Making your own homemade ice cream cake is easier than you think. You don’t even need a recipe – just the super easy guidelines below. With a few tricks, you can customize your cake in so many ways, adding flavours and layers to suit your own likes and creative urges. It’s always delicious! (Skip to recipe.)

a slice of layered ice cream cake with the rest of the cake in the background

Birthdays.  Anniversaries.  Graduations.  New babies.  Promotions.  Engagements.  Picnics. Barbecues.  New boat.  New car.  New dog.  New haircut.  Friends over to visit.  Fridays . . .

Any reason to celebrate. All reasons to have ice-cream cake, your own homemade ice cream cake.

And it’s so easy. Thanks to my friend, Elsa, who passed on this recipe years ago, we’ve been enjoying homemade ice cream cakes for years. And you can, too, ’cause here’s the recipe.

Actually not even a recipe – just a method. Nothing to it.

You can use all sorts of flavours and add-ins to make it your very own, super-secret family recipe (I won’t tell). People will beg you to divulge how in the world you made it yourself, and you can just smile mysteriously and say, oh, it’s much too complicated to explain and then close your eyes and slide another decadent forkful into your mouth, sighing happily while you moan with pleasure.

Or some such scenario.


Customize Your Homemade Ice Cream Cake Any Way You Like

I have used all kinds of ice cream flavour combinations and different crusts.I’ve made a cookie crust (unbaked, and made with an 8-oz, or 220gm package Oreo-type cookies) or a baked graham wafer crust. The base layer  in the cake above was chocolate ice cream with bits of chopped fudge stirred in, then a layer of chocolate caramel ice cream. Then came crushed Skor bars sprinkled in the middle and a vanilla ice cream layer sprinkled with a few more Skor bars. It was topped with the refrigerated whipped topping and garnished with the reserved crushed Skor bars.

You can use a regular graham wafer crust, baked or unbaked, or any other crushed cookies mixed with some melted butter. You could put a layer of chocolate fudge sauce or caramel sauce or dulce de leche in the middle, or crushed chocolate bars or cookie crumbs of any kind. You could even use three layers of different ice creams. You could stir finely minced fresh fruit into one of the layers (about 1 cup of diced fresh strawberries is nice), or mint chocolate chips, or finely chopped nuts, finely crushed candy canes or peanut brittle, or sprinkles. Let your imagination run wild.

I’ve used chocolate and eggnog ice creams for a Christmas ice cream cake, strawberry and vanilla ice creams with chocolate fudge, butter pecan and vanilla with caramel sauce . . . If you don’t like the idea of frozen whipped topping, try whipping cream sweetened with icing sugar (I  haven’t tried it yet, but I think you’d have to make it quite sweet so that it didn’t freeze too hard) or a homemade buttercream (which would freeze well).

The hardest part about making this cake is remembering to take the ice creams out of the freezer to soften for each layer and leaving the cake to harden in between.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: I don’t usually use frozen whipped topping, but I make an exception for this cake, as plain whipped cream freezes too hard and gets ice crystals, but I figure it’s still better than buying a prepared ice cream cake from the store, which was my daughter’s request for her birthday. Besides, I knew I could make this one gluten-free for her.

When I make the gluten-free version, no one can tell. I use gluten-free Oreo-type or gluten-free graham or other cookies for the crust, and make sure all the other ingredients are gluten-free, too.

a slice of ice cream cake on a plate

Homemade Ice Cream Cake

  • 2 complementary flavours of ice cream (1 to 2 litres of each)
  • graham wafer or cookie crumbs (about 1½ cups/375ml or a bit more), gluten free if necessary
  • melted butter (about ¼ cup/60ml)
  • chocolate bars (4 to 8), cookie crumbs (1 to 2 cups), fudge or caramel sauce (maybe a cup) for middle layer
  • any add-ins you’d like (see above)
  • frozen whipped topping (about one 500ml container), for the top layer
  • chocolate shavings, additional cookie crumbs, additional crushed chocolate bars or chopped nuts or sprinkles for the top

gluten free oreos

Have ready: a springform pan, whatever size you think you need to feed the crowd you are serving. About ½ hour before you are about to start, remove the ice cream you will use for the base layer from the freezer, and let it stand at room temperature to soften.

Layer 1: Combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter or margarine. Either process the crumbs in the food processor and pulse in the melted butter, or mix them in a bowl. If using crushed cream-filled cookies (like Oreos) you may need only a few tablespoons butter.) Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of your springform  pan. (Graham wafer crusts I have usually baked (10 minutes at 350°F/180°C) and let cool. The oreo crumb crust I left unbaked, because the cream filling held it together well enough.)

cookie crumb crust

patting the graham crust in with the bottom of a measuring cup

you can pack the crumb crust in smoothly and thinly by pushing it down into the corners with the bottom of a smooth cup

Layer 2: In a large bowl stir the softened ice cream with a large spoon until it is smooth and uniformly creamy (this is just like when you were a kid and you stirred your ice cream until it was soft and your parents told you not to play with your food.) You can also mix it in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but I like playing with my food. This stirring stage is important, as it is what makes the ice cream really dense and smooth in the cake. You want all the fluffiness removed. (Stir in any add-ins if you are using them.)

stirred chocolate ice cream

stir the softened ice cream until it is smooth before putting it into the cake

Spread a thick layer of the softened ice cream over the crust. You are aiming for about 1 inch (2.2cm) deep.  Depending on the size of springform pan you use, this could take from 1 to 2 litres of ice cream. If you have too much, refreeze it to eat later for a soft-serve ice cream treat.

Layer 3: The middle surprise layer. If you are using cookie or chocolate bar crumbs, put them into a sturdy zip-locked bag and lay them on a cutting board. Beat them gently with a rolling pin or meat hammer to break them into smallish chunks (not fine crumbs). This is a manly job – so Andreas volunteered for it.Skor barspounding the barscrushed skor bars Sprinkle or spread on top of the ice cream, a layer of your crushed cookie crumbs, or crushed candy bars, or fudge or caramel sauce (either home-made or purchased). Put the cake into the freezer to harden for about 1 hour or more.

Layer 4: About ½ hour before you remove it from the freezer, take out your second flavour of ice cream to sit and soften. Repeat the process of stirring it until creamy with a spoon. Depending on the size of the pan, you may only need about 1 litre of ice cream. Spread a thick layer of the softened ice cream over your middle surprise layer. This layer should take you to a within about 1 cm from the top of the springform pan. Return the cake to the freezer to harden for another hour or more. Remove the frozen whipped topping from the freezer to soften.

Layer 5 and garnish: Spread about 1 cm (½”) of the defrosted whipped topping over the cake. Sprinkle with a bit of the reserved cookie or chocolate bar crumbs, chocolate shavings, chopped nuts, maraschino cherries, sprinkles – whatever strikes your fancy. (Or write a congratulatory message on top with gel icing.)

ice cream cake

Freeze again for 3 to 4 hours or until firm.

To serve, remove the cake from the freezer about 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Run a knife around the outside edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Release the side wall of the springform and cut the cake into wedges with a large knife dipped into hot water between each slice.

Mmm mmm mmm…….

Guten Appetit!


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