There’s a ton of local places in Knoxville to get that frozen sweet treat fix. From soft serve to sno-cones to milkshakes, we’re here to help you find something that will tantalize your taste buds – just try to avoid the brain freeze! Enjoy this handy checklist, whether for National Ice Cream Day (third Sunday in July), or any time of year!
Let’s start with straight up ice cream – soft serve, hand dip, and sundaes:
Cruze Farm has a long history of milking jersey cows to make freshly churned ice cream. They bottle their own milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk, coffee milk, and seasonal flavored milk. Their red-and-white gingham-clad employees are just as sweet as their ice cream. Find them downtown on Gay Street or at their Asbury location in East Knoxville (where they also sell pizza). Keep it classic with a chocolate and sweet cream twist, a shake, or get a churn (a thicker treat with ice cream blended with toppings). Try their iconic confections and see why they serve with the motto of ‘Work Hard, Love Harder’!
The Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain is a dream borne out of the desire to give back and serve this great community. The Pharmacy is comprised of a working pharmacy that would have been common in the United States around the turn of the century – complete with antique medicine bottles some original furnishings. The fountain looks like something out of a movie – complete with incredible shakes and enormous sundaes. Many of their ingredients are made in-house, from the ice cream itself to syrups and even their marshmallow fluff. Take yourself back in time with a visit to this downtown gem on Gay Street.
The Original Freezo
Located in North Knoxville, Freezo has frozen time to take a trip back into your childhood years. This is the type of place that most people think of when they think of the neighborhood soft serve. They technically have a menu that includes hamburgers, hot dogs, and even chili on occasion, but their soft serve is where it’s at. Get an original chocolate/vanilla swirl and be sure to bring cash.
Rolled ice cream can still be hard to find, but we’ve tracked it down – it’s in west Knoxville/Farragut at Knox Dough! In addition to rolled ice cream, their namesake ‘dough’ is an edible cookie dough – no raw eggs. They have over 30 flavors of cookie dough, and a wide variety of shakes and toppings to choose from.
Frozen yogurt and sno-cones are more family favorites:
Emmy’s Frozen Yogurt
Emmy’s Frozen Yogurt is a family-run business in the Bearden neighborhood that is passionate about creating a product everyone can enjoy. Emmy’s is an inclusive, welcoming place with a workforce of wonderful people of varying abilities where they can work and grow in confidence. The owner’s son Michael, nicknamed Emmy, has autism and is the store’s inspiration. Emmy’s understands the power of an inclusive environment and they hope to spread this mindset throughout the community and beyond. Come by and try Emmy’s many frozen yogurt options and toppings!
Cool off with over 100 flavors of sugar-free New Orleans-style shaved ice at this spot in Bearden. Try signature flavors like “Rainbow”, “Butterfly Kiss”, or “Shark Attack” or create your own combination. Add cream to make a float!
International flavors abound, from Italian gelato to Mexican paletas:
Gelato Brother Brew Bros Coffee
With its authentic gelato and organic brewed coffee, Gelato Brothers brings a unique dessert experience to Knoxville. If you’re in northeast Tennessee (Talbott), you’ll be able to stop at their flagship store, but otherwise you can track their food truck in Knoxville. Their signature item is the Brogato®, a decaf or regular espresso pour over of their milky authentic Italian Gelato. Called a contradiction in a cup, enjoy the contrast of cold milky sweet gelato with a hot strong espresso that glazes the sides of the gelato and melting it just a bit.
Mexican street food and paletas (Paletas are a Mexican frozen treat made from fresh natural fruits such as strawberry and mango or made from rich creamy ingredients such as Chocolate and Sicilian pistachio). This spot in west Knoxville has lots of ethnic restaurants nearby, so an international meal is at your fingertips!
Squisitos Mexicanos - 3605 Western Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37921
This hidden spot in northwest Knoxville is easy to miss, but you won’t want to with their intriguing menu. From ceviche to tamales, you’ll have your whole meal planned. Now for dessert. Not only do they have paletas and sno-cones, but they’ve got incredible sliced fruits inside whole pineapples with a spicy topping for a bit of heat on that treat!
Sno Cream is an inspired name from Subling, a popular southeast Asian shaved milk dessert which is originally from Korea. The original name for the similar dessert is Bingsu. Using condensed milk and yummy flavors, a sweet snow is produced. Topped with fresh fruits and other delicious goodies, a truly unique dessert is crafted. Check out this unique treat in west Knoxville/Farragut!
Ready for an adventure? Track down a food truck (music may or may not be included):
A La Mode
Serving a whole range of baked goods and ice cream to residents across Knoxville just made sense for Cecelia Fuller. What makes her sweets so unique is that she uses a seasonal menu to ensure each sweet treat has a rich, fitting, fresh flavor. A must-try from their menu is the ‘Ice Cream Croissant’. This treat is a buttery croissant stuffed with chocolate chip ice cream, topped with a dollop of whipped cream, and then drizzled to perfect with chocolate syrup.
Happy Times Ice Cream
Looking to reminisce on your younger years? Happy Times Ice Cream brings pure joy with their old-fashioned ice cream truck. Kids and adults will enjoy their iconic novelty ice cream sandwiches, snow cones, and soft-serve gluten and dairy-free options.
Sof-T-ee Serve Ice Cream
Sof-T-ee Serve is a soft and sweet spin to a mobile ice cream shop! Delivering favorites including shakes, sundaes, gluten- and lactose-free options, and seasonal flavors! They bring the joy to offices, parties, neighborhoods, churches, schools, or anywhere else in Knoxville. A must-try from their menu is their Peanut Butter Shake – a rich and creamy milkshake packed with an irresistible salty-and-sweet peanut butter flavor.
There are some restaurants around that are known not only for their delicious food but for their shakes as well:
Inskip Grill/The Shakery
The Inskip Grill in Fountain City is known for their massive burgers and larger-than-life sandwiches named after Knoxville neighborhoods and local legends. Although the portions are huge, be sure to save room for one of their famous Grilla shakes made with Blue Bell ice cream. The food, staff, and atmosphere are filled with character and great stories. Feel free to play some of the retro games in the shop and check out the notable Knoxville posters hung throughout the grill!
Hilton Head Ice Cream at It's All So Yummy Cafe - 120 S Peters Road, Knoxville, TN 37923
It’s All So Yummy is a homestyle lunch café in west Knoxville with all kinds of creative grilled cheeses, homemade soups, and other items. Save room for dessert with their Hilton Head Ice Cream – the hand dip you’ve been searching for!
Long’s Drug Store
Similar to the Phoenix, Long’s is a working pharmacy that also has a diner-style menu available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They’ve been family-owned and serving the Bearden area since 1956. Their shakes are simple and simply delicious. At Long’s, you’re part of the family!
Bit Burger in west Knoxville takes you back to the 80s and offers craft burgers, unique appetizers, amazing sandwiches, and fried Oreos. Item names are sure to make you smile, like “Mega Man”, “Cabbage Patch”, and the namesake “8-bit Burger”. Enjoy video games and a serving of nostalgia as you order a milkshake as large as your love for the 80s! The atmosphere is a blast from the past, filling the restaurant with LED lights, posters, and vintage characters. Try a basic chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla, or upgrade to the salted caramel, the cookie monster, or the unicorn shake!
Twisters Shakes and Sundaes and Diner
A Corryton staple in northeast Knox County, this diner takes care of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They also have a location on Washington Pike in northeast Knoxville. They serve Mayfield Diary soft serve (you can visit their creamery in nearby Athens, Tennessee). Get a simple cone or share a sundae with someone special!