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The Ultimate Guide To Ice Cream Cake (History, How It’s Made, Commemoration Day, & More)

Like peanut butter and jelly, hot cocoa and marshmallows, strawberries and cream, and Tango and Cash, ice cream and cake just works, which is why ice cream cake is such a wonderful sweet treat!

The Ultimate Guide To Ice Cream Cake (History, How It's Made, Commemoration Day, & More)

We often serve frosted cake with ice cream anyway, so putting the two together to begin with is as practical as it is delicious, and believe it or not, this synergistic combination of sweets has a storied history stretching back as far as the Renaissance!

Yep, ice cream cake is a true game changer capable of kicking a birthday party, family meal, or sneaky solo snack up a notch, yet it’s still something of an underdog dessert when compared to the popularity of its constituent parts.

So, to spread some awareness of this heavenly hybrid, we’re putting ice cream cake under the microscope!

But before we dive into our guide, we’d like to extend a warm frosty welcome to the lovely readers of We have taken this awesome website under our Sweethaus wing, and we’re overjoyed to have you here!

What Is Ice Cream Cake?

Although ice cream cake seems a rather simple concept, it doesn’t half cause the uninitiated some confusion.

To clear up the basics before delving into the history of this classic culinary combo, a loose definition of ice cream cake is any cake that utilizes ice cream as a structural element.

In light of this, ice cream cake comes in many different forms, and we’ll look into these possibilities in more detail a little later, but for now, all you really need to know is that when ice cream is actually incorporated into the cake, it’s officially classed as ice cream cake.

Ice cream served beside a piece of, say, frosted quarter sheet or half sheet cake is not considered an ice cream cake dessert, as the ice cream is a mere addition, and although it does make for a scrumptious after meal-treat, it does not augment the cake itself.

Now we’re all up to speed – and no doubt salivating – let’s learn some cool stuff (see what we did there?) about ice cream cake.

Ice Cream Cake: A Tasty History

ice cream cake

So, where did ice cream cake come from?

Well, the simple answer is, of course, the heavens, but the earthly story of this dessert is far more interesting. While no one is completely sure of its true origins, there is one theory that seems to make a lot of sense.

Despite sounding like a decidedly modern and quintessentially American creation, ice cream cake is actually an evolution of the humble trifle, an English dessert composed of layers of sponge cake or fingers, cream, booze, custard, and fruit.

While this classic English eat is far from what we know as ice cream cake today, there is evidence that suggests the development of the trifle throughout the Renaissance and beyond did in fact lead to the creation of the very first ice cream/cake convergence.

The transition occurred when the molding of trifles into various enticing shapes gained popularity during the Victorian era of 19th century England.

In order to present these weird and wonderful desserts to guests, the host (or help as the case probably was) had to ensure their creations were set, so after constructing their confection, they’d freeze the mold for a time, thereby transforming the cream into, you’ve guessed it… iced cream!

Thus, the first ice cream cakes arrived on the scene but being that only the very wealthy could afford to throw parties and serve up such lavish desserts, it would be some time before the dessert that we know and love today became more accessible to the masses.

The Proliferation Of Ice Cream Cake

These proto-ice cream cakes were reserved for the waxed mahogany dining tables of the wealthy English elite, as well as some of their rich European neighbors, but Baltimore native Jacob Fussell would unwittingly end this monopoly by founding the very first mass production ice cream facility in 1851.

First and foremost, Fussell was a dairy salesman. He would purchase dairy products from farmers in York County and then resell them to the population of Baltimore, but demand was unpredictable during this time.

Oftentimes, he’d be left with a significant volume of unsold cream; however, as a man of his business acumen, he knew that problems such as this often provide opportunity.

To make use of the excess cream, he established his Pennsylvania ice cream factory, which was the first step in making ice cream more accessible to the general population.

After a century of development in the industry, ice cream cakes would finally become commercially viable.

Those who were children during the 70s and 80s may still remember Carvel’s “Fudgie the Whale” advert that was screened on numerous channels between shows, but these “fudgies” are still quite distinct from the ice cream cakes of present day.

It wouldn’t be until companies such as Dairy Queen, Baskin Robbins, Cold Stone Creamery, and Friendly’s came to prominence that the modern conception of ice cream cake was made freely available to the public as a complete product.

But adventurous sweet tooths across the nation had no doubt been taking matters into their own hands (and kitchens) for a while at this point, creating their own delicious ice cream and cake combinations.

The Many Faces Of The Ice Cream Cake

The most common version of ice cream cake today is a typical layer cake with the frosting between layers replaced with ice cream, but, as previously mentioned, it doesn’t matter how the ice cream is incorporated into the cake.

As long as the ice cream makes up part of the cake’s dessert DNA, it falls under the ice cream cake umbrella.

Some of the earlier versions of ice cream cakes were Swiss rolls containing a spiral of ice cream instead of the traditional whipped vanilla or chocolate cream. In the UK, these are known as Arctic roles (for obvious reasons).

The beloved ice cream sandwich is another variation of ice cream cake, (if the cookies involved are soft and chewy enough to be considered cake, that is… which they should be!)

For those poor souls who’ve never had the pleasure of eating an ice cream sandwich, it consists of a thick disk of ice cream encased between, not bread, but cake or biscuit.

If you fancy yourself a creative baker, you can even incorporate ice cream cones into a recipe and create a cake that looks more like an ice cream than a cake.

Some also consider multi-layered flavors of ice cream set in a loaf pan to be a form of ice cream cake as well, as the final product will be roughly cake-shaped, but this rudimentary rendition doesn’t actually include any baked elements.

What Events Are Ice Cream Cakes Suited For?

ice cream cake

Just like you, we absolutely adore ice cream cake, but no matter how much we appreciate this chilled delight, it has one weakness… heat.

Ice cream and warmth have a long-standing feud, and even with a hearty slice of cake between them trying to break up the scuffle, the conflict rages on.

As such, there’s a strategic element to serving up ice cream, and you have to consider the practicalities of choosing a chilled dessert for certain events.

Are Ice Cream Wedding Cakes A Good Idea?

Wedding cakes aren’t just for eating, they also contribute to the aesthetic of a wedding and will be on show for a great deal of the day.

An ice cream cake needs time to defrost to the point at which it’s easy to cut, but anything more than this and your guests may have to lick their slices up from puddles on the table — Not the elegant soirée you had in mind we’re guessing?

That said, ice cream cakes remain a popular choice for weddings, so here are some possible solutions to the dreaded thaw.

Separate Miniatures

If you’re resolute that you’re going to have ice cream cake at your reception, consider preparing wedding-themed miniatures that can be kept refrigerated until you’re ready to serve them up to your guests.

This way, your actual wedding cake can be displayed for as long as you want, garnering plenty of “oohs” and “aahs” from your friends and family.

To save money, you could even make a fake wedding cake to go on display and then bring out one of the ice cream cakes when the time comes for you and your spouse to carry out the traditional first cut.

Make That Winter Weather Work For You

Alternatively, if you’re planning a beautiful winter wedding, you could make use of the chill and station your ice cream cake outside under shelter.

Although, depending on your venue location, you may need someone to stand guard and protect it from hungry wildlife.

Birds are particularly partial to cake, so keep an eye on the skies if you do choose this off-the-wall solution!

Remove Your Ice Cream Cake Tier ASAP

Another option is to include an ice cream cake as the top tier of your otherwise normal wedding cake.

Stacking a wedding cake can be tricky, especially as ice cream can make a tier quite heavy, but if you use a supporting board, it will stabilize the structure while also allowing you to remove the top tier for refrigeration once the bottom tier is cut and that pristine look goes out the window.

Even so, you’ll have to cut the cake relatively early on in the celebrations so you can get the ice cream tier into a freezer posthaste, or as long as you don’t mind breaking from tradition, you could simply cut and serve the top tier first.

Are Ice Cream Birthday Cakes A Good Idea?

Birthdays are a completely different story! Typically, the cake will be kept aside at a birthday party so it can be served up at a surprise moment later in the day, with candles ablaze. Until this magical moment, the cake can be kept refrigerated.

Plus, there’s just something about ice cream cake and birthday parties that work well together. The inclusion of ice cream adds some excitement and originality to the event, especially if it’s a kid’s party.

Are Thanksgiving Ice Cream Cakes A Good Idea?

If you’re throwing rager for thanksgiving or simply having some friends and family over for dinner, ice cream cake is a fantastic dessert option.

You could even make multiple turkey-themed Thanksgiving cupcakes with an ice cream element so your guests can eat them in their own time when they feel they’ve got room after the monster dinner you served.

Are Halloween Ice Cream Cakes A Good Idea?

Halloween is yet another excuse to make, serve, and of course, eat tons of delicious ice cream cakes.

Again, we’d recommend making a number of Halloween-themed cupcakes rather than a large, singular bake. This way, you can let your spooky side run wild when it comes to decorating your cakes — Some could be witch-themed, some could have little ghosts on, while others could have scary pumpkins on top!

Are Ice Cream Cakes A Good Idea At Christmastime?

Ice cream cakes aren’t really seen as a Christmassy dessert, as Christmas pudding has that area covered.

However, being that this traditional holiday season dessert is stuffed full of fruit and positively saturated in booze, it might be worth preparing a few Christmas-themed cupcakes with ice cream elements to keep the kids happy on Christmas day.

Are Ice Cream Cakes A Good Idea At A Dinner Party?

Dinner parties may be an opportunity to dress in your finest and curate a civilized and sophisticated experience for your guests, but don’t rule out ice cream cake for dessert.

It makes for an intriguing juxtaposition, adding a touch of fun to an otherwise buttoned-down event.

We don’t know about you, but we always appreciate a home bake at a dinner party, and the addition of ice cream shows you’ve gone the extra mile to make it an evening to remember!

Ice Cream Cake Vs. Traditional Cake

ice cream cake

We love all types of cake here at Sweethaus, but we’re willing to admit that ice cream cakes have a few advantages over their frosted counterparts, the most important of which – at least in our opinion – is the wealth of flavors to choose from.

Flavor Options

Frosting is great and all, but you don’t see a lot of experimentation with this food in the flavor department. You get your classics such as strawberry, raspberry, vanilla, chocolate, coffee and, well… that’s kind of it.

Ice cream, on the other hand, comes in pretty much every flavor imaginable and some that you couldn’t dream up in a million years — We’re talking pizza flavor, lobster flavor, and even curry flavor!

In other words, when you opt for ice cream cake, you have the freedom to customize your creation to your heart’s content. No matter how strange your tastes are, you can tailor your ice cream cake accordingly.


Following on from our last point, ice cream cakes are often unique creations, which can help your get-together stand out in a saturated party season. Traditional cake is fine, of course, but ice cream cake can add some whimsy and excitement to a party.


Allow us to preface this round of our sweets showdown by saying that neither ice cream cakes nor traditional cakes are good for you, but you might be interested to know that ice cream typically contains less sugar and fat than frosting, making it a marginally healthier option.

Dietary Concerns

Both frosting and ice cream can contain gluten and dairy products, so neither ice cream nor traditional cake wins out in this round.

Thermal Resilience

Of course, frosted cakes are far superior in warm environments, but frosting can soften and melt as well, so, regardless, it’s always best to keep an eye on a cake in hot weather


Here’s another area that ice cream cake can be a little lacking, depending on your approach.

Traditional toppings such as buttercream become quite brittle when frozen, so when making ice cream cake, you’re limited to whipped cream-based piping for the finishing touches. You can still pull off some truly epic designs, though!

How Do You Stop The Ice Cream In An Ice Cream Cake From Melting?

ice cream cake

Needless to say, keeping the ice cream in an ice cream cake from melting is essential, so let’s explore the best ways to keep your cake nice and chill until you’re ready to scoff it!

If a commissioned cake is being delivered to you, it’s standard procedure for the baker to transport it in a cooler so it doesn’t deteriorate before it even reaches you, but it doesn’t hurt to inquire about the delivery process.

Knowing exactly how they’ll keep your ice cream cake cool will give you some peace of mind, allowing you to focus up on other aspects of your party.

Once your lovely cake arrives at your doorstep, or if you’re making your own, you’ll need to get it straight into your freezer, so be sure to clear out plenty of space ahead of time.

You’ll also need to have a sealable container at the ready, as keeping as much air and moisture away from your ice cream cake as possible is key.

Should you need to transport the ice cream cake to another location yourself, you’ll need a quality insulated cooler and plenty of dry ice, and you’ll still need an intermediary container to prevent the ice from “soggifying” your cake.

How Long Should An Ice Cream Cake Thaw?

Efficiency is the name of the game when serving up an ice cream cake, but slow your roll, pard… there is such a thing as over-efficiency when it comes to frozen goods.

Ice cream cakes need roughly 10–20 minutes to thaw, depending on their size. If you’ve got a truly dinosaurian ice cream cake on your hands, firstly, we’re jealous, and secondly, you’ll need to leave it a little longer — Think somewhere in the region of 30 minutes at room temperature.

Allowing an ice cream cake to thaw ever so slightly makes it easier to cut and eat, but it’s best to set a timer so you don’t forget about it, because the thaw can get out of control very quickly.

As soon as you’ve served up a slice to whoever wants one, place the leftovers back in an airtight container and return them to the freezer.

National Ice Cream Cake Day — Yes, It’s A Thing!

National Ice Cream Cake Day comes around each year on the 27th of June, giving us all an excuse to indulge in our favorite Frankensteinian sweet treat (like we needed one). It’s a joyous occasion with surprisingly tragic roots.

The story of National Ice Cream Cake Day starts with one Mrs. Johanna Jurado, a teacher.

New York native, and mother-of-three who sadly passed away in a tragic automobile accident in April 2018, just two months before she would celebrate both her 32nd wedding anniversary and, shortly thereafter, her 52nd birthday.

As you’d imagine, Johanna’s untimely death left her family in tatters, but after a period of grieving, her children, Kyle, Kaila, and Jenna decided to do something special to celebrate the life of their wonderful mother.

Taking inspiration from Johanna’s love of ice cream cake, Jenna – the youngest of her children – had a brilliant idea… why not petition the National Day Calendar Committee to make June 27th, Johanna’s birthday, National Ice Cream Cake Day?

Jenna’s bid was successful, and on June 22nd, 2018, a registrar associated with the National Day Calendar declared that June 27th would henceforth officially be recognized as National Ice Cream Cake Day in honor of Johanna Jurado.

How Do You Celebrate Ice Cream Cake Day?

You’re free to celebrate National Ice Cream Cake Day however you please, but we’ve got some lovely suggestions for you here to get your creative juices flowing.

Celebration #1: Eat Ice Cream Cake!

Starting with the obvious activity, we encourage you to eat a big ol’ ice cream cake when June 27th rolls around. We’re currently living in the golden age of ice cream cakes, so they’re not hard to get hold of.

Celebration #2: Make Ice Cream Cake

Although picking up a pre-fab ice cream cake is the easiest way to celebrate National Ice Cream Cake Day, it won’t be anywhere near as good as a home bake, so why not try and make some ice cream cakes yourself?

Celebration #3: Throw An Ice Cream Cake Party

The only thing better than eating lots of ice cream cake is eating lots of ice cream cake with friends and family, so send out some invites, and get ready to party!

Celebration #4: Spare A Thought For Johanna Jurado

We live busy lives, so it’s understandable that many of us won’t have time to celebrate National Ice Cream Cake Day, so our advice is to simply take a moment to think about Johanna Jurado and her family, the reason why we celebrate this great day in the first place.

How Is Ice Cream Cake Made?

ice cream cake

To make ice cream cakes, you can follow the same general principles you would if you were making a normal frosted cake.

You bake the cake first, remove it from the pan, wait for it to cool completely, neaten it up if necessary by slicing off unwanted sections, and then you can move on to the fun part… the ice cream!

If you’re making your own ice cream from scratch, it can be a time-consuming process, which is why most people prefer to pick up their favorite store-bought tub.

Whichever route you take, you’ll need to remove your ice cream from the freezer and leave it to soften for roughly 10 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the container.

Your ice cream should be workable but not melting. If you can scoop it without much effort, it’s the perfect consistency to start spreading on your cake.

Try to spread it too early, and you risk tearing up your cake, but leave it too late, and your cake will lack structure and will take much longer to reset in the freezer — It’s all about finding that Goldilocks zone!

Once your ice cream cake is assembled, place it in your freezer immediately and leave it for 2 hours or so. At this point, the ice cream should be completely solid, so if you want to add some embellishments, as long as you’re quick, this is the time to do it.

Finish things up by returning your ice cream cake to the freezer until you’re ready to serve it.

How Long Does Ice Cream Cake Last?

Technically, when properly stored in a freezer, ice cream cake remains edible for a relatively long time but quickly deteriorates after day 7. The fresher it is when you eat it, the more enjoyable it will be in terms of texture and flavor.

Regular cake doesn’t hold its quality for long as it is, but when you add ice cream to the mix, the risk of ice crystals building up around the cake skyrockets.

These pesky little crystals are the culprits responsible for freeze burns, leading to nasty textures and suboptimal flavors.

How Many Times Can You Refreeze Ice Cream Cake?

As long as you’re swift, you can refreeze ice cream cake a number of times within the first 7 days after making it.

On the other hand, if you allow the ice cream to melt too much, refreezing the cake isn’t really an option, as, by this point, the quality has been compromised.

If you want to maintain the texture and flavor of your ice cream cake, it’s best to keep thawing and refreezing to an absolute minimum, as these extremes take their toll on the composition of the cake, and eventually, it won’t be worth eating at all.

How Should Ice Cream Cake Be Eaten?

You subscribe to one of two teams when it comes to the consumption of ice cream cake. You’re either on team spoon, or you’re on team fork.

The former argue that the spoon is the best option, allowing you to scoop up ice cream as it melts so you don’t miss a drop, which is a reasonable point, but the latter are traditionalists who prefer to stick to a good old-fashioned cake fork.

See, the cake fork allows you to eat moist, gooey foods without compressing the molecules, meaning it reaches your mouth in tip-top condition. By contrast, a spoon is a rather clumsy tool, mashing haphazardly through your cake.

Etiquette suggests spoons should only be used for liquids, so if you’re a stickler for this kind of thing, you should use a fork to begin with but keep a secret spoon holstered somewhere on your person.

Then, when things get runny, you’re equipped to handle the situation with grace and decorum.

However, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to make a name for yourself as that weirdo who keeps secondary utensils in their pocket to uphold social graces that no one else at the party is even aware of, so it’s best to choose one or the other.

Can Ice Cream Cake Be Made Vegan?

Thankfully, vegan friends can also get in on the ice cream cake action, as these desserts can be prepared without dairy!

It’s pretty tricky finding the right balance with vegan cakes, as it’s easy to make them too dry or far too moist (giving them more of a pudding consistency).

But, once you get the technique down, all you need to do is pick up a tasty vegan ice cream and slather it all over your masterful vegan bake!

Final Thoughts

We’ve covered a lot of ground here today, but with a topic as utterly amazing as ice cream cake, we didn’t want to do things by halves!

After all, ice cream and cake is a match made in heaven, a culinary love affair for the ages, with disparate dessert elements merging together in a perfect marriage of textures and flavors, providing an eating experience like no other!