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Easy Ice Cream Cake Recipe

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This easy ice cream cake recipe is the perfect treat for any celebration. With its simplicity and irresistible flavors, it’s sure to be a hit with everyone. So why not give it a try for your next special occasion? It makes a great ice cream birthday cake! In between each layer of ice cream, you’ll find ribbons of hot fudge sauce and caramel sauce, along with salty peanuts for a bit of crunch.

If you're in the mood for a delicious frozen treat that's easy to make and perfect for any occasion, look no further than this easy ice cream cake recipe. With simple ingredients and no baking required, this homemade ice cream cake will impress your family and friends without the fuss.

Why You’ll Love this Ice Cream Birthday Cake

If you’re looking for a deliciously simple alternative to a traditional birthday cake, you’ll absolutely love this easy ice cream birthday cake recipe. With just four ingredients and no baking required, it’s the perfect dessert for any occasion.

The entire cake is made up of ice cream and does not contain actual cake, much like my Strawberry Jello Cake which looks like a cake but is entirely made up of jello. It’s great for those who can’t have gluten or aren’t fans of cake. Alternatively, you could try this layered no bake strawberry delight which is another great summer dessert option.

The best part about this ice cream cake is that you can customize it with your favorite flavors of ice cream. Whether you prefer classic vanilla, rich chocolate, smooth coffee or salted caramel ice cream, the choice is yours.

Plus, preparation is a breeze. Simply layer your favorite ice cream flavors with fudge, caramel, and peanuts in a cake pan, and freeze until firm. When it’s time to serve, cut from the pan and top with whatever sundae toppings you desire!

This birthday ice cream cake is breeze to prepare and a great alternative to cake!

Ice Cream Cake Recipe Ingredients

To make this recipe for ice cream cake, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Vanilla Ice Cream: The base of this easy ice cream cake recipe, vanilla ice cream provides a creamy and smooth texture, and its mild flavor pairs well with other toppings and flavors. But you can also use chocolate ice cream or your other favorite flavor. Either homemade ice cream or store-bought ice cream is fine, your choice.
  • Hot Fudge: A rich and decadent sauce, hot fudge adds a delightful gooey texture and a burst of chocolate flavor. It is perfect for all the chocolate lovers out there.
  • Caramel Sauce: The sweet and sticky caramel sauce adds a rich flavor to this dessert.
  • Dry Roasted Peanuts: These crunchy and salty peanuts add a delightful texture and a hint of savory flavor to the ice cream cake. They create a wonderful contrast to the smooth ice cream layers. You can also use cocktail peanuts if preferred.
  • Optional Magic Shell: For an extra layer of fun, you can add magic shell to the top of your ice cream cake, just like I did with my peanut butter cream cheese dip! This store-bought topping hardens when it comes into contact with cold ice cream, creating a delicious chocolate shell that crackles when you bite into it. I used chocolate fudge Magic Shell but any variety, including peanut butter, would work pair well.
  • Toppings: Consider adding additional toppings to your ice cream slices such as whipped cream, chopped nuts and maraschino cherries.

That’s it! Almost seems too easy, right? That is because it is!

    Ingredients to make an easy ice cream cake including vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, caramel and salted peanuts.

    How to Make an Ice Cream Cake

    To start, you’ll need to gather your ingredients, including your ice cream,  hot fudge sauce, caramel sauce, and chopped peanuts. Thaw the ice cream until it is super soft so it is easy to spread.

    Adding hot fudge to an ice cream cake layer

    Begin assembling your ice cream cake by layering 1/3 of the peanuts in an 8×8 inch square baking dish. Drizzle the peanuts with your slightly warmed hot fudge and caramel sauce, using about a third of each.

    Spreading ice cream in a pan with an offset spatula

    After that, spread half of a 1.5 quart container of very softened vanilla ice cream evenly over the nuts and sauce. If you have an offset spatula, I recommend using it to make this step even easier.

    Layering peanuts on vanilla ice cream

    Time to create the next layer! Sprinkle another 1/3 of the peanuts over the ice cream layer and drizzle additional hot fudge and caramel sauce over the nuts.

    Drizzling caramel on an ice cream cake

    Add the remaining ice cream and spread out over the top. Add remaining nuts. Drizzle the hot fudge and caramel sauce over the top one last time. The end result is three layers of peanuts and ice cream toppings and two layers of ice cream.

    Adding a hot fudge and caramel drizzle over a ice cream cake.

    Once your ice cream cake is assembled, cover it with plastic wrap and freeze until firm.

    Vanilla ice cream cake ready to go into the freezer!

    For an added burst of flavor, drizzle some magic shell sauce over the top of the frozen cake just before cutting.

    Adding magic shell to the top of a vanilla ice cream cake

    You can serve it just like this but I like to add some additional finishing touches to make it like a real hot fudge sundae cake.

    A DIY ice cream cake featuring vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, peanuts and magic shell. So simple but so delicious!

    To serve as shown, top your ice cream cake with whipped cream, chopped peanuts, and a maraschino cherry. The combination of creamy ice cream, crunchy peanuts, and rich sauces will have everyone asking for seconds.

    This ice cream birthday cake is a great alternative to traditional birthday cakes! Look no further than this easy ice cream cake recipe featuring just a few simple ingredients and no baking required, this homemade ice cream cake will be the hit of any party!

    This really is the best ice cream cake for the ultimate ice cream lover. Not only great for a birthday party but any get together. Would be a lovely dessert in the summer months for a cookout, pool party or 4th of July celebration. Whenever you serve it, you are sure to enjoy your homemade masterpiece and indulge in the delightful flavors and textures that this frozen dessert offers.

    Serving Tip

    I do not recommend letting this cake sit out long before you cut it and serve. When it is firm and still very frozen, it allows you to easily cut the ice cream cake into nice and neat squares. It is possible you might need to wait a few minutes if you placed the ice cream cake in a deep freezer, but I was able to cut it immediately when coming out of my regular freezer.

    If you struggle with cutting, try using a warm knife. I have made this delicious dessert multiple times and the first time I let it sit for 15 minutes before cutting. That was a mistake. The whole thing became too soft and while still one of my favorite desserts, it no longer resembled a square piece of cake. Trust me, it won’t take long once cut to get soft enough for guests to eat.

    Ice cream cake that is so easy to make and super delicious! Sure to be a hit at your next gathering or birthday party!


    Experiment with different sauces, toppings, and mix-ins to create a unique and delicious frozen dessert.  Have fun with flavor combinations such as strawberry ice cream with hot fudge for a chocolate covered strawberry ice cream cake or chocolate ice cream with marshmallow topping, hot fudge, chocolate chunks and crushed graham crackers for a s’mores ice cream cake. Here are some more fun variations:

    • Ice Cream Toppings: Switch up the chocolate fudge sauce and caramel with different flavors and combinations such as hot fudge and peanut butter sauce, hot fudge and marshmallow sauce, fresh strawberry sauce and chocolate sauce or butterscotch ice cream topping.
    • Nuts: Peanuts aren’t the only nut to consider. Try other chopped nuts, such as almonds, cashews, pecans or pistachios, in between the ice cream layers.
    • Sprinkles: Add a pop of color and fun by topping each ice cream layer with rainbow sprinkles, creating a vibrant and festive ice cream cake.
    • Cookie Crumbs: Try crushed Oreos, vanilla wafers or graham cracker crumbs and sprinkle them between the layers of ice cream for a delicious cookie crunch.
    • Brownie or Cookie Pieces: Crumble some brownies or edible cookie dough pieces and layer them in between the ice cream layers to create decadent addition to your ice cream cake.
    • Candy: Chop up your favorite candy bars, like peanut butter cups or M&Ms, and sprinkle them between the layers of ice cream for a burst of candy goodness. Chocolate chunks or chocolate chips are also great options!

    These variations allow you to get creative and customize your ice cream cake according to your preferences and occasion. 

    A homemade ice cream cake featuring just a few ingredients.

    Dairy Queen Buster Bar Ice Cream Cake

    Love a Dairy Queen Buster Bar or Peanut Buster Parfait? Get this DQ flavor at home by doubling the amount of hot fudge and removing the caramel sauce in this recipe. It tastes so good and in my opinion, better than the traditional Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake.

    Copycat Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake

    You can create a simple Copycat Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake by removing the caramel sauce and swapping out the peanuts for crushed Oreo cookies. Start with a chocolate ice cream layer and add a thick layer of hot fudge topping and then a crumbled Oreo cookie layer before spreading on a vanilla ice cream layer. Top it off with some whipped cream frosting.

    With simple ingredients and store-bought toppings, this easy ice cream cake recipe is really the best!! Just a few simple ingredients like ice cream, hot fudge, caramel and peanuts come together to create a delicious homemade ice cream cake that is perfect for birthdays, special occasions, or any time you're craving a frozen treat. So gather your favorite ice cream flavors and get ready to indulge in a slice of this delightful dessert.

    Can you Make Ice Cream Cake Ahead of Time?

    Yes, you can make ice cream cake ahead of time! Once the cake is assembled, place in an airtight container and store it in the freezer. It’s important to keep the ice cream dessert frozen until you’re ready to serve it. To ensure the best taste and texture, it’s recommended to eat the ice cream cake within a month. Additionally, the maximum time the cake can sit out before it starts to melt is about 15 minutes, so be sure to serve it quickly once removed from the freezer.

    If you're in the mood for a delicious frozen treat that's easy to make and perfect for any occasion, look no further than this easy ice cream cake recipe. With simple ingredients and no baking required, this homemade ice cream cake will impress your family and friends without the fuss.
    5 from 9 votes

    Easy Ice Cream Cake

    This easy ice cream cake recipe is a great cake alternative and is a breeze to assemble! If you love sundaes, you’ll love this delicious frozen dessert for birthdays, get togethers, or as an every day treat! So simple but so delicious featuring ribbons of hot fudge, caramel sauce and salty peanuts. Try switching up the ingredients to match your favorite ice cream flavors and toppings!
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American
    Keyword 4th of July, birthday cake, birthday desserts, birthday parties, cake alternative, caramel sauce, chocolate, easy desserts, frozen dessert, homemade ice cream topping, hot fudge, ice cream, ice cream cake, ice cream desserts, mermaid party ideas, no bake desserts, peanuts, summer desserts, sundae
    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Chill Time 4 hours
    Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
    Servings 9
    Calories 652 kcal
    Author Emilie at FindingZest.com


    • 1.5 quarts vanilla ice cream very softened
    • 3/4 cup hot fudge warmed slightly
    • 3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping warmed slightly
    • 2 cups dry roasted peanuts or cocktail peanuts
    • Magic Shell in Hot Fudge or Reese’s Chocolate and Peanut Butter flavor optional
    • whipped cream chopped nuts, maraschino cherries (optional)


    1. Add 1/3 of the peanuts evenly over the bottom of an 8 inch square baking dish.
    2. Drizzle with 1/4 cup hot fudge and 1/4 cup caramel sauce.
    3. Spread half the softened ice cream over the top using an offset spatula.
    4. Repeat with an additional layer of peanuts, hot fudge, and caramel.
    5. Add remaining ice cream and spread over the top.
    6. Finish off the ice cream cake by sprinkling remaining peanuts and drizzling hot fudge and caramel sauce over the top.
    7. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place in the freezer for several hours or until firm.
    8. If desired, drizzle with Magic Shell before cutting.
    9. Cut into the cake with a knife and serve with whipped cream, additional chopped peanuts and a cherry, if preferred.

    Recipe Video

    Recipe Notes

    Do not let this dessert sit too long or it won’t maintain its square shape when cut. For best results, let sit only 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.

    Switch out the ice cream flavors, nuts or ice cream toppings to suit your preferences. Consider other mix-ins such as crushed cookies, brownie pieces, cookie dough, chopped peanut butter cups, chopped pecans, etc.

    For best results, cover and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one month.

    Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

    Nutrition Facts
    Easy Ice Cream Cake
    Amount per Serving
    % Daily Value*
    Saturated Fat
    Polyunsaturated Fat
    Monounsaturated Fat
    Vitamin A
    Vitamin C
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
    This DIY Ice Cream Cake is the perfect summer dessert or birthday cake alternative! Great for any celebration or occasion, this frozen dessert is sure to be a hit!

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    1. 5 stars
      I never made an ice cream cake before because I thought it was too hard but you’ve shown me the easy way and different ways to do it. FAMILY APPROVED!?

    2. 5 stars
      We tried this recipe for my niece’s birthday and we were blown away by how delicious it was! No more DQ cakes for us – homemade was way better.

    3. 5 stars
      Oh wow – this ice cream cake rocks! I love all the hot fudge and my guy went crazy over the caramel – something for everyone! Can’t wait for the next birthday celebration!

    4. 5 stars
      My family loves ice cream cake, so I had to try this! It is so good and not complicated like I though it would be. Guess I can stop buying Carvel.

    5. 5 stars
      I’ve been wanting to make an ice cream cake but was intimidated by it until I tried your recipe. Happy I did because now I’m confident making it anytime. Needless to say it was delicious. Thank you.

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