I tried Van Leeuwen for the first time and it’s the best vegan ice cream I’ve ever had

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Van Leeuwen ice cream Philadelphia.

I tried vegan ice cream at Van Leeuwen’s newest location in Philadelphia.
It was the best animal-free ice cream I’ve had in my 5 years of being vegan.
The chain last year raised $18.7 million to expand its retail and wholesale business.
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Van Leeuwen, formerly a New York City staple for artisanal ice creams, is in the midst of a national expansion.

The chain recently opened a new location in Philadelphia, and, having been vegan for five years now, I went on a mission to try their famous animal-free desserts.

Van Leeuwen recently introduced a Kraft macaroni & cheese flavor ice cream, but spoiler alert – I didn’t try it.

Van Leeuwen ice cream Philadelphia.

Inside the shop – on 13th and Sansom – the decor was cute and minimal, with a modern twist.

Inside Van Leeuwen ice cream Philadelphia.

Luckily for me, it wasn’t busy when I arrived this Tuesday.

In 2020, the company raised $18.7 million to expand its retail stores and wholesale business. This is one of those new stores.

Van Leeuwen ice cream Philadelphia.

I came on a perfect day, topping Tuesday, which means free toppings. This made the selection process even more exciting.

Van Leeuwen ice cream Philadelphia.

I ordered one (very generous) scoop of vegan churro ice cream with fudge and another huge scoop of pumpkin cinnamon roll topped with praline pretzels.

Van Leeuwen ice cream Philadelphia.

The pumpkin cinnamon roll was like a taste of thanksgiving – so sweet. I was absolutely in love. The pretzels were sweet and crunchy, which gave the ice cream even more depth. This was unlike any flavor I’ve ever tasted before, a true explosion of cinnamon pumpkin goodness in my mouth.

Now, I must admit I didn’t know what to expect with the vegan churro fudge – but it was insanely good. The ice cream was silky smooth, the churros were soft and sweet, and the fudge was so rich.

But there can only be one winner -and that was the vegan churro fudge.

Van Leeuwen ice cream Philadelphia.

It was silky smooth, rich in flavor, deliciously chewy, and packed with flavor.

I was only planning on trying two flavors, but after the first round, I thought: „Why not?!”

Van Leeuwen ice cream Philadelphia.

I washed down the first course with cookie crumble strawberry jam topped with walnuts, and mint chip topped with cookies & cream crumbles.

The cookie crumble strawberry jam with walnuts was super creamy and rich, and the strawberry jam was so subtle I almost forgot it was there. The walnuts were a nice added touch that juxtaposed nicely with the soft and chewy texture of the cookie.

The mint chip had a potent mint flavor that packed a huge punch. The chip aspect was a little underwhelming, but the chocolate cookie topping made up for the lack of chocolate chips that you would typically associate with a mint chip ice cream.

The winner of round two was the cookie crumble strawberry jam.

This was easily the best vegan ice cream I’ve had in my five years of being vegan.

Van Leeuwen ice cream Philadelphia.

Out of all four flavors, the vegan churro fudge is hands down the best flavor of the evening. The chewy churro and the rich and creamy ice cream was a winner all on its own, but once topped with the vegan chocolate fudge, it sent me right to ice cream heaven. I’ll definitely be going back for another scoop.

Van Leeuwen is also planning 2 new stores in Fishtown and Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia next year.

Van Leeuwen ice cream Philadelphia.

That could help the chain take advantage of a growing market for vegan food – and vegan desserts specifically. Other new stores have also popped up in New York City, Los Angeles, and Texas. Eater reports that an international expansion is on the table, too.

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