While ice cream is delicious on its own, adding toppings takes it to a whole new level of indulgence. There’s a wide array of toppings to suit every taste whether you prefer classic favorites or want to explore more adventurous options.
Here we cover the world of ice cream toppings, from the timeless classics like hot fudge, caramel sauce, and chocolate syrup, to the fun and creative options like cookies, candy, and cereal. We hope this article helps you find a new favorite ice cream topping that you can enjoy for many days to come!
Classic Ice Cream Toppings
A typical homemade hot fudge is made with cream/milk, sugar, and butter. It is essentially real fudge that has not set. Cheaper ingredients are commonly found in the store-bought stuff like high-fructose corn syrup. Whether you go homemade or store-bought, its hard to beat the warm, thick, and chocolatley taste of hot fudge.
Caramel sauce is a smooth and buttery topping made from caramelized sugar. It provides a sweet and slightly savory taste that complements the creaminess of ice cream.
Chocolate syrup adds a rich, sweet, and chocolatey taste to ice cream. Hershey’s is the most popular option that is probably already in many readers’ refrigerators.
A favorite of kids and many adults as well, sprinkles add much needed color to the often bland base of ice cream. They typically don’t add a ton of flavor outside a bit of sugariness but they are great for texture by providing a bit of a crunch. While rainbow sprinkles are the standard, you can certainly find them in various shapes, sizes, and colors, offering endless possibilities for customization and fun!
The fluffy and airy texture of whipped cream provides an excellent contrast the must denser ice cream. It provides creamy, mild and slightly sweet taste that works to enhance the flavors of the ice cream without overpowering them. Whipped cream pairs well with a wide variety of ice cream flavors and toppings making it extremely versatile to elevated countless types of ice cream.
Chopped nuts like almonds, peanuts, or walnuts provide a crunchy texture and nutty flavor that pairs well with ice cream. They can be sprinkled on top or mixed into the ice cream for added depth and crunch. You can often find pre-chopped nuts at the grocery store that are specifically made for topping ice cream.
Maraschino cherries are bright red cherries that are often used as a topping for ice cream sundaes. They add a pop of color and fruity flavor to the dessert. They are also sweet from their brining process which makes them more like a candy than a fruit.
Ice Cream Cones:
It is inevitable that one or two ice cream cones will be cracked when you open most brands of ice cream cones. We love to use these cones as a topping for a bowl of ice cream along with our favorite syrup. We recommend using waffle cones but really any type of cone will be tasty.
Fun Ice Cream Toppings
Of course, they already sell ice cream with cookies in it such as cookies n’ cream. However, there are no rules saying you can’t add your own favorite cookies to ice cream. Oreos and chocolate chip cookies are popular choices. Other suggestions include sugar cookies, Christmas cookies, and Girl Scout Cookies such as Thins Mints or Samoas/Caramel deLites.
Brownies are often used as a base to place ice cream on top with maybe some whipped cream and a cherry. However, brownies can also be used for a chewy and chocolatey ice cream topping or mix-in. Plain vanilla or chocolate ice creams are good choices for the richness of the brownies.
There are countless possibilities when it comes to candy toppings. M&Ms, Reese’s, Snickers, Butterfinger, Twix, Kit Kat, and Heath are popular candy additions to ice cream. Other less popular ideas include Whoopers, gummies, Payday, Nerds, and Crunch bars. We recommend chopping up the chocolate candies or running them through a food processor to create a candy crumble to sprinkle over ice cream.
Those left over chocolate chips from when you last made cookies make for a simple and satisfying topping that will please many palates.
Be sure to purchase edible cookie dough or make it yourself with this recipe or something similar. If you use cookie dough with raw flour or eggs, you run the risk of getting sick with symptoms that most people don’t want to deal with.
Grandma’s bran flakes probably won’t make the kids happy when it comes to ice cream toppings. However, there are undoubtedly many kid-friendly choices down the cereal aisle at most stores. Some classics that go great on top of ice cream include Fruity Peebles, Cocoa Peebles, Golden Grahams, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Rice Krispies, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Mini marshmallows, marshmallow fluff, or toasted marshmallows can be used alone or with graham crackers and chocolate to make a S’mores-style ice cream dessert. Additionally, you can replicate Rocky Road with chocolate ice cream, almond pieces, and mini marshmallows. Of course, feel free to get creative with your own mix of ice cream flavors, marshmallows, and other toppings.
With flavors like Frosted Hot Fudge Sundae and Frosted Cookies & Creme, you can only imagine how creative you can get by combining your favorite Pop Tarts flavor with your preferred ice cream flavor. Chop up the Pop Tarts to use it as a topping or make a Pop Tarts ice cream sandwich using Pop Tarts to sandwich in the ice cream.
A side of ice cream isn’t uncommon with a piece of cake or pie. They even make ice cream cakes that have become extremely popular for parties. So, why not add just add pieces of cake or pie as an ice cream topping or mix-in?
Donuts come in various flavors and styles, allowing for endless possibilities when it comes to pairing them with different ice cream flavors. However, you really can’t go wrong with just about any donut flavor in a standard vanilla or chocolate ice cream.
Peanut butter is smooth and spreadable, which allows it to easily blend with the ice cream. When drizzled or spread on top of ice cream, it adds a creamy and luscious texture for a a deliciously satisfying treat.
Fruity Ice Cream Toppings
Fruit can help keep ice cream a bit more health while also not sacrificing taste due to its natural sweetness. Bananas are the centerpiece of a banana split. Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are also solid choices to pair with a ice cream, especially with one of the many types of vanilla available at most grocery stores.
You can simply buy bag of coconut flakes and sprinkle it on ice cream for a desirable texture and a bit of added sweetness. However, to elevate your ice cream topping game, we suggest toasting the coconut. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toasted it for about 5-8 minutes in the oven. Be sure to watch the flakes in the oven so it they do not burn!
Hershey’s and Smucker’s are favorite store-bought strawberry syrups that many Americans enjoy on ice cream. If you prefer a strawberry syrup with more natural ingredients, you may wish to try a homemade syrup/sauce like this one from Carlsbad Cravings.
Any jam flavor will work with vanilla ice cream with strawberry being one of the go-to options. Using jam, spreads, or jellies allows people to get creative with flavors that are otherwise not typically associated with ice cream. Rhubarb, apricot, and lemon curd are a few flavors to consider if you are looking to get away from the norm of ice cream flavors.
Salty Ice Cream Toppings
Certain varieties of pretzels, such as cheese or southwest seasoned, frankly sound disgusting in ice cream. However, many people love the addition of plain, crushed pretzels in ice cream for a salty crunch that doesn’t get in the way of other flavors. You can also consider using chocolate-covered, peanut butter filled, white fudge covered, or other pretzels with some sweetness to them.
Ritz crackers are a unique choice that people claim work beautifully with a variety of ice cream flavors. We’d suggest crumbling the crackers over the ice cream and then adding some chocolate syrup to counter some of the dryness from the crackers.
While a bit outside of the box, some people love chips in their ice cream. We think chocolate-covered potato chips are the best ice cream topping because of the combo of sweet & salty but feel free to use your favorite flavor.
While popcorn might not be a traditional ice cream topping, its contrasting texture, flavor, and visual appeal make it an interesting and enjoyable choice for those looking to try something different and add a bit of excitement to their ice cream. Caramel corn or popcorn with chocolate will make many people happy to dig in a bowl of ice cream.
The combination of the rich, buttery caramel with a touch of salt creates a complex flavor profile that enhances the taste of the ice cream.
Warm up Nutella slightly and drizzle it over a scoop (or scoops) of your favorite ice cream. It creates a delicious and melty topping that adds a rich chocolatey hazelnut flavor.
A 1/4 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon will produce cinnamon sugar that can be used on ice cream, waffles, pancakes, French toast, and similar type of foods. Cinnamon sugar works great when fruits are also included as a topping.
Dulce de Leche:
This a a caramel-like sauce that is often made by slowly heating milk and sugar until caramelized and creamy. You can even buy it pre-made in a can produced by Nestle or other food manufacturers.
Butterscotch sauce has a distinct flavor that is rich, sweet, and buttery. The combination of brown sugar, butter, cream, and vanilla creates a caramel-like taste that complements the creaminess of the ice cream.
Honey can be paired with a wide variety of ice cream flavors. It goes well with classic flavors like vanilla and chocolate, as well as with fruit-based ice creams like strawberry or peach. The versatility of honey with its natural sweetness allows you to experiment and create delicious flavor combinations.