Blue Ice (copy)

Salted caramel, pistachio, amarena cherry, peach cream pie and watermelon are ready for customers at Blue Ice Gelato.

Editor's note: This story was originally written in 2022 and updated in 2023.


In Tucson, ice cream season is every season. I honestly believe the Tucson area could handle even more ice cream spots offering locally-made treats, but for now we have at least 12.

While popular ice cream factories like The Screamery and Hub have held down our artisanal ice cream scene for a while, lately newcomers like Blondie’s Ice Cream, Okashi and Licks (in Catalina) have pushed creative, smaller-batch ice cream to a new level. Keep an eye out for ice cream at Puro Ice, Tanna’s Botannas’ Mexican Italian ice shop that snagged the now-shuttered Sullivan’s ice cream recipes.

Pictured is rainbow sherbet ice cream made by Dana Rengel at Decibel Coffee Works. It’s a Tucson take on the classic treat, including passionfruit, key lime and prickly pear.

Blondie’s Ice Cream

A great affogato can be found at Decibel Coffee Works, using their locally-roasted beans and locally-churned ice cream. Dana Rengel, who owns food truck Blondie’s Ice Cream, is also the baker at Decibel, cranking out some of the best chocolate chip cookies in town. While Blondie’s features ice cream flavors as unique as The Parent Trap — a peanut butter and Oreo reference to the Lindsay Lohan film — at events with her remodeled horse trailer, you can find a shorter list of standbys like lemon meringue at Decibel Coffee Works and vegan strawberry and vanilla at Substance Diner.

Locations: Blondie’s is available at Decibel Coffee Works, 267 S. Avenida del Convento, and Substance Diner, 1015 S. Park Ave. You can also find Blondie’s at events around town.

For more information, check out their Instagram or our story.

Pictured is the cookie butter gelato at Blue Ice Gelato, which is one of the most popular flavors.

Blue Ice Gelato

Gelato is lighter than ice cream, its custard usually made with less cream and no egg yolks. Yet, it's no less decadent, with extravagant flavors and silky texture. Blue Ice, located in the Catalina Foothills, has over 50 flavors of the refreshing treat, including fig mascarpone, honeydew cucumber and vegan sorbet options. 

Location: 6878 E. Sunrise Dr.

For more information, check out their website.

Pictured here in 2014 is the Pork Belly flavor ice cream in a waffle cone, both made on the premises at Brushfire Ice Creamery, 7080 E. 22nd St.

Brushfire Creamery

Brushfire Creamery is almost like a speakeasy of ice cream located in Brushfire BBQ. You think the brisket is the main event, and the ice cream is like their seasoned fries: a delightful side dish. Wrong! The ice cream is worth a trip in and of itself, especially if you like your ice cream decadently thick and creamy.

While the creamery is located at their east-side location, a smaller selection of flavors is available at their other spot in midtown.

Locations: East side, 7080 E. 22nd St. | Midtown, 2745 N. Campbell Ave.

For more information, check out their website.

The gelato flavors at Ceres rotate weekly. Pictured is chocolate and mint swirl with crushed Thin Mints and gummy worms.

Ceres and Noodies

Ceres' soft serve is inspired by owner Carolyn O'Connor's upbringing in Syracuse, New York. While Ceres will close on Monday, May 29 and be back in mid-June, the eatery normally debuts two new flavors weekly, which can be enjoyed on their own or swirled together. Toppings also rotate, from mini chocolate chips to triple berry sauce.

Soft serve is also available at Ceres' sister restaurant, Noodies, which is open through summer! Flavors rotate, so check their Instagram to see what's on the roster!

Location: Ceres, 77 W. Washington St.; Noodies, 1730 E. Speedway

For more information about Ceres, check out their website. For more information about Noodies, check out their website.

Frost co-founders Jeffrey Kaiserman, left, and Stephen Ochoa, right, flank master gelato chef and Italy native Nazario Melchionda, at their gelato shop, 2905 E. Skyline Drive.

Frost

While Frost has expanded to an empire, with locations from Irvine, California, to Kuwait City, Kuwait, they got their start in Tucson, when two Tucsonans visited Italy and brought back a master gelato maker. My first favorite flavor of ice cream was their coconut gelato, which I still can't resist whenever I visit. 

Locations: Casas Adobes, 7131 N. Oracle Road | La Encantada, 2905 E. Skyline Dr. | East side, 7301 E. Tanque Verde Road

For more information, check out their website.

Frozen Delight

One of my favorite everyday Tucson memories was one morning, while picking up Bubbe's Bagels, I saw an older woman sitting alone at a table in Frozen Delight. She was reading the newspaper with a tiny cup of espresso. The winter sun cast gently through the window onto this little scene. It felt very European, and totally out of place for a strip mall, albeit a nice one. It made me want to make Frozen Delight part of my daily routine, especially their tart frozen yogurt. While their ice cream offerings are not made locally (they're Thrifty brand), their frozen yogurt is!

Location: 1101 N. Wilmot Road

For more information, check out their website.

From left to right, roasted balsamic strawberry, coconut ash and olive oil pistachio ice cream at HUB Ice Cream Parlor, 245 E. Congress St.

Hub Ice Cream Parlor

What can we say about Hub that hasn't been said before? The ice cream parlor is a flagship downtown eatery. They make wacky flavors, using ingredients like honeycomb and Peeps. If you have a favorite, you have to carefully watch their rotating menu to see when it will be available again. Their ice cream can come in a cup, house-made waffle cone, bubble waffle, cookie sandwich or choco taco.

You can also get their ice cream at their restaurant across the street at 266 E. Congress St.

Location: 245 E. Congress St.

For more information, check out their website.

Licks Catalina is home to rotating ice cream flavors and the option to infuse the treat with cereal. This is the Tucson Double Rainbow, with vanilla and strawberry ice cream, Lucky Charms, gummies, rainbow sprinkles and a sweet cream drizzle.

Licks Catalina

This ice cream shop in Catalina offers a smorgasbord of unconventional flavors and methods. They offer bubble waffle cones and blend cereals like Cap'n Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, Reese's Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch into their ice cream. They also have dairy-free flavors and gluten-free cone options.

Location: Catalina, 16130 N. Oracle Road

For more information, check out their Instagram page.

Okashi's vegan ube ice cream is made with coconut and is impossibly creamy.

Okashi Ice Cream and Confections

Dean Blair, the patissier behind Okashi, came to Tucson from Portland, Oregon, to make ice cream. He incorporates flavors and techniques from Japan, the Philippines and France: ice creams like vegan ube (with a creamy coconut base) and pastries like matcha choux à la crème. Each new weekly order form offers substantial vegan and dairy options. Find his creations at the monthly Penelope pasta night pop-up.

Location: Pick-up happens at Dean Blair’s home in Blenman Elm. Place an order for details.

For more information, check out their Instagram, our story or their website.

Pronghorn Pizza

This pizza destination in Sonoita, operating out of the Dos Cabezas winery, has now added ice cream to its stunning roster. Visit this summer to try their vegan strawberry sorbet and classic vanilla ice cream.

Location: Dos Cabezas WineWorks, 3248 AZ-82, Sonoita

For more information, check out their Instagram.

The Screamery does not use any artificial colors or flavors in their pumpkin ice cream.

The Screamery

The Screamery uses only natural ingredients in their fan-favorite ice creams. An in-house pasteurization process allows them to infuse creative flavors into their cream. They shine their best with kitchen sink flavors like cowboy cookie and munchies.

Locations: Midtown, 2545 E. Speedway | Downtown, 250 E. Congress St. | East side, 50 S. Houghton Road | Marana, 5920 Arizona Pavilions Dr.

For more information, check out their website.

Sundaze Yogurt

Set in the Foothills, Sundaze offers an eclectic interior and over 75 flavors of frozen yogurt, including fat-free and sugar-free options. They also make smoothies!

Location: 4777 E. Sunrise Dr.

For more information, check out their website.


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