Cakes and cupcakes are great, and we love cookies, but there's nothing quite as celebratory—especially in the warmer months of the year—as a completely decked out ice cream sundae bar. We've collected a mixture of recipes for ice creams, including a technique to help you riff on them, as well as toppings and a couple additional treats to crumble, stack, and build your way to the perfect ice cream sundae.
This list would be incomplete without a really good chocolate ice cream. This is a light and creamy custard-style ice cream that pulls its flavor from high quality cocoa powder, and it doesn't require any churning in an ice cream machine.
Sometimes vanilla ice cream is the best option when you're building a sundae. It's delicious as it is, but it's also simple enough to pair well with nearly any topping or sauce you can throw at it. Think crumbled Oreos, chili crisp, or caramel—we'll get there soon enough.
Oatmeal cookie ice cream is exactly what it sounds like. A brown sugar base is infused with the warm spice of a cinnamon stick, toasted oats, and a vanilla bean. The ice cream is studded with oat clusters, crunchy pecans, and plenty of dried fruit.
All too often, strawberry ice cream is icy and crystalized, tasting of artificial flavors. We've gone in the opposite direction and created an ice cream that nails the fresh berry flavor, without compromising on a rich, velvety texture.
It's true that this is technically gelato, not ice cream, but it's too good to leave off this list. Stracciatella is a chocolate chip gelato that builds on the purity of fior di latte, a simple milk-based gelato. Since this gelato is so sweet, you'd do well to use the freshest and highest quality ingredients you can get your hands on. Drenched with caramel sauce and bits of freshly baked cookies, this is as good as it gets.
Sometimes a cup of coffee in the morning isn't enough; sometimes you need some coffee in ice cream form, too. This rich and buttery ice cream has a nice kick of coffee flavor, without an overwhelming amount of bitterness. If you're thinking that a "nice kick" probably isn't enough coffee, we've got a stronger coffee ice cream that we made just for people like you.
It's true that we designed this syrup to be swirled in to ice cream, but there's no reason you can't drizzle it over the top of your sundae. In fact, we think you should give it a try. The sauce is thick and fruity, and won't seize up even when it comes in contact with the cold ice cream.
Chili crisp might not be a classic ice cream topping, buy you're going to have to trust us on this one. The powerfully savory aromatics contrast with the sweet creaminess of any ice cream, sending its flavor in a completely different direction. Sichuan peppercorns in the oil create a mouth-numbing effect so you'll be experiencing plenty of hot and cold at the same time. Chili crisp is great with vanilla ice cream, but you can experiment with other flavors. (You may want to avoid fruit-forward ones where the flavors will clash.)
Creamy pistachio cream is a wonderful topping on fruit and non-fruit ice creams alike. The pale green spread is nutty and aromatic, with a floral note from a dash of orange flower water.
Most ice cream sundae bars have caramel sauce, but it's usually the stuff you squeeze out of a plastic bottle. Real caramel is a three-ingredient sauce, containing nothing more than sugar, water, and cream. This recipe gives you the freedom to cook the sugar until it's either light and pale or darker, so the flavor is exactly how you want it. Want something a little different? You could also try cajeta casera, a similarly gooey and sweet sauce made from goat's milk.
Nutella belongs on sandwiches, smeared on slices of banana, and yes, definitely on ice cream, too. Homemade brittle gives our take on the classic spread a mellow sweetness, with hints of caramel to complement its already nutty flavor.
Nothing finishes off a super-rich ice cream sundae quite like airy, light whipped cream. This one is sweetened with brown sugar, which gives it a slightly deeper flavor than whipped cream sweetened with white sugar. The insides of a fresh vanilla bean turn this into yet another impressive addition to your sundae bar.
These crisp citrus-candied pistachios are a great way to top off a huge bowl of ice cream. Fresh lemon syrup helps them toast up and get extra crisp, while adding a subtle acidity that will cut through any ice cream's sweetness.
Sugar, dark chocolate, and just a few other ingredients turn regular popcorn into a crisp, chocolate-coated snack. It's good on its own, but even better crumbled over a bowl of ice cream and topped with caramel sauce.
Milk Duds are meant to be paired with movie theater popcorn, so it only makes sense that a homemade version, paired with our chocolate popcorn (above), is the perfect topping for an ice cream sundae.
We aren't going to tell you whether you should crumble, break in half, or just leave these super-thin Tate's-style chocolate chip cookies whole. All we suggest is that you bake a double batch, and put them out in a towering pile at your next ice cream sundae party. They'll go fast.
Though we're calling these a topping, you might want to treat one of these glossy fudge brownies as the base for your towering ice cream sundae. They're rich, glossy, chewy, and not too sweet.
These homemade sandwich cookies give store-bought Oreos a run for their money. The crispy, slightly bitter wafers are balanced by the sweet vanilla filling. Break them into pieces over your ice cream, or use them to scoop up bites.
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