10 Best Ice Cream Franchises 2024

An average consumer eats 20 pounds of ice cream each year, and the world’s love for ice cream is not cooling down anytime soon. So, if you are an entrepreneur, then the 10 best ice cream franchises that we’ve listed in this guide are just what you need.

Also, the global ice cream market is expected to hit $114 Billion by 2030, with a projected CAGR of 4.2% from 2022 to 2030, which makes this a great time to enter this industry.

So make sure you read this guide till the end to find the most suitable ice cream franchise.

Best Ice Cream Franchises

10 Best Ice Cream Franchises

1. Ben & Jerry’s

Ben and jerry's
Franchising Since1981
Estimated Outlets550+
Initial Investment$112,700 – $474,300
Franchise Fees$39,500
Royalty Fees3%

Ben & Jerry’s is a famous American company that is known for manufacturing and selling ice-creams, frozen yogurt, sorbet, etc.

What started as a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont, has grown to over 550 locations worldwide today.

The initial investment for a Ben & Jerry’s franchise starts at only $112,700, and the amount varies depending on the kind of franchise model you choose to open.

Ben & Jerry’s is our top favorite ice cream franchise because of the low fees, affordable investment, and discounts the company offers to any person of color.

2. Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen
Franchising Since1944
Estimated Outlets7000
Initial Investment$1,511,200 – 2,533,400
Franchise Fees$45,000
Royalty Fees4%

With more than 80 years in business, Dairy Queen is a world-famous ice cream brand with 4,000 domestic locations and 7,000 worldwide locations.

What began as a 10-cent sale frozen treat in 1944 quickly boomed to being one of the best soft serve/frozen treat companies of all time.

If you are looking to play a big role in your community and build a team to create exceptional customer experience, then Dairy Queen franchise is for you.

3. Baskin-Robbins

Franchising Since1948
Estimated Outlets7,800
Initial Investment$90,000 – $625,000
Franchise Fees$25,000
Royalty Fees5.9%

Baskin-Robbins is the second largest ice-cream franchise in the U.S. and a part of Inspire Brands™.

You would think that such a big ice cream franchise would cost you a lot, but that’s not the case at all! The initial investment for the Baskin-Robbins franchise starts at just $90,000.

Baskin-Robbins provides a comprehensive operating system along with a world-class training program for qualifying candidates.

You can choose to buy a single-unit franchise or multi-unit franchise; your investment will depend on the franchise model you choose.

4. Handle’s Homemade Ice Cream

Handle's Homemade Ice Cream
Franchising Since1989
Estimated Outlets60+
Initial Investment$311,000 to $936,000
Franchise Fees$50,000 (included in initial investment)
Royalty Fees6%

Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream was founded by Alice Handel in 1945 in Youngstown, Ohio, and is known for offering freshly made ice-creams daily.

This franchisor is looking for candidates who want to make delicious ice creams with proven recipes and can maintain their quality and brand image.

To be eligible for Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream franchise, you must have a net worth of $500,000 and liquid capital of $250,000.

5. Cold Stone Creamery

Cold Stone Creamery
Franchising Since1995
Estimated Outlets300+
Initial Investment$53,200 – $602,775
Franchise Fees$27,000
Royalty Fees6%

Cold Stone Creamery is a beloved ice cream chain in America and around the world. The company was founded in 1988, and today, after 34 years, it continues to thrive and offer a super-premium, artisanal ice cream that is made fresh in its stores.

The initial investment for a Non-Traditional Cold Stone Creamery is $53,200 – $474,775, and for a traditional store, this range is $310-375 – $602,775.

Among all the options mentioned now, this one is the most affordable ice cream franchise in terms of franchisee fee, initial investment, and even liquid capital.

6. Dippin’ Dots

Dippin' Dots
Franchising Since2000
Estimated Outlets100+
Initial Investment$112,204 – $366,950
Franchise Fees$35,000
Royalty Fees6%

Dippin’ Dots offers a franchise with sister company Doc Popcorn and is a unique franchise opportunity serving the perfect combination of sweet & salty with their delicious ice creams & popcorn.

This is a unique ice cream franchise because the frozen beaded ice cream Dippin’ Dots uses liquid nitrogen. This, along with a variety of unique flavors, makes this franchise worth it.

Another great thing about the Dippin’ Dots franchise is that it is very affordable and requires an initial investment of only $112,204 to $366,950.

7. Kona Ice

Franchising Since2008
Estimated Outlets1200+
Initial Investment$150,400 – $174,150
Franchise Fees$15,000
Royalty Fees$3,000 $4,000 per year

Kona Ice franchise is known for its fluffy and delicious ice shavings that are sweetened with all-natural stevia leaf extract and pure cane sugar only.

The company was founded in 2007 and is a truck-based franchise that can be started for very little investment.

The franchisor offers 24/7 equipment support staff, creative and marketing specialists, and more to support you in this business. Overall, you can consider investing in Kona Ice if selling flavored ice shavings in a truck format appeals to you.

8. Rita’s Italian Ice

Rita's Italian Ice
Franchising Since1989
Estimated Outlets600+
Initial Investment$278,333 – $624,695
Franchise Fees$35,000
Royalty Fees6.5%

Rita’s Italian Ice was founded in 1984 in Philadelphia and is known for offering the best of the best unique American and Italian frozen desserts.

The company has been active for more than 30 years and is still thriving, which shows long-term sustainability. The franchisor offers initial training and ongoing support to qualifying candidates.

The best part is that to run Rita’s Italian Ice franchise, franchisees need minimal staff and minimal operating costs.

Depending on where you live, this frozen custard and Italian ice franchise might allow you to bring a new concept to your locality.

9. Bruster’s ice cream

Bruster’s ice cream
Franchising SinceN/A
Estimated Outlets200+
Initial Investment$318,000 – $2,368,500
Franchise Fees$35,000
Liquidity$150,000 – $350,000 
Royalty Fees5%

Bruster’s Real ice cream was founded by Bruce Reed in 1989, and today, they have more than 200 outlets in the U.S. The company is known for serving generous portions of fresh-made ice cream and excellent customer service.

You can choose to be a part of this successful franchise and receive all kinds of support and training to set up this business.

Bruster’s franchisees can choose from two design options: free-standing or end-cap. Depending on the kind of franchise model you choose, the start-up cost would range from $318,000 – $2,368,500.

10. Menchies

Franchising Since2008
Estimated Outlets540+
Initial Investment$142,683 – $471,087
Franchise Fees$40,000
Liquidity$80,000 – $90,000
Royalty Fees6%

Menchies started as a single frozen yogurt shop in Southern California and has now garnered a global presence with over 540 outlets.

They offer dairy-free, gluten-free, nonfat, and kosher options to cater to multiple customers.

To be eligible for this franchise, you must have a net worth of approximately $350,000 and a good credit score. So, if you don’t mind investing in a frozen yogurt franchise, then this option is worth considering.

Comparison Of 5 Best Ice Cream Franchise Opportunities

CompanyFoundedOutletsFranchise FeeInitial InvestmentRoyalty Fee
Ben & Jerry’s1978550+$39,500$112,700 – $474,3003%
Dairy Queen19407,000$45,000$1,511,200 – 2,533,4004%
Baskin-Robbins19457,800$25,000$90,000 – $625,0005.9%
Handle’s Homemade Ice Cream194560+$50,000$311,000 –$936,0006%
Cold Stone Creamery1988300+$27,000$53,200 – $602,7756%

When Should You Choose An Ice Cream Franchise?

Ask yourself these questions before you choose to invest in an ice cream franchise:

Do I mind having a limited say in the business?

Buying a franchise allows you to benefit from an established and successful business model and saves you from building a brand name from scratch.

However, this comes at a cost. When you buy a franchise, you get limited control over the business.

This includes following a fixed recipe, menu, store timings, etc. So invest in a franchise only when you don’t mind having limited control.

What is the demand in my area like?

Although ice cream is something that people eat all the time, you must do market research and find out what the demand in your area is like.

Are people demanding frozen yogurts, flavored ice shavings, or just ice creams? Finding this out will allow you to pick the right franchise.

Things You Need To Know Before Choosing An Ice Cream Franchise

To choose the perfect ice cream franchise for yourself, you must consider these points:

1. Royalty & Marketing Fee

Every franchisor charges a fixed percentage of royalty & marketing fee ranging from 2%-10% that you cannot avoid.

The higher this amount is, the more will be the deductions from your profit. So, make sure to look for an option that charges this fee on the lower side of the bracket.

2. Failure Rate

Every franchise has a failure or success rate, which is determined by the number of franchise outlets that open and close in a given year.

Make sure to check this and buy a franchise that has a low failure rate.

3. Financing help

If you are thinking about buying an ice cream franchise that is beyond your budget, then finding out if the franchisor offers third-party in-house financing would help you a lot in figuring out finances.

And if not, then we have listed a number of affordable ice cream franchises that you can consider instead.

Best Ice Cream Franchises: Wrap Up

An ice cream franchise could be an amazing business to start because of the high-profit margin and growing demand in the industry.

If you want to benefit from an existing brand image and business model, then you can choose from the 10 best Ice Cream franchises mentioned in this guide.

And if you can take the risk and want to enjoy even more profits, then starting an independent ice cream business could be best for you.


How Much Does An Ice Cream Franchise Cost?

The cost of an ice cream franchise could be different for different brands. However, as per the options mentioned in this guide, you can expect to spend anywhere between $53,200 and 2,533,400 for an ice cream franchise.

How Much Can I Make From An Ice Cream Franchise?

An average person consumes over 20 pounds of ice creams annually in the U.S., and you can imagine the kind of demand this industry has. You can easily make over 200,000 in annual revenue from an ice-cream franchise. Your earnings would vary a lot depending on the brand you invest in.

Which Is The Cheapest Ice Cream Franchise To Own?

As per the options we have mentioned in this guide, Kona Ice is the cheapest ice cream franchise that requires an investment of $150,400 – $174,150, followed by Dippin’ Dots, with investment ranging from $112,204 to $366,950.

What Is The Profit Margin In Ice Cream Industry?

The profit margin in the ice cream industry is between 30% to 40%, which is really good. However, if you start producing your own ice cream and cross-selling it, then the profit margin can be even higher.

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