Cup or cone? Ice cream fans know that's an incomplete question — Twin Cities ice cream makers offer so much more than scoops. And while locally churned ice cream remains the star of many favorite summer novelties, experimenting with their formats allows creativity to be unleashed.

"I love baking and making ice cream, so ice cream sandwiches and bars are the perfect way for me to put all of it together without having an actual shop," said Kristy Dirk, a longtime pastry chef at several bakeries and restaurants, including her own, the now-closed Lucky Oven Bakery. Last year, Dirk moved into a commercial kitchen in Hopkins and launched ChunkChunk, a decadent line of treats that places as much emphasis on the cakes and cookies as the ice cream.

Dirk bakes fluffy cookies and a chocolate soufflé cake using locally milled Baker's Field Flour, and combines them with ice cream made from organic dairy. In ChunkChunk's butterscotch almond bar, she puts Alemar Dry Fromage ice cream in the cheesecake-like base, and uses Red Locks whiskey in the butterscotch sauce — both local products.

While a sprinkle cone has its charms, prepared novelties tell a fuller story. "I like to think of my ice cream sandwiches and ice cream bars as a whole dessert or treat, wrapped up in a neat package," Dirk said. "And because they are on a stick, you can eat them anywhere, no utensils needed."

Here are our favorite ways to enjoy ice cream this summer — outside of the cup or cone.

Ice cream bars


Longtime pastry chef Kristy Dirk has turned her talents to ice cream by baking cookies, cakes and brownies that get mixed into these hearty, chocolate-dipped bars. Here, soft chocolate soufflé cake and crunchy pretzels are the perfect foil for salted caramel ice cream enrobed in dark chocolate. This is food-on-a-stick at its most decadent.

$6 and up; available at Red Wagon Pizza in Minneapolis, Honey and Rye bakery in St. Louis Park, Bear Cave Brewing in Hopkins and more;

Sebastian Joe's

Walking out of either of Sebastian Joe's quaint ice cream parlors holding a Brr Bar, a Dilly Bar upgrade that coats the scoop shop's legendary Oreo ice cream in a chocolate shell, is practically a rite of summer.

$6; 4321 Upton Av. S., Mpls.; 1007 Franklin Av. W., Mpls.;

Conny's Creamy Cone

Let's be honest, you're probably here for the soft serve. But this beloved seasonal ice cream stand also offers a Chill Bar for the stick-food fans out there. Get one dipped in chocolate, butterscotch or cherry.

$2.25; 1197 Dale St. N., St. Paul,

Ice cream in a doughnut

Bogart's Doughnut Co.

A fresh-out-of-the-oven brioche doughnut that usually gets pumped full of Nutella stays empty until a customer wisely orders one filled with Bogart's exceptional brown butter soft serve. The warmth of the doughnut makes the ice cream melt and pool at the bottom of the sandwich, where it gets soaked up into several heavenly last bites.

$6.50; 904 W. 36th St., Mpls.; 5003 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park;

Milkjam Creamery

The Jam Bun sandwiches Milkjam's creative ice cream flavors between two glazed doughnuts. Cereal Killers, the orange coriander flavor that evokes Fruity Pebbles cereal, is the first flavor that springs to mind, for an ice-cold breakfastlike concoction. But deep-dark chocolate — whether in the nondairy Black or mixed with salted chocolate fudge, whoppers and brownies in Hard Knock Life 2.0, — also would be excellent choices.

$11; 2743 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls.,

Cardigan Donuts

The IDS Center outpost of Cardigan Donuts has ice cream on the menu — and a wide selection of doughnuts to turn that ice cream into a sandwich. Choose any classic doughnut to hold a ring-shaped circle of vanilla or chocolate ice cream.

$7; 80 S. 8th St., #226 (skyway level), Mpls.,

Michoacán paletas

La Michoacana Rose

This Michoacán-style paleta and scoop shop (brought you to by the same team behind La Bodega Taco Bar) offers some 50 options in the freezer case. Pick a predesigned pop that showcases fruit or cream, augmented by everything from chile lime seasoning to cereal. Or get a big cold cup of mangonada for a sweet-sour-spicy delight.

$2.50 and up; 6322 Bass Lake Road, Crystal; 8097 Central Av. NE., Spring Lake Park; 5055 France Av. S., Edina;

La Michoacana Purépecha

This popular paleteria, in Minnesota since 2018, has just opened an outpost in Rochester. In addition to a huge selection of ice pops, there's an almost endless number of ways to dress them up by dipping them in chocolate and adding toppings. Not ice cream, but a special summer delicacy is a dipped frozen chocobanana.

$2.50 and up; 809 E. 7th St., St. Paul; 701 E. Lake St., Mpls.; Mall of America, 284 E. Broadway, Bloomington; 28 SE. 9th St., Rochester;

Micho Love

A family from Michoacán, Mexico, opened two east metro outlets of this helado and paleta shop, which also specializes in agua frescas, big cups of strawberries and cream, chips with toppings and mangonadas.

$2.60 and up; 1201 S. Robert St., West St. Paul; 14860 Granada Av., Apple Valley,

Michoacana Tasty

New on the scene, this Michoacán-style paleteria just opened in Richfield, with a savory burgers-and-fries menu to go with the ice pops. Have fun with an esquimal paleta, which is a pop dipped in chocolate and topped with nuts or sprinkles.

$4.50; 4 E. 66th St., Richfield,

Gourmet ice pops


One of the stars of the ballpark this season, besides the Twins, are these allergen-friendly pops from local do-gooders, JonnyPops. All flavors are nut- and gluten-free, and amazingly, the chocolate pop pictured here is dairy-free, too. The ultra-creamy Fudgesicle-inspired treat is made with oat milk.

Prices vary; get them at Target Field, or widely available at Twin Cities-area grocery stores


FrioFrio is an "ice lollie" shop, though it is not limited to its wildly fun flavors of pops on sticks. Shaved snow ice cream, cookie sandwiches and more showcase the whimsy of its sister business, Angel Food Bakery. But if it's a lollie you're looking for, let yourself be delighted by the piñata (a lemon-lime pop with sprinkles and gummy bears frozen within), sweet potato and apple pie, and horchata rice pudding.

$4 and up; 8100 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park,

St. Pops

This farmers market and festival staple offers innovative flavor combinations, like rhubarb elderflower, strawberry cardamom, or a gingery lemonade that will cool you off on the hottest of market days. Every flavor is gluten-free and vegan, even the creamy coffee, horchata and chocolate pops.

$3; Find them at Mill City Farmers Market, Northeast Farmers Market, Kingfield Farmers Market and Nokomis Farmers Market, and at events listed at

Ice cream cookie sandwiches

Honey & Mackie's

The long menu of ice cream flavors is constantly refreshing at this Plymouth parlor (which, it should be noted, also has great hot dogs and fries). Choose any of them, like grasshopper, shown here, to stuff between two Grocer's Table chocolate chip cookies — some of the best in the Twin Cities.

$6; 16725 County Road 24, Plymouth,

Nellie's Ice Cream

Vikings & Goddesses, whose headquarters happen to be next door to this Marshall Avenue ice cream parlor, makes the cookies that turn Nellie's scoops into near-infinite ice cream sandwich combinations. You can keep it simple, or get them drizzled in chocolate sauce and dipped in toppings for a messier bit of fun.

$5.50; 2034 Marshall Av., St. Paul,

La La Homemade Ice Cream

A self-serve freezer here holds a variety of handheld ice cream goodies; get vanilla between two brownies, or chocolate between thin and lacy housemade chocolate chip cookies.

$7; 3146 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.,

Shakes full of mix-ins


This cereal and boba bar doesn't hold back when it comes to creative combinations all whirred together in a cup with vanilla soft serve. The Frooty Flakes, for example, mixes Froot Loops, Cap'n Crunch and Frosted Flakes in one sweet, nostalgic shake.

$7-$8; 770 Grand Av., St. Paul; 10340 NE. Baltimore St.; Blaine,

Hot Hands Pie & Biscuit

Choosing a slice of Hot Hands' terrific pie to eat with a fork is a beautiful indulgence in and of itself. But to have it blended into a shake to slurp on the go? Heaven.

$8.95; 272 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul, 651-300-1503,


Dream Creamery/Nouvelle Brewing

A special press is used to make Fun Buns, which is a literal ice cream sandwich. Choose any ice cream flavor in the case, add chocolate syrup if you wish, and everything gets stuffed into a savory milk bun that's clamped down in a waffle-iron-like contraption. The pressing seals the edges together and makes the outside warm, while the ice cream inside stays cool.

$9.50; 816 Lowry Av. NE., Mpls.,; 4124 Broadway Av. W., Robbinsdale,

Grand Ole Creamery

Thin, housemade waffles become tacos wrapped around the flavor of your choice; like blue Cookie Monster with chocolate sprinkles. Find the tacos in the freezer with other novelties.

$8.75; 750 Grand Av., St. Paul,; 4737 Cedar Av. S., Mpls.,