Certain foods just epitomize summer. Watermelon. Brats. Tomato sandwiches. Popsicles. Near the top of my list? Ice cream sandwiches. Biting the cookie exterior (that cold chew is just the ticket on a humid, sticky night), breaking through to a creamy block of ice cream inside…it’s bliss. (Psst…did you know you can make homemade ice cream without a machine?)
Why make ice cream sandwiches at home when they’re so good straight out of the box? Like just about everything, they’re even better homemade. But here’s the real secret: You can combine almost any cookie and ice cream to make an ice cream sandwich, making it a totally customizable treat. Our Test Kitchen shares a favorite recipe below, but here’s the basic formula:
Cookies, two per sandwich
- Avoid cookies with mix-ins, like chocolate chips, which can get rock hard when frozen. (Don’t chip a tooth!)
Any flavor ice cream
- There’s nothing to avoid here; the sky’s the limit. From store-bought to homemade, classic vanilla to pumpkin to peach, any ice cream will do. (Here are some of our favorite ice cream recipes.)
Taste of Home‘s Ultimate Ice Cream Sandwich
These decadent sandwiches are inspired by the It’s-It, a San Francisco legend you can buy online for around $90 a case (with shipping). (Seriously.)
For the cookies:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
3 cups vanilla ice cream, homemade or store-bought
1 bottle (7-1/4 ounces) chocolate hard-shell ice cream topping (optional)
Step 1: Prep the cookie dough
Why go the extra mile by making homemade cookies? Their buttery, slightly spiced flavor is simple but delicious, and the oats make them chewy and hearty, easily able to contain the richest of ice creams.
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars with a beater (or a wooden spoon and plenty of muscle) until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder and salt together. Whisking ensures even distribution of the soda and powder, setting the stage for a good rise.
Gradually beat the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. (Mix until just combined so the cookies don’t become tough.) Stir in the oats.
Step 2: Shape and bake
Shape into fourteen 1-1/4-in. balls and place 2-1/2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown.
Test Kitchen tip: Err on the side of underdone. Remember, ice cream sandwich cookies should be soft. They’ll continue cooking and will firm up a bit after they come out of the oven.
Let cool on the pans for about 3 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Step 3: Assemble
The ice cream should be slightly softened, just enough to scoop easily but not melting. Take it out of the freezer 20 to 30 minutes before you start. Cookies should be completely cool.
Got everything at the recommended temp? Good. Scoop 1/3 cup ice cream and dollop on the bottom of a cookie. (Avoid overfilling the sandwich. Our jaws only open so far!) Use a rubber spatula to gently spread to just inside the edges.
Place a second cookie on top, pressing gently to flatten the ice cream. Repeat with remaining cookies and ice cream.
Place the sammies on a baking sheet and freeze until firm.
Step 4: Gild The Lily (with Chocolate)
Want to add a chocolate shell? After the prepared sandwiches are frozen solid, remove them from the freezer. Crack open a bottle of chocolate hard-shell ice cream topping and set up a small bowl for catching any drips. Working over the bowl, drizzle chocolate topping over half of each sandwich, allowing any excess to pour off. Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet; freeze again.
What about a border of chocolate chips? Fill a bowl with mini chips; then roll the sandwich like a wheel along the top, capturing candies on the ice cream edge. Be careful: Chocolate chips get quite hard when they freeze, so we recommend enjoying immediately. (That’s also why we recommend minis over full-size chips.)
Step 5: Save some for later
Ice cream sandwiches, wrapped tightly in plastic and a second layer of some kind (a plastic bag, or aluminum foil), will keep for up to three months in the freezer. (Hint: that’s most of summer!) Your future self will thank you.
Fab Flavor Combinations
Salted caramel + Double chocolate cookies
Chocolate + Peanut butter cookies
Vanilla + Snickerdoodles
Blueberry or other fruit ice cream + Oatmeal cookies
Custard + Toffee cookies
Ready to make more no-bake desserts? Check out some of our favorites.