While you can’t guarantee sunshine in the city, there’s one thing London can definitely deliver: damn good ice cream. And we’re not just talking scoops here. From macaron ice-cream sandwiches to old-school sundaes (knickerbocker glory, anyone?) to full-on ice-cream cakes, we’ve got you covered with the ultimate list of London’s best ice cream. Grab a spoon and dig in.
Soft serve ice cream
London’s premier purveyors of posh Mr Whippy have outdone themselves with this one. A mighty swoosh of their signature matcha ice cream comes with red bean paste, crumbled Oreos, a chocolate-coated Pocky stick and rice cakes. It’s a match(a) made in heaven. £5.95.
Sometimes, simple is best. At Tredwells, game-changing chef Chantelle Nicholson’s casual Covent Garden restaurant, a generous twirl of mellow salted caramel soft serve comes studded with honeycomb chunks – and that’s it. Bonus: kids are surprisingly well catered for here, and they’ll love it too. £6.
The original iced internet-breaker: a hollowed-out slice of super-juicy watermelon is filled with matching soft-serve at Dominique Ansel’s Victoria HQ, before being decorated with chocolate ‘pips’. It’s available from 11am, which means it’s a totally acceptable heatwave breakfast. From £6.50.
Regular soft-serve not extra enough for you? Crank it up a notch with one of these mad things at Milk Train, Covent Garden’s queue-magnet dessert café. A cone of soft-serve is heaped with rainbow sprinkles and bubblegum crunch, then encircled with a cloud of candyfloss. Brace yourself for that sugar crash. £5.95.
It’s known for queues that stretch across Clapham Common on hot days, but Nardulli also does a nice line in gelato cakes. Choose from three sizes (get the biggest, even if the party’s just you and a spoon), and combine a rainbow of homemade flavours – think Ferrero Rocher and pistachio, or their legendary stracciatella with pure chocolate. From £25.
Panettone isn’t just for Christmas at Gelupo. Soho’s gelato wizards will hollow a full-sized one out and stuff it with your choice of flavours, before generously drizzling the top with melted chocolate. Combo-wise, the only limit is your greedy imagination – but they recommend blood orange and chocolate, and hazelnut with ricotta – and who are we to argue? £45.
Terri Mercieca makes head-spinningly good ice cream sandwiches for the likes of Tonkotsu and Club Mexicana. If you ask her very nicely, she’ll make you one too – a massive 12-person version of The Malty. Come for the malted milk parfait sandwiched between giant homemade digestives, stay for the chocolate ‘magic’ crumbs and thick glaze of organic milk chocolate. £50.
An ice-cream cake that’s just that: a cake made entirely of ice cream. Oh yes. Much-loved Islington parlour Udderlicious (there’s one in Covent Garden too) lets you combine any of its flavours and sauces to create one of these beauties, which serve eight to ten people but can be sized up – how about mango sorbet and vanilla? From £29.95.
The OG ice-cream sundae (it’s been around for at least a century) is still up there with the greats. Fortnum & Mason’s version, which is served in its parlour, is frankly outrageous: loads of vanilla and strawberry ice cream, pineapple, raspberries (plus raspberry coulis), whipped cream and a dome of Italian meringue. Make like Indiana Jones and excavate its layers with the long-handled spoon provided. £13.
The only possible way to improve a tiramisu is by rendering it in frozen form. That’s exactly what genius wheel-reinventers Chin Chin do at their Soho HQ: a scoop of coffee and olive oil ice cream is dolloped onto whipped mascarpone and a fudgy, coffee-soaked brownie cookie, before being lavishly drizzled with salted caramel sauce and dusted with cocoa powder. £5.95.
Get two spoons, grab one in each hand and use them like ice-picks to tackle this moreish monolith of a dessert at Soho taqueria Corazón. Chunks of toothsome tres leches cake (that’s cake made with three types of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream) come smothered in homemade cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce), vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and marshmallow, plus obligatory sprinkles. £8.50.
Venue says Join us for 'Lunch Rapido': two tacos, tortilla chips, salsas and guacamole for £10, Mon-Fri. Give us 30 minutes, we'll give you Mexico 🇲🇽
You won’t find any nitro-whizzery or wacky flavours here at Chalk Farm’s temple to seaside kitsch: just frozen coppas, wafer straws and 24 outstanding gelati options. Marine Ices’ retro-glee philosophy finds its fullest expression in the peach melba sundae, a tried-and-true combo of the creamiest vanilla, peaches and tartly sweet raspberry sauce. £3.90.
Scoops and cones
Sophia Brothers learned everything she knows from her Italian grandmother – hence Nonna’s Gelato. Flavours change from week to week, but the Five Points porter and chocolate ripple, made with the Hackney brewery’s finest, is a fixture. It’s intensely malty but also surprisingly refreshing: like washing down a slice of chocolate fudge cake with a pint of Guinness. From £3 per scoop.
All hail La Grotta’s Kitty Travers, one of the reigning queens of London’s ice-cream scene, who makes gorgeously ripe, seasonal ices. She doesn’t have a full-time bricks-and-mortar shop (yet), but La Grotta ice creams are always on the menu at Italo, the much-loved deli-cum-brunch spot in Bonnington Square. Don’t miss the blush-pink gariguette strawberry, an aromatic take on everyone’s summer holiday fave. £3 per scoop.
For the past 12 years, the brainboxes at Ice Cream Union have been supplying some of London’s top restaurants with next-level creative scoops like cornflake, rhubarb ripple and spiced pumpkin. Now they’ve got their own place, anyone can turn up and sample the best of all their flavours in a hand-rolled cone: banana split. Creamy, fruity and giddy with licks of caramel, think of it as a space-efficient sundae. From £4.99.
Homemade in Peckham since 2011, Churps’ creamy, fruity piña colada has a cult following in south London. Find it at Nanban, Tim Anderson’s Kyushu-meets-Brixton-Market ramen bar on Coldharbour Lane, along with other Caribbean flavours like sugar cane, stout punch and grape nut – perfect for cooling down after a bowl of curry goat tsukemen. £3 per scoop.
What’s a walk on Hampstead Heath without a cone in your hand? Specifically, a cone of Oddono’s finest creamy-but-tangy gelato from its cute Flask Walk parlour. Since opening in 2004 it’s churned more than 130 flavours, but you can’t go wrong with Oreo, scooped straight from a hillocky, cookie-strewn tub. From £2.75.
Okay, it isn’t technically a scoop or a cone – but just look at this thing of early-’90s childhood dreams that’s on the menu at Rochelle Canteen. With a base layer of deep, dark chocolate, a middle of rich vanilla and a strawberry top, it’s the Platonic idea of a Neapolitan block. Close your eyes and you could be in front of the TV in your Power Rangers pyjamas, watching ‘Gladiators’ as a special treat. £6.50.
Floats and shakes
One thing’s for sure: London’s (and, in fact, Europe’s) first Filipino ice cream parlour is a vanilla-free zone. There are plenty of ‘Grammable shakes to choose from, but the standout is the Halo Halo, a riot of textures and flavours based on the dessert of the same name. A scoop of their ube ice cream (made from purple yam) is bolstered with shredded coconut, evaporated milk jelly, leche flan, shaved ice, sweet red bean, cornflakes and wafer pieces. £6.50.
Venue says Rainy day? No problem! Settle down with an Ube Hot Coco, or one of our Barako Bean coffees.
This isn’t strictly a shake – or at least, it isn’t when you first get your hands on it. But grab a straw anyway, because once it melts a little you’ll have a satisfyingly slurpable blend of frozen custard, fudge sauce and sprinkles. Each Shake Shack branch has signature concretes: this Soho-specific one features hazelnut brownie bites baked by St. John, and chocolate chunks from cocoa maestro Paul A Young. Fancy. From £5.
Ah, the soda float: as much a traditional part of summer as getting hideously burnt at a festival. At Ruby Violet you can build your own bespoke one from any one of their scoops and a Posh Pop soda: might we suggest cloudy lemonade with caramelised pistachio, or chilli ginger beer with chocolate? Find them in the King’s Cross and Tufnell Park parlours. £5.
Sorbet and vegan ice cream
It’s hard to choose a favourite at Black Milq, which scoops at Brockley Market on Saturdays, but the five-spiced Goldenmilq – a creamy, delicately spiced special – is definitely up there. Everything plant-based ice-cream pioneer Natalie Slack makes in her Hackney kitchen from cashew nut and coconut milks is sensational; even non-vegans will lose it over flavours like black sesame, and miso caramel with pecan. You can bulk order online too – dangerous. £3.40 per scoop.
Dairy-dodgers, rejoice! The Notting Hill outpost of this storied Bologna gelateria offers vegan scoops that are just as good as, if not better than, the originals. The vegan dark chocolate – an intriguingly complex, almost inky creation – is a case in point: without milk or cream to muddy the waters, the flavours shine through. Want to find out how it’s made? Peek inside the in-house ‘gelato lab’. £3.40 per scoop.
It’s best known for its brilliantly bonkers flavours (such as porcini chocolate cream) but La Gelateria has gone trad for this ever-popular vegan number. With an unbelievably creamy, smooth texture and an incredible depth of flavour from real-deal Sicilian Bronte pistachios (the greenest in the world) and Maldon sea salt flakes, it’s hard to believe it’s a sorbet. From £3.50 per scoop.
Its gelati draw deservedly massive crowds, but this Richmond legend also excels at sorbets. From mouth-puckeringly delicious grapefruit to oh-so grown-up pear, pineapple and maraschino, the choice is impressive, but it has to be the Sicilian blood orange sorbet. Well worth braving the Overground for when it’s scorching. From £2.25.
Soft serve is everywhere right now, but vegan versions can still be hard to come by. Give it up, then, for Yorica, London’s fabled free-from ice cream parlour, which does a juicy, super-fruity mango one that’ll knock your socks off. As well as being Vegan Society-registered, everything they sell is made without all 14 of the major allergens. From £3.95.
A three-in-one wonder, this: two perfect, sunshine-yellow lemon macarons (whipped up by former street-food star Samme Le and her band of bakers) encase a roundel of lemon-curd ice cream, all topped off with a swirl of lightly torched meringue. Summer in a mouthful. £4.
Next time you’re chowing down on one of Radio Alice’s signature sourdough pizzas, pace yourself – to save space for its newest dessert. These beauties are fashioned from the house dough, stuffed with vanilla ice cream and crunchy peanut butter, then topped with chocolate-hazelnut sauce. £4.
At this swanky Vauxhall restaurant from the folks behind The Dairy and Counter Culture, any croissants left over from the morning rush are stuffed with tonka-bean ice cream and almond caramel sauce, before being put on the restaurant’s menu. Sustainable and tasty. £6.
Soft, rich brioche buns packed to the rafters with gelato are a Sicilian speciality – but you only need to go as far as Earlsfield to get your mitts on one. At Cremoloso Gelato they’re drizzled with dark chocolate sauce, and stuffed with any two of their 20-odd flavours: the combination of pistachio and amarena cherry is hard to beat. £6.50.
However many plump, supremely photogenic steamed buns you’ve munched your way through over the course of your meal, there’s always room for one of these: a golden, crisp-hatted little morsel filled with a scoop of Bao’s own malt-tastic Horlicks ice cream. £5.