Scoop! There it is! Take a dip into some of Greater Des Moines’ favorite ice cream shops, as voted by locals. Whether you like soft serve or traditional, cup or cone, sprinkles or syrup, these frozen concoctions are sure to make you scream with delight (not brain freeze).
Black Cat Ice Cream
Receiving the most votes is Black Cat Ice Cream, who has carved out quite the name for themselves thanks to their innovative and creative flavors. Being called “the best ice cream on earth” certainly helps. Having recently made the move to the Drake neighborhood, their return has been welcomed with lines out the door. With a rotating seasonal menu, you’re able to get something new and exciting every time you’re there. With unique flavors like blueberry pancake, oatmeal cream pie, and coffee & donuts, just know you’ll want to opt for that extra scoop.
A Des Moines institution, Snookies has been making families happy since 1986, and has retained its old-school vibe. Located in the charming Beaverdale neighborhood, you know it by its iconic neon sign that is as beloved as the ice cream (it's an official Des Moines landmark!). Specializing in soft serve, you can get a cone or a sundae or even an arctic blast (ice cream mixed with toppings). Make sure to bring your pup so they can get a free cone and hang out on the swinging chairs for a while.
The Outside Scoop
If you’re from Greater Des Moines, you’ve likely seen the bright pink The Outside Scoop ice cream truck driving around town (perhaps even chased it down). With a truck and two storefront locations in Indianola and Ankeny, The Outside Scoop creates all their ice cream in small batches from scratch. Their stores serve 24 flavors on a rotating basis, while the trucks serve five to seven flavors. Keep things traditional with vanilla or strawberry, or expand your palate with flavors like Dutch letter, goat cheese with roasted cherry or coffee toffee.
Classic Frozen Custard
The difference between custard and ice cream is solely the amount of egg yolks. In our opinion, they are both delicious and should be consumed constantly to confirm. It’s no secret, Classic Frozen Custard has the best custard game in the city. The custard alone is fantastic, but when you add toppings or flavors, it’s like a giant party for your tastebuds.
Head over to the east end of Des Moines, and you’re sure to see a drive-thru line 20 cars long. That doesn’t even account for the line outside the shop as well. Serving up some of the best soft serve in town, you can get a brownie tornado, with everyone’s favorite Cosmic Brownie on top. Plus, who doesn’t love fried food alongside their ice cream? Dairy Zone is known for having a killer food menu as well, filled with cheese curds, tenderloins, and pizza pockets. Tenderloins and soft serve? Diet starts tomorrow.
Step back in time with Bauder’s, a Des Moines tradition since 1916. As a pharmacy turned ice cream and old-fashioned soda shop, you’ll go back to the future just to get some of these frozen concoctions. Their most famous menu item is their peppermint bar, but you can only get it at the State Fair in August. Their ice cream is delicious year-round, but we recommend indulging in that special peppermint bar as many times as possible at the fair.
Over the Top
Located in Pleasant Hill, just east of Des Moines, Over the Top truly takes their flavors to new levels. With some of the creamiest ice cream in the city, this local shop makes their ice cream homemade daily. Try Over the Moon (Tutti Frutti ice cream with mini gummi bears) or Brownie Bomb. Want to try them all? Lucky for you, every serving of ice cream comes with a little “topper,” a sample size on top of your ice cream for you to try something new. Cute little mini scoop? We’re in.
Home Sweet Cone
With a rotating menu of 16 flavors each day, Home Sweet Cone has taken the Des Moines ice cream scene by storm. They make the ice cream fresh in the kitchen in the back, as well as homemade waffle cones and other baked desserts (that are often mixed into their ice cream). We recommend the Salted Oreo, it's a flavor combo you didn't know you needed. Plus, they work very hard to have gluten free and vegan options available, so keep your eyes out for those options. We also created this cool TikTok giving a sneak peek of the shop, watch it here.
If you are looking for a different form of ice cream, head out to Monarca Paletas in Clive. Described as Ice Cream Popsicles, these are made daily in their store. First, you choose your flavor. You can head on the cream-based route with Oreo or strawberry cheesecake, or you can take the fruit-based route with mango or lime. Once you choose your flavor, you pick your dipping flavor. This is anything from white chocolate to cookie butter. Finally, choose toppings and a drizzle and you’re set. Not only is it delicious, but it’s beautiful as well. Definitely Insta worthy.
When we think of ice cream, one word comes to mind: heavenly. Just about as heavenly as Heavenly Delights in Grimes. Stop in to try one of their 40 different flavors of hard-pack ice cream, plus 19 different flavors of soft serve. Can’t decide on a flavor? Don’t worry, us either. We do recommend the mint cookie ice cream or the French silk shake. Yum!
Waukee Ice Cream Shoppe
Can’t choose between soft or hard serve? Well, at Waukee Ice Cream Shoppe, you don’t have to. With a parlor-like feel, this local favorite serves up anything from cones to shakes, as well as massive amounts of cookie dough. Literally. We suggest ordering vanilla soft serve with cookie dough, you’ll get HEAPS of it. While it is often busy, it is worth the wait. A long line is the sign of quality ice cream (or a really hot day), right?
Located in Polk City, The Creamery is worth the short trip. Featuring soft serve, hardpack, AND soft-serve frozen yogurt, the options are truly endless at this quaint shop. Feel like ice cream in a waffle cone? They’ve got it. Craving Pineapple Dole Whip like you can get at Disney World? You don’t need to hop on a flight to Orlando, head to The Creamery to fix that craving.
Is there anything better than a soft-serve ice cream cone after a day in the sun? We don’t think so. VanDee’s in Johnston is known for their weekly flavors of soft serve (think Snookies without the neon sign). Whether it's black raspberry, cheesecake, orange or banana, they are sure to please. For a fun twist (haha!), get those flavors twisted. You’ll know it’s VanDee’s based on the cute little candy eyes they put on the cones. The kids will love it.