No matter where you find yourself in the world, the search for the perfect scoop of ice cream should always be a top priority. The experience of walking into an ice cream parlor, eagerly reading the flavors, and sampling as many as you can without overindulging is truly otherworldly. And when you’re in Orange County, finding the best ice cream shops is essential for those moments when you want to celebrate, indulge, or simply cool off from the scorching heat.
This guide, compiled with love over the years, features ice cream purveyors in Orange County who meet our high standards for consistency, flavor, and commitment to the perfect cooling temperature. These are the places where tourists and locals alike can savor textured, dense scoops of ice cream. So, get ready to discover the best ice cream shops in Orange County and enjoy every creamy bite!
10. Han’s Homemade Ice Cream
Hans’ Homemade was our very first discovery when we moved to Orange County. Stepping into their Santa Ana location felt like a nostalgic trip to the old-school ice cream parlors of my childhood. Their newest location at the Anaheim Packing District has a modern decor and hipster vibe, but the ice cream remains the same—handmade, creamy, and bursting with flavor. With ingenious flavors like Banana Nut Chocolate Chunk, Orange Chocolate Chip, and Nutella Krunch, Hans’ Homemade continues to win us over with attention to detail and the use of the best ingredients. My favorite scoops: Coffee Oreo and Coconut Pineapple.
9. Mr. Matcha
Mr. Matcha in Orange County offers more than just ice cream. As a tea house with an impressive menu of hot and cold teas, lattes, and the exquisite Ceremonial Matcha Drink, it’s their soft serve that keeps me coming back for more. The flavors of their green tea and black sesame soft serves transport me back to Japan with every spoonful. The premium grade matcha, shipped directly from Kyoto, elevates the experience. And don’t miss their black (charcoal) waffle cone—it’s worth the trip alone. My favorite order: Matcha ice cream on a charcoal cone.
Sometimes, you crave something light and sweet without the heaviness. That’s where Honeymee comes in. This soft serve specialist offers their signature “true milk” soft serve, topped with all-natural honey and even a chunk of raw honeycomb if you’re feeling adventurous. The sweetness of the honey perfectly complements the creamy, milky swirl of ice cream, making it absolutely irresistible. My favorite versions: Strawberry Milkshake and Honey Affogato.
7. Sprinkles Ice Cream
If you’re a fan of Sprinkles Cupcakes, you’ll be delighted to know they also offer Sprinkles Ice Cream. Their Newport Beach location in Orange County is a dream come true for cupcake and ice cream lovers alike. With flavors like Red Velvet, Rocky Road, Salty Caramel, and the ever-popular Captain Crunch, Sprinkles Ice Cream hits all the right notes. Don’t miss their Sprinkles Sandwich, which allows you to pair your favorite scoop with two cupcake tops. My favorite order: Sprinkles Sandwich with coffee ice cream, and chocolate and vanilla cupcake tops.
Creamistry is the largest franchise brand on our list, but don’t let that fool you—their quality is top-notch. Using liquid nitrogen to churn their ice cream, Creamistry creates a fresh and firm texture that is hard to resist. They use premium liquid bases, including organic milk, and even offer a non-dairy option for those seeking a lighter treat. With over 60 toppings and flavors, the customization options are endless. My go-to: Milk Coffee ice cream with mini marshmallows and chopped almonds mixed in.
5. Chunk ‘n Chip
Located in the heart of Downtown Santa Ana’s 4th Street Market, Chunk ‘n Chip is a family-owned shop that specializes in small batches of ice cream made with simple, fresh ingredients. Their flavors are anything but ordinary, with options like “horchata with dark chocolate mole bark (pepitas & guajillo flakes) & espresso fudge swirl,” “guava with goat cheese,” and “rose milk with raspberry & jalapeno swirl and rose petals.” But what really sets them apart are their ice cream sandwiches—oven-warmed cookies paired with their delicious homemade ice cream. My favorite order: warm Espresso cookie with a scoop of Coffee & Coconut with Marbled Fudge & Toasted Coconut Flakes.
When it comes to innovation, Popbar takes the crown. Their gelato barsicles, known as PopGelato, are a revelation. With over 40 flavors of gelato, sorbetto, or yogurt bars to choose from, as well as 15 choices of dippings and toppings, you can create your dream popbar. My personal favorite is the Pistachio bar, delicately drizzled with dark chocolate and coated generously in chopped pistachios. The best part? These bars hold up well, so there’s no chance of melty gelato dripping down your hand before you finish it.
3. A là Minute
Prepare to be dazzled at À la Minute, an ice cream shop with a twist. Using 100% organic Straus Family Creamery milk and liquid nitrogen, they create a creamier, denser, and richer scoop of ice cream. Each order is made upon request, ensuring freshness and highlighting the unique combination of ingredients. The flavors at À la Minute are thoughtfully and artistically crafted. Don’t miss their Strawberry Balsamic and Espresso Chip—they’re true showstoppers.
2. Rollin’ Creamery
Rollin’ Creamery has a story as charming as their ice cream. Inspired by an unforgettable visit to Thailand, the owners brought the concept of rolled ice cream back to the United States. Watching the cream being poured onto a frozen slab and transformed into thin, rolled coils is a mesmerizing experience. The Café Sua Da flavor is a personal favorite—a coffee lover’s dream come true.
1. Vitaly Caffé
Vitaly Caffé in Costa Mesa brings a taste of Italy to Orange County. Located in The Camp, this hidden gem offers gelato that is lovingly crafted with perfect temperature and spun to perfection. With each scoop, you can taste the freshness and quality of their gelatos. They even offer Gelato Flights, allowing you to sample a variety of flavors. Don’t forget to try the Pistachio and Fresh Mascarpone Strawberry with Balsamic Vinaigrette—it’s a match made in heaven.
This concludes our ultimate guide to Orange County’s best ice cream parlors. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, be sure to indulge in these sweet delights and enjoy the flavors that make Orange County a true ice cream destination. And remember, the world of ice cream is all about pleasure and smiles, so take your time, savor every bite, and embrace the joy of summer treats!
SEE ALSO: BEST ICE CREAM SHOPS IN LOS ANGELES