The Best Ice Cream Chains In The US, Ranked

By Doug Norrie | Published

The Best Ice Cream Chains In The US

As we get into the summer months, more and more of us will be heading out for a couple of scoops in a cone or a cup. It’s a summertime tradition unlike any other and the perfect time to rank the best ice cream chains out there.

We’ve already covered burgers, pizza, sandwiches, and Mexican so now it’s time to hit the desserts. With some help from our friends at Marketforce, we’ve ranked the best ice cream chains in the United States. There are some great ones on this list.

6. Dairy Queen

Of all the ice cream chains, it sure feels like Dairy Queen is the most accessible in the United States, with one seemingly in every town from coast to coast. While that’s a bit of an overstatement, of course, their 4,500+ locations make them one of the biggest. And they have the offerings to back up their popularity.

The signature Blizzard is a go-to staple for the franchise, allowing folks to mix and match candies, toppings, and flavors to their heart’s (and stomach’s) delight. The soft serve ranks right up there with the best but the franchise has been dinged in the past for various of more minor issues.

5. Baskin-Robbins

There are 31 flavors and then some when it comes to Baskin Robbins, a chain that has become synonymous with ice cream goodness over the years. They do more than just ice cream, specializing in ice cream cakes as well, and have become popular for birthday parties over the years. 

Baskin Robbins started all the way back in the 1940s in California but has grown significantly over the years and customers have come flocking back time and time again. They have the staple offerings but are consistently adding new and seasonal flavors to the repertoire. 

4. Haagen-Dazs

When it comes to premium ice cream from chains throughout the United States, Häagen-Dazs might sit at the top of that particular list. They have sleek branding, excellent flavor choices, and a certain je ne sais quoi that will have you thinking you are eating something very, very high-end.

They have more than 900 locations worldwide serving their goods, but of course, they are a bit better known for what you can pick up in the local grocery store freezer aisle. Dulce de Leche and Cookies and Cream alone are worth coming back for over and over.

3. Culvers

Is it frozen custard instead of ice cream? Sure. Does it still make the list of best ice cream chains? Most definitely. Culvers started in Wisconsin during the 1960s and growing to about 900 locations in its nearly six-decade run. The custard is a fan favorite and offers a somewhat unique taste compared to others on this list.

Culvers doesn’t just do ice cream either, and they are also known for their ButterBurgers. In that sense, you are going to an ice cream chain, but you can hope to pick up even more delicious menu options at every location.

2. Cold Stone Creamery

It’s tough to pick out the best part of the Cold Stone Creamery experience. Is it the actual ice cream or the absolute show the staff puts on for you while there? That’s a tough call, but the ice cream chain has become as well known for its exciting atmosphere as for the excellent flavors they put out consistently. 

Cold Stone easily could have been at the top of the list, but this is a competitive space with a number of well-established and high-quality chains in the mix. Cake Batter, Sweet Cream, and Cheesecake are just a few of the flavors that keep people coming back. And if you haven’t brought the kids to a location, do it. Guaranteed they have a great time.

1. Ben & Jerry's

When it comes to iconic ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s takes the cone. Started in Vermont by two childhood friends (Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield) the company has made its name on delicious ice cream and almost even better flavor names.

With a jam band vibe (Chunky Monkey, Half Baked, and Cherry Garcia are go-tos), a spotlight on the community, distinctive branding, and the quality to back it up, Ben & Jerry’s is the gold standard in ice cream chains.