10 Cool Midwest Ice Cream Shops
Summer is just around the corner, and we’re craving ice cream in creative flavors. Here are some favorite artisan ice cream shops throughout the Midwest. Check them out on your next road trip—or for some, order online and enjoy these sweet treats at home.
Clementine's Creamery, St. Louis
Tamara Keefe makes some of the booziest ice cream around, with "naughty" flavors like tequila chocolate mole, Manhattan and maple bourbon with salted candied pecans. There are plenty of kid-friendly options too, including mint chip with Missouri-grown spearmint, gooey butter cake and honey lavender. Keefe first started making ice cream as a young girl using a hand-crank ice cream maker her mother purchased at a garage sale. Fast-forward to today and Clementine's Creamery has four storefronts across St. Louis. Their super indulgent ice cream contains 16-18% butterfat content churned with milk and cream from local dairy farmers; dairy-free vegan flavors like lemon poppyseed and maple miso are made with a coconut cream base. The best part: they ship pints nationally.
Lick Ice Cream, Indianapolis
After opening their new scoop shop in the Garage Food Hall in January, Lick Ice Cream has quadrupled their production volume and started shipping regionally. Menu items include organic milkshakes and ice cream sandwiches with small-batch cookies by Salamat. Earl Grey peppermint, gingersnap lemon curd and salted caramel with sage are a few classic flavors by the sisters behind this sweet brand, but every summer the duo comes up with fun seasonal flavors inspired by farmers market produce too.
Pretty Cool Ice Cream, Chicago
At Blackbird and Avec, pastry chef Dana Cree was known for her beautiful and delicious plated desserts, and more often than not, these sweet creations were served a la mode with a scoop of freshly churned ice cream. In 2017, Cree published an ice cream cookbook and the following year, she opened Pretty Cool Ice Cream in Logan Square, a whimsical family-friendly spot specializing in ice cream novelties, individually packaged ice cream pops in flavors like passionfruit buttermilk, peanut butter potato chip and strawberry shortcake. There are miniature kid-sized pony pops and even a puppy pop for your dog, made with sesame paste, bananas and water.
Purple Door Ice Cream, Milwaukee
Starting with the best Wisconsin milk and cream, Purple Door Ice Cream creates innovative flavors like Door County cherry chocolate chunk and toasted oatmeal. Their Walker's Point scoop shop offers 20 flavors by the scoop and they make mean sundaes and ice cream cakes too. As much as possible, Purple Door works with local ingredients, such as Eastside Dark beer from Lakefront Brewery, espresso from Anodyne Coffee Roasters and chocolate cookies from Sugar and Flour Bakery in their milk and cookies flavor. Pints are available to order online and ship throughout the Midwest.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Columbus, Ohio
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is the most successful and widely known Midwest ice cream brand in recent years, with 18 scoop shops across the Midwest. The dairy-free line is as luscious and full-bodied as traditional ice cream with flavors like cold brew with coconut cream. For summer, sweet cream biscuits & peach jam and brambleberry crisp are a couple of bestsellers. You can order online for delivery and find pints of classics like salty caramel in Whole Foods, Target, Meijer, Kroger and Jewel grocery stores. The latest creation: Wedding Cake, combining vanilla cake with lemon, blackberries and buttercream icing; available for a limited time beginning June 2, 2021.
Zingerman's Creamery, Ann Arbor, Michigan
This Ann Arbor institution is best known for their deli and mail-order catalog of treats but Zingerman's Creamery makes some of the best cheese and gelato in the state, using Italian equipment and techniques and incorporating fresh Michigan ingredients. There's black and blueberry sorbet every summer and pawpaw gelato with ripe Michigan pawpaws in autumn. All the gelato is made to order in small batches with Calder Dairy milk and organic Demerara brown sugar.
Bebe Zito Ice Cream, Minneapolis
Newlyweds Ben Spangler and Gabriella Grant opened their Uptown ice cream shop, Bebe Zito Ice Cream, during the pandemic, with a second location opening this summer at Malcolm Yards Food Hall. They specialize in handcrafted, small-batch ice cream. A few of their creative flavors have been California marzipan, mezcal, prickly pear with tequila and lime, and strawberry rhubarb razz jam with cream cheese.
Leones' Creamery, Spearfish, South Dakota
The smell of fresh waffle cones draws you into this small ice cream shop in the Black Hills, where you'll find eight rotating flavors of ice cream available by the scoop along with novelties like Neapolitan ice cream sandwiches. Leones' Creamery was founded in 2014 and quickly became a beloved hangout in Spearfish and first stop for visitors passing through. There's a virtual Scoop It Forward program where you can anonymously treat friends to ice cream. And those waffle cones? They happen to be gluten-free too.
Coneflower Creamery, Omaha
Co-owners Brian Langbehn and Katie Arant are ice cream chefs, taking a thoughtfully culinary approach to creative flavors at Coneflower Creamery. They might pair locally sourced goat cheese from Honey Creek Creamery with swirls of tropical guava or mix chunks of homemade carrot cake into a simply sublime sweet cream ice cream. Classic flavors include butter brickle, salted caramel, and cookies and cream with homemade toppings like vegan whipped coconut, graham crumble and seasonal fruit compotes. You can also enjoy their ice cream at the new Kimpton Cottonwood hotel in Omaha's Blackstone District.
Pride Dairy, Bottineau, North Dakota
Pride Dairy was founded in the 1930s making butter; today they are the last small-town creamery in North Dakota. They're best known for their cheeses and ice cream, including popular juneberry and strawberry rhubarb flavors each summer. All ice cream is freshly churned from scratch, using local milk and cream, just as they made it in the 1940s. You can choose from 23 flavors at their retro ice cream parlor, and the fanciful sundaes are a real treat, served with homemade syrups and caramels.