Ice Cream Sundaes are a delicious dessert and are as American as apple pie and baseball.
These sweet treats are available at ice cream shops and restaurants, served at weddings and parties, and are a fun dessert to make at home.
Learn how to make the very best ice cream sundae, or the ultimate ice cream sundae bar with this easy tutorial and helpful tips and tricks.
Ice Cream Sundae Recipe
I'm going to give you a recipe for making an ice cream sundae topped with chocolate, caramel, nuts, and sprinkles. This is my favorite sundae combination, but please don't take this "recipe" too seriously.
Rather than thinking of it as a recipe, consider this a method or a tutorial to show you the best way to make an ice cream sundae with the perfect ratio of toppings to ice cream.
I'm also going to give you many, many ideas of different ice cream sundae toppings that you can try.
Plus, learn the easiest way to create an ice cream sundae bar for your next party or event!
Why Is It Called an Ice Cream Sundae?
Are you ready for some ice cream history? If you like this story, be sure to check out my Banana Split post to find out how that interesting ice cream dessert came to be.
Nobody seems to be able to fully agree on who the first one to make an ice cream sundae was, but many accounts give that credit to a pharmacist in Ithaca, New York (a beautiful small city in the center of the state).
A Pharmacist? Yes! You see, back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it was pharmacists who served ice cream, rather than ice cream shops or diners. They also served sugary sodas, malts, and shakes.
Ithaca historians have some pretty good evidence to show that their city was the first one to offer an Ice Cream "Sunday" to the public. The first one was in fact a Cherry Sunday, or a bowl of vanilla ice cream topped with cherry syrup and a candied cherry.
They named it an Ice Cream Sunday because that was the day of the week that the dessert was created. The spelling was later changed to "sundae", presumably because of a disagreement with a local church who preferred that advertisements about Sundays directed people to them.
Cool, right? I don't know about you, but I'm kind of hungry after all of that learning. Let's make some icecream sundaes!
Ingredients in an Ice Cream Sundae
These ingredients and instructions will show you how to make a chocolate caramel sundae with nuts and sprinkles. Use this method to create any kind of sundae's you can dream up!
Chocolate Syrup - I like to use an ice cream syrup rather than hot fudge so that it's easy to drizzle on the inside of the dish.
Caramel Sauce - Why use just chocolate when you can have a sweet sundae with two different sauces? The combination of chocolate and caramel is divine.
Ice cream - Choose your favorite flavor, or stick with vanilla, it's a classic. You can make ice cream sundaes with any of our homemade ice cream flavors, or your favorite store-bought varieties.
Whipped Cream - The most amazing whipped cream will be the kind that you whip up yourself using heavy whipping cream. Feel free to use the refrigerated kind in the metal can though if that's easier.
Nuts and Sprinkles - I like chopped, salted peanuts on sundaes. The saltiness plays off of the sweetness of the other ingredients perfectly. Sprinkles are just fun, and totally necessary.
Maraschino Cherry - At least one of these bright red sugary cherries should be at the top of your ice cream sundae. I prefer the ones with the stems still attached.
See the recipe card below for the full recipe instructions and Sundae ingredient measurements.
How to Make The Best Ice Cream Sundae
- Start by drizzling the inside of the sundae glass or bowl with both the chocolate syrup and caramel sauce.
- Add 2-3 scoops of ice cream, and drizzle with a bit more of the sauces if you like.
- Top the sundae with whipped cream, sprinkles, and chopped nuts.
- Add a cherry on top, and serve immediately!
Tips for Making Amazing Ice Cream Sundaes
Keep the ice cream in the freezer. While you're getting ready to make ice cream sundaes, be sure to keep your ice cream in the freezer until the very last minute. If you pull it out first, it will get too soft while you prepare the other sundae toppings.
Be sure to drizzle! When you're adding syrups to an ice cream sundae, use a spoon or even a piping bag to drizzle the syrup around the inside of the glass and over the ice cream. You want some of that sauce in every bite!
If you drizzle the sauces around the glass well, it's not even necessary to add sauce to the top of the sundae.
Get creative with Sundae bowls. You don't need fancy dessert dishes to make fun ice cream sundaes. Try making them in a coffee mug, pint glass, or a regular cereal bowl.
Don't forget the whipped cream. Freshly whipped cream is the best, but you can also buy canned whipped cream at the store.
Embrace variety. The fun part about making your own ice cream sundaes is experimenting with new flavor combinations. Check out the list of toppings below and try something new.
How to Make an Ice Cream Sundae Bar
Do you want to serve ice cream sundae's at your next BBQ, birthday party, or even your DIY wedding?
An ice cream sundae bar is a fun dessert idea for any occasion, and it's easy to do with just a little bit of preparation.
- Shop for supplies. You are going to need ice cream dishes and spoons for how ever many people you plan to serve. Be sure to have extras - someone will always want a second helping! You also need to get ice cream. You can just get vanilla ice cream, or choose 2 or 3 different flavors. Plan for 1 cup to 1.5 cups of ice cream per person.
- Choose your toppings. Try not to get too carried away with offering options. I think a good rule is to offer 2 to 3 different sauces, and 4-8 different toppings.
- Decide how you'd like to serve the sundaes. If it's possible for someone to scoop ice cream for your guests as they make their sundaes, that's great. Otherwise, you might want to consider pre-scooping the ice cream. Freeze large scoops on baking sheets so that they are easy to grab.
- Serve the Sundae Bar. Place the toppings in individual bowls with spoons or scoops to make them easy to portion out. Do this ahead of time by using resealable containers and keeping them in the fridge. Be sure to keep the ice cream in the freezer until the very last minute, and don't forget to have lots of whipped cream and a big jar of cherries.
The Ultimate List of Ice Cream Sundae Toppings
While this list may not be all-inclusive, it should definitely get your brain thinking about how to make new and exciting ice cream sundaes.
Mix and match these sundae toppings to your heart's content!
Syrups and Sauces for Ice Cream Sundaes:
- Hot Fudge
- Chocolate Syrup
- Magic Shell
- Peanut Butter Sauce
- Caramel Syrup
- Butterscotch Syrup
- Strawberry Syrup, sauce, or preserves
- Raspberry Compote
- Marshmallow ice cream topping, or marshmallow Fluff
- Pineapple Sauce
- Canned Pie Filling (apple, cherry, etc.)
- Caramelized Bananas
Or use your favorite toppings for ice cream.
Toppings for Ice Cream Sundaes
- Fruit: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pineapple tidbits, sliced bananas, shredded coconut, chopped peaches.
- Nuts: Add them whole or chopped. Almonds, peanuts, pistachios, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts.
- Chocolate Chips in all of their varieties: Semi-sweet, milk, white, rainbow chips, mint chips, butterscotch chips.
- Candy: Use small candy as-is, chop the larger bars up into smaller pieces. M&Ms, Butterfinger, Snickers, Reeses Cups or Pieces, Heath Bar, Kit Kats, Crushed candy canes, gummy bears, Andes mints, Whoppers.
- Cereals: Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Frosted Flakes, Cap'n Crunch, Honey Nut Cheerios, granola.
- Cookies: Crushed up or chopped up, or use mini versions if you can find them. Oreos, Chocolate Chip, Shortbread, Nilla Wafers, Graham Crackers or Teddy Grahams, macarons.
- Other Toppings: Brownie, cheesecake, or cookie dough pieces, pound cake squares, crumbled rice krispie treats, mini marshmallows, and of course, SPRINKLES!
- Every great sundae is finished with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top!
What is the Best Sundae Ice Cream Flavor?
If you want to be simple and classic, go with vanilla ice cream when making sundaes. Vanilla creates the perfect blank backdrop for any and all toppings you want to add.
Otherwise, there really are no hard and fast rules here. Make ice cream sundaes with any kind of ice cream you like. Try some of the homemade ice cream recipes below, or grab your favorites at the store.
More Homemade Ice Cream Recipes
All of these simple ice cream recipes will be the perfect base for making amazing ice cream sundaes.
- Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
- Chocolate Ice Cream
- Funfetti Ice Cream
- Oreo Ice Cream
- Dairy-free Oat Milk Ice Cream
- Dairy-free Coconut Ice Cream
Our Favorite Ice Cream Making Tools:
- Cuisinart 2QT Ice Cream Maker - Works with ice cream, sorbets, and frozen yogurt.
- Loaf Pan - You can use any 9 x 13 loaf pan or a shallow pan, but we like this one.
- Ice Cream Scoop - Make sure you have a good ice cream scoop. This is one of our favorites.
- Ice Cream Bowls - You can use any bowl, but we think these are fun.
- Ice Cream Containers - We love keeping a couple of ice cream containers on hand for when we make homemade ice cream.
Note: Each of these links will take you to the exact product on Amazon. As an Amazon associate, I earn a little from each qualifying purchase.
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- 1 tbsp chocolate syrup
- 1 tbsp caramel sauce
- 2-3 scoops ice cream of choice
- ¼ cup whipped cream
- 1 tbsp salted nuts, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp rainbow sprinkles
- 1 maraschino cherry
- Drizzle the inside of the sundae glass with chocolate syrup and caramel sauce.
- Place 2-3 scoops of ice cream of choice into the glass.
- Top with whipped cream.
- Sprinkle with chopped nuts and sprinkles.
- Top with a maraschino cherry.
- Serve immediately.
- While you're getting ready to make ice cream sundaes, be sure to keep your ice cream in the freezer until the very last minute. If you pull it out first, it will get too soft while you prepare the other sundae toppings.
- When you're adding syrups to an ice cream sundae, use a spoon or even a piping bag to drizzle the syrup around the inside of the glass and over the ice cream. You want some of that sauce in every bite!
- If you drizzle the sauces around the glass well, it's not even necessary to add sauce to the top of the sundae.
- You don't need fancy dessert dishes to make fun ice cream sundaes. Try making them in a coffee mug, pint glass, or a regular cereal bowl.
- Try other toppings! See the post for a giant list of sundae topping ideas. Choose 1 to 2 different sauces or syrups, and as many other toppings as you can fit in your dish!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 788Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 321mgCarbohydrates: 89gFiber: 4gSugar: 74gProtein: 14g