The vegan ice cream section at most grocery stores seems to be growing by the day. But, what if you want to grab dairy free at a ice cream shop near you? Maybe you want to stop and get a cone after a movie or get a couple scoops or a Saturday afternoon. What places are serving great dairy free ice cream?
We’re going to tell you about where we feel are the best six places with dairy free ice cream. All the places in this article are chains. You may have a great local shop that serves dairy free ice cream and if you do, by all means, go there. Honestly, though, those are pretty hard to find. The chains we have on our list have locations all over the country (all over the world for that matter), so there’s a good chance one of these places is close to you.
Before we get into that, we want to answer a question we get quite a bit.
What’s the difference between vegan ice cream and dairy free ice cream?
Basically, eggs. While all vegan ice cream is dairy free, dairy free ice cream could technically have eggs (as most dairy ice creams usually do) and therefore not be vegan. Having said that, rare is the case where a dairy free ice cream has eggs. In fact, Jen and I couldn’t think of any dairy free ice creams we know of that aren’t vegan. This makes business sense, because to have a dairy free ice cream that isn’t vegan would basically mean alienating your target demographic.
For the basis of this article, all the dairy free ice creams mentioned here are vegan as well.
Our Favorite Chains Serving Up Dairy Free Ice Cream
Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s is most well known for their ice cream pints which can be found in most grocery stores. What is a little less well known is that Ben & Jerry’s also has over 600 locations all over the globe. They were founded in 1978 in Vermont by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. Ben & Jerry’s is known for their funky and creative ice cream flavors that now includes all of their dairy free flavors.
Ben & Jerry’s tops the list with the most dairy free ice cream flavors. They currently have 13 dairy free flavors and are releasing a few new dairy free pints at the time we’re writing this including a Netflix and Chilled peanut butter and pretzel flavor. In addition to a ton of vegan ice cream flavors, the sugar cones do not contain any animal products and Ben & Jerry’s can also create for you a vegan ice cream cake upon request (check with your local scoop shop).
To see everything vegan that Ben & Jerry’s has to offer, check out our Ben & Jerry’s Cheat Sheet
With over 8,000 locations worldwide, around 2,500 of those in the US, Baskin Robbins is easily the largest chain on our list. In fact, they’re bigger than all of the other chains combined. Their parent company is Dunkin Brands, which will make sense to anyone who has come across a Dunkin Donut & Baskin Robbins combo store.
In 2019, Baskin Robbins began adding vegan and dairy free options to their menu. They have two dairy free ice creams now, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Extreme. In addition to vegan ice cream they also have Ices and Sorbets that are vegan as well.
Bruster’s is the most recent place to join the club in offering dairy free ice creams. In the spring of 2020, Bruster’s announced that they would begin offering dairy free ice cream. Unlike Baskin Robbins though, Bruster’s is jumping in with both feet. They unveiled 9 dairy free ice cream flavors including Cookie n Cream w/OREO, Mint Chocolate Chip and Strawberry Banana to name a few. They also have over a dozen Italian Ices and Sorbets that are vegan as well.
Bruster’s is an old school, walk up to the window, type scoop shop. They make all of their ice creams fresh, right on site. Bruster’s are now located in 21 different states and even has a couple international locations. While not as widely available as Ben & Jerry’s and Baskin Robbins, Bruster’s also sells their pints nationwide. So, if you don’t have a Bruster’s close by, take a look at your grocery store and maybe you’ll get lucky there.
Creamistry is the first of two nitrogen ice cream shops on our list. At creamistry you pick your ‘base’, they have three non-dairy bases. coconut, cashew and a pineapple sorbet called nitrodole. Then you pick from over 20 different vegan flavors and toppings and once you have everything exactly how you want it, they use liquid nitrogen to “instantly freeze each ice cream order, resulting in a decadently rich and luxuriously creamy ice cream with virtually no overrun.”
Creamistry has over fifty locations stretching across the southern US stretching all the way from Los Angeles to Savannah, Georgia.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is an artisan ice cream company that was founded in Columbus, Ohio and now has almost 50 locations in 12 different states. Jeni’s sets themselves apart by producing extremely unique and creative flavors like Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns and Roasted Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jam Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert. Jen is a huge fan of Jeni’s and did a full review of Jeni’s Roasted Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jam.
They have five different dairy free ice cream flavors and a dairy free sorbet. Three of the five ice creams and the sorbet are also gluten free as well. If you don’t have a Jeni’s scoop shop near you then try your grocery store. Jeni’s pints have been rapidly expanding and showing up in more and more grocery stores.
Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream
Sub Zero is the second nitrogen ice cream shop along with Creamistry. They have a vegan dairy free base that you can then add flavors and mix-ins at your desire. Sub Zero was founded in 2004 and now has over 50 franchises in the US and a couple international locations as well. They even appeared on Shark Tank in 2013.
Sub Zero excels at the amount of vegan options that they offer. Sub Zero’s options can vary by location, but all will offer at least one of four (many locations carry more than one) different non dairy bases – coconut, almond, cashew or oat milk. Then you can pick from over 50 different flavors and toppings which leads to a near limitless amount of combinations.
Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt
So, if you’ve been keeping track, you’ll know that this is actually number 7. That’s because while Orange Leaf doesn’t have ice cream, they do have some great dairy free yogurt options. They have about a dozen flavors of each that are made with almond milk. If you’re getting frozen yogurt they have over 200 different toppings. They also have about a dozen smoothie options that can be made with almond milk.
Orange Leaf has as many locations as they have toppings, with over 200 locations in the US and Internationally. So, if you’re willing to go with yogurt in place of ice cream, then Orange Leaf is a great option to go with.
Places You CAN’T Get Dairy Free Ice Cream
We’ve highlighted some of the best places with dairy free ice cream, but there are still some very popular ice cream shops that still don’t carry non-dairy options. If you have one of these locations near you reach out to them and let them know that you’d like to see dairy free options in their stores!
- Cold Stone Creamery
- Dairy Queen
- Marble Slab Creamery
One very popular brand that we’ve yet to mention is Haagen-Dazs. Haagen-Dazs has a few dairy free pints that you can pick up at grocery stores, but currently only offers one of the those flavors (Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle) in their stores. One option definitely isn’t enough to make the brand one of our ‘best’, but you can get a scoop there if that’s the best you’ve got where you live.
Dairy free ice cream is growing at a tremendous clip. Just within the last year two of the bigger ice cream chains in the country, Baskin Robbins and Bruster’s, have joined in on the dairy free movement. We expect to see this trend continue to grow as more and more businesses come to realize that there is a strong demand for ice cream without the dairy and eggs.
We hope you found this info helpful for the next time you’re out and about and looking for a place to grab a couple scoops. Lastly, please don’t forget to look for local ice cream shops that may also offer dairy free options as well.