Summer is here, and so are reunions, graduations, wedding ceremonies, and celebrations of all kinds. To make the most of these long-awaited gatherings, why not go beyond the grocery aisle and opt for a more memorable dessert? Around the country, small-batch, artisanal, inventive ice cream abounds, and with the magic of dry ice and overnight shipping, it’s easier than ever to get a taste.
Below, find eight shops that ship their treats right to your door. From luxury oat-milk ice cream to chocolate-coated bars to spice-infused pints, each one is cause to celebrate.
Jeni’s: Jeni Britton Bauer has been churning out ice cream under her eponymous brand since 2002, and somehow, even as the business has grown exponentially, it continues to get better and better. (Word on the street is that it’s one of noted ice cream aficionado Joe Biden’s favorite brands.) Recent flavors have included Wedding Cake, a celebratory mix of spongy vanilla cake, buttercream icing, lemon curd, and blackberry jam, and Strawberry Pretzel Pie, “specially made for Dolly Parton.” Get a taste of the brand’s classics with the top sellers collection, $58, which comes with five pints, including Salty Caramel and Brambleberry Crisp.
Van Leeuwen: Van Leeuwen started scooping out of a roving yellow truck in 2008, and nowadays the New York City–based brand has expanded to California, New Jersey, and most recently, Texas, with a Philadelphia shop planned for this summer. And while you can get pints shipped nationwide the brand just unveiled novelty ice cream bars, too. Starting at $12 per box, options come in dairy-based flavors like raspberry cheesecake dipped in graham cookie–dotted dark chocolate, plus a host of nondairy varieties, too, including vegan brown sugar honeycomb: Made with oat milk, the brown sugar ice cream comes dotted with bits of candy honeycomb, dipped in chocolate.
Normal: Normal, the unabashedly fun ice cream company based in Salt Lake City, just started shipping their delicious goodies nationwide. Starting at $90, the Normal samples pack comes with a choice of two pints—in flavors like olive oil, or butter berry made with strawberry milk ice cream and house-made marshmallow fluff—plus two ice cream sandwiches, and two bars. Don’t miss the Handle Bar. Like a perfect plated dessert on a stick, it’s salted maple ice cream dipped in dark chocolate and dusted with brown butter milk crumb, because, says founder and pastry chef Alexa Norlin, “texture is just as important as flavor.”
Malai: This summer, chef and owner Pooja Bavishi is hosting a guest chef series. Visiting chefs like Moonlynn Tsai, Yin Chang, and Kristen Kish will pop up to collaborate on elaborate desserts to benefit nonprofit organization Heart of Dinner. While you have to visit the Brooklyn scoop shop to taste treats like Kish’s lemon cardamom ginger beer soda float with candied fennel seeds, featuring Malai’s lemon cardamom and sea salt vanilla ice cream, everyone else can get classic Malai treats shipped to their door. Flavors like mango and cream and vegan hibiscus chaat masala are dreamed up by Bavishi and come in pick-your-own pint packs of six for $109. Or opt for a gulab jamun ice cream cake, made with rose and cinnamon roasted almonds ice cream sandwiched between two saffron syrup–drenched cakes.
Whipped Urban Dessert Lab: Sisters Courtney Blagrove and Zan B.R. were inspired to start Whipped Urban Dessert Lab after learning that three-quarters of African Americans suffer from lactose intolerance. Find their plant-based vegan desserts in New York City’s first oat milk–only ice cream shop, or order the ice creams (ahem, ice crèmes), in flavors like strawberry shortcake and peanut butter chocolate cookie, in choose-your-own packs of six half-pints for $99. Or try the brand’s newest flavor, Taste of Freedom, inspired by Booker T. Washington, in honor of Juneteenth. It’s got cinnamon spice and ginger cookie pieces, and comes in packs of four pints for $89.
Dolcezza: For nearly two decades, Washingtonians have been enjoying Dolcezza—husband-and-wife duo Robb Duncan and Violetta Edelman’s small-batch gelato made with the region’s dairy and produce. Tapping into local ingredients means Dolcezza also features flavors that change with the seasons, like their spring strawberry sorbetto, and summertime peach gelato. The bestsellers offering, $79, brings together some of the all-stars, including mascarpone and berries, with intensely flavorful swirls of bright berry jam.
Salt & Straw: A decade after launching, Portland, Ore.’s favorite ice cream brand has shops sprinkled around Seattle, San Diego, and beyond. But large swaths of the country are still woefully missing out on inventive flavors like sea salt with caramel ribbons and pear with blue cheese. Send your favorite ice cream lover a Salt & Straw Cue the Confetti ice cream gift pack, $98, with five pints, including pink champagne sabayon with jelly doughnuts and chocolate gooey brownie, plus gold and silver sprinkles and a balloon celebration banner. Or send one to yourself—getting this box in the mail is something to celebrate.
Nightingale: The ice cream sandwiches from Richmond-based Nightingale are nothing like the old-school chocolate and vanilla confections you grew up eating. The brainchild of husband and wife chefs Hannah Pollack and Xavier Meers, neat rectangles of cookie bookend rich ice cream with made-from-scratch mix-ins. Choose among options like the miso churro, with snickerdoodle cookies sandwiching white miso ice cream swirled with churro pieces, strawberry shortcake with brown sugar cookies, and more. An eight-pack is $75.