25 Frosty Treats That Start With Store-Bought Ice Cream

Purchasing a gallon or two of your favorite flavors makes these delicious dessert recipes so much easier.

variety of floats
Photo: Nico Schinco

Go ahead and trade your usual scoops for a milkshake, sundae, ice cream sandwich, or a celebration bombe—thanks to store-bought ice cream, they're easy to make and entirely impressive. A good place to start is by concocting refreshing drinks, like the ice cream floats pictured here. They're riffs on the root-beer float that sub in surprising soda flavors like O-So Orange with coconut sorbet to make a tropical dream-sicle, mix cherry Cheerwine with vanilla ice cream for a slushie-inspired sensation, and drop chocolate ice cream into a Cafello espresso for a frosty mocha.

That's not the only way to up the ante on store-bought ice cream treats. You can also top scoops with a simple, but special homemade sauce, create a layered sundae, or put together a masterpiece cake. Get started by stocking up on your favorite flavors next time you're at the store, then get creative with mix-ins, pour-overs, and our hands-on techniques (fair warning: some of these desserts require assembly). With ice cream treats this magnificent, brain freeze is a beautiful thing.

01 of 25

Frozen Cafe-Mochaccino Tart

frozen cafe-mochaccino tart topped with cocoa nibs
Con Poulos

Consider this your dream frozen cappuccino drink in dessert form. Simply smooth a blend of two parts store-bought coffee ice cream and one part chocolate ice cream into our chocolate-shortbread shell, then whip up an airy top layer of caramel meringue from egg whites, sugar, and cream caramel. The confection is finished with cocoa nibs and more caramel.

02 of 25

Chocolate-Sea-Salt Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

chocolate sea-salt brownie ice cream sandwiches stacked
Con Poulos

For these irresistible ice cream sandwiches, the cookie is actually a brookie (or a brownie cookie). The chocolately rounds are dense and fudgy on the inside and amazingly crackly on the outside. Use them to sandwich scoops of your very favorite ice cream(s).

03 of 25

Homemade "Drumstick" Cake Cones

in a nutshell cake cones
Con Poulos

If you feel a pang for a King Cone, Strawberry Shortcake, or Choco Taco when an ice cream truck rolls by, go ahead and indulge your inner child with these cake cones that are dipped in a quick homemade shell and rolled in chopped nuts. Once you add your scoops, drizzle on more glaze before freezing. When it's time to enjoy, everyone will discover the surprise ending: a spoonful of fudgy chocolate ganache and even more nuts at the bottom.

04 of 25

Cherry Cheesecake Celebration Bombe

cherry-cheesecake celebration bombe atop cake stand
Con Poulos

Four components get layered into a large mixing bowl for this frozen opus. There's a tangy no-bake cheesecake filling made from cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk first; a crunchy blend of freeze-dried- cherry-spiked cookie crumbs; store-bought ice cream amped up with cherry syrup; and a tender round of sponge cake (made with oil, not butter, so it stays soft when chilled). After unmolding, gently pat more cherry cookie crumbs on top.

05 of 25

Green Tea Profiteroles

green-tea profiteroles served in a pool of creme anglaise
Con Poulos

With a nod to the offerings at Taiyaki NYC, a cult ice cream shop known for its matcha-green-tea soft-serve swirled into fresh-baked taiyaki (Japanese waffle cakes shaped like fish), this elegant dessert stars green-tea ice cream tucked inside a golden profiterole with a black-sesame-flecked craquelin—French for "cracker"—baked on top.

06 of 25

Bananas Foster Milkshake

Bryan Gardner

Appeal to everyone's inner child with a decadent milkshake like our Bananas Foster creation. It starts with vanilla and coffee ice cream, then adds banana, milk, homemade caramel sauce, with pretzels and whipped cream for garnish.

07 of 25

Tropical Sorbet and Meringue Stack Cake

tropical-sorbet-and-meringue stack cake sliced
Con Poulos

Our frosty spin on Appalachian stack cake calls for homemade meringues (baked into four rectangular slabs) and three layers of store-bought fruit sorbet; we're partial to mango, blood orange, and passion fruit for their intense color and tropical punch. On top is frozen whipped cream—a cool cloud that instantly melts in your mouth.

08 of 25

Strawberry-Shortcake Sundaes

Strawberry-Shortcake Sundae
Marcus Nilsson

Make the most of strawberry season by swirling a quick sauce into vanilla ice cream and spooning more on top. Add in homemade or store-bought pound cake for a parfait worthy of a party.

09 of 25

Fudgy Ice Cream Cake


Three pints of vanilla ice cream, graham crackers, and fudge sauce are the recipe for ice cream cake-success.

10 of 25

Watermelon Bombe


This centerpiece dessert requires creative assemblage but all the ingredients are store-bought. Simply put, it's the bombe.

11 of 25

Snowy Peak Pops


Turn store-bought vanilla into next level chocolate- dipped pops decorated with nonpareils.

12 of 25

Tropical Sorbet Terrine


Topped with toasted coconut, this three-layer terrine is oh so easy to make. Just pick up three brightly colored sorbets at the store, then layer them in loaf pan. The hardest part is waiting for this frosty treat to freeze firm.

13 of 25

S'mores Milkshake

Bryan Gardner

For anyone who loves campfire s'mores and a frosty milkshake, this has to be the ultimate treat.

14 of 25

Mini Chocolate Chip Ice-Cream Sandwiches


Sandwiching chocolate chip cookies around store-bought vanilla ice cream makes a wonderful dessert. Rolling them in mini chocolate chips before freezing takes them to the next level.

15 of 25

Almond Crunch Ice Cream Cake

almond crunch ice cream cake martha bakes
Mike Krautter

Inspired by Good Humor's Toasted Almond Bar, the whipped cream frosting of this almond-to-the-max ice cream cake covers layers of almond cake brushed with amaretto syrup and sandwiched with vanilla ice cream and sugared almonds.

16 of 25

Coconut Bonbons


A scoop of store-bought coconut sorbet is placed on top of a chocolate wafer as the base of these dainty, decadent treats. A dark chocolate coating is the finishing touch.

17 of 25

Ice Cream Cupcakes


The best of both worlds—cake and ice cream come together in these party-ready treats. We used vanilla cupcakes but feel free to go with your favorite cupcakes and favorite flavor(s) of gelato or ice cream.

18 of 25

Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches


Classic for good reason, these homemade ice cream sandwiches are made with store-bought ice cream and a soft, thin cake-like chocolate cookie. Try using coffee or strawberry ice cream, though vanilla is wonderful too.

19 of 25

Inside-Out Strawberry Ice-Cream Cake


Ice-cream replaces frosting in this must-try dessert. A homemade buttermilk layer cake is filled with jam and fresh berries plus softened vanilla ice cream. More ice cream is used to frost the cake for an unexpected and totally delightful sweet.

20 of 25

Ice Cream and Mixed-Berry Pops

Ice Cream and Mixed-Berry Pops
Victoria Pearson

Simply swirl store-bought vanilla ice cream with your favorite berry purée, then freeze in popsicle molds for these pretty as could be pops. (We love blueberry or raspberry best.)

21 of 25

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sundaes


An easy strawberry-rhubarb sauce makes the best spring ice cream sundae when paired with store-bought vanilla ice cream.

22 of 25

Coconut-Chocolate Sundaes

Marcus Nilsson

Ice cream is coated in shredded coconut then served with a bourbon-spiked butterscotch sauce and a crunchy chocolate-almond topping. It's like an ice cream-version of a coconut-chocolate candy bar.

23 of 25

Butterscotch Banana Splits


An all-time favorite and for good reason, our butterscotch take on the banana split calls for chocolate ice cream, homemade butterscotch sauce, bananas, and plenty of whipped cream. A cherry on top is optional.

24 of 25

Watermelon and Coconut Sorbet Parfaits


Fresh tasting and fresh looking, this super easy parfait pairs store-bought coconut sorbet with cubes of fresh watermelon. The resulting dessert tastes as good as it looks.

25 of 25

Gelato Affogato


Its name means "drowned ice cream," and that's what happens with this sophisticated Italian dessert: scoops of ice cream are doused in espresso.

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