How to Make Ice Cream Cake! Make this stunning dessert in just a few easy steps! Layers of cake, ice cream, cookies, fudge, & whipped cream.

Homemade ice cream cake with layers of cake, fudge, cookies, ice cream, and whipped cream.

Nothing screams “Party!” like an ice cream cake! Am I right?

When I was a teenager I worked at Dairy Queen and learned how to make an ice cream cake. It was so much fun and I really think it set me on the path of creating beautiful and delicious things with food!

Cakes have been one of my favorite things to make for a really long time. I’ve got a ton of cake recipes on this site!

Check out the Key lime cake I made a few weeks ago, or this gorgeous pink strawberry cake, or this towering stunner of a coconut cake!

There are tons more of course. If you can dream it up I can probably make a cake out of it, lol!

But there’s nothing quite like ice cream cake. It’s like all the best desserts rolled into one!

This version has it all: cake, hot fudge, crunchy cookies, two kinds of ice cream, whipped cream, sprinkles… and let’s not forget the cherries on top!

Copycat Dairy Queen ice cream cake with slices cut out so the layers inside can be seen.

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What is ice cream cake?

When I was a DQ’er, our ice cream cakes were mostly just ice cream. There was a layer of chocolate ice cream, then some hot fudge sauce and chocolate cookies, then a layer of vanilla ice cream. We even frosted the cakes with ice cream!

I think they do it pretty much the same way at Carvel.

But for what you see here, there’s actually a layer of cake too, on the bottom.

So you just stack up all the different layers, pop it into the freezer, and voila! Ice cream cake.

What’s great about this recipe

  1. Tastes amazing: I’m of the firm opinion that when you make something yourself, it tastes infinitely better than anything you can buy in a store!
  2. Basic ingredients: You only need a few; you can make them from scratch or use store-bought.
  3. Easy to make: While this dessert does need time to freeze solid, the steps are really simple.
  4. Versatile: You can mix and match the flavors in all sorts of different ways, to really make this recipe your own!

Ice Cream Cake Ingredients

There are just 7 components to make this incredible showstopper:

Ingredients for making ice cream cake, with text labels.


I baked up half a batch of my most favoritest chocolate cake recipe.

But you can use any flavor of cake you like! Here are a few other suggestions:


And if you don’t want to bother making it yourself, you could buy it from a bakery! Huge timesaver!

Hot Fudge Sauce

I’ve got a great recipe for this here: Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce. It comes together in no time flat and the flavor is off the charts!

But again, this component could easily just be picked up from the grocery store.


I used Oreos that I just broke into bite-sized pieces. The added crunch gives this ice cream cake so much interesting texture!

You could use another kind of cookie too if you like. I think vanilla wafers would be really good, or crispy chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, gingersnaps, whatever!

Ice Cream

For what you see here, I used half a container of vanilla ice cream and half a container of strawberry ice cream.

You don’t have to do two different ice creams. I just wanted to be fancy!

Some other great ice cream options could be coffee ice cream, mint chocolate chip, chocolate (of course)…

Whipped Cream Frosting

Whipped cream tops this ice cream cake off in the most spectacular way! It’s like an ice cream sundae, in cake form!

My whipped cream frosting recipe has a little bit of cream cheese in it, to keep it stable.

It doesn’t taste cream-cheese-y, but it whips up a lot stiffer than just cream and it stays that way for much longer.


Rainbow sprinkles make this cake look so festive and fun!


Maraschino cherries are the perfect topper! Try to get the kind with stems if you can!

Special equipment

If you like to bake, you probably already have most of these tools.

  1. Cake Pan: I used an 8-inch diameter round pan.
  2. Plastic Wrap: Line the pan with plastic wrap when forming the ice cream layer.
  3. Ice Cream Scoop: Or just a big spoon, to scoop the ice cream into the pan.
  4. Silicone Spatula: For pushing the ice cream into shape.
  5. Offset Spatula: A handy tool for frosting cakes.
  6. Piping Bag: For applying the decorations (the bigger the better, imo!). This one is optional.
  7. Piping Tip: Also for decorating. I used a jumbo open star tip.

How to make ice cream cake

While there is a good bit of time just allowing everything to freeze, the active time here is pretty minimal.

This whole thing can be put together in 4 simple steps.

Step 1: Make the ice cream layer

Line an 8-inch diameter round cake pan with plastic wrap, allowing plenty extra to drape over the sides. (This will make it easier to get the ice cream out later.)

Lining a cake pan with plastic wrap.

Then scoop the first layer of ice cream in.

Scoops of strawberry ice cream in a plastic wrap lined cake pan.

Use the silicone spatula to press these down into an even layer.

Pressing strawberry ice cream into a cake pan.

Then add the next layer of ice cream. I’m using vanilla.

Layering vanilla ice cream over strawberry ice cream.

Draw the excess plastic wrap up and over the ice cream, and pop everything into the freezer until it’s nice and hard.

Wrapping molded ice cream up with plastic wrap.

Step 2: Assemble the cake

Start with the bottom cake layer, and place it on your serving platter.

Spread it with a thick layer of hot fudge sauce.

Hot fudge sauce spread in an even layer over chocolate cake.

Next, layer on the crumbled cookies.

Crumbled cookie layer of an ice cream cake.

Then grab the cake pan full of ice cream out of the freezer.

Pull on the excess plastic wrap to unmold the ice cream from the pan, and quickly place it right on top of the cookie layer.

Placing the ice cream layer on top of a homemade ice cream cake.

At this point, it’s best to get the whole thing back into the freezer before it starts to get too soft.

Step 3: Frost the ice cream cake

Cover the whole outside of the cake with whipped cream frosting.

Frosting ice cream cake with whipped cream icing.

Get it as smooth as you can (it doesn’t have to be perfect!), then pop it back into the freezer again.

Are you noticing a pattern here??

Step 4: Decorate

Once the ice cream cake is really frozen solid, it’s time to decorate.

Pipe or drizzle a drippy hot fudge edge around the perimeter of the cake.

Then add a shell border around the bottom and garnish it with rainbow sprinkles.

A few tall swirls of whipped cream on top, more sprinkles, and a bright, shiny maraschino cherry on top!

How to serve

This ice cream cake really doesn’t need another thing. I mean there are already so many components! I’d think even the most die-hard sweet tooth couldn’t find fault with it!

But if you really must, a drizzle of salted caramel sauce or raspberry sauce wouldn’t be such a terrible thing.

Expert tips

Make space

Before you even get started, make sure to clear out a large space in your freezer. This is a big boy and you’re going to need to pull it in and out of the freezer a bunch of times.

Allow yourself plenty of time

There are a lot of components here. I suggest allowing yourself at least a day, maybe two, to get this all put together without it melting at any point.

Work quickly

The ice cream softens up fast!

And if you allow that to happen, your cake will lose its shape.

Make sure all the ingredients are prepped before you start assembling. The cookies should be crumbled, the frosting made, etc. You don’t want to be doing that while the ice cream is out.

And keep everything as cold as you possibly can while you’re working. If at any point things start getting melty, whisk it all right back into the freezer.

Stop frequently

Again, it’s so important that everything stays cold!

Don’t be afraid to take lots of long breaks while making this ice cream cake. It will allow everything to keep nice and solid in the freezer!

A tall slice of homemade ice cream cake, with rainbow sprinkles and a cherry on top.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use different flavors?

Feel free to mix up the flavors to suit your own tastes! I’ve got some suggestions on that in the “Ingredients” section above.

Use any type of cake, sauce, cookies, and ice cream you like!

Can I use store-bought ingredients?

Store-bought ingredients make this ice cream cake a cinch to make.

Don’t be afraid to take that shortcut! There’s a lot involved in the assembly and decoration that you can be proud of.

Can I make this gluten-free?

If you use gluten-free cake and gluten-free cookies in this recipe, your ice cream cake will also be gluten-free!

How to make dairy-free ice cream cake or vegan ice cream cake

Use your favorite plant-based ice cream, cake, cookies, and non-dairy whipped topping for a vegan ice cream cake.

How long can ice cream cake sit out?

In my experience, you can’t really leave this out for more than 15 or 20 minutes before it starts to melt.

How to transport ice cream cake

Your best bet here would be to stash the cake in a large cooler and surround it with ice packs or dry ice.

How to store ice cream cake

If I haven’t said it enough already, this cake should be stored in the freezer. It will melt if left out at room temperature or in the fridge.

Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and it should keep for several months.

How to make ice cream cake, with a thick slice presented on its side on a green plate with a wooden fork.

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Homemade ice cream cake with layers of cake, fudge, cookies, ice cream, and whipped cream.
5 stars (1 rating)

How to Make Ice Cream Cake

Servings: 16 slices
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
How to Make Ice Cream Cake! Make this stunning dessert in just a few easy steps! Layers of cake, ice cream, cookies, fudge, & whipped cream.


For the cake

For the hot fudge layer

For the strawberry ice cream

  • 2 cups (476 g) heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 14 ounces (396.89 g) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon (0.75 g) kosher salt
  • 16 ounces (453.59 g) strawberries, pureed
  • 8 ounces (226.8 g) strawberries, roughly chopped

For the vanilla ice cream

For the whipped cream frosting

  • 8 ounces (226.8 g) cream cheese, (full-fat, the kind in a brick)
  • 1 cup (120 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups (654.5 g) heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) vanilla extract

For the decorations


To make the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Generously mist an 8-inch diameter cake pan with non-stick spray, and line with circles cut from parchment paper.
  • Place the sugar, flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and whisk to combine.
  • Cut the butter into smaller pieces and add it to the dry ingredients.
  • Mix on low speed until the mixture resembles damp sand (30 seconds to a minute).
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula after each addition.
  • When all of the eggs are fully incorporated, add the sour cream and vanilla, and beat on medium speed for about 60 to 90 seconds, to aerate the batter and strengthen the cake's structure.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean or with one or two moist crumbs.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely in the cake pan, then remove it, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze it.

To make the hot fudge layer

  • Place the cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa, water, salt, and half the chocolate in a small pot.
  • Stirring occasionally, allow the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract.
  • Transfer the hot fudge sauce to a mason jar or other heat-safe vessel, and allow it to cool completely.

To make the strawberry ice cream

  • In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks.
  • Fold in the condensed milk, salt, pureed strawberries, and chopped strawberries.
  • Transfer to a freezer-safe container, and freeze for 4 hours or until hard.

To make the vanilla ice cream

  • In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks.
  • Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and kosher salt, and fold together until well-combined.
  • Transfer to a freezer-safe container, and freeze for 4 hours or until hard.

To make the whipped cream frosting

  • Place the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth.
  • Turn the mixer down to medium-low speed and pour the heavy cream down the side of the bowl in a very slow and steady stream, stopping every now and then to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula.
  • When all the cream has been added, turn the mixer up to medium-high and whip until the frosting holds stiff peaks.
  • Fold in the vanilla extract.

To assemble the ice cream cake

  • Line an 8-inch round cake pan with plastic wrap, allowing the excess to drape over the sides.
  • Scoop about 6 large scoops of strawberry ice cream into the pan, flattening it into an even layer with a silicone spatula.
  • Scoop about 6 large scoops of vanilla ice cream into the pan, flattening it into an even layer with a silicone spatula.
  • Pull the excess plastic wrap up and over the ice cream, and freeze until hard.
  • Place the cake on a serving platter and spread a thick layer of the hot fudge sauce over the top.
  • Layer the Oreos over the hot fudge.
  • Use the excess plastic wrap to pull the ice cream layer out of its cake pan, unwrap it, and place it on top of the Oreo layer.
  • Frost the top and sides of the cake with whipped cream frosting.
  • Drizzle hot fudge sauce along the top edge, allowing it to drip down the sides.
  • Pipe a shell border of whipped cream frosting around the bottom edge of the cake, and garnish with sprinkles.
  • Pipe 16 tall swirls of whipped cream frosting around the top edge of the cake, garnish with sprinkles, and top with maraschino cherries.
  • Freeze the cake until just before serving.


More info on the cake: Simply Perfect Chocolate Cake
More info on the hot fudge sauce: Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce
More info on the strawberry ice cream: No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream
More info on the vanilla ice cream: No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream
More info on the frosting: Whipped Cream Frosting
Serving: 0.0625cake, Calories: 983kcal, Carbohydrates: 92g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 67g, Saturated Fat: 40g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 18g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 199mg, Sodium: 373mg, Potassium: 567mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 77g, Vitamin A: 2231IU, Vitamin C: 27mg, Calcium: 272mg, Iron: 4mg
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert, Snack
Tried this recipe?Mention @bakingamoment on Instagram or tag #bakingamoment.


  • Allie

    Allie is the creator and owner of Baking a Moment. She has been developing, photographing, videographing, and writing and sharing recipes here since 2012.

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