Few food items hit the spot on a hot summer day better than a scoop (or two) of ice cream. With Alberta currently in the midst of one of the hottest summer stretches in recent memory, we couldn’t think of a better time embrace the cool, creamy dessert.
These days, there are so many new small-batch ice cream makers that pride themselves on quality ingredients and seasonal flavours. As tasty as consciously created ice cream can be, there is also no shame in craving those less "real" flavours of bubble gum, cotton candy or Tiger Tail.
Leavitt's not-so-natural-but-delicious-anyways Super Kid ice cream in Calgary.
Everything in moderation, right?
From a chef-driven selection of handcrafted and locally-sourced ice cream at Edmonton’s Kind Ice Cream and Calgary’s Village Ice Cream, to hard, soft, and dipped ice cream cones from Swirls in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge, here are just some of the most popular ice cream purveyors across the province.
Yelo’d Ice Cream and Bake Shop (Edmonton)
This Whyte Avenue institution specializes in soft serve ice cream with a variety of Filipino-inspired flavours. With a rotating selection of classic and luxe flavours that typically changes every two weeks, you never know what creative concoction they’ll think up next.
In addition to the latest flavour change that introduced a summer-themed pistachio and cherry ice cream, Yelo’d also offers milkshakes, floats, affogatos, champorados, and more.
Kind Ice Cream (Edmonton)
Kind Ice Cream offers a chef-driven selection of handcrafted small batch ice cream made with exceptional ingredients sourced from Alberta. Along with 12 classic “Always Flavours” like maple bourbon pecan, mint chip, and deep dark chocolate, Kind keeps it fresh with a rotating list of seasonal flavours.
Some of the new flavours you can currently find at either of Kind’s two Edmonton locations include a brown sugar cookie dough with cornflake crunch, marshmallow, and chocolate chips and a vegan sorbet with haskaps, strawberries, and blueberries.
Made by Marcus (Calgary and Edmonton)
With a unique selection of built-from-scratch scoops that often results in Albertans lining up for blocks to get a taste, Made by Marcus has arguably become the province’s most popular ice cream purveyor.
In addition to store-specific flavours like Calgary’s Monogram Espresso Pretzel Toffee and Edmonton’s Duchess Earl Grey and Financier, Made by Marcus also offers seasonal flavours like the Toasted Hay and Saskatoon Berry and the Vegan Banana Cream Pie.
Village Ice Cream (Calgary)
Village Ice Cream has earned a reputation in Calgary for creating fresh and creamy hand-made ice cream flavours that are predominantly made with locally-sourced ingredients.
Along with a wide variety of time-honoured classics, Village is currently offering a new seasonal selection that includes the Cherry Chip made with dark red cherry compote and dark chocolate and the Vegan Creamsicle made with freshly squeezed orange juice and orange zest.
Lukes Drug Mart (Calgary)
Lukes Drug Mart is a classic Calgary institution with roots in the city that date back to 1951. Now with locations in Bridgeland and Killarney, Lukes’s creative selection of soft serve ice cream chages reguarly, but currently features a summer-inspired strawberry and lemonade offering made with B.C. strawberries.
Leavitt's Ice Cream Shop (Calgary)
Thanks to both its extensive ice cream menu and its close proximity to the Bow River Pathway, LICS has been a go-to summer destination for Calgarians since 1982. With 44 unique flavours that come in six different scoop sizes, you’ll likely need multiple visits to find your favourite, but we recommend starting with the new summer strawberry and black cherry creation.
Mackay’s Ice Cream (Cochrane)
Located in Cochrane’s historic downtown area, this family-owned ice cream shop has been providing locals and visitors alike with a unique selection of flavours for over 70 years.
In addition to 48 regular flavours that range from banana and butterscotch to green tea and maple bacon, Mackay’s is currently churning out a haskap berry ice cream made with ingredients sourced from Broken Tine Orchard.
Swirls Ice Cream (Medicine Hat and Lethbridge)
After serving up an enormous array of ice cream-based desserts in Medicine Hat for over three decades, Swirls opened a new location in Lethbridge in 2017. Since then it has become the city’s premier ice cream provider.
Along with a creative selection of sundaes, parfaits, milkshakes, and more, the Swirls menu features hard, soft, and dipped ice cream cones in a wide variety of traditional–though not necessarily natural–flavours like cotton candy, blue raspberry, and mint chocolate chip.
Cows Ice Cream (Banff)
With 10 locations across P.E.I. and Nova Scotia alone, Cows has been a local favourite on the East Coast since 1983, but thanks to its lone Alberta location residing in one of the country’s top tourist destinations, Cows Banff is easily one of the province’s not-so-hidden gems.
Some of the latest additions to the Cows Ice Cream lineup include the Black Angus Forest with chocolate, cherries, and marshmallow sauce and the caramel and apple-infused CaraMoo Apple cone.
Big Dipper Ice Cream Shop (Okotoks)
Based out of a vintage home built in 1902, Big Dipper specializes in locally-made ice cream offerings that range from hard and soft ice cream from Foothills Creamery to gelato and sorbetto from Righteous Gelato.
In terms of seasonal offerings, Big Dipper recently brought back two of its most popular summer selections with the bubble gum, banana, grape, and cherry flavoured Moon Mist and the Banana Chocolate Fudge.