I Scream, You Scream :: 15 of Boston’s Best Ice Cream Shops

Lucky for us, Boston is home to some of the world’s very best ice cream. What would summer be without a scoop (or two or three) of the sweet, creamy, frozen treat? Read on for a roundup of 15 of our favorite Massachusetts scoop shops.

1. Toscanini’s (Cambridge)

Dubbed the “best ice cream in the world” by the New York Times, Tosci’s is a long-standing Boston favorite with a fiercely loyal following. The super-rich ice cream is custard-like in its thickness, and the 32+ exquisite flavors (all house-made!) will bring you to Cambridge again and again. Our faves: Burnt Caramel, Gingersnap Molasses

2. Emack & Bolio’s (Boston, Charlestown, Orleans, Wellfleet, Chatham, and beyond)

Founded by a Boston music lawyer in the 1970s, Emack & Bolio’s stays true to its hippie roots, offering self-declared “outrageous” flavor combinations made from hormone-free milk and without dyes. And don’t miss their sweet selection of homemade chocolates, plus fantastic fruit smoothies with a huge variety of vitamins and herbs to mix in. Our faves: Chocolate Addiction, S’mOreo

Emack and Bolio's ice cream

3. J.P. Licks (Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Newton, Somerville, Wellesley, Andover, Lynnfield, Dedham)

J.P. Licks has racked up dozens of “best of” awards over the last three decades, and for good reason. Not only is the ice cream simply outstanding, the hard and soft frozen yogurts are intensely flavorful. Our faves: Coffee Cookies ‘n’ Cream, Fresh Peach

4. Picco (South End)

It’s the Pizza and Ice Cream Company, and both foods at this South End spot are first rate. Picco goes for pure and simple with their dozen flavors, which are all made in-house and with the best of ingredients — like the perfectly decadent melted Scharffen Berger chocolate used in the dark chocolate ice cream. Our faves: Dark Chocolate, Cinnamon

5. Kimball Farm (Carlisle, Westford, Lancaster)

Kimball Farm’s various locations boast everything from mini-golf to pony rides to antique car shows, but their claim to fame is the ice cream. Portions are downright sinful — the kiddie cone alone is a multi-scoop tower of rich, creamy goodness. If you’re feeling brave and have many hungry mouths to feed, go for the mammoth banana split. Our faves: Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl, Black Raspberry

kimball-farm-jaffrey-ice-cream

6. The Ice Creamsmith (Dorchester)

This 40-year-old family-run shop creates small batches featuring fresh, whole ingredients. Though their flavor profile may seem limited (banana, chocolate, mocha, sweet cream, and a handful of others), The Ice Creamsmith’s ample mix-ins allow happy customers to create hundreds of flavor combinations. Our faves: Frozen Pudding, Maple Walnut

7. FoMu (Fenway, South End, Jamaica Plain, Allston)

Even the most die-hard ice cream purists crave FoMu’s “alternative” plant-based, kosher ice cream. Using carefully sourced and local ingredients, FoMu’s ice cream uses creamy coconut milk as its base, with natural sweeteners like organic agave and unrefined cane sugar. Our faves: Salted Caramel, Almond Raspberry Crumble

8. Christina’s (Cambridge)

Regularly recognized as one of the very best cones in Boston, Christina’s ice cream is beyond ordinary. With more than 50 flavors on the menu at any given time, you’ll be just as enthralled with the inventive variety as you will be with the taste and texture. Our faves: Carrot Cake, Adzuki Bean

9. Gracie’s (Somerville)

Gracie’s is newer to the scene, but it’s a major hit. A perfect fit with the hipsters of Somerville, Gracie’s flavors are edgy (salty whiskey) and hyper-local (chocolate Fluff). And be sure to try one of their specialty cones, like the torched-to-order Fluff cone. Our faves: S’mores, PB & J

10. Rancatore’s (Belmont, Lexington, Newtonville)

Ranc’s is the suburban brother to Toscanini’s (literally — they’re owned by brothers), and it was founded with a vision to provide great customer service, an outstanding product with made-from-scratch toppings, and an attitude of giving back to the community. Our faves: Hydrox, Bittersweet Chocolate

Rancatores-ice-cream-and-yogurt-in-Belmont

11. Ben & Jerry’s (Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, Natick, Revere, and beyond)

What would a Boston ice cream roundup be without Ben & Jerry’s, a New England classic? Aside from the amazing ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s is awesome for their social missions, their commitment to incorporate wholesome and natural ingredients, and their wacky flavor names (Tonight Dough, anyone?). Our faves: Save Our Swirled, Chocolate Therapy

12. Lizzy’s (Cambridge, Waltham)

With an array of frozen treats in addition to the beloved hard ice cream — like sorbet, sherbet, yogurt, sugar-free ice cream, and “adult” options — Lizzy’s has something for everyone. Add one of 20+ toppings, and you can really make an already superb flavor your own. Our faves: White Pistachio, Columbian Fudge Avalanche

13. Reasons To Be Cheerful (Concord)

With a name like that, how could you not try this happy Concord cafe? Designed to be a neighborhood gathering place, Reasons To Be Cheerful offers crepes and grilled cheese for those looking for a pre-dessert savory option, with ice cream, fresh pastries, and coffee to top you off. The ice cream is made in small batches using hormone-free cream and milk, and the flavors are inspired by the season and the customers. Our faves: Salted Caramel Pretzel, Toasted Coconut

14. Richardson’s Farm (Middleton, Reading)

What better place to go for ice cream than an actual dairy farm? Richardson’s has been family run for the last 300 years, and their super premium ice cream has been on the scene for more than half a century. The Reading location features mini-golf, batting cages, a driving range, and outdoor tables overlooking the working farm, complete with sheep, chickens, ducks, and the dairy cows themselves. Our faves: Coffee Kahlua Brownie, German Chocolate Cake

15. Cookie Monstah (Danvers, Burlington, Swampscott, Needham, and beyond)

Nothing beats an ice cream sandwich! Even better when it’s farm-fresh ice cream and fresh-baked, from-scratch cookies! You can find the Cookie Monstah food truck roaming around Boston if you’re not near one of the Cookie Monstah storefronts. Our faves: Peanut Buttahcup, Salty Dog

Ashley is a Virginia native who moved to Boston — sight unseen — for a library science graduate degree she’s never exactly used. Within a year, she met her husband, a nerdy but handsome health economist. They planted roots in Arlington, MA, had three baby boys (2012, 2015, 2021), and entered the world of foster parenting in between. Ashley spends her days picking up Legos, freelance writing and editing, swimming at Walden Pond, and binge eating dark chocolate in the pantry when her kids have their backs turned.

2 COMMENTS

  1. J.P. Licks is the best! Especially oat eat cookie with hot fudge sauce. Christina’s was pretty fantastic too. I liked the Mexican chocolate when they have it. Some fine ice creams! Good article Ash.

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