Easy Homemade Gluten Free Ice Cream Cake

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Video Gluten free ice cream cakes

This easy homemade gluten free ice cream cake is made of creamy vanilla ice cream and chocolate crunchies between 2 layers of rich gf chocolate cake. A simple chocolate frosting on top makes this cake into an instant celebration!

Whole cake with 2 chocolate layers and vanilla ice cream in the center and frosting on top

The best gluten free ice cream cake recipe for any occasion

A magical combination of tender chocolate cake, creamy vanilla ice cream, crispy, chocolatey crunchies, and sour cream chocolate frosting, this gluten free ice cream cake is perfect for your next gathering.

Lots of ice cream is gluten free, but most ice cream cakes aren’t. So if you want the nostalgic taste of a Carvel ice cream cake, complete with those crisp chocolate bits and all the creaminess of fresh ice cream, we’d better get started!

This cake is also super adaptable. You can make it as I did, with 3 layers (2 cake, 1 ice cream), or a single layer of cake, and a single layer of ice cream. Make it a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, or flip the script and make a gf vanilla cake with chocolate ice cream.

Photo collage of steps assembling chocolate cake with cookie crunch ice cream in the center and frosting on top

Making homemade gluten free ice cream

There are plenty of gluten free ice cream recipes here on the blog, and most of them are “no churn,” which just means you don’t need an ice cream machine to make them. Whatever recipe you choose, you’ll want it to be cold, but unfrozen when you mix the crunchies in and assemble this cake.

There are recipes for dairy free no churn ice cream, 3 ingredient vanilla ice cream, no churn chocolate ice cream, and even a recipe for making ice cream without cream at all. There’s no shortage of homemade ice cream recipes here on the blog.

Do I have to use homemade ice cream to make an ice cream cake?

No, you don’t! You can use packaged gluten free ice cream to make nearly any ice cream treat, from gluten free ice cream sandwiches to a homemade Chipwich.

The advantage of making any of these ice cream treats with homemade ice cream is that you can shape it when it’s first made, and cold but unfrozen. If you use packaged ice cream, you need to soften it before you can shape it into a cake in a springform pan or a loaf pan.

Chocolate layer cake with ice cream in center with slice taken

Tips for making the perfect gluten free ice cream cake that slices beautifully

Making homemade gf chocolate cake

I like to use a modified version of our one bowl gluten free chocolate cake as the cake part of this gf ice cream cake, since it’s super easy to make, rich but not too rich, and has a tender, but stable, crumb. You can use a gluten free chocolate cake mix to make your cake, if you prefer.

Just be sure not to choose a cake with a fragile crumb, or it won’t hold together when we fill it with ice cream and then try to slice it. Our quinoa chocolate cake is delicious, but it’s not destined for ice cream cake fame!

Just be sure to make the chocolate cakes first, so they have time to cool first in the pan, then on a wire rack. If your chocolate cake is warm when you layer it with ice cream, it will melt the cold-but-unfrozen ice cream. Ever have ice cream that’s melted and then been refrozen? It’s terrible!

How to assemble an ice cream cake

This cake is made with a combination of cake and ice cream, layered in a springform pan with an acetate collar around the side to help build it up high, and stay neat and clean. We make the cakes first, so they can cool while we make the crunchies, then the frosting, and finally the homemade no churn ice cream (remember: cold, but not frozen).

Then, we layer in the first cake layer in the pan, followed by a layer of ice cream mixed with the cookie crunchies, and topped with the final cake layer. The first cake goes in right side up, and the second goes in upside down, so our top is flat as can be.

Be sure to make your ice cream cake the day before you need to serve it, so it can fully set. Every ice cream cake needs to thaw a bit before you slice it, though, or you’ll struggle to pass a knife through it. Resting for 30 minutes on the kitchen counter is plenty.

How to store a gluten free ice cream cake

Clear a large, flat spot in the freezer, and make sure you have enough room all around it so the cold air can circulate. The ideal amount of time to freeze your cake after it’s fully assembled is 4 hours, so the ice cream is frozen, but the cake isn’t too icy.

Once you serve the cake, be sure to slice it entirely into wedges. If you have any ice cream cake left over, wrap each piece tightly in freezer-safe wrap and store in the freezer. To eat, let defrost for about 20 minutes at room temperature and then enjoy!

Will ice cream cake melt in the fridge?

Yes, if you keep your ice cream cake in the refrigerator, the ice cream will melt. But if your cake is frozen solid, and you’d like to let it warm up a bit but keep the ice cream from melting, you can refrigerate the cake for about 45 minutes and then serve it immediately.

Layer cake with chocolate frosting in springform pan

Gluten free ice cream cake: ingredients and substitutions

Gluten free, dairy free ice cream cake

To make this whole gf ice cream cake dairy free, you’ll have to tackle the dairy in each layer:

  • For the sour cream in the cake and frosting, try using Greek-style plain nondairy yogurt, or your favorite brand of dairy free gf sour cream
  • For the ice cream, use our dairy free no churn ice cream recipe.
  • For the chocolate crunchies, gluten free Nabisco Oreos are already dairy free, so just be sure to use dairy-free chocolate.
  • For the butter in the frosting, try using butter-flavored Spectrum brand nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening, or vegan butter (Melt and Miyoko’s Kitchen brands are my favorite)

Gluten free, egg free ice cream cake

The only eggs in this recipe are those in the chocolate cake. If you can’t have eggs, you can try replacing the eggs in the chocolate cake with 1 “chia egg” each (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel), or you can use our recipe for chocolate gluten free crazy cake, baked in two 9-inch pans, since it’s egg-free.


Is ice cream cake gluten free?

Sometimes! Ice cream cake made with only ice cream will be gluten free if the ice cream is made with simple ingredients like milk, cream, and sugar, and there aren’t any added elements that might have gluten.

Are Carvel cakes gluten free?

No! Most Carvel ice creams are gluten free, but the little chocolate crunchies between the layers of their ice cream cake contain gluten. So if you want a gluten free ice cream cake, you’ll have to make it yourself!

Do ice cream cakes always have cake in them?

No, ice cream cakes are sometimes made with one or two layers of ice cream, with chocolate crunchies in between.

3 Slices of chocolate cake with ice cream in center on small white plates

What’s in that chocolate crunch layer?

If you’re going to make a Carvel- or Baskin Robbins-style ice cream cake, you’re going to need a chocolate cookie crunch layer. Some homemade ice cream cake recipes use crushed gluten free Oreos, gluten free Joe Joes or maybe our homemade gluten free Oreos, if you don’t mind the extra work.

I prefer to make the chocolate crunchy layer with crushed chocolate sandwich cookies (cream and all), that aren’t crushed into sandy crumbs. Crush them by hand just until they’re small chunks, and then add a mixture of melted chocolate and coconut oil.

The mixture of melted chocolate and coconut oil is a homemade version of Magic Shell, the chocolate ice cream topping that hardens when it’s poured on cold ice cream. The melted chocolate mixture helps the cookie crumbles turn into perfect clusters.

What’s a good frosting recipe for my gluten free frozen cake?

I’ve included a recipe here for sour cream chocolate frosting to use as a topper for your gf ice cream cake. It’s a very creamy frosting that doesn’t freeze too solid, like a more classic buttercream frosting might if placed in the freezer.

You can also use a cooked flour frosting, if you prefer, like our vanilla ermine frosting. That’s nice and soft, and not too sweet. Of course, you can always use a can of packaged frosting, as long as it’s gluten free. Or leave off the frosting entirely!

How far in advance should I make my gf ice cream cake?

You can make and assemble your ice cream cake up to a full month ahead of time, as long as it’s wrapped very tightly or the cake will dry out. But it’s best frozen for only 4 to 6 hours, allowed to thaw for 30 minutes, and then sliced and served fresh.

How to make gluten free ice cream cake

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