Phoenix is hot (most of the time). Ice cream is cold and delicious (always). With these simple truths in mind, it follows that ice cream should be popular and available in abundance in Phoenix. Based on our research, that is absolutely the case.
Two shops—Churn and Sweet Republic—have some of the best ice cream we've tasted anywhere, while others have something unique to offer, like the frosty vegan soft serve at Nami, the retro-throwback atmosphere at Mary Coyle, or the playful flavors at Pink Spot and Melt.
Another reason to love the ice cream shops in Phoenix is that most of them understand that ice cream cravings can strike late at night. Churn is open until 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Sweet Republic and Mary Coyle stay open until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and you can get your fix at Melt until midnight every day of the week.
Scroll down to take a look at some of our favorite ice cream shops in Phoenix.
If ice cream is your #1 love, Churn is your sugar-scented paradise. The case is stocked with a dozen rotating flavors of frozen treats ranging from chocolate sorbet to Peaches 'n Honey ice cream, along with fresh baked cookies and retro candies galore. The ice creams and sorbets are so high-quality that no accoutrements are necessary, but looking past the fresh-baked cookies and house-made toppings like salted caramel, hot fudge, chocolate sauce, toffee sauce, and crunchy chocolate toffee would be completely missing the point.
Sundaes, like the Fat Elvis ($6.25) with peanut butter ice cream, salted caramel, sliced banana, whipped cream, and chocolate rocks, or Little Freezies (blended sundaes served in a cup, each $6.25) are always a great choice, but our money is on the ice cream cookie sandwiches ($5).
They're made to order with your choice of any two cookies from a selection that rotates daily and a whopping scoop of ice cream. We tried every single flavor of ice cream in the case and each was equally as good as the last, but if pressed for some favorites, the Toasted Coconut, Vietnamese Coffee, Butter Pecan, and Blackberry Buttermilk were all at the top of the class (of over-achievers).
Now with three locations (Phoenix, Scottsdale, and the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport), it's easier than ever to get an ice cream fix at Sweet Republic. Co-owner Helen Yung, who attended Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney, takes ice cream production seriously. Dairy products are sourced from independent Arizona farms, and everything is made from scratch, in small batches (including sauces, waffle cones, cookies, and toppings).
Many of the two dozen rotating flavors here are adventurous, sometimes blending sweet with savory and spicy elements, like the Honey Blue Cheese, Sichuan Chocolate, and Mayan Chocolate flavors. If you like the classics, Madagascar Vanilla, Strawberry, and Brownie Swirl are there for you. Selections change daily, check the shop's Facebook page or Instagram feed for the day's flavors.
To take the best advantage of all Sweet Republic has to offer, build your own Double Trouble sundae ($6.25) with two scoops of ice cream, one topping, one sauce, and whip. Salted Caramel and Peanut Butter Chocolate with a handmade, torched marshmallow is always a great choice. The Triple Play comes with an extra scoop for only $1 more.
If you love fruity flavors, try the huckleberry ice cream, jam-packed with berries imported from Oregon. It's great in a waffle cone or sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies ($4.50).
Even if you're all about ice cream, it's smart to consider a single scoop of sorbet, like Lemon Shiso ($3). With its acidic bite and minty undertones, it's the perfect palate cleanser.
This trendy, all-vegan café specializes in pastries, specialty coffee beverages made with beans from Royal Roastery, and "tSoynamis" ($4.50), soy and coconut milk soft serve mixed up with everything from organic peanut butter to ricemellow fluff. Choose from 16 pre-designed flavors like Dough Boy (house-made vegan chocolate chip cookie dough and organic chocolate), NO's 'n' Mint (Newman's Original Chocolate O's, mint flavor, and organic chocolate), and Vegan Ts'mores (organic graham crackers, organic vegan chocolate, and ricemellow fluff), or design your own.
The soft serve has a mellow coconut flavor with a touch of vanilla. It's light and totally refreshing, with an icy texture similar to a Wendy's Frosty (but dairy-free). If you're iffy about vegan alternatives, choose a flavor with no unfamiliar substitutes, like the PB 'n' J (organic peanut butter, strawberries, and organic graham crackers), or the Soy Capitan (Cap'n Crunch and fresh strawberries).
This quirky scoop shop is right at home in downtown Phoenix's 5th Street, part of Roosevelt Row, an artsy enclave populated by galleries, vintage boutiques, book stores, coffee shops, and live music venues. The display case is stocked with 18 flavors of sorbet, frozen yogurt, and ice cream, all made locally by Superstition Farm in Mesa.
They've got all of the basics like chocolate, vanilla, and cookies & cream covered, but this is a great place to try something unusual, like cucumber sorbet, Fruity Pebbles ice cream, or Super Farm (chocolate ice cream with hazelnuts and Nutella swirled in). Single scoops are $3.75, but additional scoops are only $1 more ($4.75 for a double or $5.75 for a triple). A house-made waffle cone is 75 cents extra, or you can opt for a Chinese take-out container (with a fortune cookie on top) at no extra charge.
True to the name of the shop, the ice cream is all pretty soft, and melts quickly under the scorching Phoenix sun, so plan on eating it right away, ideally on the outdoor patio.
If you grew up in Phoenix, you probably went to this ol' fashion ice cream parlor" with your Grandma. In fact, your Grandma probably came here before you were even born. Open since 1951, this full-service restaurant has a fun, retro vibe that feels genuine, not tacky or too over-done.
All of the ice cream, sorbet, sherbet, and frozen yogurt is made on site, using the same recipes as day one. There are three full pages of ice cream creations on the menu, including shakes, malts, and floats, ice cream flights, banana bowls and splits, specialty sundaes, and "showboats", which are available in three sizes: "regular" (4 scoops, $8.95), "pippen" (3 scoops; $7.95), and "coward" (2 scoops; $6.95).
Flights are a smart bet if you want to sample 3-5 scoops of any of the 40+ flavors ($3.95-$5.95), but given the throw-back vibe, a showy, super-sweet sundae like the Cherry Snow (burgundy cherry ice cream with marshmallow, cherry topping, and shredded coconut) is a better way to go. If you have a super-sized craving that only an 11-pound sundae will crush, there's always the Grand Canyon ($115), which features your choice of 11-13 flavors, six sundae toppings, whipped cream, and crushed peanuts.
With its collection of board games and paperback books, Pink Spot has a distinct "stay awhile" vibe, making it a good place to linger over a cone while taking full advantage of the air conditioning and free wi-fi. Ice cream is made off-site by a local creamery. The shop stocks 16 different rotating flavors, presented in a variety of different ways, including sundaes and splits, cookie ice cream sandwiches, shakes and malts, floats, and scoops (with or without mix-ins).
The high amount of butter fat (18%) means the ice cream is pretty decadent, even if you stick to the most basic flavors. A few standouts include the Habanero Peach Sorbet, Lemon Meringue Pie, Horchata, and German Chocolate.
If you're staying put with a laptop or a book for awhile, get a single or double scoop sundae ($3.80-$5.80), like the Black 'N White Brownie or Hunky Monkey Banana Split so you'll have both hands free between bites.