Easy and Inventive Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
In the mood for a churro wafflewich? With our simple shortcuts, you've got 'em licked.
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Article, recipes, and photographs by Ashley Strickland Freeman
With summer in full swing, my family often craves something cool (and sweet) after a hot day at the beach, pool, or a bike ride around the neighborhood. Ice cream is typically our go-to. During summers growing up, my sister and I would always listen for the happy tune of the ice cream truck coming down the street and rush outside with our stash of quarters to buy our favorite treat. For me, I’d always choose a giant ice cream-chocolate chip cookie sandwich that was as big as my face or a red, white, and blue rocket popsicle.
Inspired by the ice cream sandwiches I enjoyed as a kid, I thought it would be fun to make three “sort-of-from-scratch” homemade ice cream sandwich recipes using products that you may already have on hand. With the help of refrigerated sugar cookie dough, boxed brownie mix, and frozen waffles, I’ve created some frosty treats that the whole family will love and will even enjoy making with you.
They’re perfect for backyard get-togethers or to keep in the freezer for a treat to cool off after a hot day. Follow along to learn how they go together.
Jump ahead to:
How to make Confetti Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches
First up is my recipe for Confetti Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches. These festive little babies are a big hit with my five-year-old, and he loves creating them with me. We sandwich birthday cake ice cream between glittery sugar cookies, and then roll the edges in colorful confetti sprinkles.
1. Roll and bake sugar cookies
You’re going to start with a package of refrigerated sugar cookie dough that comes pre-portioned into 24 little rounds. After rolling the rounds into balls, give them a swish in a bowl of coarse white sanding sugar. I love the extra crunch and sparkle the sugar gives the cookies as they bake. Alternatively, you could roll the dough in sprinkles or colored sanding sugar, or skip the step altogether.
Set the dough on a baking sheet and follow the package directions, baking about 10 minutes, or just until the cookies are set and the bottoms are golden. This ensures that the cookies will be super soft (and prevent the ice cream from squishing out the sides when you take a bite).
2. Make a log of ice cream
While the cookies bake and cool, scoop slightly softened birthday cake-flavored ice cream onto a couple of sheets of plastic wrap into a log. (This part can be messy, so be sure to work quickly.) After gathering the plastic wrap over the ice cream, shape it into a long cylinder the diameter of the cookies. Then into the freezer it goes for a couple of hours to harden.
3. Slice and assemble the ice cream sandwiches
When you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches, simply unwrap the ice cream onto a cutting board and slice it into 12 equal rounds that fit perfectly onto the sugar cookies, making it easy to roll the edges in confetti sprinkles.
You can eat these immediately or wrap them up and freeze until you’re ready for something sweet.
4. Customize your treat
Besides being great as a make-ahead dessert, the cookie ice cream sandwiches are also super customizable. Grab another refrigerated cookie dough that you love (how about snickerdoodles or oatmeal cookies?) and experiment with other ice cream flavors like chocolate ice cream or peanut butter ice cream. You can even roll the edges in chopped toasted nuts, coconut, or crushed Oreos. Some of my favorite combos are ginger cookies with lemon ice cream, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies with coconut ice cream, and peanut butter cookies with chocolate fudge ice cream.
The possibilities are endless and make for a fun project to enjoy with the kiddos. My son has a summertime birthday, and I have a feeling we’ll be making these this year to celebrate!
How to make Neapolitan Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches
My next almost-from-scratch ice cream sandwich is inspired by classic soft, cake-like chocolate sandwiches filled with vanilla ice cream. I wanted to take that idea and kick it up several notches.
These use boxed brownie mix for the fudgy outsides to sandwich the classic Neapolitan trifecta of strawberry ice cream, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate ice cream. Instead of the pre-packaged Neapolitan combo, I like to buy the flavors separately and make distinct stripes of each for an impressive presentation. (Of course, feel free to buy the already mixed version and scoop and spread the softened ice cream onto the brownies if you prefer.)
I have several tricks when making these.
1. Bake thinner brownies
You’ll follow the directions on the package for making cake-like brownies, but bake them in a 9x13-inch pan instead of a smaller square pan. The brownies turn out about half as tall as normal brownies (and cook in less time), resulting in the perfect thickness of “bread” for sandwiching the ice creams.
2. Pipe the ice cream
While the brownies bake and cool, scoop the ice creams into zip-top bags or pastry bags and re-freeze until they’re firm but still pipeable.
Then cut the cool brownies in half lengthwise into two long rectangles and remove one of the rectangles. (For ease, I cut that rectangle in half crosswise so it comes out of the pan without breaking. This will serve as the top of the sandwiches.)
Now pipe the ice cream into “stripes” onto the brownie still in the pan and gently smooth them out with a small offset spatula.
3. Sandwich and freeze
After setting the other brownie half onto the top of the ice cream and giving it a little press, pop everything in the freezer to harden. It’s also helpful to press a sheet of parchment paper against the side of the brownies with the edges and ice cream exposed to hold everything in place.
4. Slice and serve
Once the big brownie ice cream sandwich is firm, cut it into eight finger-like ice cream bars. You can serve them immediately or wrap and freeze them for later.
5. Customize your treat
Don’t think you have to stop at Neapolitan. These brownie sandwiches are also great with other fillings. Mint chocolate chip ice cream, dark cherry, and coffee are some of my other favorites. Experiment to change it up.
How to make Ice Cream Churro Wafflewiches
This third ice cream sandwich might be my favorite of all. I’ve been on a big churro kick lately. Maybe it’s because I’m dreaming of traveling to some of my favorite places like Bocas del Toro, Panama and Barcelona where you can find the crispy, cinnamon-sugar donut sticks served with coffee or with caramel and chocolate sauces for dunking. I’ve taken those iconic churro flavors and made them into ice cream sandwiches.
1. Start with frozen waffles
No churro-frying here! Toast some frozen waffles, give them a generous brushing of melted butter, and then a bath of sweet cinnamon-sugar.
2. Add caramel ice cream
Now sandwich rich caramel or dulce de leche ice cream between the coated waffles.
3. Freeze, then drizzle with chocolate
Once the sandwiches have firmed up in the freezer, cut them in half and drizzle with thick chocolate sundae syrup. This dessert couldn’t be easier, and man, is it impressive.
4. Customize your treat
The recipe is not limited to churro flavors. You could sprinkle the butter-brushed waffles with a mixture of lemonade concentrate and sugar and fill the sandwiches with vanilla ice cream for a frosted lemonade wafflewich. Or leave the waffles plain, fill them with your favorite ice cream, dip the edges in chocolate shell coating, and sprinkle with candy jimmies.
More semi-homemade ice cream sandwich ideas
Once you get started creating quick-start ice cream sandwiches, you’re going to want to keep experimenting.
Grab a box of graham crackers to use as the “bread” and fill with your favorite ice cream flavor. I like to use rocky road, since it includes marshmallows, reminding me of a grown-ups version of s’mores.
Pick up a container of mini or regular-size bakery cookies instead of baking your own for ice cream cookie sandwiches.
Got any leftover poundcake? Thinly slice it, pop it in the toaster, and fill with strawberry, peach, or other fruity flavored ice cream for a cobbler-inspired ice cream sandwich.
Have I missed any of your favorite ways to make almost-homemade ice cream sandwiches? Be sure to share them on social media and tag @yummly.
Keep exploring cool summer treats
How else will you indulge this summer? We have lots more ideas in the next articles.