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Photograph: Jaclyn RivasPretty Cool Ice Cream

The 16 best ice cream shops in Chicago

The best ice cream in Chicago comes in all shapes and sizes—from towering cones to decorated popsicles

Written by
Morgan Olsen
&
Emma Krupp
Contributor
Lindsay Eanet
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Summer in Chicago has arrived, and there are few better ways to beat the heat than seeking out towering scoops from the best ice cream shops in the city. Whether you're an ice cream purist or want to experiment with funky new flavors, you'll find top-notch ice cream options scattered from Edgewater to Bronzeville, near top attractions like Navy Pier and Wrigley Field or off the beaten path. From time-honored traditions like the towering, five-flavor Original Rainbow Cone and indulgent sundaes at Margie's Candies to contemporary, highly-Instagrammable treats like the gold leaf-speckled cones at Kurimu and vegan soft serve from Vaca's Creamery, there's a dream ice cream out there for everyone. Whatever you're craving, the best ice cream shops in Chicago are here to whisk you into sugary, summery bliss.

RECOMMENDED: Explore more of the best restaurants in Chicago

Best of the city under one roof

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • West Loop

Inspired by the homemade ice cream he enjoyed as a kid, Yahya Muhammad has spent years experimenting with new flavors and sharing them with family and friends. When he opened Shawn Michelle’s in Bronzeville with his wife, Nataki, the pair committed to producing ice cream the way it used to be made, cooking their own custard daily and slow-churning it to creamy, frosty perfection. If you’re at a loss for where to start, sample the classic with a scoop of One Night In Madagascar vanilla followed by Sweet Dark Chocolate.

The best ice cream in Chicago

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Beverly
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For more than 80 years, the awning-covered picnic tables of this South Side ice-cream shop have been packed with locals indulging their sweet tooth. The signature five-flavor Rainbow Cone features layers of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio and orange sherbet stacked one on top of the other to form an unbeatable classic. Aside from the original Beverly shop, you can also swing by locations at Navy Pier, Lombard, Darien and the newest location in Skokie. 

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Grand Boulevard
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The cold case at Yahya and Nataki Muhammad's cheerful Bronzeville scoop shop is packed with hand-churned homemade ice cream in flavors like Jamaican rum raisin, honey cinnamon graham cracker and strawberry supreme. But it won't take long to spot someone devouring the creamery's crown jewel: a generous serving of peach cobbler crowned with melty vanilla ice cream. Once you try this summertime delicacy, prepare to crave it for the rest of your life.

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  • Restaurants
  • Logan Square

Inspired by the memory of standing at the end of her driveway with change in her pocket and waiting on the ice cream truck, Dana Cree opened Pretty Cool Ice Cream in Logan Square. The cute-as-a-button shop slings beautiful popsicles in fascinating flavors: Lick a peanut butter-potato chip custard bar, a plant-based blue moon pop or a strawberry buttermilk bar. Keep an eye out for limited-edition flavors and community partnerships, like the Silly Old Bear, a vanilla pop with a caramel shell and crushed honeycomb celebrating the staging of Winnie the Pooh in Chicago. 

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Lake View
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Walk into Scooter’s and disregard the hot dogs, Italian ice and anything else that doesn’t contain the words frozen and custard. Purists should order a cone of vanilla or chocolate and savor every last lick of the cream-laden treat. If you're hankering for something a bit more involved, opt for the banana splice: vanilla custard, banana, chocolate, strawberries, pineapple and nuts. It's big enough to split, but we won't judge if you're selfish.

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Logan Square
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It’s nostalgia that draws people in droves to this kitschy diner and ice-cream parlor. Fancy silver trays, paper doilies and saucers filled with chocolate and caramel sauces bring back fond memories for many who’ve made this place a tradition since it opened in 1921. Equally reminiscent of the good old days are the display shelves, which are crowded with memorabilia from the Beatles, who just had to have some Margie’s ice cream after they played Comiskey.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Austin

The technicolor soft serve at Little Italy's Kurimu (and its sibling location in Wicker Park) is inspired by the always-trendy desserts of Japan, Taiwan and Korea, with a rotating list of flavors like Okayama peach, taro, and matcha (you can even get your soft serve wrapped in gold or silver foil, if you're feeling fancy). Pair your cone with a boba milk tea or frothy Dalgona coffee, and consider ordering ice cream tucked into the shop's warm melon buns, a type of soft, moon-shaped sweet bread that originally hails from Japan. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • East Village
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After peddling her gelato all over town to the city's best chefs and markets, Jessica Oloroso found a fitting home for her first storefront in Ukrainian Village. There, she lures folks with boundary-pushing scoops of gelato such as lemon ginger toasted marshmallow and goat cheese cashew caramel. You can also pop by locations in Logan Square and the West Loop for more gelato goodness.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Logan Square
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The Freeze is a vintage time warp, and while there aren’t nearly as many locations of the fast food restaurant (formerly known as Tastee Freez) as once dotted Chicago (there were dozens), you can still find one in Logan Square. Waffle and sugar cones are filled with a high peak of soft serve and dipped in throwback flavors like butterscotch, cotton candy and peanut butter. If you're looking for cheap, no-frills thrills, the Freeze has you covered all summer.

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Lower West Side
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No summer bucket list is complete without a trip to Pilsen to visit La Michoacana Premium, Chicago's premiere paletería. Upon entering this cheerful shop, you'll be pulled to the display case, which is jam-packed with dozens of paletas in flavors like blackberry, kiwi-strawberry and creamy pistachio. The shop's mangonada is another fan favorite, blending tangy mango sorbet, hunks of fresh fruit, lime juice and Tajin chili powder.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Bridgeport
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The aroma of fresh waffles pervades the air of this Bridgeport parlor, evidence of the signature house-made waffle cones. Dipped in chocolate and adorned with brightly colored candies, these deep cones are indulgent carriers for both types of chocolate ice cream on offer (though our preference is for the darker variety). Should the ice cream (or accompanying funnel cakes) be too rich, you’re in luck: these guys focus on espresso, the perfect antidote to your forthcoming sugar crash.

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Edgewater
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With locations in Edgewater and West Rogers Park, this custard shop is a community staple for families and sugar fiends alike. Guests can get their custard by the cone or dish or have it whipped into a sundae or concrete. Spring for the OMG—chocolate or vanilla custard dotted with peanut-butter fudge brownie pieces and a shot of hot fudge. As if that weren't enough, you'll also find cookies, cupcakes and chocolates behind the counter.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Bridgeport
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This seasonal family-owned walk-up window is the stuff that sweet sweet dreams are made of. From funnel cake sundaes and ice cream tacos to Italian ice and banana splits, you might just experience a sugar rush while browsing the menu. Order whatever makes your heart happy and take a seat at one of the umbrella-covered tables—you're in for a treat at this Bridgeport shop.

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  • Shopping
  • Chocolate and candy
  • Hyde Park
  • price 1 of 4

This Michigan-based brand might be best known for its decadent slabs of fudge, but you'd be remiss to not check out the tubs of creamy, small-batch ice cream also tucked under its glass display cases. Classic flavors are loaded up with treats like caramel, nuts, chocolate chips and other dreamy confections (yes, including fudge), then piled into house-made waffle cones that you can smell baking from across the block. Pop by locations in Lakeview, Navy Pier, the South Loop and keep an eye out for the return of the Hyde Park location and incoming Andersonville location. 

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Lake View
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When Ohio-based Jeni's moved to Chicago, it immediately upped the city's ice cream scene. Sweet corn ice cream with black raspberry swirls? Check. The richest, darkest chocolate ice cream you'll ever taste? They've got that, too. When you factor in toppings like salted caramel sauce, the decision about what to order is that much harder. Luckily, Jeni's workers are happy to dish out as many samples as your heart desires.

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Vaca’s Creamery co-owners Dylan Sutcliff and Mariana Marinho met working at a vegan ice cream shop in Austin, Texas, and opened their space in Noble Square in May 2021. Chicago’s first exclusively vegan soft-serve shop doesn’t sacrifice decadence or deliciousness in the name of dairy-free—indulge your inner child with creative, over-the-top sundaes like the appropriately-named, well, “Inner Child,” which features confetti cookie dough bites, strawberry sauce and sprinkles, or the S’mores sundae with toasted marshmallows and chocolate sauce. 

A name like “Super Premium” comes with some pretty high expectations, and this Pullman institution delivers. You can always go classic with the likes of Chocolate or Butter Pecan, but the menu highlights here are the rich and creamy creations inspired by classic desserts like Banana Pudding, Sweet Potato Pie and Lemon Icebox Pie. It’s like getting a hug from your grandma in dessert form. Visit their factory outlet store near 111th Street, or order online to let the pints come to you. 

Best ice cream shops in America

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