Ideas for an Ice Cream Bar

Every summer, my family hosted an incredible ice cream social for my classmates. It was the perfect way to end the season, with everyone bringing their favorite ice cream toppings while we provided a selection of delicious ice cream flavors. With an average class size of 20 kids, you can imagine the incredible variety we had for our potluck-style ice cream sundae bar!

Although our ice cream sundae bar may not have as many toppings as those of my childhood, it’s just as fun and enjoyable. Our talented food stylists have created a guide on how to build an ice cream sundae bar that will satisfy every taste bud when the craving for ice cream strikes.

How to Make an Ice Cream Sundae Bar

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Foods to Include

Part of the joy of an ice cream sundae bar is having the freedom to choose from a variety of ice cream flavors. We chose popular and approachable flavors like vanilla, mint chip, strawberry, and blue moon ice cream. However, feel free to select flavors that you think your guests will love, whether it’s chocolate, rocky road, or even chocolate chip cookie dough.

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Instead of using regular or paper bowls, we decided to make the ice cream experience even more enjoyable by using edible vessels such as waffle bowls, sugar cones, and waffle cones. This way, you’ll have fewer dishes to wash later. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even try making your own ice cream bowls with the help of a pizzelle maker.

To complement the ice cream, we prepared classic sundae sauces like hot fudge, warm pecan praline sauce, and blueberry sauce. The blueberry sauce can be served warm or cold, providing an alternative for guests who aren’t fans of chocolate.

Don’t forget the toppings! Alongside traditional choices like sliced bananas, peanuts, and sprinkles, be bold and think outside the box. Colorful candies like Sour Patch Kids and Nerds add a playful and creative touch, while mini pretzels, mini peanut butter cups, and Oreos are sure to be crowd-pleasers. And, of course, a dollop of whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top complete the sundae experience.

How to Build an Ice Cream Sundae Bar

Step 1: Set out the ice cream tray

Start by selecting a board or surface to serve your ice cream on. Place the tray you plan to use for the ice cream on the board, ensuring that you have enough space for everything later.

Step 2: Grab your bowls and pitchers

Gather enough bowls for all the sauces and toppings you’ll be serving, excluding the bananas and Oreos. We used a total of 11 bowls. Fill smaller bowls with items like Nerds, sprinkles, mini pretzels, mini peanut butter cups, and peanuts. Save the larger bowls for bulkier toppings like Sour Patch Kids and maraschino cherries.

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Prepare pitchers for the blueberry sauce, pecan praline sauce, and hot fudge for easy pouring. However, only fill the pitchers just before serving.

Step 3: Make space for the cones and waffle bowls

Create a space on the board for the waffle cones and sugar cones by nestling them together. Place the waffle bowls right next to the board. You may also want to keep an extra bowl on hand for additional cones, just in case.

Step 4: Round out the toppings with the Oreos and bananas

Once all the bowls have a designated spot on your ice cream sundae bar, it’s time to add the Oreos and bananas. For the Oreos, place them on their sides so that both the black and white sides are visible. When preparing the bananas, peel only one or two strands, leaving a “boat” to hold the banana slices.

Step 5: Heat up the sauces

Warm up the hot fudge and pecan praline sauce, and if desired, heat the blueberry sauce as well. Placing a spoon next to the pitchers of blueberry sauce and pecan praline sauce will give your guests better control over the sauce’s thickness and chunkiness.

Step 6: Pull out the ice cream

Fill the ice cream tray with ice cubes and take the pints of ice cream out of the freezer. Remove the lids from the pints and nestle them into the ice cube tray to keep them frozen for longer. Don’t forget to have some Reddi Whip on hand!

Step 7: Serve

Once everything is ready, invite your guests to dig into the ice cream sundae bar. Place spoons and napkins nearby for convenience. If you have multiple ice cream scoops, it’s helpful to have a different one for each flavor of ice cream.

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Tips for Making an Ice Cream Sundae Bar

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What other toppings can you put on an ice cream sundae bar?

While classic toppings like fresh fruit, sliced strawberries, and blueberries are always welcome, there are endless possibilities. Consider spooning some homemade strawberry jam, peanut butter, or Nutella into your sundae bowl for added flavor. Strawberry, caramel, and chocolate syrup are also excellent choices for additional toppings.

Looking for more crunch? Try adding Teddy Grahams, chocolate chips, M&M’s, toffee bits, or even cookie dough to your ice cream sundae. Feel free to get creative with different homemade toppings and explore new ice cream sundae ideas.

How long can you leave ice cream out?

To ensure easy scooping, allow the ice cream to soften slightly before serving. However, keep an eye on it, as it will melt quickly once it’s out of the freezer. We recommend placing the ice cream pints on ice to keep them cool for a longer period. Without additional cooling, ice cream typically stays firm for about 15 minutes. Encourage your guests to create their sundaes promptly to avoid melting.

How can you keep hot fudge warm?

As the ice cream tends to melt quickly, you won’t need to worry about keeping the hot fudge warm for an extended period. Serve it immediately, and it will be the perfect complement to the cold ice cream.

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