Frozen Treats in Milwaukee

Looking for the best custard in Milwaukee? Best ice cream in Milwaukee? Best gelato in the city? This list is for you!

You may not know this about the staff of Milwaukee Food & City Tours but… we have the ultimate Milwaukee sweet tooth! We’re going to share with you our favorites in each category so that you are ready to map out your next visit to downtown Milwaukee.

Our Local Tradition: Frozen Custard in Milwaukee

In 1932, according to a United Press International article America’s amusement park proprietors met for an informal convention in New York.  The attendees included frozen custard among four things that “best contribute to the world’s happiness.” (The other three were bumper cars, carousels and roller coasters).  From Milwaukee Frozen Custard by Kathleen McCann & Robert Tanzilo (2016).

Frozen custard in Milwaukee is always a hot topic amongst locals. Are you a true Milwaukeean if you can’t list off all of the historic custard stands in Milwaukee? This past winter we even worked with a local artist to create a frozen custard map of Milwaukee for our customers! In talking with countless locals on our Burger & Custard Capital of the World Tours we’ve decided that the favorite is typically based on where they went as a child, or where a special date ended with a scoop of custard under the glow of a neon sign.

Leon’s is always a favorite, and we always have to stop by Leon’s for their famous butter pecan. 

We love stopping by Gilles for the dusty road sundae too. Did you know that malt powder was invented in Racine, WI by the Horlick brothers? 

Kopp’s Custard is always great for their creative and huge catalog of custard flavors, and our out of town guests love heading down to Greendale to watch their custard being hand-mixed at Ferch’s Malt Shoppe.

We Scream for Milwaukee Ice Cream Too

I know, I know… we live in the land of custard, but sometimes we like ice cream too. One of our favorite stops for Milwaukee-made ice cream is Purple Door Ice Cream in Walker’s Point. Located right next door to Indulgence Chocolatiers we often share a little insider knowledge with tour attendees – this is one of the most delicious corners in Milwaukee. (And easily accessible via our Hop on Hop Off City Tour every Friday, Saturday and Sunday might we add.)  

There is nothing like having another Milwaukee-made scoop from Cedar Crest Ice Cream while strolling through Milwaukee Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival or while enjoying time in Cedarburg. 

Newer to the Milwaukee Ice Cream scene is Scratch.  We have loved visiting them inside the Crossroads Collective Food Hall while our guests have free time on our BBQ, Bourbon & Beer bus tour or while shopping in the quaint Village of Wauwatosa. Contrary to popular belief, Nite Owl serves ice cream – not custard – and is one of our favorite historic stands in South Milwaukee.

Rules Are Meant To Be Broken

Our founder has often said that on a scale of 1 to 5, gelato can only be ranked a 5 if it is consumed while in Italy. She allows one exception of this rule, and that is at Cold Spoon Gelato. Their gelato serves as the perfect ending to our Saturday night Milwaukee Pizza Bus tour, or a perfect pretend getaway to Italy. Any flavor is fabulous, but be sure to ask to try the Mixed Berry.

Honorary Mention

We can’t finish out this frozen treats post without mentioning Pete’s Pops! We have been visiting Pete at the farmer’s market on our Village of Wauwatosa Walking Tour for years!