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Scoops of creamy Thai Tea from Sweet Action Ice Cream —Photo by Rachel Adams

Denver’s 21 Best Ice Cream Flavors

The best tastes of summer’s sweetest treat.

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Editor’s Note: This is a living list of Denver’s best scoops of ice cream, last updated on July 19, 2019. Did we miss your favorite creamery or flavor? Email us at digital@5280.com

Oh, ice cream! Is there a sweeter, more satisfying treat on the planet? Anything that embodies summer more? Nope, we can’t think of one either. In order to demonstrate our devotion to the dessert, we stalked the Denver and Boulder areas for the very best flavors. Here, the 21 scoops to add to your summer to-do list. (Catch ’em if you can—at all of these shops, flavors rotate.)

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Bonnie Brae’s Cappuccino Crunch combines coffee ice cream and chocolate-covered toffee pieces. Photo by Rachel Adams

Smith & Canon Ice Cream Co.

Flavor: Dew Sabi

This Philadelphia-style ice cream shop makes waves with its unusual flavors. There are affogatos (espresso poured over ice cream) and nitro cold brew floats, but if you’re feeling especially adventurous try the Dew Sabi: a funky honeydew-wasabi flavor that nails the illusive refreshing-and-zippy combination.

Bonnie Brae

Flavor: Cappuccino Crunch

Ice cream lovers have been packing this old-school Denver creamery for 33 years, which is no surprise given the charming retro digs and extensive roster of rotating flavors (32 on any given day). Order a scoop of the crowd favorite, Cappuccino Crunch, and enjoy the satisfying combo of coffee ice cream and chocolate-covered toffee pieces on the sunny patio. 799 S. University Blvd., 303-777-0808

Chaos & Cream

Flavor(s): Ask for half Smart Cookie and half Strawberry Avalanche

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Inspired by rolled Thai ice cream, Brian Rosen and Bernard Friedman launched Chaos & Cream, a mobile cart you can hire for private events. The duo pours thin layers of ice cream base on two wicked-cold (-10° Fahrenheit) metal plates, adds fresh ingredients like Oreos or strawberries, and smashes and scrapes the combo until blended. Once frozen, the treat can be rolled up and eaten on the spot. Chaos & Cream offers dreamy flavors like Birthday Cake and Frozen Hot Chocolate, but we prefer to order half Oreo and half Strawberry. 720-504-7655

D Bar

Flavor: Java Chip

With so many ways to satisfy a sweet tooth at Uptown’s D Bar, choosing can be a bit overwhelming. We’ll make it easy for you: Go straight for the Java Chip. This rich iteration is made in-house with espresso from local Allegro Coffee Company and dotted with decadent dark chocolate chips. 494 E. 19th Ave., 303-861-4710

Em’s Ice Cream

Flavor: Vanilla

This Denver-based brand’s take on vanilla ice cream is anything but plain vanilla. The USDA-certified organic custard base is infused with fresh vanilla beans, extract, and powder for a triple threat of pure, dreamy flavor. It might not be the most exciting item on the menu, but New England–inspired Em’s certainly does it justice. Enjoy a scoop at the brand’s cheery Park Hill brick-and-mortar, check out the cart on the 16th Street Mall (between Curtis and Champa streets) or keep up with its food truck on Instagram @emsicecream. 617-388-5349

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Gelato Boy

Flavor: Mango Margarita

As Colorado continues to reach record-breaking temperatures this summer, we can think of no better happy hour fix than this boozy flavor. The ice cream—a combination of Alphonso mangos, lime juice, a hint of sea salt, and (best of all) silver tequila, is truly the best of both worlds.  3501 Wazee St., 720-548-0416

From bottom up: Frozen Matter’s Manquila Sorbet (mango-tequila), Absinthe Flambé, and Strawberries & Cream. Photo by Rachel Adams

Frozen Matter

Flavor(s): Milk and Cookies and Ruby Road

Calling all Cookies and Cream lovers: Frozen Matter’s is the best we’ve ever tasted. The Uptown shop uses a large batch of Newman’s Own sandwich cookies—two-thirds of which steep in the organic base for 24 hours before being blended into the custard and one-third of which are chopped up as an add-in. The result is an ice cream that tastes like a chocolate malt studded with huge pieces of cookie. Also stop by the brand’s new Wash Park location (which opened earlier this month) for Ruby Road, a Rocky Road-esque concoction of Valrhona chocolate custard with a ruby port reduction, raspberry-infused marshmallows, and cacao nibs. Multiple locations, 720-600-6358

Sweet Cooie’s

Flavor: Mint Julep Caramel

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Combine the aesthetics of a Tiffany & Co. store and a ’50’s-era soda shop and we’re pretty sure the result would look exactly like this charming Congress Park ice creamery. The magical space showcases candy and other goodies that the welcoming staff will mix right into scoops of Rocky Mountain Mint or Chunky Chocolate Peanut Butter. We’re purists when it comes to our favorite iteration, Mint Julep Caramel, which sings with mint, bourbon, and caramel. Much like the shop itself, it’s a unique combination that we simply can’t get enough of. 3506 12th Ave., 720-550-7140

Glacier Homemade Ice Cream & Gelato

Flavor: Butter Pecan

A classic it may be, but finding a decent rendition of Butter Pecan isn’t easy. While many versions suffer from cloying sweetness or a synthetic butter flavor, the 21-year-old, Boulder-born Glacier chain restores the treat to its former glory. You’ll find a smooth, Philadelphia-style base infused with a hint of butter and studded with big chunks of nutty pecans. Multiple locations

Burnt Honey ice cream at Boulder’s Heifer and the Hen. Photo by Rachel Adams

Heifer and the Hen

Flavor(s): Burnt Honey and Golden Milk

Pull up a swing at Heifer and the Hen’s float bar (it’s all exactly as it sounds) and revel in a scoop of the Burnt Honey. To make this flavor, the ice cream maker swirls warm, caramelized honey from Longmont-based Highland Honey Bees into a sweet cream mixture—which serves as the base for every Heifer and the Hen signature creation. The herbal, slightly floral notes of the honey offset the rich custard. As an alternative, the Golden Milk is a sweet balance of cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger. 5290 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 720-328-3159

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High Point Creamery

Flavor: Mint Chocolate Bark

Ice cream can be one of the simplest sweet treats, but at High Point Creamery, the dessert morphs into sophisticated and complex territory. Take the Mint Chocolate Bark, which is a polished juxtaposition of steeped mint leaves and hand-chipped Callebaut milk chocolate. If you can’t decide on a single flavor (we’re also a sucker for the basil with blackberry swirl), order an ice cream flight. Multiple locations, 720-420-9137

Ice Cream Riot

Flavor: Cheddar Goldfish

Among the tubs of ice cream studded with Apple Jacks, Fruity Pebbles, and Pop Tarts at this punky Capitol Hill space (there’s also a second location in LoDo), you’ll find the Cheddar Goldfish variety. While the combo—comprised of a blended Goldfish and sweet cream base and topped with a generous sprinkling of the Pepperidge Farm crackers—sounds downright weird, the sweet-salty balance makes it surprisingly crave-able. (Heads up: The shop’s rock-star vibe comes with a too-cool attitude.) Multiple locations

Inside Scoop Creamery

Flavor: Lemon Crunch

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At Inside Scoop, straightforward sweets like Lemon Crunch shine, thanks to their ultra-creamy, unbeatably thick texture. The flavor is a perennial favorite, with a refreshing interplay of citrusy ice cream and crisp lemon wafer cookies. 1535 Platte St., and 5654 S. Prince St., Littleton, 303-798-4768

The Inventing Room Dessert Shop

Flavor: Caramelized Colorado Honey

Chef Ian Kleinman re-opened his dessert concept for the summer early last month. We’re so happy to once again have access to his smooth-as-silk liquid-nitrogen-frozen ice creams. The Caramelized Colorado Honey flavor, with its deep, toasty notes and golden hue is our go-to, especially in the Colorado Honey Sundae—topped with the likes of house-made honeycomb candy and a buttery bananas foster sauce. 4433 W. 29th Ave., Unit 101, 303-960-6656

Liks Ice Cream

Flavor: Chai Tea

The telltale spicy notes—ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon—of this Asian milk tea find a creamy balance in this Liks’ scoop. The Capitol Hill shop has been dishing ice cream since 1976, and flavors constantly rotate so if you see this flavor in the case, nab some. Order a cone or, even better, a milk shake and consider it the ultimate iced chai latte. 2039 E. 13th Ave., 303-321-2370, and 10903 U.S. Highway 285, Conifer, 303-816-5457, liksicecream.com

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Little Man Ice Cream Ice Cream Factory

Flavor: Space Junkie

Ice cream maven Paul Tamburello opened this Willy Wonka-esque sweets haven earlier this month, and the offerings are just as impressive as the space itself. Enter the 6,000 square foot factory through a walk-in freezer to a wonderland that hawks everything from plated desserts to ice cream sandwiches to scoops in freshly-made waffle cones. We always go for a scoop of the Space Junkie, raspberry ice cream filled with pieces of fudge and marshmallow swirls. 4411 W. Colfax Ave., 303-993-2751

Lucky’s Bakehouse & Creamery

Flavor: Malt Shoppe

This North Boulder shop scratch-makes its flavors daily, ranging from classic to wacky (Raspberry With Corn Streusel; Pineapple-Jalapeño sorbet). We can’t get enough of the Malt Shoppe, however: Malted milk powder flavors the ice cream base, and crushed, chocolate-covered malt candies are sprinkled throughout to add crunchy nuggets of texture. 3990 Broadway St., Boulder, 720-596-4905

Marczyk Fine Foods

Flavor: Pistachio

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We’re of the mind that a truly great pistachio ice cream is the Holy Grail. And we’re pleased as punch to announce we’ve found it in Marczyk’s freezer aisle. It’s not creepy green and it doesn’t skimp on nuts; instead, this flavor starts as a house-made pistachio butter that’s churned into a thick base. The treat is so absurdly rich that a few bites are all you need—and that’s a fine thing. 770 E. 17th Ave., 303-894-9499, and 5100 E. Colfax Ave., 303-243-3355

Nuggs Ice Cream

Flavor: Tiki Torched Toasted Coconut

A just-made waffle cone filled with scoops of Nuggs’ Tiki Torch Toasted Coconut will set you right, no matter the occasion. The key to this flavor is the texture and heft that come from copious amounts of shredded coconut churned into a creamy base. The shop toasts about three-quarters of the coconut to bring out the delicate nuttiness, which offers dimension and decadence. 5135 E. Colfax Ave., 720-465-9473

Scoops of Thai Iced Tea from Sweet Action Ice Cream. Photo by Rachel Adams

Sweet Action Ice Cream

Flavor(s): Thai Iced Tea and Vegan Coconut Almond Fudge

We couldn’t pick just one from this groundbreaking shop whose flavors always surprise. The Thai Iced Tea is so thick and earthy and rich (close your eyes and you’re in a Thai restaurant) that we order it whenever we see it in the case. And the Vegan Coconut Almond Fudge perfectly illustrates Sweet Action’s counterculture niche: There are always at least two vegan flavors that entice (as well as two sorbets and two Vegan ice cream sandwiches). The Coconut Almond Fudge—a soy milk and coconut cream base swirled with diced almonds and dairy-free chocolate sauce—is good enough to order even if you worship milk and cream. 52 Broadway, 303-282-4645

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Sweet Cow

Flavor: Dutch Chocolate

With more than two dozen flavors at each of its six locations, Sweet Cow will likely have what you crave. As for us, we go straight for the Dutch chocolate. The staple flavor starts with a sweet cream base that’s infused with a natural Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract for a chocolate flavor that’s so rich, it’s ambrosial. Multiple locations

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