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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

Photograph: Kylie Thompson
Soft serve at Mister Dips

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

1

Milk Bar

Pastry chef Christina Tosi’s Cereal Milk soft serve—the frozen, whipped equivalent of the milk left over at the bottom of a bowl of corn flakes—is so famous that it’s literally trademarked. And with good reason: the cool, smooth ice cream’s flavor is spot-on and not overly sweet. Another winner? Tosi’s Coke Float flavor, topped with an adorable gummy cola.

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Prospect Heights
2

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

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.

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East Village
3

Shake Shack

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.

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Upper West Side
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4

Dominique Ansel Kitchen

The talents of the king of the Cronut seem to know no bounds, whether he’s working with delicate croissant dough or constructing a giant s’more with shards of milk chocolate and crispy speculoos cookies. His excellent soft serve is no exception: veering into savory territory in flavors such as salt and pepper caramel and burrata, the dense, creamy ice cream has equally delicious toppings, like a crispy potato gaufrette.

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West Village
5

Mister Dips

The retro RV offers griddled burgers, waffle fries and “dairy dips,” ice-cream cones in flavors like Jacker-Crax (buttered caramel popcorn with salted peanuts) and Hawaii Five-0 (Tahitian vanilla scoops with pineapple preserve and toasted coconut).

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Greenpoint
6

Victory Garden

About as far from mass-market ice cream truck cones as you can get, this cute West Village shop churns artisan soft serve from New York State goat milk. Tangier and funkier than cow’s milk and also slightly less sweet, the goat milk makes a creamy frozen treat whose uniqueness is accented by chef-owner Sophia Brittan’s use of unusual flavorings including piney, gummy mastic and toppings like a chocolate sauce laced with fragrant tonka beans.

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West Village
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7

Nicoletta

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.

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East Village
8

Dessert Club by ChikaLicious

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.

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East Village
9

Takashi

This Korean-Japanese spot in the West Village is known for its marinated meats grilled tableside, but sweets-lovers are in for a treat here, too. For dessert, Takashi’s home-spun Madagascar vanilla soft serve is pillowy with a pure vanilla flavor that’s complemented by the restaurant’s excellent roster of toppings: chewy rice-flour dumplings, sweet azuki beans, green tea syrup or all of them together ("the works").

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West Village
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10

Cha Cha Matcha

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.

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Little Italy
11

Cafe Zaiya

With locations in the East Village and Midtown, this Japanese bakery is much-loved for its selection of tasty snacks including onigiri, bento boxes and house-baked breads. But the number one customer favorite by far is Zaiya’s excellent soft serve, available in matcha, black sesame, or, even better, a swirl of the two. The matcha is dark and strong, the sesame nutty and sweet, and together they’re a summer dream.

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Midtown
12

Dairy Queen

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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Greenwich Village
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