Where to Find Creamy, Delicious Dairy-Free Soft-Serve Ice Cream in the US

Back in the 1920s, in Buffalo, New York, Charles Taylor filed a patent for a machine that would change the future of dessert forever. It was the world’s first soft-serve machine, and the velvety, soft ice cream it produced was a big hit. By the 1940s, even Dairy Queen had soft serve, and trucks serving the whipped sweet treat were becoming a more common sight. Today, soft serve is still a favorite of many Americans. But while most options are made with dairy, vegan soft serve is also a popular choice. If you’re in the mood for a swirl, here are 10 spots to grab vegan soft serve across the US.

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How is soft serve different from ice cream?

While all soft serve is ice cream, not all ice cream is soft serve. Soft serve has a lighter, smoother, and creamier texture compared to traditional ice cream, which has a slightly denser texture. This is due to the higher amount of air incorporated into the mixture during the freezing process. Both have similar ingredients (like milk, and cream, sugar, for example), however, soft serve often has a higher proportion of milk to cream and may include stabilizers and emulsifiers to maintain its smooth texture.

person holding soft serve in coneUnsplash

Is there such a thing as vegan soft serve?

Yep! Vegan soft serve typically uses plant-based alternatives to traditional dairy ingredients, like coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, and oat milk. The taste and texture, however, are often almost indistinguishable. 

RELATED: 48 Ice Cream Shops Serving Up the Best Dairy-Free Cones and Cups

10 spots to grab vegan soft serve in the US

Find out for yourself how tasty vegan soft serve can be by heading to one of these ice cream spots this summer. 

Vaca's Creamery soft serve in tubVaca’s Creamery

1 Vaca’s Creamery

Chicago, IL

Utilizing locally sourced ingredients, Chicago’s Vaca’s Creamery makes delicious, velvety, vanilla and chocolate vegan soft serve. Top with everything from miso caramel sauce to toasted marshmallows. If you need a caffeine hit, you could also opt for an Affogato, which is soft-serve ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over the top.
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person holds soft serve in cone at beachYoga-Urt

2 Yoga-Urt

Multiple locations

All of Yoga-Urt’s soft serve is made with organic nuts. The flavors are consistently changing, but keep an eye out for mouthwatering options like Maple Banana Pancake and Salted Caramel Zen. You can also opt for a deliciously creamy soft-serve-based shake in flavors like Peanut Butter Brownie and Chocolate Bliss.
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Niu Soft ServeNiu Soft Serve

3 Niu Soft Serve

Honolulu, HI

If you’re in Honolulu, Niu’s coconut-based, local-style soft serve is a must-try. All of the toppings are also made in-house—choose from options like roasted macadamia nuts, sesame salted caramel, and hot kūlolo sauce.
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soft serve ice creamDreamboat Donuts & Scoops

4 Dreamboat Donuts & Scoops

Fort Worth, TX

This Texas eatery is about more than just delicious donuts. Here, you can also find super creamy Oatly-based vegan soft serve with toppings like organic chocolate sauce, homemade caramel, and Oreo cookie pieces.
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ice queen thiccflurryIce Queen

5 Ice Queen

Portland, OR

The Oatly soft-serve-based Thiccflurries are a real steal scener at this Chicana-owned ice cream parlor in Portland. Forget McDonald’s and its McFlurries, you need more Ice Queen in your life.
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happy ice with soft serveHappy Ice

6 Happy Ice

Los Angeles, CA

According to Happy Ice, its frozen dessert shop and food truck are the “happiest places on earth.” Put that statement to the test by ordering one of its Rainbow Gelatis, which is its signature water ice topped with a dollop of deliciously creamy dairy-free soft serve. Once you’ve had a taste, we bet you won’t be able to stop smiling.
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besties soft serveBesties Vegan Paradise

7 Besties Vegan Paradise

Los Angeles, CA

You can grab all kinds of vegan goodies at this vegan grocery store. After you’ve finished filling your cart with your favorite plant-based finds, reward yourself with the grocery store’s own plant-based soft serve in flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and cookie butter.
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VegNews.16HandlesOatly16 Handles

8 16 Handles

Multiple locations

Yup, this popular soft-serve shop has vegan options, too. The menu features delicious dairy-free choices like Oatly Chocolate Cake, Oatly Chai Tea, Oatly Chocolate Banana, and Oatly Cinnamon Bun. Good luck deciding, or maybe just get all of them?
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erewhon ice cream

9 Erewhon

Multiple locations

If you’re in the mood for a bougie grocery shopping trip, Erewhon is the place to go. While you’re there, make sure to give the vegan soft serve a try. Made with coconut milk, Cosmic Bliss is a tasty dairy-free treat.
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pecan ice creamScoop Deville

10 Scoop Deville

Philadelphia, PA

Did you know? Scoop Deville’s “famous custom soft serve” also comes in dairy-free. Check out options like the Charles Mint Barkley, which features mint ice cream blended with chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate sauce. There’s also the Philly Samoa Lovin’, which is loaded with salted caramel ice cream, chocolate chips, and toasted coconut.
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