Ice Cream Toppings: 33 Classic & Creative Ideas - The Dairy Dish (2024)

While ice cream is delicious on its own, adding toppings takes it to a whole new level of indulgence. There’s a wide array of toppings to suit every taste whether you prefer classic favorites or want to explore more adventurous options.

Here we cover the world of ice cream toppings, from the timeless classics like hot fudge, caramel sauce, and chocolate syrup, to the fun and creative options like cookies, candy, and cereal. We hope this article helps you find a new favorite ice cream topping that you can enjoy for many days to come!

Classic Ice Cream Toppings

Hot Fudge:

A typical homemade hot fudge is made with cream/milk, sugar, and butter. It is essentially real fudge that has not set. Cheaper ingredients are commonly found in the store-bought stuff like high-fructose corn syrup. Whether you go homemade or store-bought, its hard to beat the warm, thick, and chocolatley taste of hot fudge.

Caramel Sauce:

Caramel sauce is a smooth and buttery topping made from caramelized sugar. It provides a sweet and slightly savory taste that complements the creaminess of ice cream.

Chocolate Syrup:

Chocolate syrup adds a rich, sweet, and chocolatey taste to ice cream. Hershey’s is the most popular option that is probably already in many readers’ refrigerators.

Sprinkles:

A favorite of kids and many adults as well, sprinkles add much needed color to the often bland base of ice cream. They typically don’t add a ton of flavor outside a bit of sugariness but they are great for texture by providing a bit of a crunch. While rainbow sprinkles are the standard, you can certainly find them in various shapes, sizes, and colors, offering endless possibilities for customization and fun!

Whipped Cream:

The fluffy and airy texture of whipped cream provides an excellent contrast the must denser ice cream. It provides creamy, mild and slightly sweet taste that works to enhance the flavors of the ice cream without overpowering them. Whipped cream pairs well with a wide variety of ice cream flavors and toppings making it extremely versatile to elevated countless types of ice cream.

Nuts:

Chopped nuts like almonds, peanuts, or walnuts provide a crunchy texture and nutty flavor that pairs well with ice cream. They can be sprinkled on top or mixed into the ice cream for added depth and crunch. You can often find pre-chopped nuts at the grocery store that are specifically made for topping ice cream.

Maraschino Cherries:

Maraschino cherries are bright red cherries that are often used as a topping for ice cream sundaes. They add a pop of color and fruity flavor to the dessert. They are also sweet from their brining process which makes them more like a candy than a fruit.

Ice Cream Cones:

It is inevitable that one or two ice cream cones will be cracked when you open most brands of ice cream cones. We love to use these cones as a topping for a bowl of ice cream along with our favorite syrup. We recommend using waffle cones but really any type of cone will be tasty.

Fun Ice Cream Toppings

Cookies:

Of course, they already sell ice cream with cookies in it such as cookies n’ cream. However, there are no rules saying you can’t add your own favorite cookies to ice cream. Oreos and chocolate chip cookies are popular choices. Other suggestions include sugar cookies, Christmas cookies, and Girl Scout Cookies such as Thins Mints or Samoas/Caramel deLites.

Brownies:

Brownies are often used as a base to place ice cream on top with maybe some whipped cream and a cherry. However, brownies can also be used for a chewy and chocolatey ice cream topping or mix-in. Plain vanilla or chocolate ice creams are good choices for the richness of the brownies.

Candy:

There are countless possibilities when it comes to candy toppings. M&Ms, Reese’s, Snickers, Butterfinger, Twix, Kit Kat, and Heath are popular candy additions to ice cream. Other less popular ideas include Whoopers, gummies, Payday, Nerds, and Crunch bars. We recommend chopping up the chocolate candies or running them through a food processor to create a candy crumble to sprinkle over ice cream.

Chocolate Chips:

Those left over chocolate chips from when you last made cookies make for a simple and satisfying topping that will please many palates.

Cookie Dough:

Be sure to purchase edible cookie dough or make it yourself with this recipe or something similar. If you use cookie dough with raw flour or eggs, you run the risk of getting sick with symptoms that most people don’t want to deal with.

Cereal:

Grandma’s bran flakes probably won’t make the kids happy when it comes to ice cream toppings. However, there are undoubtedly many kid-friendly choices down the cereal aisle at most stores. Some classics that go great on top of ice cream include Fruity Peebles, Cocoa Peebles, Golden Grahams, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Rice Krispies, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Marshmallow:

Mini marshmallows, marshmallow fluff, or toasted marshmallows can be used alone or with graham crackers and chocolate to make a S’mores-style ice cream dessert. Additionally, you can replicate Rocky Road with chocolate ice cream, almond pieces, and mini marshmallows. Of course, feel free to get creative with your own mix of ice cream flavors, marshmallows, and other toppings.

Pop Tarts:

With flavors like Frosted Hot Fudge Sundae and Frosted Cookies & Creme, you can only imagine how creative you can get by combining your favorite Pop Tarts flavor with your preferred ice cream flavor. Chop up the Pop Tarts to use it as a topping or make a Pop Tarts ice cream sandwich using Pop Tarts to sandwich in the ice cream.

Cake/Pie:

A side of ice cream isn’t uncommon with a piece of cake or pie. They even make ice cream cakes that have become extremely popular for parties. So, why not add just add pieces of cake or pie as an ice cream topping or mix-in?

Donuts:

Donuts come in various flavors and styles, allowing for endless possibilities when it comes to pairing them with different ice cream flavors. However, you really can’t go wrong with just about any donut flavor in a standard vanilla or chocolate ice cream.

Peanut Butter:

Peanut butter is smooth and spreadable, which allows it to easily blend with the ice cream. When drizzled or spread on top of ice cream, it adds a creamy and luscious texture for a a deliciously satisfying treat.

Fruity Ice Cream Toppings

Fresh Fruit:

Fruit can help keep ice cream a bit more health while also not sacrificing taste due to its natural sweetness. Bananas are the centerpiece of a banana split. Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are also solid choices to pair with a ice cream, especially with one of the many types of vanilla available at most grocery stores.

Coconut:

You can simply buy bag of coconut flakes and sprinkle it on ice cream for a desirable texture and a bit of added sweetness. However, to elevate your ice cream topping game, we suggest toasting the coconut. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toasted it for about 5-8 minutes in the oven. Be sure to watch the flakes in the oven so it they do not burn!

Strawberry Syrup:

Hershey’s and Smucker’s are favorite store-bought strawberry syrups that many Americans enjoy on ice cream. If you prefer a strawberry syrup with more natural ingredients, you may wish to try a homemade syrup/sauce like this one from Carlsbad Cravings.

Jam/Jelly:

Any jam flavor will work with vanilla ice cream with strawberry being one of the go-to options. Using jam, spreads, or jellies allows people to get creative with flavors that are otherwise not typically associated with ice cream. Rhubarb, apricot, and lemon curd are a few flavors to consider if you are looking to get away from the norm of ice cream flavors.

Salty Ice Cream Toppings

Pretzels:

Certain varieties of pretzels, such as cheese or southwest seasoned, frankly sound disgusting in ice cream. However, many people love the addition of plain, crushed pretzels in ice cream for a salty crunch that doesn’t get in the way of other flavors. You can also consider using chocolate-covered, peanut butter filled, white fudge covered, or other pretzels with some sweetness to them.

Ritz:

Ritz crackers are a unique choice that people claim work beautifully with a variety of ice cream flavors. We’d suggest crumbling the crackers over the ice cream and then adding some chocolate syrup to counter some of the dryness from the crackers.

Potato Chips:

While a bit outside of the box, some people love chips in their ice cream. We think chocolate-covered potato chips are the best ice cream topping because of the combo of sweet & salty but feel free to use your favorite flavor.

Popcorn:

While popcorn might not be a traditional ice cream topping, its contrasting texture, flavor, and visual appeal make it an interesting and enjoyable choice for those looking to try something different and add a bit of excitement to their ice cream. Caramel corn or popcorn with chocolate will make many people happy to dig in a bowl of ice cream.

Salted Caramel:

The combination of the rich, buttery caramel with a touch of salt creates a complex flavor profile that enhances the taste of the ice cream.

Underrated Toppings

Nutella:

Warm up Nutella slightly and drizzle it over a scoop (or scoops) of your favorite ice cream. It creates a delicious and melty topping that adds a rich chocolatey hazelnut flavor.

Cinnamon Sugar:

A 1/4 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon will produce cinnamon sugar that can be used on ice cream, waffles, pancakes, French toast, and similar type of foods. Cinnamon sugar works great when fruits are also included as a topping.

Dulce de Leche:

This a a caramel-like sauce that is often made by slowly heating milk and sugar until caramelized and creamy. You can even buy it pre-made in a can produced by Nestle or other food manufacturers.

Butterscotch Sauce:

Butterscotch sauce has a distinct flavor that is rich, sweet, and buttery. The combination of brown sugar, butter, cream, and vanilla creates a caramel-like taste that complements the creaminess of the ice cream.

Honey:

Honey can be paired with a wide variety of ice cream flavors. It goes well with classic flavors like vanilla and chocolate, as well as with fruit-based ice creams like strawberry or peach. The versatility of honey with its natural sweetness allows you to experiment and create delicious flavor combinations.

As an expert and enthusiast, I have access to a vast amount of information on various topics, including ice cream toppings. I can provide you with information related to the concepts mentioned in the article you provided. Let's dive into the world of ice cream toppings!

Classic Ice Cream Toppings

Classic ice cream toppings are timeless favorites that enhance the flavor and texture of ice cream. Here are some examples:

Hot Fudge: Hot fudge is a thick and chocolaty topping made with cream/milk, sugar, and butter. It adds a warm and rich taste to ice cream. Homemade hot fudge is often preferred for its high-quality ingredients, but store-bought options like Hershey's are also popular.

Caramel Sauce: Caramel sauce is a smooth and buttery topping made from caramelized sugar. It provides a sweet and slightly savory taste that complements the creaminess of ice cream.

Chocolate Syrup: Chocolate syrup adds a rich, sweet, and chocolatey taste to ice cream. Hershey's is a popular brand known for its chocolate syrup.

Sprinkles: Sprinkles are colorful sugar decorations that add a pop of color and a bit of crunch to ice cream. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, allowing for endless possibilities for customization and fun.

Whipped Cream: Whipped cream has a fluffy and airy texture that contrasts with the denser ice cream. It provides a creamy, mild, and slightly sweet taste that enhances the flavors of the ice cream without overpowering them. Whipped cream pairs well with a wide variety of ice cream flavors and toppings.

Nuts: Chopped nuts like almonds, peanuts, or walnuts provide a crunchy texture and nutty flavor that pairs well with ice cream. They can be sprinkled on top or mixed into the ice cream for added depth and crunch.

Maraschino Cherries: Maraschino cherries are bright red cherries often used as a topping for ice cream sundaes. They add a pop of color and fruity flavor to the dessert. Maraschino cherries are sweet from their brining process, making them more like candy than fruit.

Ice Cream Cones: Ice cream cones can also be used as a topping for a bowl of ice cream. Cracked ice cream cones can be crushed and sprinkled over the ice cream, adding a crunchy texture. Waffle cones are recommended, but any type of cone can be used.

Fun Ice Cream Toppings

If you're looking to get creative and explore more adventurous options, there are plenty of fun ice cream toppings to try. Here are a few examples:

Cookies: You can add your own favorite cookies to ice cream, such as Oreos, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, or even Girl Scout Cookies like Thin Mints or Samoas/Caramel deLites. Cookies can be crumbled and sprinkled over the ice cream or mixed in for added flavor and texture.

Brownies: Brownies can be used as a chewy and chocolatey ice cream topping or mix-in. Plain vanilla or chocolate ice creams are good choices to pair with the richness of the brownies.

Candy: There are countless possibilities when it comes to candy toppings. M&Ms, Reese's, Snickers, Butterfinger, Twix, Kit Kat, and Heath are popular candy additions to ice cream. Chopped chocolate candies can be sprinkled over the ice cream or processed into a candy crumble.

Chocolate Chips: Leftover chocolate chips from baking can be used as a simple and satisfying topping for ice cream. They add a burst of chocolate flavor and a bit of crunch.

Cookie Dough: Edible cookie dough, either store-bought or homemade, can be used as a topping or mix-in for ice cream. It adds a cookie-like texture and flavor to the dessert. Make sure to use edible cookie dough to avoid any health risks.

Cereal: Kid-friendly cereals like Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Pebbles, Golden Grahams, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Rice Krispies, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch can be sprinkled over ice cream for added crunch and flavor.

Marshmallow: Mini marshmallows, marshmallow fluff, or toasted marshmallows can be used alone or with graham crackers and chocolate to create a S'mores-style ice cream dessert. They can also be mixed with chocolate ice cream and almond pieces to replicate the flavor of Rocky Road ice cream.

Pop Tarts: Combining your favorite Pop Tarts flavor with your preferred ice cream flavor can result in creative combinations. Chop up the Pop Tarts to use as a topping or make a Pop Tarts ice cream sandwich.

Cake/Pie: Pieces of cake or pie can be added as an ice cream topping or mix-in. They can complement the flavors of the ice cream and add extra texture.

Donuts: Donuts come in various flavors and styles, making them a versatile choice for pairing with different ice cream flavors. Any donut flavor can be added to standard vanilla or chocolate ice cream for a delicious combination.

Peanut Butter: Smooth and spreadable peanut butter can be drizzled or spread on top of ice cream, adding a creamy and luscious texture. It pairs well with a wide variety of ice cream flavors.

Fruity Ice Cream Toppings

For those who prefer a fruity twist, there are several options for adding fresh fruit flavors to ice cream. Here are a few examples:

Fresh Fruit: Fresh fruits like bananas, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries can be paired with ice cream to add natural sweetness and refreshing flavors. They work well with various types of vanilla ice cream.

Coconut: Sprinkling coconut flakes on top of ice cream adds a desirable texture and a hint of sweetness. To elevate the flavor, you can toast the coconut flakes in the oven for a few minutes.

Strawberry Syrup: Store-bought strawberry syrups like Hershey's and Smucker's are popular choices for adding a fruity twist to ice cream. Homemade strawberry syrup can also be made using natural ingredients.

Jam/Jelly: Any jam flavor can be used as a topping for vanilla ice cream, allowing for creative flavor combinations. Rhubarb, apricot, and lemon curd are a few examples of unique flavors to consider.

Salty Ice Cream Toppings

If you enjoy the combination of sweet and salty flavors, there are some interesting salty ice cream toppings to try. Here are a few examples:

Pretzels: Plain, crushed pretzels can be added to ice cream for a salty crunch that complements other flavors. Chocolate-covered or flavored pretzels can also be used for a sweeter and saltier combination.

Ritz Crackers: Ritz crackers can be crumbled over ice cream to add a unique texture. Adding some chocolate syrup can help balance the dryness of the crackers.

Potato Chips: Some people enjoy the combination of chips and ice cream. Chocolate-covered potato chips are a popular choice for a sweet and salty treat.

Popcorn: While not a traditional ice cream topping, popcorn can provide a contrasting texture, flavor, and visual appeal. Caramel corn or popcorn with chocolate can be a delightful addition to a bowl of ice cream.

Salted Caramel: Salted caramel, with its rich and buttery flavor, creates a complex taste profile that enhances the overall flavor of the ice cream.

Underrated Toppings

Here are a few underrated ice cream toppings that can add unique flavors to your dessert:

Nutella: Warm up Nutella slightly and drizzle it over a scoop of your favorite ice cream. It adds a rich chocolatey hazelnut flavor.

Cinnamon Sugar: A mixture of granulated sugar and cinnamon can be sprinkled on top of ice cream to add a touch of warmth and sweetness.

Dulce de Leche: Dulce de leche is a caramel-like sauce made by slowly heating milk and sugar until caramelized and creamy. It can be used as a topping for ice cream, adding a rich and sweet flavor.

Butterscotch Sauce: Butterscotch sauce has a distinct flavor that is rich, sweet, and buttery. It complements the creaminess of ice cream and adds a caramel-like taste.

Honey: Honey can be paired with a wide variety of ice cream flavors. It adds natural sweetness and can be used to create delicious flavor combinations.

These are just a few examples of the wide array of ice cream toppings available. Whether you prefer classic favorites or want to explore more adventurous options, there's a topping out there to suit every taste. Enjoy experimenting and finding your new favorite ice cream topping!

Ice Cream Toppings: 33 Classic & Creative Ideas - The Dairy Dish (2024)

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