41 Ice Cream Topping Ideas for Your Sundae Station

Updated: Jun. 18, 2024

Ice cream toppings like hot fudge, strawberry fluff and caramel sauce bring ice cream to new dimensions. Here's everything you need to create the ultimate sundaes.

41 Easy Ice Cream Toppings We LoveTMB STUDIO (2), GETTY IMAGES (2)

On its own, ice cream is just about perfect. But it’s the ice cream toppings that make the frozen dessert hard to beat. Caramel sauce, sprinkles, crushed candy and waffle cones can turn the ice cream in your freezer into all sorts of fun ice cream desserts. Even the best vanilla ice cream brands get an upgrade with classic hot fudge or a gourmet balsamic drizzle.

If you’re expecting a crowd, put together an entire ice cream sundae bar with all the best add-ons, like chocolate chips, cherries, dulce de leche and whipped cream. You can even invest in a waffle cone maker to give your sundae bar an old-fashioned ice cream shop feel.

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Reese's Pieces Bark

This crunchy, sweet, nutty chocolate bark packs so many amazing ice cream toppings into one. Chop it up and crumble it over whipped cream-dolloped ice cream. In the winter, go for a more seasonal flavor like peppermint bark.
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Hot Fudge Sauce

Chocolate sauce is a staple for any ice cream sundae. Whether you like classic hot fudge or want to try something new like chocolate orange sauce or caramel chocolate sauce, you can’t go wrong with a drizzle of this velvety-smooth favorite. It makes those homemade ice cream recipes even better.
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Peanut Butter Chocolates Bananas Ice Cream
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Peanut Butter

Melted peanut butter gives ice cream a salty hint without needing to make special sauce. It works well on vanilla, but we prefer it served over chocolate ice cream. It tastes just like a peanut butter cup!

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Magic Shell

You could easily buy this nostalgic chocolate sauce at the supermarket, but it’s also surprisingly simple to make at home. Drizzle over your favorite ice cream and watch it harden into spoon-tapping goodness. If you have any leftovers, use it to make chocolate-covered strawberries!
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Fresh Fruit
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Fresh Fruit

There’s nothing more classic than ice cream paired with fresh raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. Churn up homemade vanilla ice cream and toss a few of your favorite berries on top for a traditional treat.
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Candied Walnuts

Save the plain walnuts for savory walnut recipes. Whip up candied walnuts for dessert and spoon them over your favorite ice cream. The crunchy texture and sweet-salty flavor will have you scooping another bowl.
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Sprinkles
Easy Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Sprinkles

You can’t go wrong with sprinkles. Rainbow sprinkles make for a pretty presentation whereas chocolate sprinkles pair well with chocolate ice cream. Shake them over any ice cream topping to double up on the fun.
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Sweet Sticky Marshmallow Fluff Spread In A Bowl
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Marshmallow Fluff

We’ll never cease to be amazed by the versatility of a simple jar of marshmallow fluff. Plopped atop your favorite ice cream flavor, with a healthy drizzle of hot fudge, the stuff becomes absolutely divine.

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Candied Cherries

Whether you plop them atop a sundae or eat them straight from the bowl with a spoon, candied cherries (or cherries glacé) make a beautiful garnish for so many desserts. All you need to make them is a jar of maraschino cherries and some sugar.
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Cereal

There are dozens of ways to use breakfast cereal, and, of course, ice cream is one of them. Some of our favorite cereals to use are corn flakes, Lucky Charms and Fruity Pebbles.

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Lemon Curd

Want to turn that pint of ice cream into a deliciously sophisticated dessert? Lemon curd is the bright, creamy ice cream topping you may have been sleeping on. Use up leftovers on top of lemon curd cheesecake.
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Homemade Candied Lemon Peels
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Candied Lemon Peel

The great thing about candied fruit is you can eat it as a snack or use it as an elegant dessert garnish. We like dipping candied lemon peel into chocolate for the ultimate flourish atop a scoop of ice cream.

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Whipped Cream

Adding a dollop of homemade whipped cream can elevate any bowl. Switch things up by whipping together peanut butter or coffee whipped cream variations. Toss a cherry on top to add a final sweet touch!
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hand pouring espresso over ice cream to make affogato recipe in a cup with a plate of cookies in the background
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Espresso

Pouring steaming-hot espresso over vanilla ice cream creates an affogato, a traditional dessert in Italy. Brew up one of these coffee brands for your sweet treat if you don’t have an espresso machine. If you do use regular coffee, brew a stronger batch than normal for a more espresso-like flavor.

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Potato Chips

Can’t choose between a salty or sweet snack? Get the best of both by adding crushed potato chips to your ice cream bowl. Talk about knocking out two cravings in one!

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Bananas Foster Sauce

Bananas Foster is a Southern staple. Learn how to make your own bananas Foster sauce to enjoy this caramelized treat right at home.
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Candy
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Candy

Double the sweetness, double the fun. Nerds, Reese’s and M&Ms all make for a sugary ice cream snack. If you’re a huge candy lover, try making this candy-coated ice cream sandwich!
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Salted Caramel Sauce

Turn any ice cream dish into a sweet and salty treat by spooning this salted caramel sauce over your bowl. Add crushed pretzels or Granny Smith apples for extra crunch.
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Vanilla Ice Cream With Jam Exps Tohjj20 246623 B02 04 11b 5
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Jam

Jam isn’t just for smearing on PB&Js or homemade biscuits! Dolloping jam on top of ice cream is an easy way to get fruity flavor without needing to buy fresh fruit.

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Butter Pecan Syrup

No need to purchase butter pecan ice cream. Just pour this butter pecan syrup over any ice cream to give it that roasted, nutty flavor.
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Grilled Bananas

Showstopping sundaes usually have a mix of ooey-gooey brownies, chocolate sauce and sprinkles. This recipe takes things up a notch and calls for grilled bananas. There are plenty of other grilled fruit recipes to try while you’re at it.
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Ritz Crackers
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Ritz Crackers

You’re going to wish you tried this ice cream topping sooner: Crumble Ritz Crackers over ice cream to add crispiness without the full crunch of peanuts or slivered almonds. Graham crackers are another option if that’s what’s in your pantry.
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Vanilla Ice Cream with French Fries Recipe photo by Taste of Home

French Fries

Did you know there’s a scientific reason we love the Wendy’s Frosty and fries combo so much? When you can’t make it to the chain, but you’re craving the salty-sweet pairing, make homemade french fries or heat up a freezer bag.

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Balsamic Vinegar

We know, we know: Balsamic vinegar on ice cream doesn’t sound like a good combo. But this pairing creates a tangy, yet sweet, taste that’ll have your tastebuds talking. Don’t knock it until you try it.

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Bacon

Bacon desserts are always a good idea. This sundae complements the salty bacon with sweet maple syrup. Toss a few pecans on top for extra savory-sweet goodness.
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Dulce de Leche

If your ice cream sundae ideas have never included dulce de leche, now’s the time to try it. The silky sauce is actually much easier to make than its famous cousin, caramel, since it’s essentially just heating up condensed milk until it’s golden. Drizzle over ice cream, and you’re in heaven.
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Blueberry Preserves

Blueberry pie a la mode fans will go crazy for blueberry preserves spooned atop rich vanilla ice cream. It’s much easier to put together than baking a whole blueberry pie. Finish your bowl with some crushed waffle cone, and you won’t even miss the pie crust.
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Chocolate-Covered Pretzels

When crushed, pretzels dipped in rich chocolate make the salty-sweet, crunchy ice cream topping of our dreams. Whether you opt for dark, white or milk chocolate—or a combination of all three—this topping is made for people who like a hint of saltiness in their desserts.
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Tasty Vanilla Ice Cream With Bee Pollen And Honey In Bowl
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Honey

Sometimes with ice cream toppings, you don’t want to overthink it (or make something entirely from scratch). The honey that’s already in your pantry makes a luscious, delicately sweet drizzle atop ice cream. Get to know your types of honey, which all offer different flavor profiles and textures.

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Vanilla Ice Cream With Maple Syrup
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Maple Syrup

Warming maple recipes always delight, and using syrup on your ice cream is no different. To lean into a breakfast theme, top your maple-drizzled ice cream with crushed waffle cones, whipped cream and your favorite fruit preserves.

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A Small Terracotta Bowl Filled With Toasted Coconut Flakes On A Gray Marble Counter Top
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Toasted Coconut

To lend your bowl of ice cream a wonderfully tropical flavor, sprinkle a generous portion of nutty, fragrant toasted coconut. You can prepare toasted coconut at home in the oven, air fryer, stovetop or microwave. Use up the leftovers in any of these coconut recipes.

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Crushed Oreos On Ice Cream
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Crushed Oreos

File this decadent topping under “Classic for a Reason.” Crushed Oreos work beautifully atop any chocolate- or vanilla-based ice cream, and, honestly, there are quite a few off-brand Oreos that work just as well.

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A Bowl Of Ice Cream With Gummi Bears As Topping On A Wooden Blue Background
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Gummy Bears

One of the most nostalgic ice cream toppings out there, gummy bears add fun chewy texture when added to ice cream. For a decidedly adult bowl of ice cream, make these boozy gummy bears instead.

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Granola

If granola works well on yogurt parfaits, why wouldn’t it work well on ice cream? A scoop of crunchy granola is basically multiple toppings in one: nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon and brown sugar.
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Chocolate Nut Butter Jar And Spoon On Concrete Table Background
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Nutella

Chocolate and hazelnut spread makes a rich sauce for ice cream (and all these other Nutella recipes). To build out an entire sundae, top your ice cream with Nutella, crushed hazelnuts and a healthy dollop of homemade hazelnut whipped cream. Can you tell we like hazelnuts?

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Rhubarb Strawberry Sauce

No banana split is complete without strawberry sauce, and this one happens to use seasonal rhubarb too! Because it’s a slow-cooker recipe, it cooks for about five hours, so plan ahead when preparing it.
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Fresh Ice Cream Sundae With Chocolate Sprinkles On Top
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Candy Bars

We’d be hard-pressed to think of a candy bar that doesn’t work when chopped and sprinkled over ice cream. We’re especially partial to Butterfingers, Heath bars and Snickers, but you can also make your own copycat candy bars.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you love ice cream sandwiches but don’t love the melty mess, crumble your favorite chocolate chip cookie over ice cream. It’ll transport you right back to your chasing-after-the-ice-cream-truck days.
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A Bowl Of Colorful Chocolate Candies On Wooden Background
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M&Ms

Chopped-up M&Ms add such an irresistible pop of color and crunch to ice cream. In fact, the candy is one of our favorite gluten-free topping options. Even better, top your ice cream with a homemade M&M cookie.

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Small Bite Size Marshmallows Filling An Old Stoneware Bowl On A Wood Table
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Mini Marshmallows

You can’t go wrong with fluffy, chewy, sweet mini marshmallows on a sundae—especially when they’re drowned in hot fudge. You can even go s’mores-themed by topping vanilla ice cream with mini marshmallows, crushed graham crackers, chocolate sauce and chocolate chips.

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Caramel Sauce

Making caramel sauce from scratch may take a fair amount more effort than twisting open a jar, but we promise it’s worth it.

FAQs

What is the most popular ice cream topping?

The most popular ice cream toppings are the ones you probably remember from childhood, like rainbow and chocolate sprinkles, hot fudge, whipped cream and caramel sauce. A recent poll found that the three toppings that reign supreme for American ice cream eaters are chocolate chips, hot fudge and nuts.

What are some popular flavor pairings?

Ice cream goes well with just about everything (even potato chips), but some flavor pairings work better than others. Chocolate and peanut butter are a classic duo that complement each other beautifully—try chocolate ice cream topped with peanut butter sauce and crumbled Reese’s.

Another classic pairing is caramel and salt: Amp up the flavor of buttery and nutty caramel sauce with chopped pecans and a dollop of whipped cream. To feature fruit toppings, like blueberry preserves or strawberry jam, we like starting with a super-creamy base of vanilla or even butter pecan ice cream.

Which toppings are good for people with dietary restrictions?

Chopped fruit, toasted coconut, honey and crunchy granola are a few of our favorite gluten-free and dairy-free ice cream toppings. There are a number of great ice cream sauces you can make without dairy, like strawberry syrup and fruit compote. For gluten-free toppings, we love chopped M&M’s, Reese’s and Butterfingers (yes, they’re gluten-free!), plus lots of homemade whipped cream.