Best Ice Cream Chains in the U.S.
Some people dream of summer days filled with the refreshing freeze of ice cream. But those who know better know that this perfect treat is good no matter the weather. Whether it's so hot that the asphalt is melting or snow is falling, we'll always be in the mood for this sugary dessert.
While we love mom-and-pop shops, sometimes you want something familiar. In these cases, your best bet is to go to a chain with tried and true flavors. Wondering where to go? These are the top 5 best ice cream chains in the United States.
5. Dairy Queen
Year founded: 1940
Headquarters: Bloomington, Minnesota
Number of states with a store: 49
Bottom Line: Dairy Queen
The fast food queen of ice cream, Dairy Queen is known for having good desserts at very affordable prices. Its Blizzards let you add a wide variety of toppings to complement soft-serve ice cream. But if you're more in the mood for a traditional cone or sundae, those are available too.
And if you want a meal before dessert, DQ also has burgers, French fries, chicken strips and other fast food staples.
Year founded: 1945
Headquarters: Canton, Massachusetts
Number of states with a store: 44
Bottom Line: Baskin-Robbins
With stores in 44 states and 50 countries, Baskin-Robbins is popular around the world. It's famous for having 31 flavors, which rotate regularly. This means you'll always have a new flavor to try, even if you've been coming to the chain for years.
Besides traditional ice cream, you'll find ice cream cakes, sundaes, floats, and Polar pizzas, which are dessert pizzas made with a cookie or brownie crust and ice cream toppings. Do you even need any more convincing?
Year founded: 1960
Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Number of states with a store: 28
Bottom Line: Haagen-Dazs
Despite what its name might suggest, Häagen-Dazs is an American brand of ice cream — and one of the most premium ones at that. The price is a bit higher than in other places, but it's justified because of its signature creamy texture and a lack of preservatives or artificial flavors.
The chain is known for having mostly traditional flavors, but you'll also find some delicious mixes like the bourbon praline pecan ice cream.
2. Cold Stone Creamery
Year founded: 1988
Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona
Number of states with a store: 48
Bottom Line: Cold Stone Creamery
You'll find Cold Stone Creamery in every U.S. state except Vermont and Mississippi, as well as in 20 countries. As soon as you walk in, you're greeted by the franchise's signature smell, which immediately transports you to the comfort of childhood.
The best part about Cold Stone — besides the high-quality of its ingredients — is that you can mix in ingredients like candy, nuts, sprinkles and fruit. This translates to infinite possibilities and the ability to customize your ice cream exactly how you want it.
1. Ben & Jerry's
Year founded: 1978
Headquarters: South Burlington, Vermont
Number of states with a store: 30
Bottom Line: Ben & Jerry's
Other chains might be good, but no one can compare to Ben & Jerry's. Founded in 1978 by two Vermont brothers, the brand uses Fair Trade, non-GMO ingredients that are real. Yep, you heard that right. Rather than getting chocolate-flavored ice cream, you're getting ice cream made with real chocolate. It sounds like a given, but it's actually not that common.
Indulge in signature flavors like Chunky Monkey (made with banana, fudge and walnuts), Cherry Garcia and Half Baked (which gives you both cookie dough and fudge brownie). And if you ever visit Montpelier or Burlington in Vermont, make sure to plan a day trip to the Ben & Jerry's Factory — the tastings alone are worth it.