The secret to a memorable ice cream sundae? The toppings you pour over it, of course, and the way the flavors and textures fuse together to create an over-the-top dessert moment. Whether you’re scooping for a crowd or enjoying a sundae solo, there’s always room to turn the volume up on flavor, texture, and fun. From DIY rainbow colored sprinkles to a nostalgic ice cream truck magic shell topping, these easy topping recipes come together in no time and are beginner baking friendly. These ice cream moves are guaranteed to transform your pint into a party—so what are you waiting for? Open the freezer and get to work on your creamy masterpiece.
From the Confetti Cookie to our signature Birthday Layer Cake and ice cream, we believe most things are better when you mix in a handful of multi-colored sprinkles. No sundae is complete without a pop of color and these come together within a few minutes with simple pantry items, so you really have no excuse.
-1 egg white
-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
-2 cups powdered sugar
-1/4 teaspoon salt
Step 1: Whisk the egg white and extract in a medium bowl to combine. Whisk in 1 cup powdered sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt. Swap the whisk for a rubber spatula, mix in the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar, ensuring a smooth, pasty mixture.
Step 2: Divide the paste into as many small bowls as color sprinkles you want to make. Color each bowl and, adding a little powdered sugar as needed, mix paste together until it’s colorful and hydrated enough to roll into a ball in your hand without sticking.
Step 3: Dust a clean, dry counter or baking pan with powdered sugar and roll out each color paste into several long, thin ropes, the diameter of your ideal sprinkle size. It’s a learned technique, don’t freak out, if your rope breaks or is uneven, just start over. Sprinkles are meant to bring lightness, not stress— they’re also SUPER forgiving.
Step 4: Leave the ropes to dry out slightly for 10 minutes, then using a butter knife, cut them into your ideal sprinkle length. Allow to sit out for another 10 minutes before moving sprinkles— combine colors, build a single color sundae.
Ice Cream Cone
We believe that the journey is the destination, and that your ice cream holder is also an opportunity to snack, so we always opt for a cone over a bowl. This quick and simple ice cream cone is part cookie and part crisp, with loads of opportunities to personalize to your liking. Our go-to moves are drizzling chocolate on the outside for an extra flourish and hiding a peek-a-boo of marshmallow into the tip to soak up all the ice cream goodness.
Drizzled on top or blended into a shake, fudge sauce dials up the greatness on most ice cream moves. Our fudge sauce tastes just as good hot as it does cold. Simply warm it in the microwave on low in 30-second increments for 2 minutes. Stir the sauce between blasts. It tastes really good drizzled over Cereal Milk Ice Cream. Or any ice cream, for that matter. My mother approves.
-1 ounce 72% chocolate, chopped
-2 tablespoons cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
-1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
-¼ cup glucose *
-2 tablespoons sugar
-¼ cup heavy cream
makes about 1/2 cup, or enough for 4 or more sundaes
Step 1: Combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
Step 2: Combine the glucose*, sugar, and heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir intermittently while bringing to a boil over high heat. The moment it boils, pour it into the bowl holding the chocolate. Let sit for 1 full minute.
Step 3: Slowly, slowly begin to whisk the mixture. Then continue, increasing the vigor of your whisking every 30 seconds, until the mixture is glossy and silky-smooth. This will take 2 to 4 minutes, depending on your speed and strength. You can use the sauce at this point or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks; do not freeze.
Note: In a pinch, substitute 35 g (2 tablespoons) corn syrup for the glucose.
Pretzel Whipped Cream
When we look at the puzzle pieces of a sundae we ask “is this element as delicious as it can be?” Ice cream, check. Sauce, heck yes. Whipped cream…wait a minute. While a vanilla whip is welcome to any ice cream party we are throwing, we know there is room here to turn the dial up on the flavor. This pretzel whipped cream brings malty, salty notes to your ice cream creation—but you should feel free to swap in cereal, cookies, and so on to bring your creamy vision to life.
-4 cups pretzels
-2 cups heavy cream
-⅓ cup light brown sugar
YIELD: Makes enough for 1 epic pavlova dessert, about 3 cups whipped cream
Step 1: Heat oven to 300°F.
Step 2: Spread pretzels on a baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes until the pretzels have slightly darkened in color and your kitchen smells preztely. Cool completely.
Step 3: Transfer cooled, toasted pretzels to a medium bowl. Pour cold heavy cream over the pretzels and stir while steeping for 2 minutes. Strain the pretzels from the heavy cream, keeping the pretzel flavored heavy cream. (You can dry the pretzels out anew in the oven and dip them in honey mustard or toast them with some blue cheese sprinkled on top for a snack!)
Step 4: Whip the pretzel heavy cream until soft peaks, add light brown sugar and salt. Whip to medium peaks.
Pickled Strawberry Jam Sauce
When it comes to a strawberry ice cream partnership, think far beyond the traditional banana split. Strawberry makes a great partner to birthday ice cream, cereal milk bar ice cream, and if you’re a more is more type - who isn’t?! - cornflake marshmallow chocolate chip ice cream. This pickled strawberry iteration brings in spices, but you’re in charge of how much to add so let your tongue be your guide.
Mint chocolate chip ice cream is in our Flavor Hall of Fame, the combo of bright mintiness, chocolate richness, and creamy body is unbeatable. When we don’t have a pint on hand, our go-to mint move is to glam up some scoops of regular vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips and this killer mint sauce.
NOTE: make sure you are baking with peppermint extract, versus mint extract which tends to be a bit more on the toothpaste side of the aisle.
-1.5 oz white chocolate, chopped
-1 3/4 teaspoons peppermint extract
-½ teaspoon kosher salt
-2 drops green food coloring
-1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-1/3 cup heavy cream
Step 1: Combine the chocolate, peppermint extract, food color, and salt in medium bowl.
Step 2: Combine the sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir intermittently while bringing to a boil over high heat. The moment it boils, pour it into the bowl holding the chocolate. Let sit for 1 full minute.
Step 3: With stick blender, or very vigorous whisking emulsify the mixture until it is glossy and silky-smooth. This will take 2 to 4 minutes, depending on your speed and strength. You can use this sauce at this point or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks; do not freeze.
Magic Shell Topping
An ice cream shop and soft serve truck classic, the chocolatey ice cream coating brings extra flavor and fun to your dessert experience—fun to pour over the top of your scoops and equally fun to crack with the back of your spoon. While most folks are only familiar with the traditional chocolate variety, we know the magic shell actually has a world of flavor opportunities—so grab your butterscotch chips or your favorite nut butter and start on your own magic moment.
-1 cup chocolate chips (think beyond this too - butterscotch chips, white chocolate cut into pieces, candy bars, combos of more than one- you get it!)
-3 tablespoons crisco or oil OR 3 tablespoons nut butter + 1 tablespoon oil
-1-2 teaspoons flavor boosts: extracts, syrups, spices, optional
-pinch salt, optional
YIELD: Makes enough to jazz up 4-6 ice cream bowls/cones
Step 1: In a small bowl, melt chocolate and fat(s) together- I like to do this in 30 second bursts in the microwave stirring between each blast (a double boiler works, too.)
Step 2 (optional): Stir in extract and salt until smooth. Taste and adjust where needed: add more chips to make thicker and richer, oil to make thinner, flavor boosts and salt to sharpen depth and personality.
Step 3: Ladle, spoon or squeeze bottle over ice cream. Store in a jar or airtight container in the pantry or fridge, warming slightly before use.
Birthday Cake Crumb
While flavor is key to building an incredible ice cream sundae, we also know texture is a huge player in making the most of any ice cream moment. At Milk Bar, we studd these crumbs into our layer cakes, mix them into our cookies, and pile them high onto our soft serve. More cookie-like in texture, crumbs can bring in a world of flavors from vanilla and sprinkle to pretzel and malt. Bonus: crumbs make a great solo snack while you’re waiting for the ice cream to soften.
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar
-¾ c cake flour
-½ teaspoon baking powder
-½ teaspoon kosher salt
-2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
-¼ cup vegetable oil
-1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
YIELD: Makes about 2 cups
Step 1: Heat the oven to 300°F.
Step 2: In a medium bowl, combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles, mixing until combined. Add the oil and vanilla and mix again to distribute. The wet ingredients will act as glue to help the dry ingredients form small clusters; continue mixing until this happens. Spread evenly on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 300°F
Step 3: Let the rainbow crumbs cool completely before snacking. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.
Brownies As You Wish
If you’re looking to make a meal out of your ice cream experience, you’ll need to bring in a structural element. A cookie straight from the oven, a slice of cake if you’re feeling feisty, or an ooey-gooey brownie all make A+ ice cream foundations. This brownie recipe is a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure, leaving the door open to use whatever chocolate players you have in the pantry—cocoa powder or chocolate chips. Controlling the bake time makes you the master of your gooey brownie destiny.
While we like to walk on the sweet side of life, we know there are savory fans among us. Just as a pretzel or potato chip is welcome to our cookie lineup, savory nuts can dial up most ice cream situations. This spiced nut recipe is a Tosi family favorite, and we believe it can easily transition from cheese plate to dessert course if you give it a chance.
-1 pound raw unsalted nuts of your choice
-2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
-1⁄3 cup packed light brown sugar
-3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
-2 teaspoons kosher salt
YIELD: Makes about 4 cups
Step 1: Heat the oven to 350°F.
Step 2: Spread the nuts evenly on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, or until fragrant and beginning to brown. Transfer the nuts to a large bowl (set the baking sheet aside)
Step 3: Mix the butter with the sugar, rosemary, and salt, pour it over the warm nuts, and toss with a wooden spoon. Spread the nuts back on the baking sheet and let them cool on the counter for 30 minutes, or until all elements have solidified and cooled. Serve at room temperature. (They’re not as good if you try to eat them while they’re still warm.)