This ice cream cake recipe will be the star of every birthday celebration! A homemade riff on the popular Dairy Queen ice cream cake, it has layers of ice cream, hot fudge, and Oreo cookie crumbs and is covered in whipped cream and sprinkles.
I have long loved having ice cream cake for my birthday instead of a traditional birthday cake; I just adored the layers of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, along with fudge and those chocolate crunchies.
And for the last two years, Dominic has requested an ice cream cake for his birthday; he is a boy after my own heart!
When it comes to ice cream cake, I am firmly in the camp of all ice cream and no actual cake layer, a la the iconic Dairy Queen ice cream cake. It’s a fabulous no-bake dessert that everyone gets excited about!
You don’t need many ingredients to create your own ice cream cake, and you can make this completely homemade or use all store-bought ingredients; the choice is yours! Here is what you’ll need:
- Ice Cream – I go the classic route and use chocolate and vanilla, but you can use absolutely any of your favorite ice cream flavors! Dominic asked for mint chocolate chip ice cream and chocolate for his last birthday 🙂 If you want to use homemade, I recommend these recipes: homemade vanilla ice cream and homemade chocolate ice cream.
- Hot Fudge Sauce – Again, you can absolutely buy this from the store, or you can make a homemade hot fudge sauce.
- Oreo Cookies – I crush up Oreo cookies, including the cream center, which keeps the cookie layer a bit softer once frozen, which I prefer.
- Whipped Cream Frosting – I cover the whole cake with my favorite homemade whipped cream, which whips up thick and luscious and pipes like a dream.
How to Make an Ice Cream Cake
While it might sound intimidating, making an ice cream cake at home is quite easy; the biggest thing to remember is that you want the ice cream soft and spreadable, and you will need to pop the cake in the freezer often to keep everything nice and frozen.
Step #1: Prepare Your Pan – Line a 9-inch cake pan with plastic wrap, ensuring that it completely covers the inside of the pan, and that it hangs over on all sides.
Step #2: Chocolate Ice Cream Layer – Working with softened ice cream, use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
Step #3: Hot Fudge and Cookie Layer – Spread the hot fudge sauce over the chocolate ice cream, then sprinkle the crushed Oreos over the hot fudge, pressing lightly so they adhere to the hot fudge. Return to the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
Step #4: Vanilla Ice Cream – Spread the softened vanilla ice cream over the cookie layer and return the cake to the freezer for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Step #5: Unmold the Cake – To release the cake, invert it over a plate and wrap a hot towel around the sides of the pan, holding it until the cake loosens. Top with a serving platter and turn the cake right side up. Return to the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
Step #6: Frost the Cake – While the cake is back in the freezer, make the whipped cream frosting, being sure to whip it to stiff peaks, then take the cake out of the freezer, frost the cake, and decorate as desired. You’re done!
- Prep the Freezer – Before you get started, make sure you have space in your freezer for storing the cake pan and finished cake.
- Cake Alternative – If you DO like an actual cake layer in your ice cream cake, you can absolutely do that. Place a 9-inch layer of chocolate cake or vanilla cake (or any other variation you prefer!) as the bottom layer, then top with the hot fudge and crushed Oreos, freeze, then add your preferred ice cream flavor to the top.
- Filling Options – If you want to do something different than hot fudge and crushed Oreos, some other options could include salted caramel sauce, peanut butter, butterscotch sauce, crumbled chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, shortbread cookies, chopped Reese’s cups, chopped brownies, or Thin Mint cookies.
- Serving – Remove the cake from the freezer about 30 minutes before serving so that it is easier to slice through. You can also run a sharp knife under hot water before slicing.
- Storage – This cake should be kept covered tightly in plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 3 months.
More Ice Cream Cakes!
Watch How to Make a Homemade Ice Cream Cake:
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Homemade Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake
A copycat of my favorite DQ ice cream cake, complete with a fudge filling and chocolate crunchies!
For the Whipped Cream Frosting:
- 2 cups (476 ml) heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.
Spread the chocolate ice cream into an even layer in the bottom of the springform pan. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Spread the hot fudge sauce over the chocolate ice cream (if it had been chilled, you’ll need to rewarm briefly), then sprinkle the chopped Oreo cookies, pressing lightly so that they adhere to the hot fudge. Return to the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Lastly, dollop the vanilla ice cream over the chopped Oreos and gently spread into an even layer. Freeze for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
At least 1 hour (and no more than 12 hours) before serving, unmold the cake. To release the cake from the pan, invert the cake onto a plate or cardboard round the same size and wrap a hot kitchen towel around the cake pan, keeping it there for 30 seconds, or until the cake loosens, and slide the pan off. Remove the bottom of pan. Top with a serving plate and turn the cake right side up. Return to the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
While the cake is in the freezer, make the whipped cream. Combine the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the cream is light and fluffy and holds a medium to firm peak, 2 to 3 minutes.
Spread the whipped cream on the cake, working quickly so that the ice cream doesn’t melt. (If it gets soft, just pop it back into the freezer for 5 minutes.) I used a Wilton #21 decorating tip to pipe a shell border around the top and bottom of the cake. Decorate with sprinkles on top, if desired.
Remove the cake from the freezer 5 minutes before serving to soften it slightly. A hot, dry knife will yield the cleanest cuts. Dip your knife in a glass of hot water, wipe it clean with a towel, and cut a slice. Repeat between every slice.
- You can substitute 2 cups of store-bought hot fudge for the homemade.
Nutritional values are based on one serving
Calories: 772kcal, Carbohydrates: 157g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 81g, Saturated Fat: 48g, Cholesterol: 266mg, Sodium: 428mg, Potassium: 1189mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 132g, Vitamin A: 2855IU, Vitamin C: 3.5mg, Calcium: 607mg, Iron: 5.6mg
The recipe was originally published in June 2015.
Photography by Dee Frances.