It's the hottest time of the year in Austin with high humidity making its way to the region. Cooling off is easy to do with a cold treat and nothing can compare to the delectable sweetness of ice cream. This summer treat is essential for those looking for some sweet delights that can keep the hot sun at bay. Thankfully in Austin there are a multitude of delicious treats to enjoy and many have their own unique spin on the traditional recipe.
In honor of the 11th annual Austin Ice Cream Festival taking place this August 12th at Fiesta Gardens, we've compiled a list of the best Austin ice cream shops that have made their mark on the tastebuds of residents. We have only two qualifications: the business has to serve some of the best ice cream in Austin and the business has to have been originally founded in Austin. After all, keeping Austin tastes local is part of what makes the city so great!
Image source: Amy's Ice Cream
If you've asked anyone in Austin where to get some ice cream, it's almost guaranteed that you were referred to Amy's Ice Creams. They've been serving Austinites ice cream in hundreds of flavors since 1984. With 12 locations in Austin, you're never too far from a delicious sundae with any of the toppings you'd like.
What sets Amy's apart is their constantly rotating menu of ice cream flavors. You'd have to become a regular visitor to explore the entire selection, but most likely you still would not get tired of their creative flavor combinations.
We asked our resident ice cream enthusiasts about their favorite flavors and here's what they said: "Amy's Sweet Cream flavor is my favorite, because I can combine it with any of their toppings. Whether I'm looking for fruity or chocolatey, I almost always spring for the Sweet Cream - and it's delicious without being too sweet."
Image source: Teo's Gelato
Looking for an authentic Italian gelato taste? Teo is a unique Austin staple due to the pedigree of its founder. Matthew Lee founded the company in 2003, and has been crafting custom gelato flavors for Austinites ever since. What makes the delicious, creamy treats even more special is that Lee has won several awards and gained recognition locally, nationally, and even internationally for the Italian ice cream he makes.
According to the Teo website, "Teo placed as the top American born gelato maestro in North America and went on to be voted Top 5 out of 24 by the Italians at the Gelato World Finals in Rimini, Italy." Teo also offers a full menu of espresso and coffee drinks to go along with your frozen dessert.
Those who wish to get a taste of this delicious gelato are encouraged to pick up a pint of Teo's ice cream at their local HEB. While it might not be the same as freshly made gelato, it's the perfect way to get a taste of what Teo has to offer.
Image source: Dolce Neve Gelato
Fans of authentic gelato are in for a treat since Dolce Neve features an impressive array of items that are made by a notable gelato expert Francesca who studied and refined her skills to make some of Austin's most delicious frozen treats.
Taking a look at their menu reveals some delicious sounding treats including Ricotta, Honey, and Pistachio, Stracciatella, Whiskey and Pecan, and even Fromage Blanc and Apricot Jam. It's safe to say that those who wish to get a taste of Italy or are simply looking to enjoy some delectable delights have found the perfect place.
Image source: Sweet Ritual
Sweet Ritual was first founded in Austin in 2011, but only opened their doors at their current location in June of 2016. From the beginning, joint owners Valerie and Amelia have been committed to providing ice cream to Austin residents with all manner of dietary restrictions.
All of Sweet Rituals menu items are dairy free, and most can be made to be gluten free as well. This means their entire selection is also vegan (see for yourself by checking out their impressively inclusive ingredients list).
That said, they are very specific about the formulas they use for their creations, matching ice cream flavors to each different non-dairy base (they can make ice cream from coconut, almond, cashew, or even avocado) to ensure a delicious taste.
When we asked our Austin ice cream specialist to weigh in, the reply was, "The ice cream didn't even remotely taste 'vegan.' I probably wouldn't have known if nobody told me. I thought it was totally delicious."
Image source: Lick Ice Cream
Lick brands themselves as "honest ice creams." They're very proud of the artisan desserts they create, and are very clear about their ingredients. Their website states: "We never use artificial colors or flavors, high fructose corn syrup or preservatives, ever!"
When you visit one of Lick's Austin ice cream shops, you'll be able to choose from a variety of creative flavor combinations. Chocolate, Coconut & Peanut Butter, Caramel Salt Lick, or Coffee With Cream don't sound particularly unique, but the more daring can try ice cream flavored with Roasted Beets & Fresh Mint, Carrots & Tarragon, or Goat Cheese, Thyme & Honey.
Our ice cream expert was impressed by the creative and inventive tastes of Lick's offerings: "All the flavors looked and tasted so good, I had a hard time deciding! They also seemed to have a lot of savory ice cream options, if sweet isn’t really your thing. I would definitely try it if you haven’t been there before, but I honestly think some of Teo’s stranger flavors definitely compare to those at Lick, and Teo crushes Lick as far as texture goes."
Image source: SPUN Ice Cream
SPUN Ice Cream was founded by two sisters that specialize in seasonal ice cream treats made using liquid nitrogen. Each order is made fresh and then flash frozen in minutes to avoid the use of any preservatives which gives it an incredible taste with a smooth texture.
The highlight of SPUN are the unique pairings made from scratch by Chef Christina Cheng. She makes a rotating menu of delicious seasonal treats and toppings including Corn Cookie Crumble, Caramel Popcorn Sprinkles, and Texas Pecan Brittle. There are also several vegan / dairy free / gluten free options which are perfect for those with a unique taste.
Image source: The Science Cream
While SPUN might offer delectable liquid nitrogen treats, the true pioneer of the art in Austin was The Science Cream. They opened up the first liquid nitrogen ice cream shop in Austin as a way to make ice cream delicious and fun for everyone.
Apart from the unique preparation method there are also a multitude of delicious specialities including Pistachio Oil, seasonal flavors, as well as non dairy options. It's a delightful treat with a fun name that is sure to cool off many Austinites who wish to enjoy an atomically delicious treat.
Image source: Cow Tipping Creamery
Lovers of soft serve ice cream have been in search of a unique twist on this underrated classic, and thankfully Cow Tipping Creamery is here to fill in the gap. While their soft serve options are simple - always vanilla, always chocolate, and a seasonal flavor - their menu is jam packed with toppings, sauces, fruits, and unique additions to help you find your perfect flavor.
Some notable highlights from their menu include the Southern Charm, Fluffer Nutter, Mango-a-Gogo, and It's Your Birthday. From specialty shakes to stacked delights, Cow Tipping Creamery is a must see for those who are looking for a unique and soft treat.
Image source: Prohibition Creamery
Who said ice cream is only for kids? Prohibition Creamery is offering ice cream with a twist by infusing their handcrafted delights with intoxicating flavors. By adding in alcohol they manage to create some interesting combinations including Mezcal Vanilla, Sangria Sorbet, and Whiskey Chocolate with Boozy Brownie Bits.
They offer some classic flavors but all of the items on their menu offer a delicious combination of ingredients for a sophisticated flavor. They also offer a wide selection of cocktails for those who are looking to unwind with an alcohol infused delight.
Image source: Holla Mode
Thai style ice cream is an underrated delighted that few have had a chance to experience and taste. This unique ice cream is made by combining the flavors and placing them on a frozen steel surface. Chop in a few toppings and the ice cream forms before your very eyes.
The scroll styled ice cream features a unique taste made with fresh local dairy or organic coconut milk. There are also a wide variety of delicious offerings including Sticky Mango, Oreo Speedwagon, Honey Bear, and Remember the Alamode. This unique way of serving ice cream is one that is sure to tantalize those who are looking for a visually appealing treat that has enormous amounts of flavor.
Delicious Treats To Enjoy
Austin is a city packed with unique weirdness and the food available offers a unique twist on the tried and true nature of ice cream. Those who wish to step into the wild side are sure to appreciate the multitude of delicious treats that are available in this amazing city.