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Wanderlust Creamery Assorted Pints
Photograph: Courtesy Wanderlust Creamery

The best ice cream shops in Los Angeles

I scream, you scream, we all scream for the best ice cream shops in the city.

Edited by
Patricia Kelly Yeo
Contributors
Kate Wertheimer
&
Stephanie Breijo
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Endless summers in Los Angeles mean nonstop cravings for the best ice cream around (not to be confused with soft serve, for which we have an entirely separate—but equally cold and delicious—story). We’re talking rich, creamy ice cream. When temperatures climb, treat yourself to the city’s tastiest frozen treats, some of which are built on fresh fruits, herbs and veggies from L.A.’s incredible farmers’ markets. Whether you’re looking for jam-swirled seasonal flavors, globally inspired scoops or straight-up classic combos done right, L.A. has it all—and then some more.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the summer in Los Angeles

L.A.’s 18 best ice cream shops, ranked

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Los Feliz

The James Beard Award-winning writer and ice cream whiz Jeni Britton Bauer extended her Ohio roots to Los Angeles with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and now you can find it in Venice, Los Feliz, Larchmont, Playa Vista and Calabasas. The scoop shops offer an ecclectic choice of more than 20 flavors, with options such whiskey and pecan; brambleberry crisp; cold brew with coconut cream; and riesling-poached–pear sorbet. Looking for something traditional-leaning? Even the Milkiest Chocolate in the World is killer. You truly can’t go wrong. If there isn’t something on the signature menu, the limited-edition menu will surely have options that catch your attention and makes use of whatever’s in season.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Tarzana
There are plenty of artisanal ice cream shops at our disposal in L.A., but this might be the first one that inspires us to hop on a plane. The flavors at Wanderlust Creamery in Tarzana, Atwater Village, Venice, Pasadena and Fairfax include options such as Thai iced tea, Vietnamese coffee, Australian pavlova, and a truly phenomenal (and vegan) sticky rice with mango—essentially, the vacation you’ve been meaning to take. Everything is made in-house, including flavored cones (we’re partial to the ube and green tea options). Make the trip for a couple scoops—you won’t even need your passport.
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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Downtown Historic Core
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Sure, it was founded in Santa Barbara, but McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams has more than taken over L.A. with some of the silkiest scoops around, and they’re made with dairy from Central Coast creameries. You can find its elegant and classic flavors in Grand Central Market, Studio City and the Palisades, and for that we are eternally grateful. Where else would you get a scoop of salted caramel so decadent it should be illegal? Where else could you get flavors like cardamom and Swedish gingersnaps? McConnell’s, you make us melt.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Westwood
  • price 2 of 4

Chunks of cream known as khameh make all the different at this family-run Persian ice cream shop in Westwood, where fragrant flavors like saffron pistachio, white rose and orange blossom reign supreme—though you'll find classics like chocolate and vanilla too. Compared to American ice cream and Italian gelato, the thicker consistency of Saffron & Rose's ice cream stretches without breaking up, for an iconic Tehrangeles treat dating back to 1974.

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

Forget the vanilla: At Mashti Malone’s in Hollywood and Westwood, you’ll find delicately perfumed Persian ice cream in rare and wholly original flavor combos, such as ginger and rose water; orange blossom with pistachio; Persian cucumber; date; Alfonso mango; and saffron rose water—all of which augment the rundown of straightforward stalwarts like cookies and cream, strawberry, and mint chip, so you can mix and match to your heart’s content. You can even get them blended into a shake or smooshed between two wafer cookies (a Mashti Malone’s classic).

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Larchmont Village
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With wild flavors found nowhere else, this Portland-founded craft creamery puts an artisanal churn on the standard scoop. Their extensive menu boasts options both indulgent and curious—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: Guests can opt for an ice cream flight including your choice of four flavors from both classic and seasonal menus. The ice cream shop now has locations in the Arts District, Larchmont, West Hollywood, Venice, Pasadena, Studio City, Culver City and down in Anaheim.

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • West Hollywood

Chef-driven, somewhat pricey and fully vegan, Zen Ong’s West Hollywood takeout window next to Dayglow Coffee serves high-quality, coconut-based ice cream made with seasonal, gourmet and typically local ingredients: think strawberry made with Oxnard-based Harry’s Berries, Kishu mandarins from the Mandarin Man in Chino Hills and even rhubarb pie from Grand Central Market’s Fat & Flour. Unlike other plant-based ice creams, Awan’s scoops completely disguise the taste of coconut for an ultra-smooth, creamy base—the perfect blank canvas for the chef’s Indonesian-inspired flavors, seasonal produce and everything else in between.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Fairfax District

This Black-owned ice cream truck (with a brick-and-mortar on Melrose) specializes in Philly-style water ice, a dairy-free cold dessert that’s lighter, and fruitier, than your standard ice cream. Find them on Sundays at Smorgasburg—though you’ll have to brave a long line, even on cooler days—and revel in the delicious, brightly rainbow-colored scoops, which could chase away even the tracest amount of gloom.

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Torrance

Named after the Japanese word for gratitude, this locally owned South Bay shop offers a rotating selection of simple, well-balanced flavors like nutty black sesame, earl gray and creamy almond mont blanc, and donates a portion of all sales to charities. Always on hand, however, are Japanese-style matcha parfaits: generous scoops of matcha and vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, mochi, red bean and cornflakes. Note: Though the daytime-only shop (12:30 to 6pm, closed Sunday and Wednesday) makes dozens of flavors, only about five are available daily, so plan accordingly.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Mid City
  • price 1 of 4

This best-in-class Mexican paleteria with locations in Culver City, Mid-City, Pico-Union and West L.A. stocks over thirty different flavors of Oaxacan-style ice cream bars including juicy watermelon, tangy chile-dusted mango and the smoky, must-try leche quemada. You’ll also find gelato and sorbet on the menu, but the move here is to order a paleta—the icy, fruit-filled treats are just as delicious as your standard scoop on a cone.

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Studio City

At the Studio City and Beverly Hills offshoots of this Rome-based gelateria, you'll find rotating flavors of gelato and sorbetto reflective not just of Italy, but California as well. Run by husband-and-wife team Alessandro Jacchia and Katyna Mercenari, you'll find flavors like guavas, passionfruit and mamey, an adorable "sushi" gelato bento box and classics like gianduja, stracciatella and frutti di bosco. The shop also offers affogatos and thicker, custard-like semifreddos—for those who incline towards maximalism in the realm of Italian frozen treats. 

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • San Fernando Valley

The artists formerly known as Helados Pops now go by Pops Artisanal Creamery, but a scoop of hibiscus tea sorbet is just as sweet by any other name. The generational family operation whips up some of the best ice cream and sorbets in the Valley, drawing on the varying ripeness of fresh fruits to inform each batch—whose recipes get tweaked accordingly. Flavors here are bright and always rotating, so you might find spiced cucumber one week and cashew fruit the next, with a handful of flavors almost always in the mix (thankfully the tamarind, young coconut, and vegan chocolate are almost always on offer).

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Sierra Madre

Sierra Madre locals stop in for root beer floats, milkshakes and ice cream in flavors like chocolate that’s made with three types of chocolate; roasted fig leaf; salted buttercream; rhubarb crumble; and triple milk, which combines buttermilk, cream and non-fat milk. Karen Klemens handcrafts her ice cream using local, seasonal produce and organic dairy, and rounds out the menu with homestyle pies and cakes, too. Stop by and you can even recreate Reese Witherspoon’s iconic ice cream throw from Big Little Lies—but honestly, who would want to waste ice cream this good?

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Koreatown

We could wax poetic about chef Chad Colby’s rustic Italian pastas, fluffy and flavorful pizzas and beyond-artful charcuterie, but even when you’re in the mood for savory, somehow Antico Nuovo's (note: fairly expensive) ice cream steals the spotlight. It’s freshly made and freshly spun in a machine imported from Italy, and it whips the ice cream around so quickly that the finished product feels airier and smoother than your average affair. It can come ribboned with orange cookies, dotted with pistachios, and creamy with Harry’s Berries strawberries, depending on the day’s flavors. Available for dine-in customers as well as to-go, you’ll find fewer flavors than you would at a traditional ice cream parlor, but the quality more than makes up for it.

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  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Altadena

This is elegance in frozen-food form. The ever-popular Carmela—which is also sold in a few specialty food shops around L.A.—rides the locavore trend by incorporating fresh herbs and seasonal fruit into flavors like rose petal or spiced strawberry sorbet. The Pasadena location and its roving ice cream truck (most always parked at farmers markets) both offer sweet-toothed Angelenos the chance to sample a few favorites before choosing a flavor or two to be placed atop a cone or wedged between two cookies for an ice cream sandwich. 

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Alhambra
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This Alhambra institution is like a leap back in time: Fosselman’s opened in 1919, and though it moved to its current location more recently (‘74, to be exact), it still provides all the old-timey charm of an old-school ice cream parlor. The flavors are almost all straightforward and classic, while the operation is run by third-generation Fosselman’s who offer half-gallons, choose-your-flavors ice cream cakes, and six-packs of ice cream sandwiches featuring chocolate cookies. Be on the lookout for specials, such as their popular Thin Mint ice cream.

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  • Restaurants
  • Trucks
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This modern ice cream parlor doesn’t make only vegan ice cream, but it does make some of the best vegan flavors we’ve ever tasted. NYC’s Van Leeuwen infiltrated L.A. in a big way, with shops in the Arts District, Silver Lake, Culver City, Franklin Village and El Segundo, and a truck that’s usually stationed in Venice. You can expect plenty of the usual suspects (strawberry, mint chip, chocolate fudge brownie, cookies and cream) plus Van Leeuwen classics such as the tea-scented Earl Grey; the vegan blue-and-green blend of matcha and spirulina almond cake in Planet Earth; and the vegan cookie crumble strawberry jam. Vegan flavors—made with cashew, coconut, cocoa butter or oat milk, or some combination thereof—never feel icy or lacking in flavor, and the dairy options are creamy as ever.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Santa Monica
  • price 2 of 4

Farm-fresh Sweet Rose Creamery keeps the Westside cooler with an outpost in Santa Monica as well as one in the Brentwood Country Mart. Seasonal flavors are big here, where visitors can choose from flavors packed with produce and herbs from the nearby Santa Monica Farmers Market. Don’t be surprised to find peach crumble, sweet corn, and blueberry muffin on offer alongside classic options such as vanilla, salted caramel and fresh mint, all available à la carte or in creations like their artisanal sundaes. If customization is your thing, try adding one of Sweet Rose Creamery’s house-made toppings, like marshmallows and brownie bites.

See the best ice cream shops in America

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