Jersey’s Best Ice Cream
From must-try flavors to old-fashioned shakes and sodas, these ice cream parlors are the best of the best.
All photos courtesy of respective venue's Facebook pages or websites.
Readers shared with us their favorite Jersey ice cream joints. From must-try flavors to old-fashioned shakes and sodas, these ice cream parlors are the best of the best. Now, get out there and chow down!
Ice Cream Charlie's (Rutherford)
Ice Cream Charlie's has been a favorite of locals from across the state for over 10 years, and continues to impress customers with cakes, specialty cones and homemade ice cream (even in the shadow of the Dairy Queen next door). Try samples of rich chocolate dotted with raspberry truffles, or fluffy coconut scoops layered with sliced almonds and chocolate chunks. Check their Facebook page for daily rotating flavors, but act fast; they get gobbled up faster than you can say "cup or cone." Some of our favorite specialty favors include cannoli, frozen hot chocolate and Rice Krispy treat. If you like soft serve, you'll love it in a uni-cone: a waffle cone dipped in chocolate and dusted with golden sprinkles topped with a chocolate unicorn horn. They're almost too cute to eat! Almost.
Thomas Sweet (Montgomery, New Brunswick, Princeton)
Since opening its doors in 1979, this Victorian-style ice cream shop has been a favorite stop for kids and adults alike. Serving up house-made ice creams, pastries and specialty coffees (not to mention treats in their chocolate store!), it’s no wonder why readers like Stephanie from Springfield, can’t get enough. “Thomas Sweet makes the best ice cream. Love their blend-ins!”
Hoffman’s Ice Cream (Little Silver, Long Branch, Point Pleasant, Spring Lake)
What began as one of the Garden State’s first Carvel shops way back in 1955, Hoffman’s has grown into a dessert destination in its own right. “Their ice cream is delicious with a big variety of flavors,” says Christine from Howell of their 40 homemade (and unique!) flavors—like Jersey Monkey (banana ice cream, peanut butter, and chocolate chips) and Cookie Monster. Did we mention they deliver anywhere in the country?
The Original Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard (multiple shore locations)
In 1919, the Kohr brothers set up a booth on the Coney Island boardwalk hoping to sell some of their homemade custard. Little did they know they’d sell a whopping 18,460 cones in just two days! One hundred years later, the original recipe is still a favorite. The main draw? For Kelly of Budd Lake, it’s “nostalgia.”
Bent Spoon (Princeton)
Sweet corn ice cream, anyone? How about strawberry saffron sorbet? Those are just two of the many off-the-beaten-path seasonal flavors that make Bent Spoon a must-visit. Even better, all those interesting additions are often sourced from local farmers. Of course, traditional options are plentiful here, too, but staff are great about allowing tastes for the less adventurous, so encourage the kids to try a flavor they’ve never had before. If you’re craving something baked, you’re in luck—the cupcakes here are off the charts and have an obscene amount of icing (and a cult-like following). You might have to fight for a seat (the place is small), but if the weather’s nice, take your treats out to a patch of nearby grass in Palmer Square, which often has fun happenings like live music. Note: Cash only.
Applegate Farm (Montclair)
If you’re craving some great ice cream with a side of history, check out Applegate Farm. Housed in the original 1848 farmhouse, this 170-year-old shop has survived the Civil War, Great Depression and two World Wars, all while growing from a simple dairy barn to one of the East Coast’s largest ice cream outlets. Scooping over 50 flavors of ice cream, sherbet, Italian ice and sorbet, plus seasonal options—like peppermint stick and pumpkin ice creams—it’s no secret why readers can’t get enough.
Holsten’s Brookdale Confectionery (Bloomfield)
You may recognize this old-fashioned ice cream parlor as the set of The Sopranos series finale, but our readers know it as one of the best dessert stops around. Sticking close to its 1939 soda shop roots, the Holsten’s menu features black and white sodas, egg creams and sundaes, all of which are made with homemade ice cream. Don’t forget to ask about their homemade chocolates and fudge!
The Towne Scoop (Verona)
The vintage parlor and bow tie-outfitted scoopers may be The Towne Scoop’s trademarks, but the store’s true claim to fame is its delicious ice cream. Our readers love the 20+ flavors of ice cream, frozen yogurt and Italian ice, plus the 18 toppings to mix and match. So head on over or wait for them to come to you—they’ve got two trucks loaded with ice cream ready to make an appearance at your next summer bash.
Mark & Julie's Homemade Ice Cream (West Orange)
Now in its 20th year, Mark & Julie’s is a top spot to sit and enjoy a cool treat all year round. There are 52 flavors of homemade ice cream to choose from, including special seasonal and holiday flavors, plus perennial kid favorites like cake batter and bubble gum. There is also a selection of sugar-free, fat-free and low-fat ice creams and yogurts, as well as dairy-free Italian ices and sorbets. Shakes, sundaes and banana splits are all on the menu, as are coffee, tea, hot chocolate and baked goods. But brace yourself: Parking can be a little difficult as there is only a small lot outside the shop.
Polar Cub (Whitehouse Station)
From frozen yogurt to ice cream, this local mom-and-pop shop does it all at family-friendly prices. Our readers are crazy for Polar Cub’s creamy soft-serve, extra-thick milkshakes and special flavors like banana and pumpkin.
Cliff’s Homemade Ice Cream (Ledgewood)
Readers like Cynthia of Stanhope, can’t get enough of this 40+ year neighborhood staple, telling us, “It’s been a local favorite since I was a kid. Great location, and always great ice cream!” With more than 60 unique flavors to choose from—including Morris County Mud (yes, it’s as chocolatey as it sounds), Peanut Butter Pretzel Madness and 2013 National Ice Cream Retailers Association contest-winning Fresh Strawberry—Cliff’s has a little something for everyone.
Denville Dairy (Denville)
Since opening 30 years ago, this family-owned dairy has been selling their homemade ice cream and cakes, plus a wide selection of pints and quarts so that fans can have a scoop of Denville anywhere. Patrizia of Rockaway, tells us, “Prices are good, and they have amazing flavors.” Over 30 amazing flavors, in fact. Okay—who’s up for a scoop of Banana Freckle (aka banana and chocolate) or Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookie?
South Street Creamery (Morristown)
Even though there's a full menu of sandwiches, crepes, soups and more, the homemade ice cream is the main attraction at this charming Morristown cafe. Favorite flavors include Grandma’s Kitchen, described as “everything you’d love your Grandma to have in her kitchen...cookie dough, frosting and cake batter.” There’s also gelato, sherbet, sorbet, non-fat yogurt and sugar-free ice cream. Also on offer are gourmet coffees, chilled and warm drinks, fresh baked goods and a wide variety of fudge. On summer nights, there's often a long line, so be prepared: parking in the area can be a challenge.
Gelotti Homemade Ice Cream & Italian Ice (Caldwell, Montclair, Paterson)
Gelato, ice cream’s Italian cousin, is better for all the right reasons: less fat and a richer, creamier taste. Serving New Jersey since 1984, Gelotti’s never fails to produce unique, quality frozen treats and flavors. From Amaretto and Tiramisu to Apple Pie and Nutella, Gelotti’s can satisfy any craving. With weekend specials and a constantly updated menu, it’s no wonder why Meghan, Clifton, named Gelotti’s the “best ice cream/gelato/ice ever!”
Magic Fountain (Bayonne)
Arguably Bayonne’s pride and joy, Magic Fountain’s homemade ice cream is indeed magical. From open to close during the season, there's always a long line of patrons waiting to get their frozen fix. Enjoy a classic soft serve with sprinkles, or be swept away with an out-of-this-world “hurricane”—ice cream mixed with whatever your hungry heart desires.
Bischoff’s Ice Cream & Candy (Teaneck)
Visiting Bischoff’s is like stepping into another era. With “great ‘50s style parlor decor,” according to Lisa or Midland Park, along with homemade ice cream, sundaes and floats, it's clear why this shop has lasted over 80 years. Better yet, lunch comes with free ice cream!
Ice Cream by Mike (Ridgewood)
This Hackensack mainstay just made a big move to its new Ridgewood location. Standards like cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip and butter pecan team up with unique numbers like orange almond, peanut butter chunk and mango. Do you love a drink with your dessert? Nightcap-inspired flavors include cointreau crisp, toasted amaretto brittle and chocolate bourbon.
Van Dyk’s Homemade Ice Cream (Ridgewood)
The warmer the weather, the colder the craving. During summer, ice cream is a staple; kids and adults alike constantly wish to wrap their hands around a cone piled high with icy goodness. Van Dyk’s in Ridgewood is famous for satisfying these chilling cravings with their unforgettable homemade ice cream. With a parking lot as packed as customers’ bellies, this hole-in-the-wall creamery leaves no stone unturned in the ice cream business: portions are huge, flavors and toppings are vast, and there are smiles (sometimes dripping) all around. Aside from serving up sizable scoops and colossal cones, Van Dyk’s is unique for generous mix-ins: peppermint pieces, whole cherries, chocolate chunks—the list goes on! This little-big ice cream parlor, hidden in a residential area will give your hot summer a much needed taste of chill.
Magic Fountain (Summit)
For cones piled high with homemade ice cream and cups brimming with refreshing Italian ice and fat-free frozen yogurt, there’s no better stop than Magic Fountain. Scooping large servings at family-friendly prices, this old-fashioned walk-up shop receives rave reviews for its delicious, frozen treats, especially the Magic Blends (think a creamier, homemade version of Dairy Queen’s Blizzards).
Vanilla Bean Creamery (Cranford)
Run by Ice Cream University (yes, it’s real) grad Ralph Kopelman, this shop scoops 32 ice cream flavors—plus a special flavor of the week, Italian ice and sorbet—all of which are handmade on the premises daily. As if that’s not enough, the Creamery loves to experiment with unique ingredients, giving way to awesome flavors including Chocolate Pretzel Crunch and Coconut Almond Joy.
Rocko's Ice Cream (Fanwood)
This relatively new local staple has been serving up 14 rotating flavors of ice cream, seasonal experiments (think black cones for Halloween), custom cakes and cupcakes and special treats like ooey-gooey caramel apples, hot chocolate and ice cream sandwiches. Bonus? You can order ahead and beat the line—they'll keep it cold for you.
Scoops the Ice Creamery (Scotch Plains)
Scoops The Ice Creamery has been an ice cream destination for families for close to 25 years. All hard ice cream flavors are made in-store and there are more than 50 flavors to choose from, plus soft serve, fat-free ice cream and Italian ice. Kids rave about the original Smurf flavor, a blue raspberry ice cream with mini marshmallows. For birthday cakes, there's a cake artist on staff that can draw anything from Dora the Explorer to Elsa. Scoops also employs local high school and college students, and guarantees friendly service (even though the lines in the summer can get long.) Scoops is open daily year round and there are tables inside and outdoors, perfect for a warm summer night.