London’s Best Ice Cream

This article was originally published in July 2013, and has been updated for 2014.

While there’s nothing wrong with a 99, we’re often visiting London’s ice cream parlours to sample their wares and find the best. We’re confident that the following places won’t disappoint – though bear in mind that gelateria often chop and change their flavours to keep it interesting. If we’ve missed your favourite, let us know in the comments.

Gelupo

When we asked around for ice cream recommendations, Gelupo kept being mentioned. Turns out we know some smart people: Gelupo was the last on our tasting list and, to be frank, we were starting to feel literally sick of the idea. Then we had a mouthful of melon sorbet with hints of cinnamon and jasmine which was so light, refreshing and damn tasty that our faith was restored. We don’t want to say this is definitively the best ice cream in London but we can’t imagine what could beat it.
Where: 7 Archer Street, Piccadilly Circus
Anything else? Cakes, flatbread sandwiches and an Italian deli in the back of the shop.
Most outlandish flavour: Ricotta chocolate and black pepper? Blood orange? Cherry and sambuca?

Chin Chin Laboratories

These guys use liquid nitrogen to freeze the ice cream, which makes their Camden Market shop look more like a lab than a gelateria. Pondicherry vanilla and Valrhona chocolate are always available, plus two changing special flavours; then choose a topping (held in science beakers) or sauce. We had the rich, smooth vanilla topped with heather honeycomb, like posh Crunchie. It’s the only one on our list to get near the home-made experience, where cream temporarily cloys to the roof of your mouth (that’s just what happens when cream gets cold). While The Icecreamists are off the high street Chin Chin Labs is the most ‘Heston’ you’ll get.
Where: 49-50 Camden Lock Place, under the bridge.
Anything else? Nope.
Most outlandish flavour: Pineapple and choc chip.

Shake Shack

Yeah yeah, burgers, whatever. What caught our eye when Shake Shack opened was its frozen custard – ice cream heavier than gelato, in other words. You can get vanilla, chocolate or flavour of the day (see website for details) or ‘concretes': tubs of ice cream with added bits. We went for a single Union Shack, a chocolate ice cream more putty-like than concrete (though this could have been down to the heat), with St JOHN Bakery brownie, Paul A Young chocolate chips and fudge sauce. Unsophisticated but a lot of fun.
Where: 24 Market Building, Covent Garden.
Anything else? Er, burgers.
Most outlandish flavour: Blackberry Buttermilk.

Sardo Cucina

Sardo Cucina is the cafe offshoot of restaurant Sardo in Fitzrovia, and the ice creams aren’t the focal point at all – look for the freezer cabinet tucked into the corner. But we tried the vanilla flavour and where Shake Shack talks about frozen custard, this one genuinely tasted of rich, eggy custard. We’ll be making detours to try it again.
Where: 112 Whitfield Street, Fitzrovia.
Anything else? Sandwiches, cakes, everything deli.
Most outlandish flavour: Tiramisu – it’s not really that kind of place.

Paul A Young

If you want chocolate ice cream, where better than a top chocolatier? Only the Camden Passage and Royal Exchange Paul A Young shops sell ice cream; we visited the latter and found tubs of ready scooped dessert waiting in the freezer. Time saving. We opted, naturally, for the chocolate sorbet, which tastes like they’ve taken 70% dark chocolate, churned and frozen it. Which they sort of have. We’d only suggest replacing the wooden spoons with plastic: wood drags on the mouth and slightly spoils the velvety texture.
Where: 20 The Royal Exchange, Bank; 33 Camden Passage, Islington.
Anything else? Masses and masses of chocolate.
Most outlandish flavour: The chocolate is pretty outlandish.

Gelateria 3bis

Of course Borough Market would have a proper Italian gelateria, and 3Bis has its roots in Rimini. You can choose from two flavours in the two smaller sizes, or three flavours if you pay a bit more, plus you get a wafer and the option of liquid chocolate drizzled into the base of your cup. We tried the coconut bounty flavour which has bits of coconut and chocolate mashed into the ice cream and feels gimmicky compared to our other choice, the velvety smooth mascarpone and figs. That’s a proper, grown up ice cream.
Where: 4 Park Street, SE1.
Anything else? Some cakes and drinks.
Most outlandish flavour: Kinder.

Scoop

We made an involuntary grunt of pleasure on tasting the biscotto gelato, though that might also have been part relief at successfully negotiating the Scoop Covent Garden store’s chaotic queueing system. Ice cream comes piled high at even the smallest price and is creamy yet light, quality definitely not sacrificed for quantity.
Where: 40 Short’s Gardens, Covent Garden; 53 Brewer Street, Soho; 16 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington.
Anything else? Waffles, crepes, churros.
Most outlandish flavour: Green tea made with matcha powder from Kyoto.

Ruby Violet

After some fervent reader recommendations we went out to find Ruby Violet‘s travelling van (we haven’t quite made it to its Tufnell Park base yet). We tried the malted milk and chocolate/cherry flavours, which turned out to be two of the subtler options but still incredibly rich and creamy. They go out of their way to source local ingredients and use organic milk and free range eggs. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter to find out where the van will be turning up next.
Where: 118 Fortess Road, Tufnell Park, and at various markets around town.
Anything else? Cake, sundaes, milkshakes.
Most outlandish flavour: Horseradish.

Honourable mentions

Oddono’s: gelato is made daily in South Kensington, including its surprisingly woody award-winning pistachio.
14 Bute Street, South Kensington; 69 Northcote Road, Battersea; 8 Flask Walk, Hampstead; 147 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich; Selfridges; Whiteleys.

Black Vanilla: uses local, independent producers for its ingredients and the creamy cinnamon is excellent. A Londonist favourite, but in SE London only.
32 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath and 5 College Approach, Greenwich.

Amorino: they make your cone in the shape of a rose, which is adorable. Try the speculoos sorbet.
41 Old Compton Street, Soho; 7 Garrick Street, Covent Garden; 67A Kings Road, Chelsea.

Tesoro: huge array of gelato flavours and genuine Italian customers relaxing outside; a good sign.
39 Goodge Street, Fitzrovia.

La Gelateria: currently selling a London Fields Hackney Hopster sorbet, which actually fizzes a bit on the tongue.
27 New Row, Covent Garden.

Freggo: Argentinian ice creams on the sweet and creamy side. We paid them a visit when it first opened; service hasn’t got any faster.
27-29 Swallow Street, Piccadilly Circus.

Disclaimer: We review anonymously and pay for all our meals/drinks.

See also:

The Best Rooftop Bars in London

London’s Best Beer Gardens

This article is part of our Best of London Food and Drink series. Visit the page for more recommendations of where to enjoy the capital’s top food and drink, categorised by cuisine, food type and more.

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  • southpawgirl

    I am not a big fan of Gelupo: I can taste the thickening agent in their concoctions. Freggo is too sweet and rich; as it is sometimes the ice cream of GelatoMio, which you haven’t mentioned but it’s quite deserving despite the occasional sugar overload.

    On the whole, I’d say that my favourite is Oddono: the pistachio is really heavenly as the Cookies&Cream is. Also, the Sorbitium Ices van has the best salted caramel I ever tasted. A pity they have such vague information on their website that it’s difficult to understand where they are when.

    • Ben Austin-Duch

      Sorbitium Ices is my aunt’s business! They do the TASTIEST ice cream ever….
      http://www.sorbitiumices.com/p/markets-events.html
      Here is a list of when and where they are at. Hope that helps!

      • southpawgirl

        Hi Ben, pass my congratulations to your aunt :) They are stars, indeed. I am aware of that page but you need a certain concentration to figure out how it maps to any given day… I follow them on Twitter and I think it would be awesome if they could just post something like “today we will be at X location from 10 am to 3 pm”. They make ice cream worth a detour for!

        • Gelatomonkey

          Also love Sorbitium and follow them on Twitter in the hope my location and theirs will coincide, but unfortunately it often doesn’t :(

  • http://www.planestrainsandplantagenets.com/ Kerry

    The millefoglie gelato at 3bis is simply the best cold thing I have ever put in my mouth. It’s lovely.

  • http://am0.co.uk/ Alex Moyler

    Big fan of Scoop right near Piccadilly circus. Been there a number of times and everyone I take has always left happy!

  • E

    Venchi at Covent Garden is also worth a mention, it’s pistachio is to die for. So smooth and creamy but not too sweet

  • Clapham Mother

    LabG in Brixton Market is also fantastic, definitely deserves to be in the top 10. Their pistachio is every bit as good as Oddono’s and the salted caramel is wonderful. It is the perfect pudding for any Brixton Market meal, in my experience.

    I agree about Gelupo being a bit hit and miss. Sometimes it is sublime, and others not so much. I had fragola grape sorbet once, with high hopes, as it is a favourite fruit of mine, and the stuff was so horrible I had to put it in the bin! Round the corner of course, I didn’t want to hurt their feelings.

    • ixi

      you should have told them, how else do you expect them to get better? :)

  • southpawgirl

    Agree about Vecchi in Holborn / Covent Garden. Expensive and small portions, but hugely enjoyable!

  • terry fischer

    They all look good, but when I see concrete and custard I’m reminded that the shake shack owner is from St. Louis and all his ice cream creations are from the original Ted Drewes, on the old highway 66 since 1929.

  • Gerry

    LaGelatiera definitely above all the others. Proper Slow Food ingredients, old fashion craft, unique flavours not found anywhere else.

  • LowenthalLowenthal

    This Icecream is so very tasty and sweet for eat .There are many Indregiant use.
    http://www.prlog.org/12143342-6pm-coupons-avail-50-off-on-6pm-shoes-promo-code.html

  • Cassie

    Nardulli in Clapham Common is definitely worth a try!

  • guy

    Bit disappointed to see no vegan options on here :-(

    • Sean

      Check out Joe Deluccis in the Westfields!! They have vegan options!

    • Talia

      Chin Chin Labs almost always have a vegan option

  • Sarah

    Ruby Violet in Tufnell Park! Very tasty homemade ice cream and sorbets, with creative flavors that change pretty frequently.

  • dianne tanner

    I’m sure someone has already suggested – Riley’s in Crouch End. Heaven can be found in a tub of their pistachio.

  • EW

    The pistachio gelato at Venchi @Covent Garden is to die for

  • Raya Encheva

    OLIVOGELO on 28 Elizabeth Street near Victoria Station is purely amazing! Definitely worth trying it.

  • Hayley Relph

    Caio, at 17 Charing Cross Road, is the closest I’ve had to authentic gelato outside of Italy. My Italian friend Rocco introduced me to it. Lovely, traditional flavours.

  • http://bunchcast.com/blog Stephane Moracchini

    I would add Gelatorino, near Covent Garden :-)

  • ravingpoet

    Marine Ices by Chalk Farm

    • Kelvin James Stockwell

      TRY THEIR WHISKY SORBET ( TO SPECIAL ORDER ONLY – SO ORDER A GALLON!)

  • Martita

    Gelatorino in Covent garden is the best italian gelato in London. Trust me ;)

  • Blackstock Ultra

    Cremeria Vienna on Blackstock Road, Finsbury Park? come è stato fatto da una nonna italiana.

    • Lou

      Seconded! A strange location but worth it – and they do take homes.

  • Nicole

    Udderlicious on Upper St, Angel!

    • Olly

      Mmmm…. luvverly!

  • Rose Bud

    gino gelato are amazing, they make mint ice cream from garden mint – delicious. They used to be by Charing Cross but they have moved now. http://www.ginogelato.com. I think they have a stall at Wholefoods in Kensington…

  • Szikla Szil@rd

    Gelato Mio close to Holland Park station. Superb pistachio. And zillions of other great ice cream wonders.

    • Silvia Tognetti

      i agree! and i’m italian ;)

  • kerol

    Any ice cream shop in East London? I cannot find a decent one :(

    • Ellie

      The wholefood shop near the Pho Mile has lovely tubs of ice cream. Also there’s a great place on Church Street opposite the Town Hall!

  • Jacs

    Ruby Violet @_rubyviolet on Fortess Road in Tufnell Park. All homemade on site, all innovative flavours, salted caramel to die for, and good value for money. They do ice cream cakes and things too! A favourite with local workers, families and passers by. #bestthingintufnellpark

  • bianca malata

    A few of these are not too far from me. I will have to pop over and check them out.

  • Mr Whippy

    How about Snowflake in Wardour Street, Soho?. Amazing ice creams and sorbets crepes and coffee. Amazing staff too!. Worth a Look

  • Sean

    How about Joe Deluccis?? They supply to Nandos and Tesco finest as well! The coconut and pineapple sorbet is amazing and tastes like a pina colada together

  • http://www.robbrazierphoto.com Rob B

    Chin Chin does egg nog, awesome hot chocolate and coffee from (I think) Monmouth beans – that probably deserves a mention under “Anything Else”.

  • Hannah

    The website looks laughably kitsch but Nardulli’s in Clapham, S. London, is amazing. Go there.

    http://www.nardulli.co.uk/

  • Maj

    For those a little further out west South Street in Isleworth have great homemade ice-cream and a few weird and wonderful flavours – and cheap too! Website at http://www.southstreet.biz

  • Ben R

    Lab G in Brixton Market does licorice…yum

  • nina

    You’ve missed Udderlicious is Islington on Upper Street! Opened up some months ago. Salted caramel icecream is out of this world! The texture is perfect. I recommend it highly. In my opinion much better than plavess like Oddonos.

  • Vikster

    You left out Ruby and Violet on Fortess Rd Kentish Town. Shame on you!

  • starrystarry

    i was totally surprised by the gelato in Italy when i visited there two months ago, i had never never eaten such an amazing ice cream before, in my whole life. And i keep thinking about it for these two months after i came back, i really hope to taste it again , so i just decided to go to London 6 days later, and to eat gelato in all the shops in London. Can anyone please please telllllllllll me the recipe of making gelato? i really want to make them on my own. I tried several times, but didnt work well.. please,, does anyone know the recipe?

  • joss

    http://www.gelateriadanieli.com/

    How this pace hasnt even had a mention i will never understand, its like as if nobody ventures out of central when doing these reviews…..head to Richmond and try it. Normally around 20 different flavours

  • http://www.koandesign.com/ Fabien

    First thing first: if the ice cream is in plain sight you should run away from that place, especially if it’s an awful lot of ice cream in a single bowl! Reason being that the temperature can’t be kept even throughout the ice cream if it’s presented this way and therefore you can rest assured it’s not an artisan gelato but uses agents/chemicals. Scoop for example, to me is one of the worst ice creams ever: it even left me an aftertaste of dust because of the agent they added.
    This is one of the reasons why, among few others, I adore Gelatorino in Covent Garden (which appears only in 2 comments and is not even listed).

    Then, avoid by all means chains (like Amorino or Oddono’s) because it’s likely that they don’t even prepare the ice cream in place but have a central lab somewhere that ships the bowls to the shops, degrading the ice cream quality during transports. They might use the best ingredients, but an hour in a van, even in a refrigerated one, shouldn’t be one of these.

    Chin Chin is worth a try once just for the experience, but it’s all gimmicky and the flavour is not even there (I tried the chocolate).
    La Gelatiera on the other hand has all the flavours, but the consistency of the ice cream was weird (almost rock solid), meaning it’s very likely that they prepare a lot of ice cream in advance and then just freeze it for days/weeks.
    Tesoro is closed down.
    So is Dri Dri, unfortunately, which was another very good place.

    Sorry, coming from the place that invented the gelato I’m quite finicky and can’t let go such lists.
    By the way, if you ever go to Florence (and now Rome as well), you should give a go to Carapina. You’ll may then understand.

    • Sonia A

      Thanks for the info, Fabien but, unless we can get to Florence or Rome, it doesn’t look like we’re going to get any decent ice cream in London! I agree about Scoop’s ice cream – I thought it was only me that thought it tasted powdery! I do like Amorino and Oddono’s though, even if they are ‘chains’. So, in London, where would you go for an ice cream, Fabien?

      • http://www.koandesign.com/ Fabien

        Hi Sonia.
        Gelatorino is always my first choice, as of today.
        I would like to give you more options but haven’t found other worthwhile ones yet.

  • Ian Ratner

    Haw many of these are truly ice cream and how many are actually gelato? Big difference.

  • paulgodier

    A blast from the past in Spitalfields!

  • http://londonist.com/ Rachel Holdsworth

    Hi Craig, when this article was originally published we included prices, but given that they’re likely to have changed since then we removed them for this year (limited resources means we can’t go round and check them all again). I used to live round the corner from Marine Ices and I think they’ve been left behind by other places. If anyone’s in Camden I’d always direct them to Chin Chin Labs.

    • MattFromLondonist

      As a regular in the restaurant, I always found Marine Ices very likeable, and laudable that they’ve continued family operation for so long, but the ice cream was always a bit, well, average.