Since leaving Wisconsin to attend school in the south, I’ve heard many myths about frozen custard, my home state’s signature dessert. Is it synonymous with ice cream? Nope. “Midwestern” for froyo? Blasphemy.
So what exactly is frozen custard? Unlike most other frozen treats, custard is made with egg yolks. It also has less air than ice cream, which gives it a smoother, creamier texture. Whether you’re a long-time custard lover or a novice, here are the seven best places to try throughout America’s Dairyland.
What to try: the flavor of the day
Kopp’s, a Milwaukee staple, was the first custard stand in the state to offer a flavor of the day. Swiss chocolate and vanilla are always available, as well as two daily flavors ranging from Lemon Meringue Pie to Grasshopper Fudge. Check out their Flavor Forecast for upcoming specials and even sign up for Flavor Alerts so you don’t miss your favorites.
What to get: Vanilla-based anything
LeDuc’s is an understated custard and sandwich shop in Waukesha, just west of Milwaukee. They pride themselves on their homemade mix: anything with vanilla is a good bet, from sundaes to shakes.
What to get: Butter Pecan
Leon’s, which rivals Kopp’s for Milwaukee’s favorite custard stand, has been serving custard in the city since 1942. Their menu is nothing fancy, but their quality speaks for itself. Plus, they feature not just two, but three constant flavors (chocolate, vanilla and butter pecan), as well as a flavor of the day.
What to get: Door County Sundae
Located in Fish Creek, Not Licked Yet is a family owned and operated custard stand that emphasizes a kid-friendly, fun environment. Their outside seating has a fairy-tale feel, decorated with local artwork. On Fridays, they host a farmers market and “Custard Karaoke.” Here, it’s as much about the experience as it is about the custard, which, of course, is phenomenal. Order the Door County Sundae, loaded with Door County’s famous cherries.
What to get: “Those Things”
The oldest custard stand in Milwaukee, Gilles first opened in 1938. A drive in diner with lots of character and monthly deals, it’s a neighborhood favorite. Ask for one of “Those Things,” a cookie custard sandwich dipped in chocolate.
What to get: Turtle Sundae
If you’re in a rush, opt for the drive through and grab a shake. No need to order it “extra heavy” – the regular ones are already thick enough to eat with a spoon. If you do have some time, wander inside and enjoy a sundae in their dining room, which has carpeting, flower-filled tables, and a fireplace in the corner. It’ll be the fanciest you’ll feel eating custard in Wisconsin.
What to get: Concrete Mixer
Originating as a single shop in Sauk City, Culver’s has grown to include 133 locations in Wisconsin, as well as in 22 other states. Although it’s now a multi-state chain, Culver’s remains true to its Wisconsin roots. Customize their delicious custard with a few mix-ins to make a concrete mixer.