The sun’s occasionally out and signs of summer have arrived (British summer does somewhat exist). There’s no better time than now to be indulging in ice cream! The London ice cream scene has developed quite a bit over the years as artisanal ice cream and innovative creations now take over the market. Are you searching for that velvety gelato or smooth soft serve? Or are you looking for funky flavours and unique creations? No matter your preference, London has definitely got you covered. Here is a list of the best ice cream in London for you to try this summer (although it’s ice cream season any time of the year, right?!)
Where to Find the Best Ice Cream in London
From Firenze to London, Badiani has always been my top spot for serving one of the best gelatos in town. They’ve been running the streets of Florence since 1932 and it’s safe to say that their success goes to their copyrighted artisanal gelato base since 1974 – a ridiculously fragrant, silky and velvety vanilla gelato that’s freshly handmade each day. All their other gelato flavours are developed from this base and makes it a gelato spot like no other. The Pistachio is my go-to flavour, closely followed by the Stracciatella. Other standout flavours include Coffee, Caramel, Hazelnut, and many more. In addition, there also do some amazing gelato cakes, gelato cookies, and pinguinos (gelato on a stick with chocolate coating – think of a magnum).
T’s Fried Scoop
Fried ice cream – yes, fried ice cream. Starting out in 2020, T’s Fried Scoop has only gone from strength to strength capturing the attention of the likes of Time Out, Daily Mail, and Thrillist, as well as plenty of curious foodies around town. It is essentially an ice cream scoop wrapped with dough with a coating of your choice and then deep-fried till golden. The coating offers a really good crunch and a terrific mix of hot and cold sensation in your mouth. Additionally, the dough has this almost cake-like texture which goes so well with the whole concept.
Want to know more about the story behind T’s Fried Scoop? Check out our interview here with their founder, Natasha, as she talks through what it’s like to start a business during a turbulent year and all the highs and lows.
Following the massive success of their Covent Garden summer pop up in 2019, since then Darlish has been making a return every year to satisfy your ice cream cravings! Usually, they reopen at the same spot but for 2022, they’ve moved just around the corner at St Martin’s Yard – just look out for the blue arch and you won’t miss it.
They are most known for their unique Middle Eastern ice cream flavours and you get the option to enjoy it in the form of their famous Baklava Ice Cream Sandwich! Personally, my favourite combo is the Iranian Pistachio sandwiched in between the lovely crispy baklava. The Rose & Saffron ice cream is also a popular pick for the baklava ice cream sandwich and, honestly, all their flavours are absolutely stellar. For regular scoops, our favourites include Chocolate Halwa, Turkish Coffee, etc.
Instead of the usual waffle cone, why not switch things up and get a Taiyaki cone?! Taiyaki is a Japanese fish-shaped cake, typically in small sizes and filled with sweet red beans or custard. Bake House makes some great traditional Taiyaki and also makes large Taiyaki cones filled with either vanilla or matcha soft serve. If you can’t make up your mind on flavour, you can get a mix of both! This Taiyaka Soft Serve is certainly a treat to the eye and a lovely ice cream pick in London Chinatown. Don’t forget to grab a little waffle for topping too!
Another great ice cream spot in London Chinatown is Bubblewrap. Bringing traditional Hong Kong-style bubble waffles into the spotlight, Bubblewrap has somehow become a Chinatown staple and a well-loved spot by everyone. Enjoy these freshly made bubble egg waffles, wrapped into a cone and generously filled with ice cream plus toppings of your choice. I was originally quite harsh on them as Hong Kong bubble waffles, traditionally, don’t come with ice cream and all these extravagant toppings. But having eventually tried them, I became a fan and they also did justice to the waffle itself. All these years later, there’s always a queue outside the shop, which just proves how good it is! Following the success of the first shop, they have now opened a second shop in Covent Garden too.
Anita Gelato London
After Australia, New York, Barcelona, and Limassol, the world-famous boutique ice cream shop, Anita Gelato, has launched in London as well! The story began when Mama Anita, with the help of her son, would whip up various frozen treats for friends and neighbours. Her son would make the ice cream base while she would whip up different jams from scratch to mix it in. Today, all ice creams are still 100% hand-made and any jam toppings would still come from Mama Anita’s kitchen. Apart from regular ice cream, the shop also offers the likes of frozen yoghurt, sorbets, and organic sugar-free/fat-free/soy-based ice creams. In other words, there’s something for everyone!
Another big name from Italy to London, Grom is a great ice cream parlour to stop by for some quality gelato. Their flagship Crema Di Grom (pastry cream with Meliga biscuits & chocolate pieces) is no doubt a popular hit, alongside other seasonal changing flavours including pistachio, coffee, chocolate, etc. as well as plenty of refreshing sorbet flavours. Grom has its own organic farm in Northern Italy where they source all their ingredients no matter the location – so you can always expect fresh and high-quality stuff from them!
Gelupo prides itself in making “uncompromisingly delicious gelato”. Its Soho shop features a charming blue-and-white tiled interior and offers a range of deli-inspired gelato & sorbet flavours. Traditional flavours aside, they dared to be different and make unique flavours such as Fresh Mint Stracciatella, Yoghurt & Lemongrass, Kiwi, Blood Orange, etc. In addition, one of the founders, Jacob Kennedy, has also written a cookbook on Gelupo’s gelato too! The name of the cookbook is Gelupo Gelato: A delectable palette of ice cream recipes, and is available in both hardcover and Kindle editions on Amazon.
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It’s an indisputable fact that Santa Nata makes amazing Portuguese Pasteis de Nata. Recently, they’ve been trying to expand their offerings without diverting from their sole & signature product. First up was their Pasteis de Nata Doughnuts, which are available on the weekends. And now, for this summer, they have launched soft serve ice cream as well! So yes, a Portuguese Pasteis de Nata in the form of soft-serve ice cream – which is lusciously creamy with a custardy flavour, and complemented with crispy pastry flakes.
La Gelatiera is definitely one of the top players in London when it comes to high-quality artisanal gelato. They are an award-winning gelateria and well-loved by many Italians in London. One particularly popular (and controversial) flavour is their Dark Chocolate & Chilli sorbet, featuring a scotch bonnet infused vegan dark chocolate sorbet that’s made with the finest Domori chocolate. It’s got a gentle kick to it and it’s one you shouldn’t knock it till you try it! Apart from gelato/sorbet scoops, their menu also offers crepes, pancakes, and waffles (vegan waffle is available too), as well as affogato and thick gelato shakes.
Not technically ice cream but Secret Nicky’s is one worth mentioning on the list as they have a unique icy treat to offer to Londoners. You have had frozen yoghurts, but what about frozen custard? Secret Nicky’s might just be London’s hottest secret at the moment as they become London’s first frozen custard & hot cookie dough cafe. Following their success as a pop-up in Covent Garden, they have now earned themselves a permanent spot there, serving you the dreamiest hot cookie dough topped with a swirl of cold and silky frozen vanilla custard. It seriously couldn’t get any more indulging and decadent than this. Want to get it served prettily in a Martini glass? Simply ask for “shaken, not stirred” when ordering!
Chin Chin is one of the first to bring liquid-nitrogen ice cream into the London market and took it by storm from the get-go. From there, Chin Chin continued to be crowned for serving one of the best hot chocolates and desserts in town. In other words, if you fancy something sweet? Head down to Chin Chin. Back to their ice cream, classic flavours include Tonka Bean, Burnt Butter Caramel (one of my favourites!), Valrhona Chocolate, Coffe & Olive Oil etc. and you get to choose from a range of toppings as well (personally, I like to go with their honeycomb). But if you want something more extravagant, they serve up a mean Tiramisu Sundae (no alcohol), Sticky Toffee Pudding Sundae, and many more eye-popping creations.
Mamason’s Dirty Ice Cream
The Filipino ice cream and dessert parlour swept the London market off its feet with its striking purple-coloured Ube ice cream and desserts. Apart from Ube, Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream offers a range of unique flavours such as Black Charcoal Coconut, Queso (i.e. cheese), Calamansi, and many more. My favourite treat from them ought to be their Bilog, which is basically a sweet toasted Filipino bun, a.k.a Pandesal, that’s filled with ice cream. Simply put, it’s like a pillowy doughnut stuffed with ice cream and it’s absolutely a heavenly and decadent treat!
Rosslyn Coffee might not be an obvious choice for an ice cream stop as it is an artisan speciality coffee shop. But they actually serve up some exquisite soft serve ice cream in the summer! In collaboration with Happy Endings Ice Cream, their Coffee Soft Serve features a vanilla-infused milk base (using The Estate Dairy) and it is then blended with a 24-hour cold brew from Origin Coffee Roasters and dusted with Mork Chocolate. Rosslyn Coffee has been claimed as one of the best independent coffee shops, not just in London, but in the world. And you can totally expect their coffee soft serve to be no short of coffee perfection!
Being UK’s first candy floss ice cream parlour, Milk Train dominated social media when it first opened and continued to be a popular dessert shop in Covent Garden. Milk Train calls itself “an experiential ice cream brand”, serving not just their iconic fluffy candy floss cloud ice cream, but also innovative ice cream flavours such as Sticky Mango Rice, Victoria Sponge, Rose & Raspberry, etc. These ice cream flavours are available in pints and are meant to transport you to a destination with every spoonful.
Bear’s Ice Cream
Bear’s Ice Cream is a small family-run ice cream parlour in west London, inspired by Icelandic ice cream traditions and combined with English seasonal flavours. Their signature Bears Glacier features high-quality Jersey Milk Ice Cream with various toppings of your choice, ranging from meringue and fresh fruits to cornflakes, nuts, popcorn, fudge, etc. Additionally, they also have plenty of other creative flavour combos such as Mango & Jasmine Tea Sorbet, Peanut Butter & Banana, Blueberry/Lavender Jam Meringue Swirl, and many more!
Oddono’s is one of the first artisanal gelaterias in London, started out in 2004 to fill the gap of London’s lack of quality gelatos back then. The South Kensington branch is their first shop, and where all the gelato is freshly made every day at their Artisan Laboratory. Over the years, they are recognized as an award-winning fresh Italian natural gelato shop and are still very well-loved by locals. Even Gordon Ramsay has once said, “make sure you get a scoop” about Oddono’s! Popular flavours include Pistachio, Nocciola Piemonte, Bacio (milky chocolate & hazelnut), Chocolate, Coconut Sorbet, etc. Ice cream cakes are also available to order.
Venchi is a world-recognised Italian gourmet chocolate brand and also makes some heavenly chocolate & hazelnut gelato that’s adored globally. The chocolate & hazelnut gelato is so enrichingly delicious and dreamy that’d leave you wanting more. We’d highly recommend grabbing their chocolate & hazelnut decorated cones as well, which are pretty to look at and also taste fantastic with their ice cream. Chocolate and/or hazelnut flavours aside, they also offer a range of sorbet flavours. Additionally, you can also enjoy their gelato over some freshly made crepes if you fancy!
DAPPA Ice Cream
DAPPA Ice Cream is a fully vegan ice cream parlour. All their ice creams are 10% plant-based and are made from nuts. They usually supply to restaurants in London but have now also got a stall in Brick Lane Ely’s Yard every Sunday to serve you their thick, rich and outrageously creamy vegan ice cream! The ice cream both looks and tastes so good that you won’t even realise it’s plant-based. There are all sorts of toppings available to choose from to build that perfect ice cream treat to indulge in!
Soft Serve Society
If you want quality soft serve ice cream, Soft Serve Society is one to be on the list. Their soft-serve sundaes are no doubt an eye-catching treat and feature creative flavour combos. Regular soft-serve and sundaes aside, they also do ice cream freakshakes, and more recently the likes of bubble tea, flavoured ice lattes, fruit teas, etc. You can find them at Boxpark Shoreditch and they’ve also opened in Seven Dials Market at the Cucumber Alley!
Did you know that some branches of Hotel Chocolat offer ice cream and it’s pretty amazing? Like their other chocolate offerings, the ice cream from Hotel Chocolat is no short of extraordinary. Infusing a mix of Jersey milk and cream with their pure roasted cocoa nibs, the resulting product is a sensational swirl of silky and velvety ice cream with a unique note of flavour seeping through the palate. It seemed bold to name themselves “Ice Cream of The Gods” but it’s definitely one right up there!
You can trust that Udderlicious’ ice cream are going to be utterly delicious! They are founded by a husband-and-wife duo, who have a background in the ice cream business and have spent years experimenting and adapting recipes. Their flavours are innovative and experimental. Some example of flavours include Eton Mess, Chocolate & Marmite, Oreo Cheesecake, Birthday Cake, Espresso & Chocolate Biscotti, Avocado Stracciatella, etc. Additionally, each month, you get to vote for your favourite three flavours and the top flavours will be featured in-store for the following month.
Festok is a Lebanese artisan ice cream brand, who started out in 2017 at food markets, and later serving at the likes of Harrods and Harvey Nichols. The Knightsbridge high-end department stores aside, you can now find Festok’s own little shop in Marylebone, serving you freshly made ice cream and Middle Eastern desserts daily! If you’re wondering, Lebanese ice cream has a more elastic texture than regular ice cream and is generally lighter to taste. In addition to the traditional flavours of Achta, Pistachio and Rose, they also have some of their own bespoke flavours such as Osmalieh, Halva, Date, Turmeric, Carob and Meghli.
This is one for those who fancied ice cream without breaking their healthy diet regime. Yole focuses on low-calorie ice cream and are completely free of added sugar. It’s healthier but the flavours are completely uncomproised. Whether it’s ice cream or frozen yoghurt, you won’t be able to tell the difference compared to regular treats.
You would’ve seen me mentioning Tsujiri’s matcha soft serve on my London’s best matcha desserts guide and it’s definitely worth another mention here for London ice cream spots. Using premium matcha powder, the popular matcha dessert house makes a really good matcha soft serve and sundaes to indulge in. It doesn’t stop at matcha but they also offer hojicha and black sesame flavours. If ordering the sundaw, there are plenty of classic Japanese toppings such as red beans, mochi balls, kinako, kuromitsu, and/or genmai.
Knoops specialises in chocolate, an idea that’s born out of persistence for the perfect hot chocolate recipe. For hotter days where hot chocolate isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds, they have then gone on trying to perfect the best ice cream recipe and et viola! Knoops’ ice cream is crafted from whipped soft serve that’s made with real white chocolate, drizzled with their popular 54% chocolate that’s made into a sauce plus a little Knoops chocolate disc on top as a final touch. It’s going to be as lovely as their hot chocolates!