Do you want to start an ice cream business franchise but you lack ideas? If YES, here are 20 best ice cream franchise opportunities you can buy for 2019.

Ice cream is the most known and recognized dessert in the world today, and only a few can say not to this deliciously creamy treat. In fact, the International Ice Cream Association states that 93% of United States households consume ice cream.

Ice cream franchises satisfy a large segment of the commercial market for sweets and have been doing so for decades. Most ice cream companies do not offer ice cream only, as they cater to different tastes by offering frozen yogurt, gelato (an Italian frozen yogurt similar to ice cream), and shaved ice (snow cone).

While the ice cream industry may be having a meltdown in recent years due to “healthier” competitors and seasonality of the dessert, there are still a lot of people who wouldn’t trade their ice cream for anything.

The global retail ice cream industry, including classic ice creams and frozen novelties, is estimated to be at $74 billion by 2018. As of September 2017, IBISWorld reported that ice cream and gelato store franchises have an annual revenue of $2 billion with an annual growth rate of 3.0%.

Historically a seasonal product enjoyed mostly during the summer months, ice cream consumption is now more evenly distributed throughout the year than in the past. This goes to show that sales of this dessert would be even all year round and can even escalate at some points.  One step many franchises have taken to increase the appeal of their ice cream shops and maintain steady sales year-round is to experiment with menu additions such as yogurt, coffee and baked goods.

The ice cream industry is very profitable, ripe and waiting, and if you want to skip all the hassles of starting a new business and instead buy into a franchise, we have selected the best ice cream franchises that can be found in the United States for you, so you can make your choice.

20 Best Ice Cream Business Franchise Opportunities for 2019

  1. Baskin-Robbins

As a teenager in the 1930s, Irv Robbins managed an ice cream shop in Tacoma, Washington. Bored with serving traditional flavors like chocolate and vanilla, Robbins began experimenting by mixing fruit and candy into the ice cream.

After serving in World War II, Robbins bought an ice cream parlor in Glendale, California. Three years later, he convinced his brother-in-law, Burt Baskin, to join the business. The two men flipped a coin to see whose name would go first on the sign. Baskin won, and in 1945, Baskin-Robbins was born.

Baskin-Robbins currently has locations in more than 50 countries, each serving the company’s famous 31 flavors of ice cream, as well as frozen yogurt, sherbet, cakes and drinks. Baskin-Robbins is part of Dunkin’ Brands Inc., which also franchises Dunkin’ Donuts.

Financial Requirements

  • Initial Investment – $93,550 to $401,800
  • Net-worth Requirement – $250,000
  • Liquid Cash Requirement – $125,000
  • Initial Franchise Fee – $25,000
  • Ongoing Royalty Fee – 5.9%
  • Ad Royalty Fee – 5%
  1. Cold Stone Creamery

Cold Stone Creamery is an American ice cream parlor chain. Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, the company is owned and operated by Kahala Brands. Donald and Susan Sutherland opened the first Cold Stone Creamery in 1988 in Tempe, Arizona. Franchising began in 1994, and the company is now owned by Kahala, which also franchises Blimpie, Surf City Squeeze, TacoTime and other concepts.

Each Cold Stone store makes its ice cream fresh daily, and the ice cream is blended by hand with fruits, nuts, candy, cookies and more according to customers’ requests. The company’s main product is premium ice cream but it includes other offerings including frozen yogurt.

Financial Requirements

  • Initial Investment – $50,200 to $467,525
  • Net-worth Requirement – $250,000
  • Liquid Cash Requirement – $100,000
  • Initial Franchise Fee – $10,000 to $27,000
  • Ongoing Royalty Fee – 6%
  • Ad Royalty Fee – 3%
  1. Rita’s Italian Ice

Rita’s Italian Ice is a frozen treat chain that is based in Trevose, Pennsylvania. The company began in 1984 when former firefighter Bob Tumolo opened his first Italian ice store in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, naming it after his wife Rita.

His mother helped him make the Italian ice, and his brother John helped him open three more stores over the next three years, all in the Philadelphia area. Customers began asking about how to open their own Rita’s Italian Ice, so Tumolo began franchising in 1989.

Today, the chain offers frozen custard, yogurt, gelato, milkshakes, frozen drinks, sundaes and other frozen treats in addition to its ices. Argosy Private Equity and MTN Capital acquired Rita’s Franchise Company in 2017.

Financial Requirements

  • Initial Investment – $150,500 to $440,900
  • Net-worth Requirement – $300,000
  • Liquid Cash Requirement – $100,000
  • Initial Franchise Fee – $30,000
  • Ongoing Royalty Fee – 6.5%
  • Ad Royalty Fee – 3%
  1. Sub Zero Franchise Inc.

Jerry and Naomi Hancock began their career by opening New York Burrito in Orem, Utah; with the idea of giving customers complete control to create their own meal. Wanting to do more in the dessert industry, Jerry Hancock used his background in chemistry to develop a method of flash-freezing ice cream using liquid nitrogen.

He and wife Naomi opened the first Sub Zero Ice Cream in Orem, Utah, in 2004, using this technology to offer customers the chance to customize their ice cream by choosing their milk base, flavors, mix-ins and texture. Sub Zero also offers a liquid nitrogen science education program that can be brought to schools.

Sub Zero Ice Cream and Yogurt can be found throughout the US and internationally in China and the United Arab Emirates, with plenty of franchise opportunities available. Sub Zero Franchise Inc. offers in-house financing to cover franchise fee, startup costs, equipment, inventory, accounts receivable, payroll etc.

Financial Requirements

  • Initial Investment – $239,450 to $484,500
  • Net-worth Requirement – $300,000 to $1,000,000
  • Liquid Cash Requirement – $75,000 to $1,000,000
  • Initial Franchise Fee – $35,000
  • Ongoing Royalty Fee – 6%
  • Ad Royalty Fee – 2%
  • Veteran Incentives – 25% off franchise fee
  1. Dippin’ Dots Franchising LLC

Research biotechnologist Curt Jones used his expertise in cryogenic freezing processes to find new ways to produce ice cream. After nearly a year of experimenting with the idea of flash-freezing his family’s homemade ice cream, Jones created and sold his first cups of Dippin’ Dots ice cream in 1988.

Because of Jones’ flash-freezing process, Dippin’ Dots ice cream forms into little balls (hence the term “dots”), but unlike freeze-dried products, the ice cream can still melt. Dippin’ Dots Franchising, Inc. offers single-unit franchises for retail ice cream stores. It also offers franchises for selected fairs and festivals.

Financial Requirements

  • Initial Investment – $112,204 to $366,950
  • Net-worth Requirement – $250,000
  • Liquid Cash Requirement – $80,000
  • Initial Franchise Fee – $15,000
  1. The Haagen-Dazs Shoppe Co. Inc.

First sold exclusively in New York City gourmet shops, Häagen-Dazs ice cream started distribution in 1961. As word grew, the first franchises opened in the mid-1970s. Häagen-Dazs ice cream is distributed in more than 50 countries with shops in more than 600 locations.

The Haagen-Dazs Shoppe Company, Inc. offers ice creams, classic flavors, sorbets, frozen yogurts, single serve cups, sundae cones, bars, shakes, smoothies, cakes and shop specialties. The company produces its products through a network of stores and restaurants in the United States and internationally.

The renowned brand provides training, and ongoing franchisee support,
franchise fee, startup costs, equipment, inventory, accounts receivable etc. to its franchisees to make their business easy.

Financial Requirements

  • Initial Investment – $154,158 – $542,408
  • Net-worth Requirement – $200,000
  • Liquid Cash Requirement – $80,000
  • Initial Franchise Fee – $30,000
  • Ongoing Royalty Fee – 4%
  • Ad Royalty Fee – 1%
  1. Tasti D-Lite

The first Tasti D-Lite opened in New York in 1987 by Jim Amos. The company sells a dairy-based soft serve frozen dessert with fewer calories and carbs than most frozen yogurts and ice creams. In addition, it offers cakes and pies, blended drinks, cups and cones, and other products, and its secret formula was said to have begun in the kitchen and was perfected in the lab.

Their stores offer a rotating selection of over 100 self-serve flavors. In 2007, the company was acquired by a private equity firm, Snow Phippps Group. The headquarters was moved to Franklin, Tennessee, and the new CEO James Amos, Jr., (former CEO of Mail Boxes Etc.) began franchising nationwide in 2008.

Tasti D Lite now serves its creamy delicious, frozen dessert in more than 100 flavors to thousands of customers each week.

Financial Requirements

  • Initial Investment – $234,000 to $423,260
  • Net-worth Requirement – $250,000
  • Liquid Cash Requirement – $70,000
  • Initial Franchise Fee – $30,000
  • Ongoing Royalty Fee – 5%
  • Ad Royalty Fee – 2%
  1. Marble Slab Creamery

Founded in 1983 by Chris Dull, Marble Slab Creamery offers homemade, superpremium ice cream that is prepared to order on a marble slab, using a variety of mix-ins. In addition to ice cream served in waffle cones, stores also sell smoothies, frozen yogurt, shakes, sundaes, banana splits and ice cream cakes and pies. Some franchisees also offer homemade baked goods such as cookies, brownies and apple pie, as well as gourmet coffees.

Marble Slab Creamery is seeking new franchise units throughout the U.S. and in the following regions/states: Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Central America, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Philippines, South America, and Western Europe.

Financial Requirements

  • Initial Investment – $293,085 to $376,135
  • Net-worth Requirement – $250,000
  • Liquid Cash Requirement – $100,000
  • Initial Franchise Fee – $15,000 to $25,000
  • Ongoing Royalty Fee – 6%
  • Ad Royalty Fee – 2%
  1. Bruster’s® Real Ice Cream

Bruster’s started its ice cream business since 1989, and has gone ahead to become one of the country’s favorite frozen treat chains. And for the last 20 years, they have been ranked by Entrepreneur Magazine as a top franchise opportunity. This frozen threat company has grown to over 200 independently owned locations in 20 states including Guyana and South Korea.

The Bruster’s® difference starts with their home-style mix, delivered fresh from their dairy to each store that they serve. There, small batches of ice creams, yogurts, ices and sorbets are made fresh daily. Each location offers a selection of 30-40 custom, decadent flavors, out of over 160 recipes to choose from, each day.

  • Minimum Cash Required – $100,000
  1. Kona Ice

Kona Ice is a truck-based franchise that brings its Hawaiian-style shaved ice treats to customers at all kinds of events. Kona Ice was invented by Tony Lamb in Florence, Kentucky. The best part of their business is that customers get to choose and apply the flavorings themselves. Kona Ice franchises also do a lot of fundraising events with groups and organizations in the community. Besides the standard truck, there are also carts, kiosks, and trailers available to franchisees.

This company currently ranks #83 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 List. Founded in 2007 and franchising since 2008, the number of their locations has expanded rapidly to the current total of 1,066, 18 of which are company-owned and three of which are located outside the U.S.

Financial requirements

  • Liquid capital required – $25,000
  • Net worth required – $50,000
  • Investment – $99,800 – $109,800
  1. Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen first opened its shops to the public in the 1940s when ice cream manufacturer J.F. McCullough perfected a new soft ice cream recipe. Their first location was in Joliet, Illinois. Their menu of frozen treats has expanded over the years, and some locations offer hot food as well.

Today there are several Dairy Queen franchise formats available including the DQ Grill and Chill that offers the full range of frozen treats and food items (burgers, grilled sandwiches, and chicken strips), the DQ Orange Julius that serves up all the DQ frozen treats along with the full range of fruit-blended beverages from Orange Julius (this format is common in malls), and a non-traditional format for airports, travel plazas, military bases, and universities.

Founded in 1940 and franchising since 1944, the number of locations has continued expanding in recent years from 5,689 in 2008 to the current total of 6,864, of which only two are company-owned and 2,478 of which are located outside the U.S.

Financial requirements

  • Liquid capital required – $400,000
  • Net worth required – $750,000
  • Investment – $356,450 – $1,835,825
  • Franchise fee – $25,000
  1. Carvel

Carvel holds a special place in ice cream history, as it was one of the first companies to franchise an ice cream concept. The first Carvel store was opened by Tom Carvel in the 1930s, and its first location was at Hartsdale, New York. The chain is known for its ice cream, cakes, pies, and other treats sold through a variety of locations including stadiums and supermarkets, as well as its storefront locations.

Founded in 1934 and franchising since 1947, the number of locations has declined steadily during the past 10 years from 548 in 2008 to the current total of 373, none of which are company-owned and 49 of which are located outside the U.S.

Financial requirements

  • Liquid Capital Required – $100,000
  • Net Worth Required – $250,000
  1. Pinkberry

Pinkberry started after the first business idea of Hye Kyung (Shelly) Hwang and Young Lee, a formal English teahouse in West Hollywood, fell apart. Their particular twist was presenting a series of tart frozen yogurt flavors that quickly gained a cult-like following.

The chain also offers sweet frozen yogurt flavors, yogurt smoothies and shakes, and several low-fat milk ice cream flavors. Pinkberry is part of the Kahala Brands company that includes 22 quick-service restaurant brands and approximately 2,900 locations in 34 countries.

Founded in 2005 and franchising since 2006, the number of Pinkberry locations expanded rapidly to 275 in 2015. The company website currently claims 150 locations in the U.S. There are also international locations, but how many of those exist is not clearly defined.

Financial requirements

  • Liquid capital required – $200,000
  • Net worth required – $400,000
  • Investment – $315,000 – $633,000
  • Franchise fee – $35,000
  1. Culver’s

Culver’s got its start in the 1980s when Craig Culver and his wife Lea opened the first location in Sauk City, Wisconsin by converting an old A&W root beer stand into Culver’s Frozen Custard and ButterBurgers. Craig’s mother, Ruth, had always put a dab of butter on the crown of the hamburger buns before toasting them, which everyone in the family loved. Besides its frozen custard and signature burgers, Culver’s offers a wide-ranging menu that includes seafood, chicken, fried cheese curds, and much more.

This company currently ranks #13 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1984 and franchising since 1988, the number of locations has continued to steadily climb in recent years from 421 in 2010 to the current total of 667, of which six are company-owned and all are located in the U.S.

Financial requirements

  • Liquid Capital Required – $350,000
  • Total Investment – $1,439,000 – $3,087,000
  1. Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s is an ice cream company that was co-funded by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. Back in the late 1970s, these childhood friends took a correspondence course about how to make ice cream, rented an old gas station in Burlington, Vermont, and opened their first ice cream shop. Their product is known for its big chunks of chocolate, fruit, and nuts.

This company currently ranks #261 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1978 and franchising since 1981, the number of locations has declined sharply in recent years from 851 in 2009 to the current total of 593, of which 37 are company-owned and 316 are located outside the U.S.

Financial requirements

  • Liquid capital required – $100,000
  • Net worth required – $350,000
  • Investment – $143,400 – $446,100
  • Franchise fee – $37,000
  1. Bahama Buck’s Original Shaved Ice

Bahama Buck’s Original Shaved Ice got its start when Blake Buchanan was looking for a way to get out of taking a regular summer job like mowing grass or flipping burgers when on break from college. He actually built the first location (a snack shack) from scratch in Lubbock, Texas, with lots of help from family and friends. The menu includes snowcones, smoothies, sodas, lemonades and limeades, frostalattés (coffee), and several mixed fruit cups.

This company currently ranks #232 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1989 and franchising since 1993, the number of locations has expanded in recent years from 25 in 2009 to the current total of 113, of which four are company-owned and all are located in the U.S

Financial requirements

  • Liquid capital required – $35,000
  • Net worth required – $120,000
  • Investment – $60,000 – $140,000
  • Franchise fee – $15,000
  1. Creamistry

Creamistry is a made-to-order liquid-nitrogen flash-frozen ice cream chain started by Jay and Katie Yim when they opened the first location in Irvine, California. In addition to bowls of its ice cream, Nitroshakes and ice cream sandwiches are also on the menu.

Customers watch their ice cream being made right in front of them. Creamistry also offers several vegan, dairy-free, organic, and non-GMO bases from which to choose, including a non-dairy sorbet base and an all-natural, vegan coconut base.

Founded in 2013 and franchising since 2014, the number of locations currently stands at 62, only one of which is company-owned and one of which is located outside the U.S.

Financial requirements

  • Liquid capital required – $300,000
  • Net worth required – $500,000
  • Investment – $277,500 – $581,000
  • Franchise fee – $40,000
  1. Happy Joe’s

Lawrence Joseph Whitty had worked in the bakery business for years before becoming an assistant manager at a Shakey’s pizzeria. He decided to combine his baking skills with the experience he had gained from working at a pizza restaurant, where he would often hear families decide to go out for ice cream for dessert.

Combining pizza and ice cream, Whitty opened the first Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream Parlor in East Davenport, Iowa, in 1972. His signature item was the Happy Joe’s Special, a pizza with Canadian bacon and sauerkraut that Whitty created from leftovers in his mother’s kitchen. After a franchisee suggested adding tacos to the menu, Whitty created the restaurant’s best-selling product, the Taco Pizza.

Financial Requirements

  • Initial Investment – $189,000 – $1,096,625
  • Net-worth Requirement – $300,000 – $500,000
  • Liquid Cash Requirement – $100,000 – $300,000
  • Initial Franchise Fee – $25,000 – $30,000
  • Ongoing Royalty Fee – 4.5-5%
  • Ad Royalty Fee – 1.5%
  1. Sloan’s Ice Cream

Since opening their first store in 1999, Sloan’s has become an icon of Southern Florida for great ice cream and great fun. Their unmistakable look, terrific service and unforgettable ice cream have become a tourist attraction and a hot spot for local residents. What really differentiates Sloan’s is the brand and systems that they have created to replicate a memorable experiences for all their customers.

Sloan’s has been the recipient of numerous awards for best luxury ice cream. Becoming a Sloan’s franchisee gives you access to their brand, systems, training and support as you own and operate your very own Sloan’s ice cream and candy store.

Financial Requirements

  • Initial Investment – $587,952 – $896,600
  • Net-worth Requirement – $750,000 – $900,000
  • Liquid Cash Requirement – $150,000 – $225,000
  • Initial Franchise Fee – $40,000 – $40,000
  • Ongoing Royalty Fee – 6%
  • Ad Royalty Fee – 1%
  1. Tikiz Shaved Ice & Ice Cream

The Tikiz product line combines two of the most popular mainstream frozen treat products that everyone loves – Ice Cream and refreshing Hawaiian Shaved Ice. These delicious products are delivered by a trustworthy operator who arrives in fabulous truck.

The Tikiz Mobile business offers more flexibility and allows you to “go where the crowds are”, which includes residential and workplace locations, schools and daycares, carnivals, fairs, festivals, sporting events or special events like parades, air shows and parties.

The Tikiz menu consists of Hawaiian Shaved Ice and pre-packaged Ice Cream. This allows the Tikiz Operator to take orders quickly, produce their products within seconds, collect the cash or credit for the order and move on to the next customer. The profit margins for Hawaiian Shaved Ice and Ice Cream are said to be extremely high for the food and beverage industry.

Financial requirements

  • Liquid Capital Required – $50,000
  • Total Investment – $124,750 – $135,650