As a dairy-free dessert enthusiast, it’s hard to come by ice cream or gelato stores that offer dairy-free options beyond the usual fruity sorbet selections. Ever since I was diagnosed with a moderate casein sensitivity, I’ve been trying to stay away from dairy. This has oftentimes been tricky as someone with a huge sweet tooth, as desserts use heavy amounts of milk, butter, and cream.

And honestly, it can be hard to create desserts with a rich and creamy texture and taste without any dairy products, especially in vegan ice creams. However, there’s been a recent increase in the availability of delicious dairy-free ice creams, and I’m totally here for it. Here are some of my favorite places to get dairy-free ice cream with the flavors recommendations — none of the dairy and all of the dreaminess.

Gelato Fiasco, Brunswick, ME

Isabelle Lee

Recommended flavor: Coconut & Thin Mints Sorbetto, Peanut Butter Fudge Sorbetto

Gelato Fiasco is within a walking distance from my college campus, so I frequently visit with my friends for any occasion, ranging from birthdays to end-of-finals-season celebrations. They have a really cozy interior and a large selection of flavors, so it’s hard to leave once you step in.

I tried two of their monthly flavors: the Coconut & Thin Mints Sorbetto and the Peanut Butter Fudge Sorbetto. I’m a huge fan of mint chocolate chip, and the Coconut & Thin Mints was a refreshing take on the flavor. While the coconut flavor was nearly undetectable, I loved the crisp crunchiness of the Thin Mint cookies throughout the gelato, and it worked really well with the light mint flavor.

The Peanut Butter Fudge Sorbetto is made with the Dark Chocolate Noir Sorbetto as a base, which is one of my favorite Gelato Fiasco flavors I always get. Blended in with creamy peanut butter, the Peanut Butter Fudge Sorbetto feels even denser, creamier, and richer than the Dark Chocolate Noir. 

J.P. Licks, Boston, MA

Isabelle Lee

Recommended flavor: Madagascar Vanilla, Pumpkin

While spending my fall break in Boston with my friends, I got a cup of Madagascar Vanilla and Pumpkin ice cream from J.P. Licks. The Madagascar Vanilla and Pumpkin were perfect autumn flavors, complementing each other perfectly with notes of warm pumpkin and delicate vanilla. They were both extremely creamy and light, which made the pairing even more delightful. The vegan ice creams are coconut or oat-based, which makes them a great nut-allergy-friendly option. Also, I’d totally recommend visiting J.P. Licks in the middle of autumn, as the sunny weather and cool air make ice cream the perfect treat to enjoy outside. Not to mention, the autumn flavors at J.P. Licks are too tempting to not go more than once!

Humphry Slocombe, San Francisco, CA

Isabelle Lee

Recommended flavor: “Milk” and Cookies

Humphry Slocomb’s vegan “Milk” and Cookies flavored ice cream was a real treat to have on a lovely, sunny day filled with lots of walking in San Francisco. I especially really liked how the cookies in the ice cream weren’t too finely blended but were instead crushed into small or medium-sized chunks that were uniform throughout the ice cream. Ratio is everything in a good cookies and cream ice cream, and Humphry Slocomb really nailed the cookie size and ratio for this one.

Sant Ambroeus Gelateria, Manhattan, NY

Isabelle Lee

Recommended flavor: Chocolate

As a dairy-free chocolate lover, I’ve tried my fair share of vegan chocolate-flavored ice cream and gelato, but there’s something special about the vegan chocolate sorbetto from Sant Ambroeus. First and foremost, this has definitely been my fanciest sorbetto experience yet. Perfectly scooped into a silver bowl and served with a long, delicate spoon, it was hard not to admire the ice cream for a few seconds.

I also noticed there was a thin layer on top of the sorbetto— very much like the thin, crinkly, cracked top you’d see on a beautifully baked brownie. This chocolate gelato is water-based, so I’m guessing that the brownie-esque quality was caused by some sort of separation going on with the water. The gelato was very smooth, soft, and melted pretty easily. The chocolate flavor was extremely well-balanced — the darkness of the chocolate was at just the perfect intensity to taste rich, refined, and clean.

Andia’s Ice Cream, Cary, NC

Isabelle Lee

Recommended flavor: Pandan

This small, family-owned ice cream shop in Cary holds a very special place in my heart. My fondest memories from high school come from sharing a cup of Andia’s ice cream with people I love, and the staff are always sweet and welcoming as well.

Andia’s Ice Cream has a monthly rotation of six special flavors, which includes one vegan option. Pandan has been one of my favorites from the monthly vegan flavors. This bright, lime-green ice cream is flavored with authentic Pandan leaf extract, which gives it a sweet, nutty flavor. The coconut milk gives the ice cream an ultra-smooth and silky texture, and there were also notes of grassy vanilla in the ice cream. The smoothness and greenness of the ice cream were reminiscent of spring and lush flora, and I’d recommend a scoop on a warm, sunny day.