11 Ice Cream Franchises

ice cream franchises

A delicious ice cream franchise might be the right option if you’re seeking out new franchise opportunities. Ice cream franchises are always popular with customers year-round and don’t require as much specific expertise as other restaurant chains might. We’ll look at some of the best opportunities available for ice cream franchises that are worth exploring.

What Is an Ice Cream Franchise?

An ice cream franchise is a business that sells products such as ice cream, frozen yogurt, frozen custard, shaved ice, and other frozen treats and frozen desserts at their ice cream stores.


The Ice Cream Industry in 2022

Ice cream products such as frozen drinks, frozen desserts, and other tasty frozen treats have been in steady demand over the past few years. Ice cream stores bring in a wide range of customers across demographics and have a proven business model that makes a dessert franchise a great option to consider for entrepreneurs.

11 Ice Cream Franchises

Why You Should Consider an Ice Cream Franchise

Fresh ice cream is always in demand, and there are many ways to get creative with this type of franchise. One of the best things about going for a franchise model is that you don’t need to invest a lot in branding to market a new brand. Instead, you’re taking something that already exists and is popular and making it available in a new location, so the overall initial investment is comparatively lower.

  • Market need: For families and customers seeking new restaurants and experiences, an ice cream franchise could be a good option
  • Low initial investment: Compared to starting a brand from scratch, you can take an existing business model and make it work for you
  • Support: Franchise ownership comes with additional resources to help your business become successful, as well as team support and a community feel.

11 Ice Cream Franchises

Criteria for Selecting the Best Ice Cream Franchise: Our Methodology

Let’s dive into the criteria for selecting the best Ice Cream Franchise. We’ll outline the key factors that small business owners and entrepreneurs should consider when making their decision. Each criterion will be rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most important:

  1. Franchise Reputation (5/5): The reputation of the ice cream franchise matters significantly. Look for franchises with a strong track record of success in the ice cream industry.
  2. Initial Investment Costs (4/5): Assess the upfront costs, including franchise fees, equipment, and real estate expenses. Determine if the investment aligns with your budget.
  3. Training and Support (5/5): Consider the level of training and support provided by the franchisor. Comprehensive training programs and ongoing assistance are crucial.
  4. Location (4/5): The location of your ice cream franchise is key to its success. Research market demographics and identify prime locations with high foot traffic.
  5. Brand Recognition (5/5): A well-recognized ice cream brand can attract more customers. Evaluate the franchise’s brand presence and reputation.
  6. Menu and Quality (4/5): Assess the quality of the ice cream products and the variety of menu offerings. Ensure they align with customer preferences in your area.
  7. Franchise Fees and Royalties (3/5): Examine the ongoing fees and royalties you’ll need to pay to the franchisor. Ensure they fit within your financial projections.
  8. Franchise Agreement Terms (3/5): Carefully review the terms and conditions of the franchise agreement, including renewal options and exit strategies.
  9. Marketing Support (4/5): Evaluate the marketing support provided by the franchise. Effective marketing can boost your business’s visibility and customer base.
  10. Customer Engagement (3/5): Consider strategies for engaging and retaining customers. Loyalty programs and community involvement can be important.

11 Ice Cream Franchises

Top Ice Cream Franchise Options

There are many types of ice cream franchises you can consider depending on what your market is interested in. For example, pure ice cream franchises feature homemade ice cream products. Others offer ice cream and options like frozen yogurt, yogurt smoothies, dairy-free ice cream, and more. Additionally, there are franchises that serve both food and dessert that you can consider.

1. Rita’s Italian Ice

Rita’s Italian Ice is an established brand and an Italian ice franchise that’s always been a favorite in the local community. The franchise is known for its unique flavors and frozen desserts, including shaved ice. Rita’s is one of the top frozen dessert franchises in the US and can be operated seasonally or year-round. The initial Rita’s Italian Ice franchise fee costs $35,000, with liquid capital ranging from $100,000 to $300,000.

2. Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt

Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt is a self-serve toppings bar shop that serves customized frozen treat options. Customers get to add the toppings they like at an Orange Leaf frozen yogurt shop, and it’s a fun outing for families. Every franchise store is a partner, and Orange Leaf works together with owners for marketing support and building a community feel. Franchise fees start at $25,000, with additional costs for getting stores to step up.

3. Cold Stone Creamery

Cold Stone Creamery is one of the more ubiquitous ice cream franchises out there. Cold Stone store makes their signature soft ice cream in waffle cones on a marble slab, customizing options based on what customers want. Cold Stone also offers other products, including banana splits, juice smoothies, and more. Cold Stone Creamery continues to be a popular franchise option after more than a decade due to its unique positioning as a marble slab creamery.

5. Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen is one of the most famous American ice cream brands has to offer. Considered as American as apple pie, Dairy Queen is a franchise with a strong brand reputation and many loyal fans thanks to its unique products. The Dairy Queen ice cream store franchise serves ice creams and signature products, including Blizzard specials such as pumpkin pie and snickerdoodles. Franchising starts with an introductory call, with team members offering support every step of the way to help you start your sweet business.

6. Baskin Robbins

Another classic American brand, Baskin Robbins, has been a popular franchising choice in many areas due to their ice creams and other products. Baskin Robbins sells ice creams, cakes, and other products, so customers have a lot of choices. In addition, Baskin Robbins offers a wide range of incentives to make franchising more attractive, including reduced royalty fees, payment plans, and contributions.

11 Ice Cream Franchises

7. Dippin Dots

Dippin Dots is one of the best options if you’re looking for an ice cream franchise that isn’t just soft-serve ice cream. Dippin Dots are flash frozen beaded ice cream using liquid nitrogen and are available in stores and convenience stores. The novelty of the ice cream, as well as the different flavors available, make it very popular with customers. Dippin Dots’ franchising process starts with an exploratory call with the development team to ensure the location’s suitability and market options.

8. Jeremiah’s Italian Ice

For entrepreneurs seeking a cool and interesting Italian ice brand, Jeremiah’s Italian Ice is one to evaluate. This is a frozen dessert franchise focused on innovation and bringing in something new for areas, so there are many opportunities. The brand has a devoted set of followers and also provides a lot of support to franchise owners. Jeremiah’s currently has areas listed where franchise opportunities are available and can be contacted for further information on the franchise fee and initial investment.

9. Fosters Freeze

Fosters Freeze is a soft-serve dessert establishment with a lot of growth potential. The franchise is an iconic California brand that serves fresh ice cream daily, hot dogs, hamburgers, soft drinks, and other foods. It’s a great example of an ice cream brand that offers something for everyone, making it an interesting franchise opportunity. To get started, you’ll need to fill out an application, and a representative will get in touch to walk you through the process and discuss the franchise fee.

More Great Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt Franchise Opportunities

If you’re seeking out more franchises to consider, there are quite a few more that should be on your radar.

9. Menchies

If you’re looking to appeal to a broader audience, a Menchies franchise could be the right fit. They offer no-sugar-added frozen yogurt. Options include dairy-free, nonfat, gluten-free, and kosher options. It is also suitable for vegans. In addition, it’s a self-serve model, making it easy to manage and growing incredibly quickly as a brand. Menchies is a top-ranked franchise with a lot of promise, so it’s definitely worth exploring.

10. Kona Ice

For something a little more unique, why not consider a truck-based franchise such as Kona Ice? With a franchise like Kona Ice, you can reach many more customers through a truck-based business model, enabling you to have more mobility. Kona Ice includes fluffy, delicious shaved ice products that are immensely popular, and the franchise has grown exponentially. The initial investment includes the franchise fee, inventory pack, and truck costs.


11. Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is one of the top ice cream brands in the world for its homemade ice cream feel and brand recognition. The Ben & Jerry company began franchising in the eighties and has steadily grown to over 500 locations around the world. With signature flavors such as Phish Food and Cherry Garcia, Ben & Jerry’s has an extensive range of ice cream that makes it suitable as a franchise option. Their first ice cream shop started from humble beginnings, and the company is looking to expand its footprint in specific markets, so definitely check their requirements.

Franchise ReputationAssess the reputation of the ice cream franchise. Look for established brands with a strong local presence.Credibility and customer trust.
Initial Investment CostsEvaluate the upfront investment, including franchise fees and equipment costs.Affordability and financial feasibility.
Training and SupportConsider the level of training and ongoing support provided by the franchisor.Successful operations and skill development.
Menu VarietyExamine the range of menu options offered by the franchise, including flavors and toppings.Appeal to diverse customer preferences.
Brand RecognitionAssess the franchise's brand recognition and popularity in the local market.Attracts more customers and builds trust.
Commission StructureReview the commission structure and associated costs.Profit potential and financial stability.
Location StrategyEvaluate the franchise's approach to selecting prime locations.Optimal foot traffic and accessibility.
Marketing SupportInvestigate the marketing support provided to franchisees.Enhanced visibility and customer acquisition.
Product InnovationConsider the franchise's ability to introduce new and innovative ice cream products.Staying competitive and attracting customers.
Market AnalysisConduct a thorough market analysis to identify demand and competition.Informed decision-making and business sustainability.

How to Choose the Best Franchise to Set Up Your Ice Cream Parlor

Choosing the best ice cream franchise will include looking at materials such as The Franchise Business Review and evaluating several different elements, such as:

  1. Market potential: How many customers would you expect to see in a day, week, month, or year? Forecasting the market potential based on the area will help you in comparing the initial investment versus the potential return:
  2. Competition: Who are other competitors in the market? Is there a particular area where there is a need for more restaurant and dessert options, but nothing is opening up?
  3. Franchise cost: You’ll need to weigh the cost of the franchise, including the fees, along with location, rent, and other financial figures to ensure that you can steadily manage the business as it grows
  4. Brand value: What are the most well-known brands in your area, and are they currently there? Are there franchises that customers are hoping to see but aren’t? Before selecting a franchise, you can research what kinds of brands customers want to see.

What Ice Cream Franchises Sell Ice Cream Cakes?

The Baskin Robbins franchises sell ice cream cakes alongside their ice cream products.

How Much Does It Cost to Start an Ice Cream Shop?

The cost of starting an ice cream shop will vary based on the franchise fees, locations, and other variables. Generally, an investment upwards of $100,000 is needed as a starting point for operating an ice cream franchise.

Are Ice Cream Franchises Profitable?

Ice cream franchises can be profitable for business owners depending on the market, customer demographics, and competition present in the area.

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Myra Nizami Myra Nizami is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been with the team for 3 years. She is also a freelance writer and researcher with a Bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a Master's from Kings College London.