The Miami Soft Serve Power RankingsWe cannot be held liable if the machine is broken.
Eating soft serve in Miami means maneuvering around heat, time, and how silly you’re willing to look while licking food in public. If you’re down to face all of the above, this guide is for you. These are the best soft serve spots in the city, the ones that make us want to hold our cones up high like Lady Liberty and welcome the masses yearning for the creamiest ice cream in all the land. And we ranked them all, from best to will-do-the-trick-if-you’re-craving-soft-serve.
Please note: soft serve machines are notoriously difficult to maintain. And—unlike those empty Amazon boxes you’re neglecting—they break down easily. So (as we learned) it’s always good to call before showing up. Just in case the machine decided to skip work that day.
This Hialeah ice cream shop was once a Dairy Queen, but it’s now our favorite place to get soft serve in Miami. It has a drive-thru, a couple of shaded tables in the back, and the absolute nicest people working the windows. You have three soft serve choices: vanilla, chocolate, or vanilla and chocolate twist—plus 29 different toppings. About half the menu here is dedicated to soft serve, and our favorite order is a small vanilla cone dipped in butterscotch. It kind of tastes like pancakes, if that makes any sense. And it’s only $3.73 with tax.
We’re not sure if it’s the sugar high or the contagious excitement of the teens behind the counter when they pour a perfect soft serve swirl—but a Frieze cone just makes us indescribably happy. The soft serve here is so good and so nostalgic that we half expect a cartoon street band to appear alongside us as we carry it down the sidewalk. It’s as soft as cashmere, sweeter than a golden retriever puppy, and more satisfying than taking off your bra after a long day. Whoever’s calibrating that soft serve machine deserves to be showered with rainbow sprinkles.
Peel is a little shop that does a very brilliant thing with bananas: it turns them into soft serve. That’s pretty much what you can expect here—banana-based soft serve with rotating flavor twists like mango or matcha (plus some very cute banana art). Even though it may not taste like ice cream, Peel has absolutely nailed that light, fluffy soft serve consistency. And because this is fruit doing an impression of ice cream, the soft serve isn’t too heavy and makes for an excellent midday snack, perhaps in between shopping at the nearby Proper Sausages and Sobremesa.
Whip N Dip is a classic. If you grew up in the area, this was your neighborhood ice cream shop, your best friend worked here on the weekends, and you were terrified of getting burned by the Crispy Critters display (and kind of still are). Besides the nostalgia and high chances of running into high school classmates here, Whip N Dip has something we can’t find anywhere else: six flavors of soft serve—all of which are advertised as fat-free. They have vanilla and chocolate, but also a bunch of fun rotating flavors like cinnamon bun and s'mores. The line goes out the door most weekends (and we'll happily wait in it).
This shop in Dadeland Mall doesn’t exactly have cones—they have chimney cakes: funnel-shaped cones bigger than your hand and similar to puff pastry dough. They’re rolled and cooked right in front of you, with savory and sweet options. We like ours sweet, dusted in sugar, and filled with soft serve. Our favorite order is the pistachio and choco cookies: vanilla soft serve, pistachio, and chunks of crispy chocolate chip cookies. This thing is big enough for two people or an entire meal if you want to go it alone.
You can’t go wrong with Dairy Queen’s soft serve. It’s richer than most soft serve, and there’s something so iconic about those two dollops of ice cream sitting on a cone. The first bite is so smooth, it’s like being the first skier on fresh, powdery snow. There are close to a dozen locations in Miami, but our favorite is the one on Bird Road. They’re fast, friendly, and open until 11pm on weekends.
You do not go to Cote for soft serve. You go for the butcher’s feast, four courses of excellent beef and lots of sides. But at the end of that tasting menu comes the cutest little cup of soft serve you ever did see. It’s topped with a soy sauce caramel that's sweet, salty, and savory. No matter how much meat and kimchi you’ve eaten, there’s always room for this. Plus, it’s already included with your feast, so you don’t really have a choice. But we’ll gladly take yours if you don’t want it.
Rita’s technically serves frozen custard, which has a similar consistency to soft serve but with more fat. So it’s slightly denser and not as fluffy—but quite a bit creamier. If you’ve got a soft serve itch, Rita’s is like a back scratcher. It also has (as its name suggests) Italian ice with rotating flavors like Swedish Fish, so it’s a good stop on a hot Miami day. There are two locations on Collins Avenue, one in Surfside, and another in Hialeah.
You’re probably going to Pubbelly for the sushi, but you can also just come here for dessert. Specifically, the warm miso bread pudding that’s topped with black sesame soft serve and shards of sesame chips. The soft serve has this interesting sweet yet roasted taste we really like. But if sesame isn’t your thing, try the coco loco. It’s coconut soft serve with pineapple sorbet, coconut foam, pineapple, and coconut flakes.
At this Little Havana ice cream shop, you can also get a Cuban sandwich or mangu with your soft serve. It’s a classic spot where locals meet by the concrete tables outside and catch up over ice cream. The tables are fully covered too, so your ice cream isn't directly exposed to the sun. And Palace offers an impressive number of ways to eat your soft serve: on a sugar cone, as a sundae, a banana split, and even as a parfait.
Farm Stores South Miami
In Miami, Farm Stores are called “La Vaquita.” They’re a chain of red and white drive-thrus that open early and close late. Here, you can buy milk, flour, condoms, batteries, Drano, and all kinds of emergency paraphernalia. But La Vaquita in South Miami also has something special: a soft serve machine. Vanilla, chocolate, and swirl are your options. And the señoras operating it really know how to pile the ice cream high. It just proves something we’ve all known for a long time: La Vaquita always has your back.
Is it soft serve? Kind of. It’s more like ice cream and milk blended together with cereal. Let’s call it the Kith of Palmetto Bay, but without all the sneakers and streetwear. The soft serve here tastes like the last bit of milk at the bottom of a cereal bowl. There are steps you need to follow when you order: pick a size, choose your ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, or vegan vanilla), select your cereals (you can choose up to three), and finally pick a topping and a drizzle. But if you’re as easily overwhelmed as we are, just order the fruitilicious: vanilla ice cream, Fruity Pebbles, Trix, Fruit loops, Lucky Charms, and strawberry drizzle. It's an almond mom’s worst nightmare, but it’s good.
While the ice cream at Kith may not come out of a traditional soft serve machine, the end result is close enough that we’re welcoming it into the family. Kith’s whole thing is that they mix cereal into each scoop. They feed the scoops into a machine that looks like a drill, which gives the ice cream a soft consistency and mixes in whichever cereal (or candy) you choose from the dozens of options on the menu. It’s tasty. There are two Kith locations in Miami, one in South Beach that’s only takeout, and another in the Design District that has a bigger menu and actual seats. And yes, this is the same Kith that functions as a very successful fashion brand when it’s not serving ice cream.
Hoseki is a little ice cream operation in the back patio of 1-800-Lucky. They took over the space of the now-closed Taiyaki and inherited their soft serve machine. Thankfully, they’re putting that machine to use. Options are limited though. There are only two flavors, vanilla and taro. But it’s solid soft serve, and you can also order it swirled over boba tea if a plain cup is simply too boring for you. Apparently Hoseki is just a temporary pop-up, but hopefully this soft serve machine stays in use by whoever takes it over when their residency is up.
Happea’s is a fast-casual Mediterranean spot in Brickell that has wraps and bowls and such. But we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about their soft serve. It’s vegan (half the menu is) and better than vegan soft serve ordered from a giant digital screen should be. An oat milk-based vanilla is the only option—and toppings are pretty basic (halva is as exciting as it gets). But it’s creamy, satisfies the craving, and is pretty much your only soft serve option in Brickell other than that Burger King that refuses to close.
Whether due to shrinkflation or the unreliable narrator that is our memories, we kind of remember the Marlins helmet soft serve being a bit bigger back in the Pro Player Stadium days. Nonetheless, this simple soft serve is still an essential baseball game snack and triggers some pleasant sugary nostalgia. Your options are vanilla, chocolate, or swirl. Once finished, it can be used to catch foul balls, or bring it home and see if it fits on your cat.