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Homemade Ice Cream Cake is sure to make kids of all ages happy, especially when you see how easy it is. This recipe has layers of rich and creamy vanilla and chocolate no-churn ice cream covered with whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles. And with that thick layer of fudge in the middle, this gluten free dessert recipe might even be better Dairy Queen or Carvel!
Originally published on Jun 14, 2018
Making a Homemade Ice Cream Cake Better than Dairy Queen and Carvel
My kids, like most, can be fickle.
For months the little guy wanted a firefighter birthday party. We booked the place, planned games, made invitations, and ordered plates and favors. What do you think he said to me five days before his party? “Mommy, I wanted a Ninjago birthday party.” Umm, that would be a hard no.
The big guy has his birthday on May 4th and he loves Star Wars. We discussed every detail he wanted for his May the Fourth Be With You shirt with a blue lightsaber on it. What did he say just before his birthday? “A Super Mario birthday shirt would be really cool.” Negative on that!
The one thing they never change their minds about, though, is that they always want a DIY ice cream cake!
Treat the sweetest people in your life to an easy ice cream cake to celebrate any special occasion. Layers of no-churn ice cream and rich fudge sauce make an easy frozen dessert that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. And maybe you need to avoid those crunchies in the store-bought versions or Carvel and Dairy Queen ice cream cake. Then this gluten free ice cream cake is for you!
Why this Recipe Works
Some easy ice cream cake recipes use softened cartons of ice cream. While this seems straightforward, refreezing melted ice cream can give you a hard or icy consistency. Not to mention the melty mess it makes. But using traditional scratch-made ice cream made in a machine is a lot of work when you have to start with making a custard, churn it, then form the cake. Plus it requires yet another kitchen appliance you may not have room for.
On the other hand, this version starts with no-churn ice cream, which is the best of both worlds. It’s homemade (okay, maybe semi-homemade), but way less effort. No-churn ice cream is so rich and creamy, and it’s perfect for making a homemade ice cream cake.
You know the basics of no-churn ice cream, right?
Basically, you fold sweetened condensed milk into heavy cream that you’ve whipped into peaks. In this case, the ingredients are divided in half, making one-half chocolate and one-half vanilla.
From start to finish, this ice cream cake recipe takes some time to make. But most of that is waiting for the layers to freeze. Each of the steps is super easy, and the actual time you are working on it is minimal. Plus, there are actually only seven ingredients (well, eight if you count the sprinkles)!
Some of these ingredients are divided to use in different parts of the homemade ice cream cake. But overall, it’s just this short list of items you need to make this delicious dessert from start to finish.
- Heavy cream: You’ll need a couple of pints to use in the two types of ice cream, the fudge, and the whipped cream.
- Sweetened condensed milk: One can gets divided to make the layers of chocolate and vanilla ice cream.
- Vanilla extract: Gotta add that vanilla goodness and boost the flavor of the chocolate.
- Cocoa powder: This is how you’ll flavor the chocolate ice cream layer and add extra chocolaty goodness to the fudge.
- Corn syrup or brown rice syrup: Just a little to make the fudge smooth and sweet.
- Chocolate chips: Melt them into that fudgy layer.
- Powdered sugar: Just a little is needed to sweeten that whipped cream.
- Sprinkles: These are optional, but are they ever really optional?!
I prefer to use my super fast homemade fudge sauce as the filing, but you can just use your favorite jar of hot fudge. You can also use caramel, Nutella, or peanut butter.
Or use a layer of crushed Oreos, gluten free Oreos, or another chocolate cookie if you just can’t have ice cream cake without a layer of crunchies.
How to Make Homemade Ice Cream Cake
Once you have gathered all of your ingredients, you can get started. I’m going to share an overview of the order to complete each of the steps, but all of the details and quantities are in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Preparations: Place a metal bowl and your beaters or whisk attachment for your hand mixer in the freezer. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with plastic wrap. Divide the sweetened condensed milk between two small bowls.
When you divide the can of sweetened condensed milk, it’s ok to eyeball it. It doesn’t have to be exact.
- Make the chocolate ice cream layer: Stir vanilla extract and cocoa powder into one of the bowls of sweetened condensed milk. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream to soft peaks in the chilled bowl and fold in the chocolate sweetened condensed milk mixture. Spread into the bottom of the springform pan and freeze.
- Prepare the fudge filling: Whisk together the heavy cream, cocoa powder, and brown rice or corn syrup in a small pot until smooth. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips, and cool to room temperature. Quickly spread cooled fudge on top of the frozen chocolate layer and return to the freezer.
- Make the vanilla ice cream layer: Stir vanilla extract into the other bowl of sweetened condensed milk. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream to soft peaks in the chilled bowl and fold in the vanilla sweetened condensed milk mixture. Spread on top of the fudge layer and freeze.
- Unmold the cake: Remove the cake from the freezer, unlatch the springform pan, remove the plastic wrap, and transfer to a serving plate. Keep in the freezer until you are ready to decorate.
How to Decorate a Homemade Ice Cream Cake
- Make the whipped cream: Just before you are ready to frost and decorate, whip heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract to soft peaks in a chilled bowl.
- Decorate the cake: Remove the ice cream cake from the freezer, and, working quickly, cover the ice cream cake with the whipped cream. Pipe on stars or rosettes with a pastry bag, if desired, and decorate with sprinkles or other decorations.
- Freeze: Return to the freezer for at least several hours or overnight before slicing and serving.
You can just serve slices to your guests, but it’s also super fun to have an Ice Cream Cake Sundae Party!
How to Store Ice Cream Cake
The cake should be kept in the freezer until ready to serve it. Once frozen completely, it can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and kept in the freezer for up to two weeks.
Leftovers can also be wrapped tightly and kept in the freezer.
Tips for Success
Perfecting the layers
- I recommend making each flavor of ice cream separately versus making a whole batch, then dividing and flavoring each half separately. If you stir the cocoa powder into the sweetened condensed milk, the cocoa will be distributed better and you won’t deflate the ice cream.
- To have defined layers, you will need to freeze the cake for a couple of hours before adding the next layer and then frosting. It doesn’t have to be totally frozen solid, but firm enough to support the next layer.
Make it in advance
- You can make both batches of ice cream at the same time and keep the vanilla mixture in the fridge until you freeze the bottom layer.
- If you want to make it several days ahead of time, make and freeze the layers and then tightly wrap the springform pan with plastic wrap. Keep it frozen, then unmold and frost with whipped cream several hours or the night before you plan to serve it.
Does ice cream cake have cake in it?
Most traditional ice cream cakes from places like Baskin Robbins, Carvel, and Dairy Queen are made with just layers of ice cream. Usually, they have layers of chocolate crunchies in the middle, but they can be filled with other ice cream toppings.
However, more and more some places are adding a cake layer to their ice cream cakes. The advantage of this recipe is that it does not have cake, so it’s a gluten free ice cream cake!
Does ice cream cake have eggs?
Many ice cream recipes or ice cream you buy in stores are made with a custard base that contains eggs. Since this is no-churn ice cream made with just heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk, it is egg-free. It’s a perfect birthday cake alternative for kids with egg allergies.
Things you’ll need
- I use an 8-inch springform pan. You can use a larger one, but the cake will be a little flatter. I like to see the nice thick layers.
- Big spatulas help with the folding and smoothing of the layers.
- A large star tip and coupler and a plastic zip-top bag is an easy way to make a makeshift pastry bag or decorator to pipe a few simple decorations.
Easy Homemade Ice Cream Cake Recipe
For the ice cream cake:
For the fudge filling (or use 1 cup of your favorite jarred fudge sauce):
For the whipped cream frosting:
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Optional sprinkles
For the ice cream cake:
- Place a metal bowl and beaters or whisk attachment for your hand mixer in the freezer (see Note). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with plastic wrap.
- Divide the sweetened condensed milk between two small bowls.
- Stir 1 teaspoon vanilla extract into one half of the sweetened condensed milk until evenly distributed.
- Stir 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 cup cocoa powder into the other half of the sweetened condensed milk until evenly distributed and smooth.
- In a large bowl, using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip 1 cup heavy cream to soft peaks.
- Gently fold the chocolate sweetened condensed milk mixture into the whipped cream.
- Spread the ice cream evenly in the prepared pan, and freeze for several hours, until firm. During this time, prepare the fudge filling and wash and chill the bowl and beaters or whisk attachment again (see Note).
- After the bottom layer has firmed up some, in a large bowl, using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip 1 cup heavy cream to soft peaks.
- Gently fold the vanilla sweetened condensed milk mixture into the whipped cream.
- Remove springform pan from the freezer and quickly top with the cooled fudge, spreading evenly. Then top with the vanilla ice cream mixture and spread evenly.
- Return to the freezer for at least another hour or two. After this time you can remove the cake from the freezer, unlatch the springform pan, remove the plastic wrap, and transfer to a serving plate. You can return it to the freezer until you are ready to frost and decorate, or move immediately to decorating it.
- Just before you are ready to frost the cake, prepare the whipped cream.
- Remove the ice cream cake from the freezer, and, working quickly, cover the ice cream cake with the whipped cream, decorating using a pastry bag and sprinkles, as desired.
- Return to the freezer, unwrapped until frozen completely, at least several hours or overnight. The cake can be stored in the freezer for up to two weeks. Once it is completely frozen, it can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and stored in the freezer for up to two weeks.
- Slice and serve, running a knife under warm water if needed to slice it.
For the fudge filling:
- Whisk together the 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and brown rice or corn syrup in a small pot until smooth.
- Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 3-5 minutes, until thickened slightly.
- Remove from the heat and add the chocolate chips. Stir until smooth.
- Cool to room temperature.
For the whipped cream frosting:
- Combine the 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream, powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanila extract in a chilled bowl (see Note).
- Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip the cream to soft peaks. Use immediately for frosting the cake.