How to Make Ice Cream Cake: First, Empty Your Freezer

Ice cream cake may be our ultimate dessert downfall. Roll up your sleeves, empty your freezer, and we'll explain how to make ice cream cake.

If you aren’t tempted by ice cream cake, we salute you. For the rest of us, ice cream cake may be the ultimate downfall. But there’s a reason why we usually grab one from the store freezer: making an ice cream cake is an exercise in patience and careful timing. Even so, the results can be worth it, especially if you let loose and get creative with flavors and add-ins. Roll up your sleeves, empty your freezer, and we’ll explain how to make ice cream cake.

Be Prepared

We aren’t kidding about emptying your freezer. Not only will you need sufficient space for your cake at various stages of assembly, you’ll also want to store all of your tools in the freezer when you aren’t using them: pan, bowl, whisk, spatula, and mixer attachments. The colder, the better.

While a stand mixer isn’t essential, we definitely recommend using one to get some lift into your ice cream. A mixer will also make your ice cream easier to spread without being melty. Similarly, a springform pan will make it much easier for you to assemble the layers and then remove the cake when it’s time to frost it. Finally, an offset spatula is a smart tool to help keep your ice cream layers flat and your frosting where you want it.

We found three primary methods for how to make ice cream cake: ice cream only, ice cream and cake, and ice cream roll cake. Check out all three below.

Ice Cream Cake: All Ice Cream, No Cake

This type of ice cream cake is like the ones you can get from Dairy Queen and Carvel. It has a layer of fudge and add-ins between two layers of ice cream. The Kitchn has a fantastic step-by-step guide with illustrations. They recommend starting three days in advance, which may seem like overkill. But when you read through all the steps, you’ll realize just how long this process will take.

Because all of the ingredients in this cake are prone to melting, time is of the essence when using this method. We recommend putting the first ice cream layer back in the freezer before adding the fudge in the middle. Then put the cake in the freezer again before whipping up the second layer of ice cream. When frosting with whipped cream, pop it in the freezer yet again before adding rosettes or other decorations. In short, don’t let that cake out of the freezer unless absolutely necessary.

Ice Cream Cake: Heavy on the Cake, Lighter on the Ice Cream

If you prefer your ice cream cake like the kind from Baskin Robbins, this is the method for you. Start with this quick video from Better Homes and Gardens that shows how simple it is to make an ice cream cake this way.

You can also follow these helpful instructions on Craftsy for how to make ice cream cake, but consider two slight adjustments:

1. Whip the ice cream in a stand mixer before spooning it onto the bottom layer of cake. Not only will it have more height, it will spread more easily and there’s less risk of tearing the cake. In fact, pop the cake layer into the freezer before spreading the ice cream on top of it.

2. Assemble the layers of cake and ice cream inside a springform pan rather than a cake pan, as shown in the BHG video above. The sides of a springform pan are higher and will give more stability as the cake freezes. It will also be easier to get the cake out of a springform pan.

Ice Cream Cake: Roll It Up

Finally, you can make another Baskin Robbins taste-alike ice cream cake with this guidance from Dorothy at Crazy for Crust. We’re certainly impressed. The only adjustment we’d make is to whip the ice cream in a stand mixer so you don’t tear the cake.

For this recipe, you’ll need a jelly roll pan, in addition to your mixer and offset spatula. If you want your ice cream cake roll to turn out this perfectly, don’t skip or modify a single step in Dorothy’s instructions. Judging from the number of cake rolls she’s successfully made, she’s an expert at how to make ice cream cake.

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