I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Nothing feels better than a cold cone on a hot southern day. Just mention the word ice cream in the vicinity of children and you’ll be greeted with screams and squeals of delight. (By the way, the same thing sometimes works for adults too, we’re just quieter about it).
Louisville, KY is no stranger to this frozen delicatessen. In fact, we are home to some of the BEST ice cream shops around. We’re serving up the inside scoop on where to get your hometown favorites, where to try something new and how to beat the sugar rush.
Between the aroma of freshly made waffle cones and the always-important scoop selfie, these local favorites and hidden gems represent the cream of the crop. In no particular order, here are the 11 best local ice cream shops in Louisville, KY.
Louisville Cream is known for their gourmet ice cream flavors. All of their ice cream is homemade in small batches, which means they can concoct some of the most unique flavors around. Each batch is made with local ingredients, produce, milk and homemade mix-ins. Flavors in the scoop shop are in constant seasonal rotation, but you can always find Royal Chocolate, Vanilla Two Ways, Bourbon Smoked Pecan, and Salted Butter Pecan in the shop. Other unique flavors include Black Bottom Banana Pudding, OG Red Velvet, Peanut Butter Chocolate, and even vegan and dairy-free options. The best way to find what flavors are in the freezer is to check social media @louisvillecream. With Louisville Cream, you can even create your own custom flavor for catering or events.
Presentation is king at Louisville cream with over-the-top sundaes and creamery creations. They’ve even figured out how to make whipped cream out of marshmallow, and they’ll even torch it for you right before your eyes for a toasted mallow topper!
If you’re not in the mood for ice cream, that’s OK too! They also serve hot drinks and different sweet treats like Strawberry Shortcake Ding Dongs, floats, shakes, and even giant animal crackers frosted with ganache. There’s something to satisfy every sweet tooth at Louisville Cream.
The Arctic Scoop brings entertainment and ice cream to any event. While ice cream is always fun to eat, Arctic Scoop uses Liquid Nitrogen, as a freezing agent, to custom make ice cream right in front of your eyes. Now it’s as fun to make as it is to eat. As they chill your cream, a cold cloud forms and then the cream is mixed together to create the freshest ice cream available on the planet. All of their ingredients are natural with no preservatives because it’s made on the spot. They also have gluten-free, dairy-free, low-fat, vegan options. The menu isn’t limited by flavors. Instead, you choose the combination you want and Arctic Scoop delivers it in minutes. They deliver ice cream venues for catering, liquid nitrogen demonstrations, parties and fundraising events. No event too small or too large. This is definitely a great way to turn your event into the coolest show around.
Dairy Kastle is known for its ice cream, but it’s also a great place to pick up dinner at an incredibly budget-friendly price. Walk-up service maintains the small-town feel of Dairy Kastle. Simply walk up to the window and enjoy a sweet treat. Cones, shake, slushies, and sundaes are staples on their classic menu. Dairy Kastle is also home to unique treats like frozen bananas, sprinkle rolls, Oreo rolls, and of course, derby sundaes. While they offer plenty of ice cream options, they also offer delicious hot dogs, chili dogs, and sides for dinner on the go. They keep their prices low, and even offer ice cream treats for your dog. Enjoy huge portions, unbeatable quality, and an extremely affordable price.
If you’re looking for a cheeseburger, fried chicken, and old fashioned ice cream parlor in one place, you’ve found it. The restaurant side was born in 1934, when Carl and Margaret Kaelin decided to open a family restaurant in the Highlands. Kaelin’s Restaurant was born and became known as the birthplace of the cheeseburger and home to the famous Kentucky Fried Chicken. In its infancy, Harland Sanders himself cooked and sold his famous chicken to Kaelin’s. From then on, Kaelin’s was known as the first business to serve the colonels famous recipe in the city of Louisville.
On the sweet side, the malt shop and ice cream parlor serves up homemade ice cream, milkshakes, malts, and sundaes. Every week they make their own ice cream and offer about 15 to 18 different flavors on any given day. The only hard part is deciding which one (or two) to try. The ice cream side also features quick service burgers, hot dogs, and Bratwursts if you’re in a hurry.
Today, 80/20 at Kaelins is owned by William Dubourg and Matt Staggs and has been completely remodeled to impress nostalgic customers and welcome new-comers alike.
Dairy Del is a food stand ice cream truck serving the best in ice cream, almond milk, yogurt and different classic carnival foods like corn dogs, chili dogs, hamburgers, chicken strips and funnel fries. It’s the perfect combination of salty and sweet for everyone in the family, including your four-legged friends. DairyDel offers pup cups, a pet-friendly dessert option and even small free treats for puppy friends.
The only downside is when DairyDel is closed for the winter. From November to February the stand is shut down. You can enjoy sweet treats from March through October. Hours vary.
Hours: Open Daily (During Season) 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Liege & Dairy Ice Cream and Waffles
In the mood for ice cream and breakfast at the same time? No problem. Liège & Dairy proudly serves handmade small batch ice cream and European street waffles made in Louisville, for Louisville. Liege makes an effort to keep their ice cream local by using locally roasted coffee, local honey, sorghum molasses, blackberries, pears, and other ingredients that can be sourced within a short distance.
Their ice cream is made from non-GMO cream from hormone-free happy cows and is whipped less to produce a denser, creamier, richer ice cream. Some of their famous flavors include Greatest Scoop on Earth, Chocolate Salty Balls, Papa (made with bourbon) Vegan Cookies & Cream and of course, the motherload, which mixes Oreos, cookie dough and chocolate bits into an entity all its own. Of course, when you put any of these flavors on top of an authentic European waffle, it takes the whole thing to another level. Liege’s goal is to produce the best hand-picked ingredients to deliver “deliberate quality and legendary treats” and they deliver exactly that.
Address: 2212A Holiday Manor Center Louisville, KY 40222
Hours: Open Daily 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Panchitos Ice Cream
Panchitos Ice Cream is Louisville’s unique mixture of a Mexican Taqueria and an ice cream shop. Serving authentic street tacos, tortas, burritos and quesadillas right alongside a full menu of frozen treats. They have more than 15 flavors of ice cream all made in house from scratch. Their menu boasts, cones, milkshakes, sundaes, and homemade popsicles. Jose and Alicia are the owners and originated from Mexico. They combine traditional “Helado” flavors with traditional flavors from the United States. Their company was started in 2006 in Lexington. Over the years, it expanded into Louisville. They are famous for their Mangonada – Mango sorbet with chamoy (sweet sauce) and Tajín (salt, chile powder, lime combination) topped with fresh mango chunks. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and spicy with a flair.
You can’t miss the 12 foot tall red and white striped barrel that welcomes you to Barrel of Fun Ice Cream. After a local plant closed and Mark Beam lost his job, he decided to open his own business serving what he loved – ice cream. In 1994, the stand-alone building with the giant barrel was purchased. Over the next year, Beam renovated, expanded, and moved his shop to a park like setting on Smyrna Parkway in Okolona. In the beginning, The Barrel only served hand-dipped ice cream and a few food items.
Today, they’ve been open for 25 years and have gained in popularity throughout the area. They offer hot food items like burgers, hot dogs, and concession items at a very reasonable price along with a full menu of sweet treats. The seasonal business remains family owned and operated with current plans to expand the space and broaden the menu to satisfy their large summer crowds.
Valley Dairy Freeze is a family owned and operated ice cream shop in the southwest end on the corner of Valley Station Rd and Deering Rd. Shelley Blandford, the current owner, has been passionately working with ice cream most of her life. Their hometown menu boasts a variety of ice cream treats along with specialty treats like hot fudge cakes, strawberry shortcake, clowns, and frozen drinks. They also serve a few hot food items including foot-long hot dogs and other concession items.
Along with the shop, Valley Dairy offers call-in delivery lunch service for local west end businesses as well as events and festivals with their VDF To-Go Trailer. You can find them at the Shively Festival at Shively Park, the Prairie Village Carnival Weekend at Stonestreet Elementary, and the Valley View Car Show serving some of our most popular hand-dip cones, sundaes, and snow cones.
Hours: Sunday – Thursday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm; Friday – Saturday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
502 Water Ice
If you’re looking for a dairy-free frozen treat, head on over to 502 Water Ice. On the surface, it appears to be a classic snow-cone shop, but it is anything but ordinary. Serving authentic Philadelphia Italian ice, this frozen delicacy has a smoother texture and more natural flavor than traditional Italian ice or snow cones. A traditional snow cone is shaved ice with flavored syrup. 502 Water Ice is produced in a manufacturing plant where natural flavors are blended with pure ice, produced in an ice cream machine, and then flash frozen to reach smooth perfection. Think of it like a hand-scooped smoothie that is completely guilt-free. All flavors used at 502 water ice have no corn syrup, and are naturally fat free, dairy free, soy free, cholesterol free, peanut-free and kosher. You can even order Philadelphia Italian Ice Party Buckets with 2.5 gallons of your favorite flavor for a party or event. This is a safe alternative to ice cream for those with food sensitivities and delivers all the sweet flavors you crave.
The comfy cow just celebrated their 10-year anniversary serving one-of-a-kind handcrafted ice cream in Louisville, KY. The Comfy Cow is known for being a little hipster, but also staying true to Southern culinary roots with authentic flavor and quality ingredients. Of course you can find the classic chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, but you can also venture to crowd favorites like Chatty Cathy (coffee and chocolate), Black Raspberry Chip, or Cake Batter-UP. Their award-winning flavors include Georgia Butter Pecan, Bourbon Ball, made with a healthy pour of Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon and Brown Butter Peanut Brittle, which is filled with peanut brittle pieces. Add your favorite to a homemade waffle cone and you’re all set. They also offer other sweet treats including giant cookies, homemade brownies, bonbons, and even pooch pops for your furry friends. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, The Comfy Cow will satisfy it every time.
Clearly, we have all learned that there’s always room for more ice cream in Louisville. Next time you have a bad day, pick your favorite spot and have a seat to seek some sugary solace. Bring some friends, take out the family, and turn your frown upside down with the best dairy (or non-dairy) concoctions Louisville, KY has to offer.
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