Classic Root Beer Float

Classic Root Beer Float

Kristina Vanni

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Freeze: 60 mins
Total: 65 mins
Serving: 1 float
Yield: 1 float

Root beer floats are a classic American dessert treat, a long-running popular offering at drive-ins and ice cream parlors. They are easy to recreate at home without any special guidance because they're pretty easy to do, but with a few tricks it is possible to create a restaurant-quality root beer float.

The key to a perfect root beer float is to start start with a chilled glass. Simply place the glass or glasses you intend to use in the freezer for an hour or two before you intend to make the root beer float. Then it is all about layering the ingredients. A single scoop of ice cream goes in the glass first, then you top it with about half of the root beer, filling the liquid halfway up the glass, but holding it at an angles so the root beer doesn't foam so quickly.

Allow the foam to settle and then place the glass back in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This will allow the ice cream and the root beer to layer in the glass, and allow the ice cream to melt just ever so slightly to infuse into the soda and become perfectly creamy.

Finally, top with one more scoop of vanilla ice cream and fill the glass all the way to the top with the remaining root beer. The ice cream will float beautifully on top of the root beer.

Ingredients

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic Root Beer Float

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  2. Begin by freezing the glass or glasses you intend to use for 1 to 2 hours. A chilled glass will prevent the ice cream from melting too quickly and it will have that beautiful frosted glass look when you go to serve.

    Frosted glass for root beer float

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  3. Add one scoop of the vanilla ice cream to the chilled glass.

    Vanilla ice cream in a frosted mug for root beer float

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  4. Slowly pour half of the root beer at an angle.

    Classic Root Beer Float

    Kristina Vanni

  5. Allow the foam to settle. Place the glass back in the freezer for 10 minutes.

    Classic Root Beer Float

    Kristina Vanni

  6. Top with the second scoop of ice cream.

    Classic Root Beer Float

    Kristina Vanni

  7. Pour the remaining half of the root beer over the ice cream, filling it all the way to the top.

    Root beer pouring into a classic root beer float

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  8. Serve immediately with a straw and a long spoon to enjoy every bite of ice cream.

How Do You Drink a Root Beer Float?

For a root beer float, you'll need a straw and a long spoon. A regular spoon works, but a long one (like an iced tea spoon) makes it a little easier to enjoy every bite of ice cream all the way to the bottom of the glass--that is, whatever doesn't melt into the root beer itself and get slurped up in the straw.

Variations

Vanilla is a classic choice with ice cream for so many desserts because it plays beautifully with many flavors and textures. This includes the root beer float.


Sometimes root beer floats with vanilla ice cream are also known as a "black cow." In parts of Northeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, "black cow" is said to mean a portion of the vanilla ice cream and root beer mixed together before filling the glass with scoops of vanilla ice cream and root beer. Furthermore, if you make it with chocolate ice cream, it can also be called a "chocolate cow" or a "brown cow."


Whatever you call it, experiment with the root beer float to see how you feel about making it with chocolate ice cream versus vanilla, or maybe even coffee ice cream.