Olivia Vanni
Written by
Olivia Vanni
&
Eric Grossman
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Like most American cities, Boston has a soft spot for ice cream. However, the Hub has been a hotbed of frozen innovation since the ’70s, when Steve Herrell began mixing Oreo shards into freshly churned batches in his (now-defunct) Somerville shop, Steve’s Ice Cream. Today, the best ice cream shops in Boston continue to satisfy adventurous eaters with their gourmet concoctions and bold ingredientswhile still churning out the classics for those New England traditionalists. Take a night off from your diet and pair one of the best burgers in Boston or best pizzas in Boston with a sweet treat from these exceptional ice cream shops.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best restaurants in Boston

A gelato maker we love so much that we welcomed him into Time Out Market

  • Restaurants
  • Fenway/Kenmore

When someone’s an artisanal gelato master, or gelatiere, you know your sweet tooth is in good hands. At Gelato & Chill, Vincent Turco uses traditional Italian recipes to create small-batch, handmade gelato made from local, organic and additive-free ingredients. At Time Out Market Boston, must-try items include ricotta fig, stracciatella made with 70 percent Valrhona Guanaja chocolate bits, and creamy Sicilian pistachio. For those seeking dairy-free treats, a range of refreshing, water-based fruit sorbets are also available.

Best ice cream shops in Boston

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Somerville
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This Union Square ice cream post further cements Somerville as the place for all things artisanal. The shop makes small batches of atypical flavors like Guinness, ube and honey cornbread, with new flavors regularly coming into the rotation. Top your scoop with the house-made version of Magic Shell and definitely go for the toasted Fluff cone. 

  • Restaurants
  • Central Sq

This Central Square shop, which also has a location out in Hudson, lures in ice cream lovers with unique, New England-inspired scoops. While its cases include the usual fan favorites like cookie dough, birthday cake batter and coffee, it’s this spot’s list of original concoctions that make it a must. Among its nostalgic, locally influenced flavors: salted cookies and cream, peanut butter banana Fluff and malted milk ball. For dairy-averse customers, New City also offers a handful of vegan options made with a coconut milk base.

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • East Cambridge
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The New York Times once called it the best ice cream in the world—just one of the many accolades this Cambridge shop and café has collected since its 1981 start. Toscanini’s continues to push the flavor boundaries, with intriguingly satisfying combinations like B3 (brownies, brown sugar, brown butter) and the amazing burnt caramel, which was created by total accident. This place likes to keep its flavors fresh, so check its daily menu before heading over. 

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Porter Sq

Tired of typical vanilla ice cream? Craving unique and innovative flavors? Porter Square‘s Honeycomb Creamery delivers delicious and inventive alternatives. Its craft ice cream is perfect for people seeking out-of-the-box creations. With options like malted vanilla, bay leaf & lemon curd, or gin & tonic sorbet, you may just find a new go-to summer flavor.

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  • Restaurants
  • West Roxbury

This gelateria is well worth the trek to West Roxbury. Using only the finest ingredients in their purest form, this spot makes all of their ice cream from scratch. The menu changes to include seasonal inspirations, but classics like its vanilla (made with beans, not extracts) and chocolate (flavored with French Valrhona cocoa) are constants. There are a couple of nods to Italy, like its Gianduiamixed with house-made hazelnut pasteand its lemon mint sorbet. Other creative combinations include a Persian flower and dark chocolate flavor, which is infused with Iranian Saffron and sprinkled with organic dark chocolate chips, as well as spiced coffee, which combines freshly roasted Borealis coffee with cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Jamaica Plain
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Since its start in Jamaica Plain, this local ice cream institution has spread to locations throughout the city, from Beacon Hill to Harvard Square. Its funky cow motif, lively atmosphere, hip scoopers and exciting flavors keep the crowds coming. On hot days, people can expect a waitbut that just gives everyone more time to decide between solid favorites (like brownie batter) and seasonal dazzlers (like peanut butter and chili, which is made with sriracha).

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Allston/Brighton
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Vegans, rejoice: This ice cream’s for you. The folks at FoMu whip up creamy treats with a coconut milk base, featuring flavors like avocado, bourbon maple walnut, mango habanero and the summer-only almond raspberry crumble. The Allston shop (there are outposts in the Fenway and South End) also creates ice cream cakes for plant-based celebrations.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Seaport District
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Taiyaki NYC’s almost too-cute-to-eat ice cream cones have made their way up the coast and into Boston’s Seaport District. The most popular treat on the menu is the chain's signature soft serve swirled into a fish-shaped conebut they also have other unique options like its Unicorn Float, which is served in an inflatable unicorn tube. Expect a linebecause there may be plenty of fish in the sea, but Taiyaki NYC’s is one of the sweetest.

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Inman Sq
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Whether or not local restaurants advertise it, many of them rely on ice cream from this Inman Square shop to supplement their dessert menus because it's that good. With an ever-rotating list of seasonal flavors, Christina's offers untraditional scoops sure to please every palate. Current favorites include fresh rose and burnt sugar ice creams, as well as Arnold Palmer sorbet.

  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • South End
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While some people consider this South End haunt a pizza place, savvy locals know that its assortment of homemade ice creams are just as much a draw. A steady stream of families stop by the restaurant for a sweet treat in the summertime, often taking their scoops to go. In addition to cups and cones, this spot is also popular for its hand-packed pints. 

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