Delicious Ice Cream at Bassetts (Philadelphia, PA)

The long line at Bassetts Ice Cream
The long line at Bassetts

A fifth-generation family business and a Philadelphia tradition since 1861, Bassetts Ice Cream Company is a full-service frozen dessert distributor, offering great products and superior service. Founded in 1861, Bassetts is America’s oldest ice cream company and has been serving the frozen treat in the market since 1893.

Bassetts was started by Lewis Bassett, a schoolteacher in Salem, N.J., who began his summertime business with dairy cows and a mule that pulled the crank on a giant ice cream-making machine in his backyard. Lewis’ grandson and namesake perfected the company’s high-butterfat, all-natural confection and some of its most popular flavors, including rum raisin, Irish coffee, cinnamon and its signature Philadelphia-style vanilla loaded with specks of vanilla bean. For most of the company’s history, the ice cream was made in the basement of Reading Terminal Market. As demand increased in the early 1970s, production moved to larger facilities elsewhere in Philadelphia.

Today, Bassetts ice cream is made cooperatively with Galliker’s Dairy, a third-generation, family-owned business in Johnstown, PA, some 200 miles west of Philadelphia.

This shop is one of the most popular shops in the Reading Terminal Market when I do walk around this vast market every day that I was in Philly (my hotel was just a mere block away). I liked their ice creams because it’s pretty flavorful, the butterfat content (about 16.5 percent) creates this rich, dense yet fluffy, sweet but not too overwhelming ice cream, and it’s not pretentious.

Guatemalan Ripple on a waffle cone WHYY Experience on a waffle cone
Bassetts Ice Cream - Green Tea Ice Cream Irish Coffee Small cup of Mango ice cream & Pistachio ice creamSmall cup of Strawberry and Peach ice creams Bassetts Ice Cream - Butter Pecan
The many cups and cones of ice cream I ate at Bassetts: Guatemalan Ripple, WHYY Experience, Green Tea Ice Cream, Irish Coffee, Mango & Pistachio ice creams, Strawberry and Peach ice cream, Butter Pecan

My friends and I went ice cream-happy within our weekend and ate an assortment of ice cream flavors. The Guatemalan Ripple made of Guatemalan-sourced coffee ice cream with mocha fudge ripple, blended with mini-coffee filled chocolates was creamy and robust of coffee flavors with the chunks of chocolate added some nice added cacao bitterness. The WHYY Experience, a vanilla ice cream loaded with chocolate covered pretzels and swirled with butterscotch was not as sweet as I was anticipating and I loved the crunchy pretzels for texture.

One the not too crazy flavors, the Irish coffee had a not too robust coffee flavor with a pleasant background of the liquor’s flavor lingering at the end note. Butter pecan was simply delicious – a creamy, potent vanilla flavor with the nutty, buttery flavors of the pecan. Green tea is a matcha flavored ice cream and was very tasty with delicate grassy, bitter notes from the tea.

The scoops of mango and pistachio ice cream were great. The sweet, delicately floral mango ice cream and the pistachio was good but had this off note of alcoholic flavor that’s from possibly an extract. Strawberry and peach ice creams were for my fruit ice cream loving friend who liked very much the summery fruits in a cup with a subtle tartness on the strawberry ice cream.

Bassetts is an historical landmark of itself where you can cool and satisfy your sweet tooth with a scoop of well made ice cream (they do have sorbets, too).

To view more photos of this visit, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):

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Bassetts Ice Cream at Reading Terminal Market
Official website
51 N 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.