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Soft Swerve
Photograph: Courtesy Soft Swerve

The best soft serve ice cream in NYC

Treat yourself with the best soft serve ice cream in NYC, served at ice cream trucks and old-fashioned dessert parlors

By Jake Cohen, Abby Carney and Christina Izzo

New Yorkers don’t discriminate when it comes to our love for ice cream, from classic scoops to ice cream sandwiches, but we do have a particularly sweet spot for delicious soft serve. Cooling down with a picturesque cone from the city’s best bakeries and finest ice cream shops is one of the best things to do in the summer in NYC. Whether you’re in the mood for festive toppings, a dipped cone or a chocolate-vanilla swirl, here’s where to find the best soft serve ice cream in New York.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best ice cream in NYC

Best soft serve ice cream in NYC

Mah Ze Dahr Soft Serve
Photograph: Jake Cohen

1. Mah-Ze-Dahr

Restaurants Bakeries West Village

This picture-perfect West Village bakery from Umber Ahmad has a good deal of New York's best sweets. From their chocolate cake and cheesecake to their croissants, Ahmad has built a cult following around all things pastry. So it's no surprise that when she added soft serve to the menu, it was just as well received as everything else. Available during the summer months, seasonal flavors rotate with classics like vanilla and chocolate, all served in their stroopwafel-inspired cones.

Dominique Ansel Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/ Mike C.

2. Dominique Ansel Kitchen

Restaurants French West Village

Dominique Ansel can do no wrong. The talented king of the Cronut produces a flawless product no matter crossaint-doughnut or s'mores or even soft serve. Each summer, Dominique Ansel Kitchen launches a soft serve window where you can get a taste of the creamiest ice cream in town. While the two flavor options change every year, like burrata with balsamic caramel and watermelon served right in a hollowed slice of the fruit.

Milk Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/ Sunny L

3. Milk Bar

Restaurants Cafés Prospect Heights

Pastry chef Christina Tosi’s Cereal Milk soft serve has become so famous, the name is even trademarked. Imagine the milk leftover in a bowl of Frosted Flakes and then taking that to make the creamiest soft serve ever. Well, that's exactly what Tosi did, launching this addictive creation to a level of cult following. And if that won't satisfy your sweet tooth, maybe you should grab a cup of the chocolate-covered pretzel soft serve flavor, as well. 

Blueberry Pie Oh My at Shake Shack
Photograph: Evan Sung

4. Shake Shack

Restaurants Hamburgers Upper West Side

The only place in the city where you can find Midwestern-style frozen custard, burger titan Shake Shack doesn’t disappoint when it comes to dessert: its soft serve is smooth, dense and not too sweet. Vanilla and chocolate are always available, but keep an eye out for rotating weekly flavors such as miso caramel, peanut brittle and blackberry.

Photograph: Kylie Thompson

5. Mister Dips

Restaurants Hamburgers Greenpoint

The retro RV located in the park outside the William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg offers griddled burgers, waffle fries and “dairy dips,” ice-cream cones in flavors like chocolate soft serve covered in a peanut butter shell and a banana split-inspired cone of banana-strawberry-swirl dipped in chocolate (with a cherry on top). If those won't cut it, you're free to mix and match the soft serve and dips any which way your heart desires.

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/ Mike C.

6. Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

Restaurants Ice cream parlors East Village

This funky-and-fabulous truck-turned-brick-and-mortar has delighted dessert lovers since 2009, serving up irresistibly-named cones (the Salty Pimp, the Bea Arthur) that are as tasty as they are playful. You can’t go wrong with a classic Pimp: vanilla soft serve swirled with dulce de leche, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Michelle L.

7. Made Nice

Restaurants American Flatiron

The team behind Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad went fast-casual with this concept in NoMad. In addtion to the menu of fresh and chef-forward salads and bowls, comes a soft serve creation that's been drawing as much buzz as their food. Inspired by the famous dessert at the NoMad, their milk and honey flavor is topped with honey brittle, shortbread, milk meringue, sea salt and buckwheat honey for the fanciest cup of soft serve you've probably ever had.

Seed + Mill Tahini Soft Serve
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Lori L.

8. Seed + Mill

Restaurants Israeli Chelsea

It doesn't get more niche than artisanal sesame seed products. Founder Lisa Mendelson has brought high-quality tahini and halva to Chelsea Market, putting a spotlight on the popular Middle Eastern ingredients. However, the true star of the shop may be their tahini and goat-milk soft serve made in collaboration with Victory Garden NYC. Rich and creamy with an intense nutty flavor, the ice cream is topped with tahini and halva crumbles for a truly decadent dessert that sings with seasame flavor.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/ Mike C.

9. Nicoletta

Restaurants Pizza East Village

At chef Michael White’s East Village pizzeria, there’s only one dessert option: fior de latte soft serve gelato. And with a dessert this good—the ice cream is wonderfully lush in texture, with a delicate milky flavor—you only need one. OK, to be fair, the soft serve comes in a variety of sundaes; we love the Crackerjack, with peanut crumble, rosemary caramel popcorn, roasted peanuts and caramel sauce.

Jersey City at Soft Swerve
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Cindy Z.

10. Soft Swerve

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Lower East Side

These might be the most Instagrammed soft serve cones on the market. Using flavors such as ube (purple yam), match and black sesame, every cone is as gorgoeus as it tasty. Fun toppings like breakfast cereal and crushed Oreos round out your experience, adding a crunch of nostalgia to the creamy ice cream. The king of their cones may be the Broadway, topping ube soft serve with Fruity Pepples and marshmallows.

Cha Cha Matcha
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Christina P.

11. Cha Cha Matcha

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Little Italy

This bright Nolita shop specializes in all thing matcha, that addictive, and energizing, Japanese green tea powder. Get yours brewed into a latte, baked into a cupcake or swirled into a creamy cone of soft serve. Go all-tea, or opt for a matcha-vanilla twirl.

Dessert Club by Chikalicious
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jungan L.

12. Dessert Club by ChikaLicious

Restaurants Bakeries East Village

The soft serve from this East Village dessert bar—which offers a range of signature pastries, from tiramisu mochi to green tea brownies—is pretty good, but it’s the toppings and accoutrements that make it stand out. Get the vanilla bean ice cream piled into a sugary, flaky churro cone, or inside a chocolate-glazed eclair, or layered with sliced bananas and chunks of buttery, toasted biscuits.

Photograph: Courtesy of Dairy Queen

13. Dairy Queen

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Greenwich Village

At its first Manhattan outpost, the fast-food chain offers its trademark Dilly bars, GrillBurgers and Blizzards, including an exclusive Big Apple version made with apple pie chunks.

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