Whether lactose-intolerant, allergic to dairy or avoiding animal products, many of my clients need dairy-free options in their diet– including the occasional sweet treat. And I’m happy to have done the leg work to find lactose-free and dairy-free frozen treats to give them the option to indulge with friends and family. Here are five spots I love in Chicago for a dairy-free treat:
Pretty Cool Ice Cream
Located in Logan Square near the corner of California Avenue and Fullerton Avenue, Pretty Cool Ice Cream has a little something for everyone, which is one of the reasons I love it. Their menu of ice cream novelties includes a variety of ice cream bars, smaller “pony” pops, pup pops for dogs and dairy-free “plant pops” and ice cream truck-inspired popsicles. At this point, I have had almost every plant pop on the menu, and my favorite is still Natalie’s Bar (a vegan version of their popular peanut butter potato chip custard bar).
Pictured here: banana horchata
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
With locations across the city and one in the ‘burbs, Jeni’s definitely has a cult following in Chicago. At busy times there is often a line out the door– and with good reason. Their dairy-free offerings are as interesting as the rest of their flavors, which isn’t always the case when it comes to dairy-free ice creams. They are currently scooping dark chocolate truffle, Texas sheet cake, roasted peanut butter and strawberry jam and cold brew with coconut cream. Their frosé sorbet is also a winner and is available by the pint in many Whole Foods. Try a kid’s size scoop for a smaller serving.
Pictured here: dark chocolate truffle
Miko’s Italian Ice
Also a Logan Square gem, Miko’s has been a Chicago summer staple since 1997. They have 25+ rotating flavors throughout the summer (follow them on Instagram to see availability of specialty options), and I love that you can get a combo in any of their size offerings. I almost always get their coconut, which is much creamier than any of the other flavors I’ve tried, and then mix it up with the other flavor. Passion fruit and pineapple are personal favorites. All of their offerings are dairy-free, gluten-free and made with real fruit.
Pictured here: Miko’s iconic flavor board
Annette’s Italian Ice
Annette’s is a best-of-both-worlds kind of place with both ice cream and Italian ice, which is really nice when going out with friends or family with different taste preferences or dietary restrictions. All of their Italian ice is made in-house daily with nothing more than fruit, water and cane sugar. If you tolerate some dairy, they also do an Italian ice and frozen yogurt combo (“Italian Fro Yo”) that is the perfect marriage of cool and creamy.
Pictured here: strawberry frozen yogurt + coconut Italian ice
Black Dog Gelato
In addition to their Ukrainian Village and West Loop locations, Black Dog Gelato can be found at a number of farmer’s markets and festivals around the city. I actually enjoyed this blood orange sorbet at the Logan Square Arts Fest this summer. Their dairy-free chocolate is served year round, but their seasonal sorbets are where it’s at (in my opinion). August’s options: peach tea, plum moscato and lemon champagne.
Pictured here: blood orange sorbet
Don’t live in Chicago? No problem! There are a number of frozen treats I recommend that are available across the country: Talenti’s dairy-free sorbetto is a favorite (try the cold brew coffee flavor), So Delicious coconut milk ice cream bars are dairy-free and low in FODMAPs, and Beckon Ice Cream is my go to recommendation for my lactose-intolerant friends– made with real dairy minus the discomfort.