How to Make an Ice Cream Cake
Plus, how to cut an ice cream cake neatly so it doesn't melt everywhere.
With just a few store-bought ingredients (or homemade ingredients, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious), you can make a showstopping centerpiece for your next birthday party or special occasion, stacked with ice-cold layers of cake, ice cream and all kinds of goodies.
To construct your ice cream cake, you'll be alternating layers of ice cream with cake, or with crumbled cookies, or even with dessert sauces like chocolate or butterscotch. When making an ice cream cake, it's essential to work quickly, so that the ice cream doesn't melt. Otherwise, ice crystals could form when you freeze the finished cake. Here's our step-by-step guide to how to make a delicious ice cream cake.
What You Need to Make an Ice Cream Cake
Make sure all of your ingredients and supplies are gathered in advance, because you’ll have to work quickly once you start building the ice cream cake.
2 cake layers
3 cups of ice cream, at room temperature for 15 minutes
Crunchy filling (such as crushed cookie bits, crushed brownies or chocolate chips)
Topping for decorating the top of the cake (such as fudge sauce, meringue or whipped cream)
Sheet pan, lined with plastic wrap, frozen for 15 minutes
How to Make an Ice Cream Cake
1. Place a cake layer on the sheet tray and top with ice cream. Carefully transfer your first cake layer to the plastic wrap-lined and chilled sheet tray. Spoon 1.5 cups of softened ice cream all over the top of the cake layer.
2. Smooth out the ice cream. Using a knife or offset spatula, smooth the ice cream so it covers the entire cake layer. You should have a thick, solid layer of ice cream.
3. Top the ice cream with crunchy filling. Top the ice cream with a layer of crushed cookies, brownie bits or chocolate chips.
4. Top the crunchy bits with more ice cream. Spoon the remaining 1.5 cups of softened ice cream all over the toppings.
5. Spread out the second layer of ice cream. Smooth the ice cream so it covers the crushed cookies or the crunchy layer of your choosing.
6. Add the second cake layer and freeze. Top the ice cream with the second cake layer. Then place the cake in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours or until the cake and ice cream is completely frozen (it should be hard to the touch).
7. Remove cake from freezer and add topping. You want to make sure your finished creation doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, so pull up the plastic wrap "handles" and very gently pull the cake from the pan. Spread topping, such as fudge sauce, meringue or whipped cream, over the cake and place it back in the freezer for an hour, or until it sets.
How to Cut an Ice Cream Cake
Once you’ve built a gorgeous ice cream cake, learn how to slice it into beautifully, crisp pieces. Here’s a biggie tip: if you’re serving your cake to guests, slice the cake ahead of time, leave it on the plate, and put it back into the freezer.
Remove it from the freezer 10 minutes before serving. You want the ice cream cake to soften every so slightly to make your job easier – but not melt!
Dip the blade of a large metal chef’s knife in a tall glass of warm water. You know how people dip ice cream scoops in warm water to help them glide through a pint of ice cream? Dipping a chef’s knife will help it slice through your layer cake neatly. Just make sure to dry off the blade completely with paper towels.
Place the tip of the knife into the center of the cake first. Then press the back of the blade downwards to make an even slice.
Dip the blade in water and dry it. After every cut (yes, every one!) you’ll want to re-dip the blade in water and dry it off. Otherwise, you risk messy results.
How Long Will an Ice Cream Cake Last In the Freezer?
An ice cream cake will last for up to a week in the freezer – after that, large ice crystals will form. Store your ice cream cake whole and uncovered in the freezer, or any leftover slices in an airtight container to stave off freezer burn.
Ice Cream Cake Recipes
Berry Ice Cream Cake
A simple garnish for your ice cream cake? In season fruit.
Ice Cream Crunch Cake
This ice cream cake is actually built in a springform pan for extra neat sides.
Vanilla Malted Ice Cream Cake
Angel food cake is drizzled with malted whipped cream before it’s spread with vanilla ice cream.
Mint and Chocolate Ice Cream Cake
Calling all mint chip lovers. This is the cake for you.
Orange Sherbet Ice Cream Cake with Sugar Cookies and Lemon Whipped Cream Frosting
Meet the dessert that's like an orange creamsicle in cake for. It has a sugar cookie crust and lemony whipped cream frosting.