Whether it’s a hot day in the middle of summer or just a cozy night at home when you are craving something sweet, it’s always a good idea to know where to find the best ice cream in Asheville.
For one thing, visitors and locals alike enjoy taking family and friends out for a treat, and ice cream is a great option for enjoying a little of Asheville’s summer weather while also getting an affordable and tasty treat, capping off a great day of exploring the city or relaxing during an afternoon break.
Whether it’s cream-based traditional ice cream, milk-based gelato, or fruit-based sorbet, frozen treats are a great way to cool off and satisfy your sweet tooth all year round. But what are the best ice cream shops in Asheville?
We’ve divided them up for you into places where the frozen confection takes the top billing and a few other spots where you can get ice cream and also a host of other treats, places that often nab awards for the best dessert in Asheville. See if you can read without your mouth watering!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: Where to Find the Very Best Ice Cream in Asheville
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What Kinds of Ice Cream are Available in Asheville?
Most of the spots that sell any kind of frozen desserts in Asheville are going to feature a couple of different kinds. We’re a community with lots of vegetarian and vegan folks, and there are always people who are looking to eat a bit less sugar, so there may be options with low or no added sugars.
Here are some of the terms you’re likely to encounter when you’re out and about sampling the best ice cream shops in Asheville:
- Ice cream: Using a higher butterfat combination of cream and milk, this mixture of dairy, sugar, and flavorings is the most common formulation. It may also contain eggs, though eggs are also common in frozen custard.
- Gelato: Using more milk and less cream, gelato is known for being even slower churned than ice cream, resulting in a less light and airy, but still ultra-smooth, final consistency.
- Sorbet or sorbetto: Using no dairy, sorbet focuses on fruit, water, and sugar, making it a good option for vegan eaters or anyone with a dairy allergy or intolerance.
The Best Ice Cream Shops in Asheville
When the weather starts to creep past the 70s during the day in Asheville, it becomes more and more common to see people roaming downtown with an ice cream cone or ice cream sandwich in hand. There’s a reason: the ice cream in Asheville is great! When you’re hankering a sweet treat, try one of these tasty spots!
1. Taste the Craft at The Hop Ice Cream Cafe
The Hop is one of the most well-known ice cream shops in Asheville, with locations in North Asheville, West Asheville, downtown, and Black Mountain. They take the common Asheville commitment to hyperlocal, high-quality ingredients seriously, working with local farms to get the highest quality milk and cream as well as the many flavoring add-ins.
Their standard flavors are salted caramel, vanilla bean, and chocolate, and then they make flavors that include coffee, mint, chocolate, fruit, and other classic flavors, as well as some with no sugar added.
Don’t be surprised to see unusual pairings, though. From blueberry kale and fresh ginger to sweet beet and lavender vanilla, The Hop is always putting together some new and surprising combos that create an amazing final taste sensation.
One of their coolest areas of innovation is vegan ice creams, experimenting with oat milk, pepita milk, hemp milk, almond milk, and banana, creating iconic flavors and signature creaminess without any dairy. You can opt to eat whatever flavor you choose by the scoop, as a sundae or milkshake, or take a pint or quart home with you!
2. Taste Flavors as Fresh as They can get at Ultimate Ice Cream
Did you know that dairy from local farms can reach Ultimate Ice Cream’s creamery in as little as 24 hours? This is ice cream so fresh it’s practically still mooing.
They’ve made 400 different kinds of ice cream over the years and are now well-known for many flavors that rotate in and out, to the point where local Flavor Fans get a notification when their favorites are back in stock!
They’ve frequently got traditional flavors like strawberry ice cream or lemon sorbet, but they’ve also made some showstoppers: Fodor’s mentioned them for their savory ice creams, including a Bloody Mary ice cream made with tomatoes and a Sweet Corn ice cream with cracked pepper and candied bacon in it!
Come in around a holiday to find flavors like Cinnamon Hearts for Valentine’s Day or Peppermint Stick near Christmas, but no matter when you come by, you’re likely to find something so tasty you just might melt.
3. Wrap Your Ice Cream in Cookies at Sunshine Sammies
In South Slope, the main Sunshine Sammies shop offers guests the chance to pick from a variety of house-made cookies and ice creams to create their ideal flavor combination for a return to childhood.
However, these craft ice cream sandwiches are often a notch above whatever we pulled out of the freezer as kids. From using local NC dairy and eggs to creating flavor sensations like Banana Nut Bread ice cream paired with snickerdoodle cookies, these desserts are made with all the attention to detail and flavor power that you expect from a treat served in Asheville.
What’s fun is that Sunshine Sammies has a catering truck, popular for local weddings and events, as well as their original solar-powered pushcart, which occasionally makes appearances at breweries and festivals with pre-made Sunshine Sammies.
4. Fill Your Soft-Serve Cup at YoLo Frozen Yogurt
Right next to Luella’s and Weaver Park is a great spot to eat a cup of nostalgic and delicious frozen yogurt. Soft-serve is a delicious treat during the hot months, and YoLo Frozen Yogurt delivers the top-notch flavors you expect but also lots of exciting extra options.
From their signature Amish Vanilla to flavors like cookies and cream ice cream and blueberry lemonade sorbet, they offer more than just frozen yogurt. They tend to have at least a couple of vegan flavors per day and usually have one or more low-calorie or low-sugar options as well. You can add a variety of fun flavors to the top of your froyo, too, including boba popping fruit pearls, which make for a delicious pop of fruit juice in each bite.
5. Cool Off With a Drive-Through Sweet From Jeremiah’s Italian Ice
If you’ve ever been caught in Merrimon Avenue traffic on a warm afternoon, you know just how much you would love to have a sweet slushie favorite to sip. Jeremiah’s has been my favorite spot for a gelato-and-Italian-ice-twisted treat since I discovered you don’t even have to get out of your car!
While there is a walk-up window and a couple of outdoor tables, the easy drive-through makes it simple to get a treat when you’re on the go. Italian Ice at Jeremiah’s includes lots of fruit flavors you might expect from a sorbet-like treat, including black cherry, blueberry limeade, lemon basil, and melon fresca.
However, they also have milk-based flavors and lots of non-fruit options, which you can layer with soft-serve ice cream for a treat they call the Gelati. Try Pumpkin Pie, Spicy Hot Chocolate, Cookie Butter, Cafe Latte, and so many more.
Depending on the size of the treat you order, you can make your own combos between almost 40 flavor options, though some flavors may not be available at all times. Best of all? If you’re not sure that you’re going to like a particular option, they’ll let you sample that flavor before you commit!
6. Get It In a Warm Waffle Cone at Jack the Dipper
Store bought waffle cones are pretty tasty, but have you ever had ice cream put into a waffle cone literally just pressed and still a bit warm? You’ll love the combo of frozen and warmth at Jack the Dipper, where flavored waffle cones are the signature add-on, with vanilla, cinnamon, and more flavors.
You typically can get a scoop of more than 32 different flavors, and they’ll whip it into a shake or malt or slice a banana for you to make it a split if you like. Flavors include things like Candy Bar Overload, Cold Brew Coffee, Birthday Cake, or even Caramel Cheesecake Cookie Monster – you won’t want for sugar!
If you opt for a plainer flavor, you can still add in multi-colored sprinkles, Oreo pieces, or peanuts. You’ve got yourself a treat that will keep you happy for quite some time.
7. Take in a Treat By the River at Sugar & Snow Gelato
With their shop facing the River Arts District walking path by the French Broad River, you really couldn’t find a better location for some of the best ice cream in Asheville. The Sugar & Snow Gelato shop uses all locally produced milk and as many other local ingredients as they can to make their signature smooth gelato.
They also offer chocolate and fruit-flavored non-dairy frozen desserts, a cafe menu that includes some basic sandwiches and salads, a coffee menu, and super delicious smoothies. I’m a big fan of the Immune Boost, made with banana, pineapple, turmeric, carrots, orange juice, and just a bit of black pepper that wraps it all up.
Pick up a pint of Tulsi Rose, Chocolate-Covered Strawberry, S’mores, Peppermint, or Peanut Butter Cup gelato today, but be aware that many flavors are seasonal – you never know what you’ll find!
8. Cool Off While Exploring at the Biltmore Ice Cream Parlor
This ice cream spot is only accessible with your Biltmore Estate ticket or if you’re staying on the property for your accommodations, but since so many people do come to Asheville to see the Biltmore, we thought you should know: there is ice cream worth trying there!
The Biltmore Dairy Bar offers a variety of flavors that you can have blended into a “Churn,” a thick-swirled shake with cookie dough or peanut butter cups, or a Freeze, a mix of rainbow sherbet and Sprite that is highly refreshing on a hot day.
There’s also beer and wine available, a rarity when getting ice cream in Asheville, so you might find that it’s a perfect way for the adults to enjoy a beverage while any youngsters with you eat a frozen treat. Be aware that this shop is seasonal, so if you come in the winter months, there may not be ice cream available during your trip.
9. Taste the Richness in Whit’s Frozen Custard
Frozen custard is a high-quality kind of ice cream that uses high butterfat, eggs, and a dense, low-air formulation to create the smooth and creamy texture you probably associate with the tastiest scoops you’ve tried in your life. At Whit’s Frozen Custard in North Asheville, you can pick between vanilla or chocolate frozen custard or choose the flavor of the week!
Each treat comes in a cup or kind of cone, like a cake cone or waffle cone, and then can be topped with a variety of tasty toppings like macadamia nuts, hot caramel, or gummy worms. You can have it spun into a milkshake, layered with whipped cream for a sundae, blended into a thick Whitser, or mixed with soda for a float.
No matter what you choose, keep an eye on the take-home freezer – you might just want to take a bit home with you.
10. Savor Top-Notch Ice Cream With a Mission at Howdy Homemade Ice Cream
I first encountered Howdy Homemade Ice Cream at an outdoor ice cream social, and while their ice cream is awesome, I was particularly taken with the company’s mission to create an awesome training and work environment for their employees, the majority of whom have intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Creating a safe and positive work environment for people to hone their talents and skills, all with great ice cream for the local community as a result, made every bite taste even better. In addition to delicious flavors like Cold Brew Crunch, Key Lime, Chocolate Velvet Peanut Butter Cup, and Strawberry, they offer Vegan Coconut and Salted Caramel non-dairy ice creams.
They rotate in a variety of flavors at different times, so it makes sense to stop by often or have their mobile ice cream cart cater a social or other event for you.
The Best Dessert Places in Asheville
While we love all the ice cream shops in Asheville, the list feels incomplete without including a few of the other places that serve the best dessert in Asheville. Here are some of the places where you can get ice cream as well as many other sweet treats.
1. Taste the Tradition at Kilwins Chocolate Fudge and Ice Cream
If you’ve never had fudge from Kilwin’s, you are in for a treat when you’re walking through the heart of Wall Street and Battery Park Avenue. This adorable area of shops and restaurants includes Kilwin’s sweets shop, where the fudge and chocolates take center stage, but the ice cream is also incredible!
They offer more than 32 flavors and can make them into milkshakes or sundaes, including waffle bowl sundaes. It’s a great spot when you’re walking from the Iron to the Grove Arcade, especially if you are in need of a cool-off from the heat.
2. Drink or Eat Your Sweets at Crave Dessert Bar
Crave Dessert Bar has such a cool concept – while they are a full restaurant, imagine this restaurant as one that uses the savory food as a bit of an appetizer for the main courses – the incredible list of desserts!
From Chocolate Fondue with Cinnamon Churros to the Golden Girl Cake (think pineapple upside down cake and cheesecake but with gold leaf on it), you’ll find all richness and sweet flavors here.
One of the most fun parts of this bar is the section of the menu known as the “Sippable Desserts,” alcoholic and chilled drinks that are pure sweet delight, like the Key Lime Pie drink that mixes vanilla vodka, lime, Licor 43, pineapple, and a graham cracker or the Carrot Cake, made with rum and carrot juice as well as cream and cinnamon.
3. Find Your Gelato Fix at Asheville Chocolate
While this shop puts truffles and other specialty chocolates front and center, you won’t be disappointed if you walk in looking for gelato or sorbet. If you’ve ever been to a gelato shop in Europe or elsewhere, you may remember the beautiful way gelato is displayed, with snowy mounds of different colors that are artfully decorated and drizzled with toppings.
You’ll find that at Asheville Chocolate. You’ll find the flavorful stracciatella gelato or lemon sorbet that you’d find in Italy, but also local favorites: I’m a fan of s’mores gelato and blueberry lavender sorbet, personally, but there’s always something tasty and new in the Asheville Chocolate frozen case.
Best of all, you don’t have to pick just gelato: you can also take a little box of truffles, or you can even sign up for a 90-minute chocolate class where you learn how to make edible shapes, decorate chocolate treats, and customize them. A class makes a great gift for a friend who likes experiences but also, you know, dessert!
4. Pick Out Ultra-Premium Dairy and Non-Dairy Treats at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge
The main claim to fame of the French Broad Chocolate Lounge is the idea of “bean to bar” chocolate, a chocolate procuring and creation process where the company has formed positive relationships with farmers to make sure that the raw ingredients in every chocolate confection are both high quality and flavorful, ethically produced and top-notch for their variety.
However, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge serves more than bars and bonbons, with a wide array of cakes, cookies, and, yes, ice cream available. They opt for grass-fed milk and cage-free eggs, as well as vegan ice cream made with delicious coconut milk.
While you can get it by the scoop, in a shake, or as a float, I personally prefer their Affogato, an Italian-origin treat where a shot of espresso is poured over a scoop of ice cream. If you want it to be the absolute peak of decadence, ask them to pour a liquid truffle over the top instead, which is their ultra-concentrated hot chocolate. Words cannot describe its tastiness!
5. Eat Half and Put the Rest in the Freezer at 10th Muse Comfort Food
Yes, 10th Muse Comfort Food is one of the best ice cream shops in Asheville, but the sheer variety on their menu meant we had to include them as a combination dessert restaurant.
The service is friendly, and reviewers mention it, but the most common refrain is actually the portion sizes. Whether you get a sundae, shake, or blended ice cream treat, you’re likely to leave with quite a bit left and a full stomach already. Keep this in mind and make plans to save the rest for another dose of sugary perfection later.
While they have regular coffee, many of their flavored lattes are 10th Muse originals, like the Miklo Latte, with horchata, cookie butter, cinnamon, and salt, or the Edgar Allen Poe with dark chocolate and lemon. No matter what you choose, you’re likely to be back – the menu is just so extensive that there’s no way to sample everything that sounds good in one try.
There you have it! The top places to get the best ice cream in Asheville. What are your favorite ice cream shops in Asheville? Let us know so we can give them a try!
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