No churn, no fuss, all delicious.

By Stacey Ballis
January 20, 2021

Ice cream cakes are their own particular pleasure. They hearken back to birthday parties of our youth, with all the wonderful nostalgia of a Fudgie the Whale or DQ Blizzard Cake. But ice cream cakes shouldn't always have to be a store-bought endeavor.

While homemade ice cream cakes are wonderful, they have always felt sort of daunting. You have to make the cake. You either have to make the ice cream, involving churning and equipment and often tempering of eggs or hard-to-source texturizing ingredients, or you have to magically figure out how to soften store-bought ice cream to the perfect spreadable texture without turning to soup, and assemble the whole thing at the speed of light.

It's no wonder that Baskin-Robbins isn't worried about its market share.

The secret to DIY ice cream cake

But homemade ice cream cakes do not have to be that complicated. In this case, it's about boxed cake mix, jarred ice cream toppings, canned frosting, and the world's easiest no-churn ice cream recipe.

Once you have these down, you can make pretty much any flavor combination you like, from old-school chocolate cake with mint chip ice cream and chocolate frosting, to more mature indulgences, like lemon cake with blueberry ice cream and toasted marshmallow frosting. The sky is the limit on flavors, and the process is super manageable.

Credit: Getty / LauriPatterson

How to make ice cream cake

1. Begin with boxed cake: For starters, choose the boxed cake flavor you want, and bake in two 9-inch layers according to package directions. I use Duncan Hines cake mix almost exclusively, because I love the quality and variety, but use what you have. Once the cake is baked and cooled, wrap the layers well in plastic wrap and put in the freezer until you are ready for assembly.

2. Make no-churn ice cream: No-churn ice cream is as simple as whipping two cups of heavy whipping cream with a can of sweetened condensed milk to stiff peaks, adding a tablespoon of vodka to help prevent it from freezing too hard, a pinch of salt to balance flavor, and then folding in your flavoring. That flavoring can take form of an extract like vanilla, coffee, or mint; cocoa powder for chocolate; pastes like vanilla paste or curd; spices like cinnamon; or even jam or fruit purees for fruit flavors. You can also fold in things like chocolate chips or nuts.

3. Assemble the cake: Once you have your flavored whipped cream, you can assemble. Place one layer of your cake (unwrapped, please) in the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. If you want to put a layer of something like fudge, caramel, or jam between the bottom cake layer and the ice cream layer, go for it (store-bought ice cream toppings and jams are great for this). If you have to heat this layer to spread (like a jarred hot fudge or butterscotch), heat, pour over the bottom cake layer, and then freeze for 15 minutes before continuing. Spread your no-churn ice cream base on top and cover with the second layer of cake. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight. 

4. Frost the cake: To frost, remove from the springform pan and frost with the canned frosting flavor of your choice, or something fun like peanut butter, cookie butter, Nutella or Marshmallow Fluff. Add any sprinkles or other decorations, place on a sheet pan, and freeze uncovered for at least an hour. Remove from the freezer 20 minutes before serving.