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Savoring Ohio: The Best Ice Cream Spots in the State

Eat | By Cullen Fischel | Updated July 17, 2023

Cullen Fischel's guide to the best ice cream spots in Ohio

Key Takeaways:

  • Ohio boasts a thriving ice cream scene, showcasing a mixture of historic parlors and innovative modern creameries that are deeply embedded in the state's food culture.

  • The diversity of flavors, styles, and atmospheres in Ohio's ice cream scene is impressive, promising a scoop for every palate.

  • Ice cream shops are vital parts of Ohio's communities, often using local ingredients, providing jobs, and contributing to local economies.

  • Some of Ohio's best ice cream destinations are Graeter's, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Toft Dairy, Mitchell's Homemade Ice Creams, and Whit's Frozen Custard.

A Dip into Ohio's Ice Cream History

Cullen Fischel of Cleveland explains Ohio's ice cream history

In the heartland of America, Ohio has developed a rich and diverse ice cream culture that dates back to the 19th century. For over 150 years, the Buckeye State has cultivated a sweet relationship with this beloved dessert, resulting in an array of delectable parlors spread across its towns and cities.

One of the oldest family-owned creameries in the nation is nestled in Ohio. Graeter's, a historic institution founded in 1870, has perfected the art of French Pot-style ice cream. This method churns the mixture in small batches, creating a denser, creamier texture that's noticeably different from typical American ice cream. Fans of Graeter's often mention the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip as a flavor highlight. This rich fruity flavor, loaded with dark chocolate chunks, is a testament to the timeless appeal of quality ingredients and traditional methods.

Despite the lasting charm of institutions like Graeter's, Ohio's ice cream scene has never remained stagnant. The state has welcomed new establishments that bring a creative twist to the familiar dessert. One notable innovator is Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. Since 2002, she has revolutionized the Ohio ice cream scene with artisanal, unique flavors crafted meticulously from scratch. Brambleberry Crisp and Brown Butter Almond Brittle have been identified as standout options by Ohio native and experienced foodie, Cullen Fischel.

A Tour of Ohio's Top Ice Cream Spots

Cullen Fischel of Cleveland tours the best ice cream spots in Ohio

To truly appreciate Ohio's vibrant ice cream culture, Cullen Fischel, an accomplished Cleveland-based blogger, suggests embarking on an ice cream tour of the state. Here are some of the highlights:


With locations in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, and other Ohio cities, Graeter's is always within reach. While their signature Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip is a crowd-pleaser, their extensive menu boasts other favorites such as Buckeye Blitz, a nod to the state's favorite candy, and Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip, a divine combination of sweet and salty.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni's is an Ohio classic that promises a creative flavor explosion with every visit. While the Brown Butter Almond Brittle and Gooey Butter Cake are crowd favorites, the more adventurous might also want to try the Sweet Cream Biscuits and Peach Jam, or Atlantic Beach Pie, a delightful blend of tart lemon cream and saltine cracker crust.

Toft Dairy

Operating in Sandusky, Toft Dairy holds the title of Ohio's oldest dairy, run by the same family for five generations. While they offer a wide range of flavors, their Moose Tracks, a vanilla ice cream loaded with peanut butter cups and Moose Tracks fudge, and Cookies and Cream, a classic combination done perfectly, come highly recommended.

Mitchell's Homemade Ice Creams

This Cleveland staple is renowned for its commitment to organic and local ingredients. Among the diverse menu, you'll find the decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch and a vibrant Fresh Strawberry flavor that tastes like summer in a scoop.

Whit's Frozen Custard

Hailing from Granville, Whit's has brought its decadent frozen custard to several locations throughout Ohio. Their custard, which is a little richer and creamier than regular ice cream, is made fresh daily. While the vanilla and chocolate flavors are constants, the third flavor changes daily, keeping things exciting for regular patrons.

Cullen Fischel's Tips for Your Ohio Ice Cream Adventure

As you embark on your journey through Ohio's ice cream landscape, here are a few tips to maximize your experience:

  • Try the classics, but venture out too: While traditional flavors have their charms, don't be afraid to try something unique. The thrill of discovering a new favorite is part of the ice cream adventure.

  • Ask for samples: If you're unsure about a flavor, ask for a small sample. Most places are happy to help you find your perfect match before you commit to a whole scoop.

  • Savor the experience: Enjoying ice cream is not just about the treat itself. Savor the ambiance of the shop, the friendliness of the staff, and the joy of the moment.

  • Visit in off-peak hours: To avoid long lines and enjoy a more relaxed experience, try visiting in off-peak hours, such as weekday afternoons.

  • Take a cooler: If you're on an ice cream tour, consider taking a cooler. This way, you can bring home a pint (or two!) of your favorite flavors.

Enjoy your journey through Ohio's rich ice cream landscape, and remember, no matter where you are in the state, a delicious scoop is never far away!

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