How to Make Ice Cream Cake, Plus 10 Party-Starting Cake and Ice Cream Combinations

Sure, you could tap a scoop shop to assemble one for you, but why not master how to make homemade ice cream cake for a personal touch? (Plus you can save money and customize the flavors.) Here, discover how to make ice cream cake that's perfect for birthdays, holidays, or any other festive celebration. With colorful decorations and layer upon layer of sweetness, everyone will love this cool DIY dessert.

Rather than serving cake and ice cream separately at your next party, savor the best of both worlds: make ice cream cake! A cousin of the trifle, this layered dessert was originally made with biscuits and cream. Now that freezers are a staple in most kitchens, it's easier to freeze that cream for a frozen dessert. Some say you can't make ice cream cake with actual cake; several large ice cream parlor chains offer them more like an icebox cake in style (with cookies and ice cream). But our preferred method includes layers of both of our favorite birthday treats—cake and ice cream—in a round or square format.

This technique for how to make ice cream cake involves freezing three baked 9-inch cakes, then layering them with ice cream. You'll get the perfect cake to ice cream ratio with every bite. Prepare for kids and adults alike to cheer when you bring out this dessert.

Layered Ice Cream Cake
Blaine Moats

How to Make Ice Cream Cake at Home

Start with a boxed cake mix or see our from-scratch cake recipe tips below to make an ice cream cake that's even more unforgettable. (Psst..score bonus points by whipping up a batch of homemade ice cream, too!)

  1. Bake three 9-inch round cakes and freeze them.
  2. Place one cake in the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
  3. Spread on 2 cups softened ice cream.
  4. Top with a second cake layer, then add a second ice cream layer.
  5. Add a third cake layer and cover with plastic wrap.
  6. Let freeze for 3 to 4 hours.
  7. Release from pan and trim sides of cake.
  8. Frost cake and decorate as desired.

Test Kitchen tip: To soften ice cream to make ice cream cake, simply transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

ice cream in scoops
Andy Lyons

10 Cake and Ice Cream Combos to Make Ice Cream Cake Your Own

Try one of these 10 delicious dessert duos or get innovative and design your own perfect pairing.

Devil’s Food Cake with Fudge-Nut Frosting
Carson Downing

How to Make Ice Cream Cake with a Bakery-Quality Homemade Cake Recipe

Even experienced cooks face challenges when it comes to baking. It's a science! So here are seven secrets to success when baking a moist and rich homemade cake (that won't end up sticking to the pan as you make ice cream cake).

  • Choose the perfect pan. Seek out shiny, light-colored aluminum pans. If yours is dark or dull, adjust the cooking temperature to be 25°F lower than the original recipe suggests, and check for doneness about 3 minutes early.
  • Remember room temperature. Eggs and butter blend best and provide the most volume to the finished product when added to the batter at room temperature. Pull them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to start.
  • Prep to avoid sticking. Whether you line your pan with parchment paper or grease and flour, this is an essential step for most homemade cakes. For vanilla-based batters, use butter and flour. For chocolate-based cakes, try butter and cocoa powder.
  • Cream the butter and sugar. Incorporate these two ingredients evenly and you'll be well on your way to a tender and airy cake. Beat the butter until creamy, then add the sugar in small batches and beat until combined before adding more. Beat an additional 30 seconds or until fluffy before moving on to the next step.
  • Don't overmix. This is especially important to keep in mind when you're adding the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture. If you beat for too long, you might find irregular bubbles or holes in your finished cake.
  • Check for doneness. Open the oven door at the minimum baking time listed on your recipe and poke the center of the cake with a wooden toothpick. The cake is done if it comes out clean (with no wet batter stuck to it).
  • Cool completely. You've made it this far—now don't tear the cake! Allow it to cool to room temperature to firm up and avoid melting the ice cream and/or frosting too much as you decorate.

More Ice Cream Cake Inspiration

This dessert mash-up recipe is too delicious to stop at one. Try more of our favorite freezer-friendly cake recipes for your next celebration (or to enjoy after dinner tonight!):

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles