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How to Make Your Own Ice Cream Cake

Hutch’s birthday was on Saturday and I’m really bad at procrastinating so I got a head start on his cake. Good thing too because it was nearly a failed disaster! If you’re in the market to make your own ice cream cake, I suggest doing this with several hours to spare because things like softening and hardening ice cream and baking and cooling cakes can be time consuming. Giving yourself a few days is smart. I only saved this one because I had tons of time on my hands and super-love determination.

If you’re wondering why I’m making ice cream cakes in January it is because the sunshine state is an annoying 80 degrees in the middle of winter. Bah. I will not be offended if you just pin it and save this for later.

To make an ice cream cake you will need:

  • one box of cake mix (or one original recipe, but I’m going to show you how to make your cake mix taste home made below)
  • eggs, butter, milk
  • ice cream, I used about half a gallon
  • cool whip
  • food coloring (optional)

I used all three of my round cake pans today because I finally have more than one. For years I had just one round cake pan and I would bake half of the cake at a time (yes, I’m crazy) and then do the ice cream.

Anyhow, so I’m definitely a woman of convenience (like I haven’t said that before) and so although I have some great recipes for from-scratch cakes I tend to go box for most occasions. But I learned how to doctor my cakes from Fabulously Frugal. It was almost necessary because my mother would always call me out on it after taking her first bite… “Oh you used a box. Duncan Hines or Pillsbury?” Not anymore! Here’s how to trick them:

  • add 1 extra egg than the directions on the box say to use
  • double the oil amount, but use melted butter instead
  • use milk instead of water

Voila! Magic!

So make your cake. Original from-scratch recipe or box… doesn’t matter. Use two round cake pans. Bake, and let cool. (Also don’t open your oven to take pictures, because then they wind up with ugly bubbles on them.)

While the cakes are baking I like to set my ice cream out on the counter. Not close to the stove – I don’t want it to melt. Just out somewhere hanging out getting all soft and mushy.

When I pull the cakes out I set them on my electric stove burners to cool because I don’t have a cooling rack. Do the “cool in pan for 15 then remove” thing. At this point I have to move them to plates because no rack. If you have a rack, use it! You want them to cool completely.

While the cakes do their thing, take the same size round cake pan and line it with saran wrap. Then take your softened ice cream and smush it into the pan. Really get it in there and fill in all the gaps. Try to get the finished product as level as possible. It’s okay if some of it’s melty.

Take any excess saran wrap and gently fold it over to cover the top. Use more saran wrap to cover the top if necessary. Place the whole thing back into the freezer.

Take a break from your kitchen. It’s okay to check on the cakes and ice cream if you’re impatient. I just played video games and checked the ice cream between matches. I check by gently palpating the covered ice cream. If it’s mushy, it’s not ready. Once firm, you’re good to go! 

Note: If you can do the ice cream the night before I highly suggest it. Depending on how melty your ice cream gets, it could take a long time to firm up!

Once everything is all cooled down and solidified, level off your cakes. (I actually level just the bottom layer because I like the top of my cakes to be rounded slightly. I feel it’s the natural order of things…)

Then layer the ice cream on top of one cake, and balance the second cake on top of that. The longer the ice cream is in the freezer before you do this step, the better. Mine could have used a little more time.

You can see above how the top layer is sliding off? It’s because I’m taking pictures and I’m taking too long and my ice cream is melting. I put mine back in the freezer to fix it. I added the saran wrap to make sure it doesn’t slide completely off.

When that didn’t work, I manhandled that cake into being the shape I wanted and put saran wrap around the outside. And I left it alone overnight.

(See how nice it is to be making this cake early?)

When you take out your cake, it should look like a prettier version of this:

It’s okay if it looks ugly. You’ve won if it’s even remotely shaped like a cake. You can trim excess ice cream from the middle layer with a knife. Move the cake to a carrying container if needed. Then you frost the cake using cool whip.

You can dye the cool whip if you’d like. I didn’t dye mine because I used German Chocolate cake mix and French Vanilla ice cream. (There’s a joke in there somewhere…) Using anything other than white would be weird.

Anyhow, just store your finished cake in the freezer until it’s time to eat it. Enjoy! And celebrate because you just saved like $30!!!



  1. what an awesome guide to making your own ice cream cake cannot wait to try this out!

  2. Thank you! I have been craving an ice cream cake, but not the cost or the calories. Now I can make one for my husband’s birthday… but keep it economical for my husband and light for myself with light ice cream!

  3. Yummy. Thanks for sharing.

  4. That looks absolutely awesome. Hubby looked happy!
    Stopping by from Blogger Resource on FB.

    How funny, what a cute story to share, Bubble Heaven.

    Hope you can stop by Monday Quiz is Fun Linky Thanks

  5. Ice cream cake is my favorite!! My absolute, absolute favorite. So glad you put up a tutorial for it – yay!

  6. This looks so yummy. Thank you for sharing this.

  7. My grandma’s decorated cakes for 50 years and she doctors her cake mixes too. It is also 3 changes, but I can only remember extra egg and extra cup of flour. I’m thinking the 3rd ingredient might be extra oil, but can’t remember for sure!

  8. Yum! We love ice cream cake at our house. Thanks for the recipe.

  9. That’s really cool.


  10. Did you say “hwip?” I love it!

    This looks great…who doesn’t like ice cream cake?

  11. Oh yum!!That’s one HUGE icecream cake. Definitely going to attempt this when the weather warms up a tad bit!

  12. I actually prefer like carvel’s ice-cream cake, with the cookie crunch. But yours look really good too!

  13. How cool! I never knew the trick about making boxed cakes taste homemade! Also…lol’ing at “hwip.”

  14. It looks delicious!

  15. That is AWESOME!!! thank you

  16. The great thing about cake is no one cares what it looks like as long as it tastes good! I’ve never tried to make an ice cream cake before but now I’m motivated!

  17. I must be odd because I still love ice cream in winter 🙂 and yes you win just for completion! Lol you made this look so easy that I should be able to pull it off. Bet my FIL would like this version (he doesn’t like the crunch in DQ cakes)

  18. Ice Cream Cakes are divine. I like yours. Thanks for sharing how I can make one at home.

  19. Can you come make me one? Lol – I get an ice cream cake every year for my birthday; now that I know how to make my own you can bet it’ll be more often.

  20. Looks so good! and who doesn’t love the Stewie bit!

  21. Mmm!!! This looks great! We don’t use Cool Whip, but I bet it would be tasty without!!!

  22. Yum!! We just bought an icecream “cake” for Hub’s birthday..there’s no cake in it 🙁 I love cake!! This would be fun to make!

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