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Inside Graeter’s Ice Cream in Cincinnati

Go behind the scenes to see how Graeter’s uses the traditional French Pot ice cream method to make their Cincinnati ice cream one of the best in the world.

Inside Graeter's Ice Cream

We traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio for two reasons: Graeter’s Ice Cream and Cincinnati Chili. Both are iconic Cincinnati foods that are not to be missed on any food-focused road trip.

We love this iconic French Pot ice cream for its bright, fruity flavors and big, decadent chocolate chip inclusions. If you’re not familiar, let us guide you into what we believe to be one the best, most original, artisan-crafted products in the United States.

Inside Graeter’s Ice Cream Video

Going behind the scenes at the largest artisan ice cream company around has turned us into even bigger fans of this French pot ice cream. Check out our YouTube video for the full story.

Our History with Graeter’s Ice Cream

Graeters Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip
Black raspberry chocolate chip is the flavor that we usually eat at home. We love the intense raspberry flavors and big chocolate chunks. Not surprisingly, this is the company’s most popular flavor.

Daryl first tasted the iconic French Pot ice cream many years ago while visiting his friends, Joe and Susan, for dinner. Susan’s father, who lived in the Queen City at the time, had been express shipping the ice cream to Susan in Pennsylvania because he loved both the ice cream and his daughter so much. Daryl tasted a few spoonfuls and was hooked.

Mindi, on the other hand, had never heard of Graeter’s ice cream until she saw it at Whole Foods just two years ago. Despite initially balking at the seemingly hefty price tag, she too became hooked after just a few spoonfuls of the black raspberry chocolate chip.

Graeter’s pints may look similar to many ice creams on the shelves today but the similarities end there.

French Pot Ice Cream

Graeter's Ice Cream Pints
The best place to try all of Graeter’s Ice Cream flavors is at one of their ice cream shops in Cincinnati. The shops feature bonus flavors that are being tested as potential new flavors.

If you’re not familiar with Graeter’s Ice Cream, then you’re missing out on the ultimate ice cream experience.

This family-run ice cream business has been using the French Pot process for over one hundred years. Graeter’s makes 20,000 pints a day, each in a small batch. Many of these pints stay in Ohio, but others are shipped to 45 additional states, which is how we discovered and fell in love with the ice cream in Pennsylvania.

Chocolate for Graeter's Ice Cream
Bob Graeter holds a 10 lb. bar of chocolate. The chocolate will be melted down and incorporated into the company’s unique French Pot Ice Cream spinning process.

Graeter’s is unlike any ice cream in texture and flavor.

Our favorite, the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, is loaded with super intense, vividly violet-colored raspberry flavored ice cream. But calling the chocolate ‘chips’ is a misnomer. The ‘chips’ are actually large chunks of chocolate that magically remain pliable despite freezing cold temperatures.

Digging a spoon into Graeter’s is like a treasure hunt, an event sometimes yielding large tablespoon-sized chunks of deep rich dark chocolate. The experience, both in flavor and excitement, is a major eating event that varies with every pint and every creamy spoonful.

Touring the Graeter’s Ice Cream Factory

Bob Graeter in the Graeter's Ice Cream Factory
Bob Graeter proudly shows the pecans, just one of the fresh ingredients used to make Graeter’s Ice Cream, during our factory tour.

“We actually do the making of the ice cream… the old-fashioned way,” said Bob Greater, the company’s head of quality assurance.

The plant is modern, but in order to ensure quality, certain elements have been performed the same way as they were done 100 years ago.

Bob Graeter is one of the fourth generation of family members who still take great pride in their product. As Graeter and colleague Tim Philpott personally led us through the factory, we saw firsthand that this statement is true. The company has incorporated necessary modern processes for efficiency, safety and cleanliness while keeping the most important processes and techniques intact.

“We have the latest in 19th-century technology,” Graeter laughingly shared during our tour.

You see, Graeter’s was started in 1870 by Louis & Regina Graeter and remains a family-owned business to this day. The ice cream is made using 2.5-gallon French Pots, spinning ice cream machines with open tops that create an ultra smooth product.

Graeter's Ice Cream Factory Employee
Employees create the ice cream at Graeter’s by hand in Cincinnati Ohio.

The French Pot process allows the ice cream makers to pour in various mixtures, like chocolate, and freeze the finished product to an amazing pliable consistency.

Additionally, the Cincinnati ice cream is hand-packed into each pint and gallon by 20 people each shift, two shifts a day. As Graeter said during the tour, making ice cream the old-fashioned way is a “very labor-intensive process.” In an age of new artisan producers, kudos to Graeter’s Ice Cream for being a leader in this movement.

So have they ever been tempted to sell? The company receives offers all the time. But Graeter, along with the members of his family, feels that they have a greater responsibility to the city of Cincinnati. The ice cream has become a fixture in the city’s fabric and the Graeter family believes that they are not only owners of the company but also keepers of the brand, Graeter said.

“We’re the custodians of the brand and guardians of the quality for the next generation.”

Hungry for More Ice Cream?

Check out our gelato guides for Bologna, Naples, Rome, Venice and Verona as well as our ice cream guide for Lisbon.

About the Authors

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.


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Monday 18th of April 2016

Mmmm.... ice cream! I have to be honest - I'd never heard of Graeter's before. I don't recall seeing it the one time I was in Cincinnati... I'll keep an eye out for it in Chicago. I'll have to give it a try if it's available here!

Erin Klema

Tuesday 12th of April 2016

I'm surprised I hadn't heard of Graeter's ice cream until now! Next time I road trip to Kentucky from Michigan, I'm going to have to make a stop in Cincinnati for it!

melody pittman

Saturday 9th of April 2016

Well now, you are in my old neck of the woods now. ;) I've been eating Graeter's ice cream for over 20 years now but we like to go to the ones in Worthington, Columbus. ;) (and of course black raspberry choc chip is our favorite flavor, too). Glad you got to try it and I loved the behind the scenes. Now I cannot wait to read about Skyline/Gold Star Chili because I will drive hours out of my way to have a freaking chili cheese bun (no hotdog). YUMMY!

Lara Dunning

Saturday 9th of April 2016

I lived in Indiana and never heard of Graeter's Ice Cream. Ice cream is one of my favorite desserts. Their ice cream looks delicious and that's really cool they give tours!


Saturday 9th of April 2016

I LOVE Graeter's ice cream! I actually lived in Columbus, OH for over 8 years and 2 of their ice cream shops were within 10 miles of where I lived. :) The Black Raspberry Chip is definitely my personal favorite.