Whether you’re vegan-curious or already following a plant-based diet, New York serves up some of the yummiest scoops of nondairy ice cream and frozen desserts on the planet.
Here are some of the best places to enjoy vegan ice cream and other frozen treats around town, from refreshing sorbet to shaved ice. You might even remember 2019 as the summer when tofu ice cream totally became a thing. Your Instagram will thank you for following this sweet tour.
Ample Hills Creamery
Named for a line in the Walt Whitman poem "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," this scoop shop was launched by ice cream-loving couple and parent-preneurs Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna in 2011. It became a near overnight success story: Smith and Cuscuna sold out their first run in just four days. Last year, they expanded into a 15,000-square-foot factory in Red Hook and opened their first West Coast shop in addition to the 12 in New York City/New Jersey and one in Florida. Inspired by the classic candy bar and trick-or-treat favorite, Ode to Joy is a nondairy, coconut cream-based ice cream swirled with almond-fudge brownies — for the ultimate nutty goodness. They also serve up pure chocolately bliss — without dairy — in the Oh Fudge!, made with dark chocolate, coconut milk and a splash of rum. (Locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens; amplehills.com)
Republic of Booza
Since opening in June 2018, this Williamsburg shop has introduced Brooklynites to the addictive quality of “chewy” ice cream. First developed in the eastern Mediterranean more than 500 years ago, booza is made with ground sahlab orchid root and mastic resin, which gives the ice cream some bite. With Republic of Booza’s modern spin, among the classic, global and experimental flavors, the shop regularly sells between two and five vegan options, including coconut milk boozas and smooth sahlab sorbets. Vegan flavors include guava-plum powder sorbet, which was part of a collaboration series with Win Son in Bushwick, as well as raspberry EVOO, chocolate-orange truffle and French lavender. (76 N. Fourth St., republicofbooza.com)
This hip vegan chain sells dairy-free ice cream in all of its NYC locations. The flavors, which are also gluten free, range from classic options like chocolate to unconventional picks like kale-cookie. Some of their most popular flavors, such as birthday cake with rainbow sprinkles and chocolate-chocolate with dark chocolate chips, are made from a base of coconut oil and coconut cream, but the ingredients vary from flavor to flavor. Other must-tries are coffee + cookies with cinnamon espresso cookies, which is a sweet pick-me-up for a long day, and the PB+J with grape jelly swirl, which instantly takes you back to grade school paper bag lunches. Or, there’s the strawberry jam with strawberry swirl, which tastes like the sweetest days of summer. (Locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan; eatbychloe.com)
This colorful, woman-owned shop in the West Village specializes in Mexican sweets, including incredibly photogenic frozen desserts, such as sorbet, handmade paleta ice pops, and shaved ice. Most of the ice pops are vegan and come in fruity and creamy flavors, including cucumber lime, mango chile, and hibiscus raspberry. For the uninitiated though, perhaps the tastiest draw is chamoyada, a sweet and spicy shaved ice. The slushy, frozen treat starts with a fruity sorbet like mango swirled with chamoy, or traditional condiments made from pickled fruit. The combination of pickled plum sauce, salted chile, and tamarind candy hits notes of salty, sweet, and sour for a hard-to-pinpoint flavor experience. (240 Sullivan St., Greenwich Village, lanewyorkina.com)
il laboratorio del gelato
Made in the Lower East Side, this expansive gelato shop with downtown locations on Ludlow Street and University Place generally offers 49 flavors at a time, a dozen of which are vegan sorbet. They keep the formula for sorbet delightfully simple: It’s around 90 percent fruit with sugar and water — allowing fruit flavors to shine through in all their fresh, seasonal goodness. The encyclopedic roster of sorbets past and present have included pretty much every color of grape — red, green, black, concord — and variety of apple — Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, green, Honeycrisp — as well as many, many other berry and citrusy flavors, and unexpected options, such as celery and cucumber. (188 Ludlow St. and 56 University Pl.; laboratoriodelgelato.com)
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
With a fleet of trucks and brick-and-mortar shops across the boroughs, Van Leeuwen has blossomed into a homegrown ice cream empire, all from the pastel yellow ice cream truck it launched in 2008. Since the beginning, the brand has championed good old-fashioned ice cream made from a handful of natural ingredients. The vegan flavors are made with cashew, coconut and cocoa butter and include standards like chocolate and mint chip, as well as slumber-party-ready indulgences like chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter chocolate chip, and cookies and cream caramel swirl. For summer, the toasted coconut blondie and cookie crumble with strawberry jam might just be perfection served on a cone. (Locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens; vanleeuwenicecream.com)
Sundaes and Cones
A few blocks from Astor Place on East 10th Street between Third and Fourth avenues, this neighborhood ice cream shop is rolling out two new vegan ice cream flavors right in time for its 13th birthday this month. The newbie flavors round out their current dairy-free and vegan offerings, which include a citrusy grapefruit and red orange sorbet. After months in the test kitchen, they’ve put the finishing touches on a soy-based tofu ice cream, which is similar to a frozen version of doufu hua Chinese tofu pudding, and passion fruit sorbet, which has a balance of sweet and tart. They can also make vegan ice cream cakes of all sizes on request. (95 E. 10th St., East Village, sundaescones.com)