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!

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.

FAQs

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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Easy Homemade Gluten Free Ice Cream Cake

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Celebrate birthdays and other special occasions with this gluten free ice cream cake recipe. Customize your gf ice cream cake however you'd like!
Course Cake, Dessert, Ice cream
Cuisine American
Keyword gluten free ice cream cake
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Chilling time 4 hours
Servings 8 slices ice cream layer cake
Author Nicole Hunn

Equipment

Ingredients

For the chocolate cakes

  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose gluten free flour blend (I used Better Batter; please click through for appropriate blends)
  • 1 ⅛ teaspoons xanthan gum omit if your blend already contains it
  • 1 ⅓ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ⅛ cups sour cream at room temperature
  • ¾ cup neutral oil (vegetable, grapeseed, peanut, canola all work)
  • 3 eggs at room temperature, beaten
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ⅛ cups warm water (about 80°F)

For the cookie crunch layer

For the chocolate sour cream frosting

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed is fine)
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¾ cup sour cream at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the ice cream filling

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease 2 9-inch round baking pans and set them aside.

Prepare the chocolate cakes.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and sugar, and whisk to combine well.
  • Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla, and water, and mix to combine well. The batter should be very thickly pourable.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans, smooth into an even layer and place in the center of the preheated oven.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out mostly clean or with a few moist crumbs attached (about 30 minutes), rotating the cakes in the oven halfway through baking. Do not overbake.
  • Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare the cookie crunch.

  • In a medium-sized bowl, place the chocolate sandwich cookie crumbles.
  • In a separate, small bowl, place the chopped chocolate and coconut oil and melt in the microwave in short, 30-second bursts until melted and smooth.
  • Pour the melted chocolate and coconut oil mixture over the top of the cookie crumbles. Mix to combine, and set aside.

Prepare the optional frosting.

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl with a handheld mixer, whip the butter until light and fluffy (at least 4 minutes).
  • Add the cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar, salt, sour cream, and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until the powder is absorbed by the butter.
  • Turn the mixer speed up to high and beat until very well-combined and light and fluffy but holds its shape. Set the frosting aside.

Prepare the pan for assembly

  • If you’re using an acetate cake collar, cut a piece of acetate that a bit longer than the circumference of the springform pan.
  • With the pan disassembled, position the acetate collar along the perimeter of the bottom of the pan, with the ends overlapping one another a bit.
  • Place the rim of the pan in place, and close it around the acetate collar, avoiding any buckling of the collar.

Assemble & freeze the cake.

  • Place the first cake on the bottom of the springform pan, right side up.
  • Add about 2/3 of the chocolate crunch pieces into the prepared ice cream, and mix gently to combine. Scrape the ice cream onto the top of the bottom cake in the pan, and spread it into an even layer.
  • Scatter the remaining 1/3 of the chocolate crunch evenly on top of the ice cream.
  • Top with the second chocolate cake layer, positioned upside down, so the top of the cake is completely smooth and level. Press the top cake down firmly to help the layers adhere to one another.
  • Transfer the prepared chocolate frosting to the top of the layer cake, and spread it into an even layer with a large spatula.
  • Place the cake in the freezer to set for about 4 hours or until the ice cream is firm to the touch, but the cake can still be cut.

Serve.

  • Release the sides of the springform pan and lift off the acetate collar. If the chocolate cake is fully frozen, allow the cake to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes or until you can slice the cake.
  • Using a large serrated knife, slice the cake in half, straight down the middle. Slice the halves of cake into wedges and serve.

Video

Notes

Originally published on the blog in 2013 as a layered vanilla and chocolate semifreddo ice cream cake. Chocolate crunch layer unchanged, recipe otherwise new in 2022.

The post Easy Homemade Gluten Free Ice Cream Cake appeared first on Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

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