This Homemade Ice Cream Cake Is A Childhood Dream Come True

Southern Living Ice Cream Cake decorated cake is ready to serve on a platter with a slice out on a plate
PHOTO: MORGAN HUNT GLAZE; FOOD STYLIST: CHELSEA ZIMMER; PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINE KEELY

Active Time:

45 mins

Freeze Time:

5 hrs 45 mins

Total Time:

6 hrs 30 mins

Servings:

12

When it comes to celebration desserts, ice cream and cake are the most timeless choices. Roll them both together in the form of an ice cream cake for a party dessert guaranteed to please a crowd of any age.

This no-bake ice cream cake recipe is awash in sensory delights. Think of it as an ice cream party—the toppings, textures, and the divine smell of an ice cream parlor—all packed into a single cake.

Decorate it with toppings customized to the guest of honor’s preferences, and you’ve got the dreamiest homemade celebration cake ever.

Ice Cream Cake Ingredients

To make ice cream cake, you will need only affordable, readily available indients:

  • vanilla wafer cookies (like Nilla Wafers)
  • chocolate sandwich cookies (like Oreos)
  • salted butter
  • chocolate ice cream
  • hot fudge topping
  • whipping cream
  • powdered sugar
  • vanilla instant pudding mix.

Allow more than six hours to make this ice cream cake (including the freezing time), which serves 12. So plan ahead.

What Does Ice Cream Cake Taste Like?

Whipped topping adds a lightness and delicateness that balances the decadent density of the ice cream in this cake. The fudgy, cookie layer is rich and gooey, and the vanilla wafers have a crispness as well as a subtle but familiar taste that rounds out the whole confection.

 50 Party Desserts That Guarantee A Sweet Time

Tips From the Test Kitchen

This is a fairly simple recipe—even kids could help—but our Test Kitchen provided a few tips to make it easier:

  • Stirring the ice cream to the consistency of frozen yogurt before freezing this cake helps prevent air bubbles and creates neat layers for the tidiest look.
  • Freezing very well between all the layers is absolutely critical to the success of the final result. Rushing this step can cause ice cream to melt and sink, resulting in uneven layers. 
  • Use the pudding mix to help hold the whipped topping together—it also imparts a sweeter taste. But you can achieve a similar Dairy Queen-like taste without the pudding mix: Just add a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead.

Is There Actually Cake in Ice Cream Cake?

Some ice cream cakes, like this Red Velvet Ice Cream Cake, use ice cream as a filling within a layered or rolled cake. This recipe for ice cream cake includes no actual cake at all—just layers of cookies and ice cream finished with whipped cream and fudge.

For an even easier variation on the classic dessert, try our recipe for Ice Cream Sandwich Cake, which uses store-bought ice cream cookie sandwiches as the base.

 20 Homemade Ice Cream Recipes Made For Hot Summer Days

Ice Cream Cake Decorating Ideas 

When it comes to decorating an ice cream cake, you’re limited only by your imagination, so get creative!

Add Oreos on top to hint at what’s inside, or try vanilla wafers to nod to the crust. Top with maraschino cherries for a look and taste that leans into the classic old-school celebration vibe. Or decorate in any combination of colors and flavors the guest of honor loves most of all.

Don’t forget to serve with candles and confetti!

Editorial contributions by Alesandra Dubin.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers (about 32 cookies) (from 1 [11-oz.] box)
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) salted butter, melted, divided
  • 6 cups (3 pt.) chocolate ice cream
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreos) (about 15 to 20 cookies), plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup jarred hot fudge topping (such as Mrs. Richardson’s), warmed, plus more for garnish
  • 4 cups (2 pt.) vanilla ice cream
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla instant pudding mix (from 1 [3.4-oz.] pkg. vanilla instant pudding and pie mix [such as Jell-O])

Directions

  1. Prepare pans:Line a 9-inch springform pan with 2 layers of plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang around edges.
  2. Make crust:Stir together crushed vanilla wafers and 6 tablespoons of the melted butter in a medium bowl until combined. Press evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.Southern Living Ice Cream Cake pressing vanilla cookie crust into the panMORGAN HUNT GLAZE; FOOD STYLIST: CHELSEA ZIMMER; PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINE KEELY
  3. Spread first ice cream cake layer:Meanwhile, remove chocolate ice cream from freezer, and let stand at room temperature until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Transfer chocolate ice cream to a large bowl, and stir with a silicone spatula to loosen until ice cream reaches the consistency of frozen yogurt, about 30 seconds. Remove pan from freezer, and pour softened ice cream evenly over crust in pan, and smooth with an offset spatula. Gently tap pan on counter to release any air bubbles. Cover and freeze until just firm, about 2 hours.Southern Living Ice Cream Cake adding chocolate ice cream layer to panMORGAN HUNT GLAZE; FOOD STYLIST: CHELSEA ZIMMER; PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINE KEELY
  4. Sprinkle layer of crushed cookies:Stir together crushed sandwich cookies and remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter in a medium bowl until combined; set aside.Southern Living Ice Cream Cake adding crushed chocolate sandwich cookie layer to cakeMORGAN HUNT GLAZE; FOOD STYLIST: CHELSEA ZIMMER; PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINE KEELY
  5. Add fudge and more cookies:Remove pan from freezer; pour 1 cup warm fudge topping evenly over chocolate ice cream layer, leaving a border about 1/2 inch from edge of pan. Sprinkle with reserved sandwich cookie mixture, and press lightly into an even layer. Cover and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
  6. Top with vanilla ice cream:Remove vanilla ice cream from freezer, and let stand at room temperature until slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer vanilla ice cream to a large bowl, and stir with a silicone spatula to loosen until ice cream reaches the consistency of frozen yogurt, about 30 seconds. Remove pan from freezer, and pour softened ice cream evenly over cookie layer in pan; smooth with an offset spatula. Gently tap pan on counter to release any air bubbles. Cover and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.Southern Living Ice Cream Cake adding the vanilla ice cream layer to panMORGAN HUNT GLAZE; FOOD STYLIST: CHELSEA ZIMMER; PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINE KEELY
  7. Make whipped topping:Beat heavy cream with an electric mixer on medium speed until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. With mixer running on medium, gradually add powdered sugar and pudding mix. Increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.
  8. Finish cake layers:Remove ice cream cake from freezer, and carefully remove springform pan and plastic wrap. Gently slide ice cream cake onto a cake stand or serving platter. Quickly but gently spread whipped topping over top and sides of cake. Drizzle with additional warm fudge topping; sprinkle edges with additional crushed sandwich cookies. Freeze at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before serving.Southern Living Ice Cream Cake spreading the top with the whipped toppingMORGAN HUNT GLAZE; FOOD STYLIST: CHELSEA ZIMMER; PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINE KEELY