Copycat Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake Recipe

Learn how to make every delicious aspect of this iconic slice of cake

Copycat Dairy Queen ice cream cake

The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Chill: 3 hrs 30 mins
Total: 4 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 12 to 14
Yield: 1 (9-inch) cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
711 Calories
47g Fat
72g Carbs
8g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 14
Amount per serving
Calories 711
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 47g 60%
Saturated Fat 28g 141%
Cholesterol 113mg 38%
Sodium 188mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 72g 26%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 60g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 1mg 5%
Calcium 181mg 14%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 404mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Cake defines a party. And, if that cake is ice cream cake then it's a sure sign of a good party. As a kid, I pleaded for ice cream cake (needed all the cool points I could get). Specifically, I dreamed of Dairy Queen's iconic ice cream cake. Even if you're not a diehard fan, you still know its distinguishing qualities. Thick layers of creamy chocolate and vanilla ice cream divided by rich fudge sauce and irresistible chocolate cookie crunchies. It's all coated in a luscious whipped topping for the perfect ratio of textures and pops of flavor.

Though it's much easier to buy a pre-made ice cream cake, we all know homemade just tastes so much sweeter. Plus, you can make it just how you like with your favorite ice cream flavors, toppings, and more. That said, once you make homemade hot fudge and those oh-so delicious cookie crunchies, you'll see the virtue of this recipe. It all comes together very quick with most of the time spent hands-off chilling the cake.

If you're short on time or patience, you can use pre-made hot fudge and simply crush the Oreos versus going all the way with the crunchies. I suggest making the cake the day before serving to ensure you have plenty of time to set it. Serve this copycat Dairy Queen ice cream cake for birthdays, Mother's or Father's Day, July Fourth, or any gathering. Just remember, it's a frozen treat so it won't fair well for a long period of time outside in the hot sun.

Hot Debate: Is Ice Cream Cake Really Cake?

We love a good food debate, especially when it's something so near and dear to our hearts as cake. Some believe ice cream cake isn't cake because it doesn't actually contain the baked confection (or at least most don't). Merriam-Webster defines cake as "a sweet baked food made from dough or thick batter containing flour, sugar, shortening, eggs, and a raising agent." If this is the case, then what about gluten-free cakes, unleavened cakes, and so many more dishes that don't fit into this definition? In fact, Merriam-Webster doesn't even recognize "ice cream cake" as a term.


So, where do we stand? Though ice cream isn't baked, it has cooked components, most often a custard. Layered with similar elements, you can coat it in frosting, decorate it, and slice it up just like cake. We might go so far to say we prefer it to the traditional definition of cake.

“This ice cream cake is a fun and indulgent treat, perfect for warm summer days. Make sure to use your favorite ice cream brand and if possible, freeze the cake overnight for it to set completely. To get clean slices, run a sharp chef knife under warm water, wipe it off with a towel and cut the cake. Repeat if necessary.” —Bahareh Niati

Copycat Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake Recipe/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Cookie Crunchies

  • 20 Oreo cookies, or other chocolate sandwich cookies

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

  • 1 ounce coconut oil

For the Hot Fudge Sauce

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • Pinch salt

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

For the Ice Cream Cake & Frosting

  • 1 1/2 quarts store-bought or homemade vanilla ice cream

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 1/2 quarts store-bought or homemade chocolate ice cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Pinch salt

  • Sprinkles, for decorating, optional

Steps to Make It

Make the Cookie Crunchies

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F.

    Ingredients to make the cookie crumble cake filling

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  2. Pulse the cookies in a food processor several times to break into smaller pieces. Add the butter and continue to pulse until you have coarse crumbs. You don't want to crumbs to be too fine like sand, but small enough to make small clusters.

    Chocolate cookies and butter pulsed in a food processor

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  3. Spread the cookie crumbs on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until the cookies are dry and set into clumps, about 10 minutes.

    A baking sheet with cookie crumbs

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  4. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and coconut oil over a double boiler until melted and smooth.

    Melted chocolate and coconut stirred in a large bowl over a pot of water

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  5. Pour the chocolate mixture over the cookie crumbs and fold together until combined. Spread into an even layer. Refrigerate to set while you make the hot fudge sauce.

    Chocolate cookie crumbs being mixed with melted chocolate on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

Make the Hot Fudge

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make hot fudge sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  2. Combine the heavy cream, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking until the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Simmer for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Continue to whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.

    A bowl of melted chocolate sauce being whisked

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  3. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until no clumps remain. Return the saucepan to medium-low heat and cook, stirring continually, until the sauce is glossy and smooth, about 1 minute.

    Let the mixture cool slightly, then transfer to the fridge to cool completely. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

    Cocoa powder being added to the pot of melted chocolate sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

Assemble the Cake & Decorate

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make the ice cream cake

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  2. About 20 minutes before you are ready to assemble the cake, set the vanilla ice cream out to soften. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Alternatively, line the cake pan with plastic wrap.

    An 8-inch cake pan lined with plastic wrap

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  3. Scrape the vanilla ice cream into the prepared pan. Spread the ice cream in an even layer using an offset spatula. Freeze for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, take the chocolate ice cream out of the freezer to soften.

    An 8-inch cake pan with a layer of vanilla ice cream

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  4. Break the chilled cookie mixture into small pieces. Sprinkle about half over the vanilla ice cream layer. Reserve the remaining cookie crunchies for garnish, if desired.

    Cookie crumbs added on top of the vanilla ice cream layer

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  5. Pour about 3/4 of the fudge sauce over the cookie crunchies. Spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Freeze for 10 minutes. Reserve the remaining fudge sauce for serving.

    Chocolate fudge sauce spread on top of cookie layer

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  6. Scrape the chocolate ice cream over the fudge sauce. Gently spread the ice cream into an even layer using an offset spatula (you may have some chocolate ice cream remaining). Make sure to not press too hard as to not disturb the other layers.

    Freeze until the cake is fully set, 2 to 3 hours.

    Chocolate ice cream being added on top of the fudge layer

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  7. Release the cake from the pan by inverting it onto a plate or cardboard round. Wrap a hot kitchen towel around the cake pan until the cake loosens and releases, about 30 seconds.

    Ice cream cake inverted onto a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  8. Remove the pan and smooth the sides with an offset spatula run under hot water. Use the offset spatula to help remove the top of the cake pan. Smooth the top. Return to the freezer while you make the frosting.

  9. Combine the heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.

    A bowl of whipped cream with stiff peaks

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  10. Working quickly, frost the top and sides of the cake as desired. You can use the Wilton #21 or Ateco #844 tips to pipe a border around the top and bottom of the cake. If the cake gets soft as you are frosting, pop it back in the freezer for about 10 minutes and continue.

    Ice cream cake frosted with the whipped cream topping and pipped rosettes

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  11. Garnish with sprinkles and any remaining cookie crunchies, if desired. If serving with the remaining hot sauce, microwave the hot sauce for 10 second intervals to soften. Slice and enjoy.

    Finished ice cream cake topped with sprinkles

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

Tip

  • If you've made this cake without plastic wrap, you can use a kitchen blow torch (if you have one) to loosen the ice cream cake from the pan.
  • You can make this in a regular 8-inch cake pan or square pan lined with plastic wrap. Be sure the pan is about 3-inches deep to accommodate the ice cream and that the plastic overhangs the sides of the pan. Lift the cake out using the plastic wrap as handles.

Variations

  • Feel free to use whatever ice cream flavors you fancy. You can even add an additional ice cream layer if you like.
  • You can swap out the hot fudge sauce for caramel.
  • You can use vanilla cookies or even Biscoff cookies instead of the chocolate cookie crunchies.
  • You could bake a brownie layer for the bottom, then add the remaining layers of ice cream, fudge, crunchies, and frosting.


Fun additions to the middle or on top, include:

Storage

  • You can store the unfinished cake in the freezer for up to 1 week.
  • Store the fully decorated cake in a container in the freezer for up to 5 days.
Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Definition of cake. (n.d.).