24 Ice Cream Hacks You Should Try This Summer

If you love ice cream, you're not alone. According to the IDFA, the United States economy scoops up some $13.1 billion each year from the country's ice cream lovers. And the top flavors? You better believe we're playing nothing but the hits: Per a YouGovAmerica poll conducted in 2020, chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry take the gold, silver, and bronze.

So, how did this beloved delicacy come to be? According to the BBC, ice cream got its start in China during the Tang Dynasty, although a milky dish packed in ice was created some 800 years earlier. Far later, the U.S. was to become the home of the ice cream sundae. As the Farmers' Almanac notes, multiple American cities claim they were the first to create the dish. As legend has it, sundaes were invented by soda fountain shop employees who wanted to come up with something they could sell on Sundays that weren't soda-based floats. At the time, sodas were a no-no on that day of the week, but sundaes were totally cool.

Now that we've finished our history lesson, let us celebrate with some cool ice cream hacks worth trying this summer. 

Use a soda bottle top to swirl ice cream for a cone

Some of the best food hacks are the old-school ones that use common things found around the house. You won't believe what a pretty swirl of ice cream you can make for a cone using a Ziploc bag along with the top and lid of a soda bottle. This Chefclub Network tip also suggests placing cones open-side down on individual bowls and pouring melted caramel around to jazz them up even more.

First, you'll want to take a plastic water bottle lid and cut a star shape into it and snip off one of the corners of your plastic baggie. Then, cut off the top of the water bottle, reattach the star lid, and stick the bottle end through the hole in the Ziploc from the inside, so it pokes out. Scoop some ice cream into your DIY piping bag and then squeeze the ice cream into the cones in a circular motion. The star shape creates a cool soft-serve look. While you could have your sous chef hold each of the cones upright, Chefclub recommends poking holes in the bottom of upside-down paper cuts to create a makeshift cone stand. 

Before you add the ice cream, fill the cone with chocolate sauce or chocolate-hazelnut spread. And then, dress the whole thing up with your favorite toppings. 

Add olive oil and salt to your dessert

No, that is not a typo. While it may sound bonkers to some to add olive oil and salt to a dessert, it's certainly not the first time this idea has garnered attention. Frankly, olive oil sounds tame when compared to Britain's maverick celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal's extraordinary invention of bacon and egg ice cream, but is a game-changing hack, as noted by TikTok user @himynameissherrie.

According to the post, the only way to eat vanilla ice cream is with a good drizzle of olive oil. This is followed by a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt. One commented called the idea life-changing. While that may be somewhat exaggerated, the merit of this recipe hack was tested in a feature by BuzzFeed. The verdict was that the key to success is to make sure you don't add too much salt, and it'll take a few bites before you realize you've been won over. Lovers of sweet-salty savory and dessert dishes are sure to love this. 

Make dairy-free ice cream from bananas

If you're going to be pedantic, then you could say that a recipe that creates ice cream that's not made with any dairy ingredients whatsoever, isn't technically ice cream. However, a dairy-free hack showcased in The Big Man's World does create a creamy dessert that tastes a lot like ice cream. So you may want to give it a try, especially if you want to cut back on the dairy or maintain a vegan diet. If you're following a low-calorie diet, then the good news is that there's no added sugar to this "ice cream" either. 

To make, toss some chopped up bananas into a blender with unsweetened or dark cocoa powder. That's it. You can either pop in the freezer for a couple of hours to achieve a classic ice cream consistency or serve as is for a soft-serve texture. You can make the concoction creamier by adding in some unsweetened almond or coconut milk, and if you would like to up the sweetness, use maple syrup. Play around with different flavors, adding strawberries instead of bananas, with or without the chocolatey cocoa. You can also use chocolate chips and peppermint extract if you're a fan of mint chocolate chip. Peanut butter is also a great ingredient to add to the blender and goes perfectly with bananas.

Freeze whipped cream for an easy ice cream recipe

Store-bought ice creams really vary in terms of ingredients, quality, and most definitely price. It's no wonder that everyone loves a scoop of creamy, homemade ice cream then. However, it's not something that most make that often, perhaps because it can be quite time consuming. A fun, creative hack by Sprinkle Some Fun could have you whipping up some ice cream-esque, frozen swirls in just over an hour. And the secret is freezing some chocolate whipped cream.

Whip your cream with some cocoa powder, and then pipe the mix into a batch of soft-serve swirls on a sheet of baking paper. You can make twelve of these dollops if you use a cup of heavy whipping cream, adding four tablespoons of cocoa powder, sweetener, and a pinch of sea salt. Pop the parchment paper into the freezer, and be sure to let them thaw for a couple of minutes when it's time to dig in. Experiment with flavors, such as adding in vanilla extract. And yes, if you want to make this hack even easier, you can use whipped cream from a can, too.

Add in whipped cream for a lower calorie dessert

There's no two ways about it, ice cream is very rarely high up on the go-to dessert list if you're counting calories, trying to cut down on sugar, or wanting to eat less fat. It's definitely an indulgent treat. The reason it tastes so good is perhaps the same reason why this frozen delight is so rich and calorific. But where there's a will there's a way, and a healthy diet doesn't necessarily have to mean forgoing the creamy wonderfulness of ice cream. All you need to do is look for a hack that somehow lets you enjoy a scoop or two of guilt-free, frozen dessert pleasure. 

One way to lower the calorie count? Whipped cream. As one Reddit user suggested, "Lite whip cream has significantly less calories but mixing the two doesn't impact the flavor that much." Not only that, but the texture is incredibly creamy. According to Treat Dreams, to successfully whip light cream and achieve a thicker consistency before you combine it with ice cream, be sure to add milk and gelatin. 

Stop ice cream hardening by putting it in a bag

It's hot outside, and all you want is a soft, melt-in-the-mouth scoop of ice cream. But when you open the tub and dig in, it's hard as a rock and all you can do is patiently wait until it thaws out enough to get a spoonful before the sun goes down. Or, you hack away at the surface as if you're attacking a layer of ice with a pick. It's a scenario that's familiar to many, but totally avoidable, if you follow a simple tip that is. Posting on Instagram, author and "This Morning" hack expert @lynsey_queenofclean has a pretty straightforward solution. All you need is a large zip-top plastic bag.

Put your container of ice cream into a Ziploc or sealable bag that's suitable for the freezer, and close it. This keeps the oxygen from getting into the dessert, and less oxygen means less hardening. As one Reddit user pointed out, this bagging method also prevents your ice cream from getting freezer burn. Whatever the science, it also prevents you from getting too frustrated when all you want is a scoopful that's soft and creamy, not hard and icy.

Make ice cream in a bag with ice cubes

If there was a quicker way to whip up a fresh batch of ice cream, then many more people would no doubt be tempted to try their hand at making their own. While it may seem that there's no way round this, there are hacks out there that suggest otherwise. Likewise, there are also tips to cut back on the sugar in ice cream, too. One trick that's quick and doesn't involve any added sugar has been shared by Sandra Jeenie Kwon, aka @jeenie.weenie. The TikTok star wanted to try making a keto-friendly vanilla ice cream, in a bag, in just over 10 minutes, so that's what she did. 

To follow her lead, make a shot of espresso and add in a tablespoon of monk fruit sweetener, along with a ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a cup of heavy whip cream. Stir together and cool in the fridge. Add to a sealable bag and in a larger bag add some ice cubes and sprinkle in some salt to make the ice colder. Put the sealed ice cream mix bag into the icy bag and seal. All you need to do is shake for 10 minutes and when you open your bag you should be able to scoop out some delicious ice cream.

Slice hard ice cream instead of scooping

Do you know when you're so used to doing something one way, that it simply never crosses your mind to try it any other way? Well, that's certainly the case when it comes to ice cream, which you generally scoop out of a tub. After all, there's even a dedicated utensil fit for purpose; ice cream parlors always use an ice cream scoop whether they're making a sundae, a cone or serving the dessert in a bowl. But what if you not following this tradition was actually going to help you out? TikTok user @athomewithshannon posted an ice cream serving hack that's less of a scoop and more of a slice.

Instead of struggling to scoop out ice cream from a tub, when you're trying to get enough for a kids' party, for example, cut your carton in half lengthways instead. Peel off the carton so you have two blocks of ice cream and then use a knife to cut slices instead. It's much easier and you can still make sure everyone's got the same amount. It definitely sounds a lot less hassle than trying to scrape out the last spoonfuls from a tub, too.

Make frozen yogurt pot popsicles with spoons

The problem with cones is that when the ice cream melts on top, it can slide off and end up on the floor — or at best, dribble down onto your hands if you don't eat it fast enough. However, if you don't want to trade that ice cream taste for an icy popsicle on a stick, then you may find a TikTok hack posted by @adrianghervan worth trying. Instead of ice cream on a stick, it's a yogurt pot frozen on a spoon.

Rather than peeling off the top of a yogurt cup, push a teaspoon through the lid. Freeze the whole thing for a minimum of four hours. Once it's frozen, pull the lid away from the top of the pot so that it's still around the spoon. Pull the frozen yogurt out of the cup and hold it like a popsicle, with the lid acting as a drip tray as it melts. Add some toppings, as you would with a regular ice cream cone, and enjoy. This is also a great way to replace ice cream with yogurt without feeling as if you're missing out on a creamy dessert. 

Try the viral spicy soft serve craze

Spicy ice cream? Is that really a thing, you might ask? As out there as it may sound, this unconventional idea is a viral hit. As Fine Dining Lovers notes, the combination of chili oil and ice cream that began in China quickly became a global phenomenon. Adding chili oil to a McDonald's sundae has become a trend that's been tried and tested by many. After drizzling some of the hot oil on top of his sundae, TikTok user @ryanpaturzo describes the taste as salty, sweet, and crunchy. 

While the thought of adding a kick to ice cream didn't come from the fast-food chain, the company soon picked up the idea. In 2021, a limited-edition Spicy Chili Oil Sundae was introduced to a members-only "creative" menu in China. Served in a sundae cup, the soft serve is topped with crispy chili infused oil. As if that's not strange enough, peppers, onion, and garlic were also added to the mix, per Hypebeast. While garlic on an ice cream may be a step too far, the contrast of cool soft serve and hot chilis in one mouthful has to be an adventure for the taste buds.

Try Korea's soft serve iced coffee craze

Perhaps because McDonald's soft serve sundaes are so darn popular, it's no surprise that they've become the center of a hack that's caught taste buds across the world. One new idea involving the fast food cones started in Korea and soon became a viral must-try just about everywhere. It basically involves dipping the soft serve into one of the restaurant chain's iced latte coffees, so that you get a creamier taste as the cone melts. As Taste of Home notes, this delicacy, which is called the McBassett, was inspired by Korean coffee chain Paul Bassett, where the ice cream latte is a signature drink.

Aussie TikTok user @adrianwidjy tried the trend out by dipping the cone ice cream first into his latte from McDonald's. If you want to see what the fuss is about, then get yourself a cone and as you dip it, place it at an angle, so that it melts into the coffee rather than drop down or bobs out. Watch as the soft serve melts into your coffee and enjoy a creamy caffeine shot. However, since there was some spillage in the TikTok post, it might make sense to take a sip of your latte before trying this out. Nobody's going to know if you have a taste of your soft serve before you dunk it either.   

How to check if ice cream has been refrozen

Because ice cream melts so fast when it's out of the freezer, you have to be mindful of how long it's been sitting on the counter. What's definitely not a good idea is to put melted ice cream back into the chiller so it freezes up again, as this could lead to food poisoning. But how can you tell if ice cream has once been thawed out and put back in the deep freeze? After all, it still looks the same, doesn't it? Well, not quite. As the Ben & Jerry's website points out, there are a few easy ways to identify a batch that has been melted and refrozen. 

Basically, ice cream that's been un-melted will look smaller than it did before because it loses air after it's been frozen again. As Well+Good notes, you can also assume your frozen ice cream was once left out for too long if the container is a bit tacky to the touch, thanks to condensation. Another clue to look out for is a grainy texture that also looks like it's got crystals in it. Per Science ABC, these icy crystals are larger than when the ice cream is first made, and how a lot of air is whipped into the frozen dessert and as it melts and this is dispersed, the ice cream looks a lot more like an ice cube than the creamy delight it once was.

Turn ice cream into sweet bread

No, this is not a joke. The idea of turning ice cream into sweet bread has to be one of the greatest hacks, if only because it sounds so implausible. Not only is this a real culinary tip, it's also not complicated in the slightest. According to Wonder How To, all you need is some self-raising flour and you can turn ice cream into a doughy delight. If you think about it, to make cakes and bread you really only require flour, fat, sugar and maybe eggs, so, logically speaking, a pint of creamy dessert is the perfect bread-making ingredient.

Make a loaf with a couple of cups of ice cream that's softened. Mix in 1½ cups of the flour and 2 teaspoons of salt. Once you've created your pourable batter dough, bake it for 45 minutes at 350 F. Add in other ingredients for a different flavor if you like. A discussion about the recipe on Reddit includes a tip to use an electric whisk to soften up the ice cream further after it's been left out of the freezer. Another comment suggests that the sweetened bread is perfect for ice cream sandwiches. 

Make boozy strawberry ice cream in 45 seconds

British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver celebrates summer with a cool ice cream hack that takes inspiration from Wimbledon's strawberries and cream tradition.  The creative culinary wizard doesn't let this classic dessert deter him from suggesting a spin on the recipe. The hack element that really appeals? You only need to set aside about a minute to make this treat.

Throw in equal parts frozen strawberries and yogurt into a blender, and add a tablespoon of honey. The fruit is smashed up into an icy dessert immediately. In keeping with the British summer theme, the chef then adds in a thimble of Pimm's liqueur, which is the key ingredient in Meghan Markle's favorite summertime cocktails. Once the gin-based spirit has been added, give the ingredients another quick blitz. You can also add in some mint and some orange zest if you like, which again, follows the flavor profile of the classic cocktail. Use a hot spoon to scoop it out and the result is a velvety, fruity, boozy ice cream. Serve alone or add it to a smashed meringue with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on top before adding more meringue. You could also smash up some shortbread in a clean tea towel, and cover a scoop of the Pimm's ice cream, for a deconstructed strawberry shortbread experience. 

Enjoy Bubblewrap and Bubble Wrap ice cream

Did you know that Bubble Wrap was first developed in the '50s as a decorative, 3D wallpaper? According to The Packaging Company, it wasn't until it was later introduced to IBM as a packaging material that it became the packing tool it is today. But that doesn't mean to say that it has to only stick with this purpose. Now, you may be wondering what this could possibly have to do with ice cream. Enter the ice cream-filled egg waffle cone, a dessert inspired by a classic Hong Kong street treat. Per Eater and Vice, the traditional egg waffle is used as an ice cream cone that looks like — you guessed it — bubble wrap. You can find next-level bubble waffle ice cream concoctions at a London-based establishment called Bubblewrap.

However, you can also use real Bubble Wrap to stop ice cream from melting too quickly as well. The wrapping doesn't make things cold, but what it does do is protect them against the heat. The little bubbles of air trap the heat or rather don't let it be transferred as quickly. As Temperature Master notes, if you don't have a cool bag when you go do your grocery shopping, then you could stop your ice cream from melting, or at least slow that process down, by wrapping your carton in Bubble Wrap. This could well be a good idea if you're travelling a short distance for a picnic too and want to sit in the sun with a sundae.

Make air fryer ice cream

You don't have to go to the county fair to satisfy your deep-fried ice cream craving. No, it's probably not the healthiest sweet you can make, but it sure is decadent. Of course, the air fryer has become a game changer for so many dishes, and so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise to learn that you can also use this magical piece of kitchen kit to fry ice cream, too. 

Mum Central tested an ice cream ball recipe in an air fryer, noting that the key to success is rock hard ice cream and an air fryer that hasn't been preheated. Freeze a ball of ice cream for an hour. Crush biscuit cookies and, if you like, add in dried coconut. Roll the ice cream ball in this mix, and after your creation has spent another hour in the freezer, take it out for an egg, milk, and vanilla extract bath. Next — you guessed it — freeze it again. After it spends another hour in the freezer, you take it out again for yet another egg, milk, and vanilla bath. And then, it goes chiller overnight. Once that step is done, pop it in the air fryer for a few minutes at around 400 F. When the fried ice cream is good to go, the exterior should be crunchy but not burnt. 

Empty Nutella and peanut butter jars with ice cream

Why try and wash out sticky jars when you can create a whole new ice cream flavor instead? Okay, it might seem somewhat decadent to finish up something sweet by adding something creamy and sweet to it, but it's definitely not wasteful! This is a hack for anyone who has ever tried to scrape the last remnants of yumminess out of a Nutella jar. To make the most of your sweet spreadable, and this works just as well with peanut butter, add a dollop of ice cream to your nearly empty jars. Wonder How To recommends swirling the ice cream around so it picks up what remains in the container and creates a new flavor. 

A TikTok post by @cake_mail also suggests actually making ice cream in your Nutella jar. You need about half a jar of the sweet spread left for this hack. Add in thickened cream, close the lid and give it a good shake. Put the jar into the freezer for a couple of hours and you have Nutella ice cream. You can enjoy it straight from the jar if you're feeling especially decadent. Imagine how good this tastes. There are no words.

Create cookie cutter ice cream sandwiches

Trust no-nonsense advice to come from The Pioneer Woman for a down-to-earth, classic American dessert favorite: ice cream sandwiches. The crux of this super simple tip is to use a cookie cutter. Although you do need some time to make these, it's worth it. Line two baking trays with parchment paper and spread a layer of ice cream on one and freeze for at least 90 minutes. Whether you use store-bought our homemade cookies, make sure you've got a cookie cutter that's about the same size to ensure your ice cream rounds fit. Push the paper from underneath to help lift the cutouts off. Sandwich this between two cookies, smoothing it out if you like. Put your ice cream sandwiches onto your second tray and freeze. You can also roll the edge of your sandwich in sprinkles for some color. 

Of course, there's more than one way to get the right size and shape for the ice cream filling. Cool Mom Eats draws on tips that have been passed around online, when suggesting a simple slicing hack: Cut a cold pint of ice cream into slices. You're going to need a sharp, serrated knife for this. Once you've added each slice to the cookie sandwich, just take off the wrapping that's around the ice cream from the carton and it should be wonderfully smooth all the way around.

Get inspired by Thai rolled ice cream

There's a whole world of ice cream out there, and a really cool style is the ice cream roll, which is popular in Thailand. Wonderfully thin, what makes this dessert pop are the toppings. If you're not quite sure what these rolls are, they're basically from sweet milk being chopped about on an ultra cold steel surface so that air gets in and creates ice cream. This is then thinly spread and then rolled, with a tub full of the rolls creating one serving. As Wonder How To maps out, if you want to roll ice cream at home, be sure to put the ice cream, bowls, and paint scrapers (yes, as in the tool used for stripping off paint) in the freezer for 15 minutes to make sure all of your tools stay just cold enough to create and maintain rolls.

Another important step is that once you've made your ice cream mix in a skillet, freeze it for four hours. If you take out the ice cream too soon, then it will become mushy, and you won't achieve those super attractive thin rolls that are so Instagram-friendly. You also need to add toppings into your creamy base mixture of milk, heavy cream, and sugar once it's cooled down. 

Serve party cones in a cupcake tray

Unless you work at an ice cream shop, you probably do not spend a lot of time assembling cones en masse. However, if you've ever been on ice cream duty at a kids' birthday party, you know it can get a little chaotic. Imagine, it's a hot day and you have a big tub of ice cream that's either hard and difficult to scoop or perhaps too soft. What's more, when you get down into the carton, it's challenging to get a good serving. Thankfully, TikTok user @brunchwithbabs has the answer. And it's genius.

Line a cupcake tray, add a scoop of ice cream to each cup, and put the tray into the freezer. You're only going to take these out when you're ready to serve up your cones. Like @brunchwithbabs, food writer Justin Chapple recommends dropping a little marshmallow in the cone before you plop the ice cream on — not only does it make for a surprise sweet treat at the end of the ice cream road, but it'll keep drippings at bay. When it's time to prep, simply push an upside down cone into one of the frozen scoops so that ice cream sticks to it. Turn the cone upright and peel off the cupcake liner. Mess-free and probably the quickest way to get a lot of cones out to eager partygoers at the same time.

Prevent freezer burn by adding parchment paper

Some of the most loved hacks are not necessarily the most earth-shattering. They're popular because they fix a simple problem in a straightforward way and don't take a lot of time, effort, or money to try out. Real Simple's got a hack, for example, that'll help you avoid ice crystals forming on the top of your ice cream. That icy layer on top is what's commonly called freezer burn, and to get rid of it all you need to do is leave your ice cream out of the freezer long enough to take the crystals with your scoop before digging in. 

While they're okay to eat, the ice doesn't add to the creamy texture of ice cream, so if you want to stop it forming altogether then you can follow a really simple step. All you need to do is add some parchment paper inside your carton. Lay it flat on top of the ice cream. What this does it is takes out some of the air, so that the moisture isn't able to evaporate and condense inside the tub as easily, which is what creates that icy top on your ice cream. 

Create chocolate ice cream pops

Is it an ice cream? Is it a lollipop? Is it a chocolate bonbon? What if it was all three? Take the idea of ice cream out of a bowl and off of a cone and try something new such as chocolate covered ice cream pops. What's great about these creative sweets is that they're perfect for kids who can grab one of these and enjoy at a party without dealing with a cone that's filled with a lot of ice cream and becomes soggy or scoops in a sundae dish that are destined to melt. This idea, showcased in a feature on Today, is courtesy of Justin Chapple, "Mad Genius Tips" author and Food & Wine magazine expert.

You need a small scoop that's 1-inch in diameter for this recipe. Scoop the ice cream and put the balls onto a baking tray that's been lined with wax paper. Stick popsicle sticks in each ball and freeze so that they harden up. Make Chapple's Chocolate Shell recipe, with a chocolate sauce that hardens when it comes into contact with cold ice cream. All you need is a pound of bittersweet chocolate, coconut oil, a touch of salt, and a microwave. Dip your ice cream balls into this chocolate, add some sprinkles on the top, and freeze on the baking sheet once again until they're ready to be enjoyed.

Eat ice cream from an insulated mug with ice

A good recipe hack can be inspirational, for sure, but don't you just love those tips that are literal no-brainers and take zero effort? These are the types of suggestions that you just know you're going to follow from this day forward, no matter. And for that reason they're way more user-friendly on a day-to-day level. If you've ever eaten an ice cream only to have it melting and dripping down your hands, or just melting way before you've finished it, then this idea posted by Twitter user @DonaldtheAZN is for you.

Get a pint of ice cream and put it in a Yeti cup. If you're not familiar with what one of these is, it's an insulated tumbler that keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. There's no reason why it can't be used as a holder for your ice cream too. If you really want to take your time with your ice cream pint, or it's a particularly hot day, you can also add an extra-cold icy blast by placing some ice cubes in the bottom, before you add the carton, as well. 

Use melted ice cream as crème anglaise

Want to make the thin, custardy sauce that is crème anglaise using ice cream? Look no further than the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten. In her book "Cook Like A Pro," the Food Network star explains how: "Vanilla ice cream is essentially crème anglaise that's been frozen. I reverse the process and end up with crème anglaise!" Of course, as Lifehacker points out, this probably only works if you use a good quality ice cream that isn't packed full of stabilizers. In her recipe for vanilla brioche bread pudding, Garten encourages taking defrosted ice cream and spooning it over the baked dessert once it's out of the oven. 

Rather than throw ice cream that's been accidentally left out, or put in the fridge instead of the freezer by mistake, you can put it to good use. Next time you've got some melted ice cream, why not create a wonderful dessert that's only going to be that much more appealing with this creamy sauce spooned luxuriously over the top. How easy and delicious is that?