Fried Ice Cream Recipe

Fried Ice Cream Recipe

Fried ice cream is a dessert made of a scoop of ice cream that is frozen solid and covered in a crispy coating or batter before being flash-fried in hot oil to crisp the outside while keeping the ice cream cold on the inside. It’s a delicious combination of creamy and crunchy.

Some say fried ice cream first debuted at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, while others claim a company in Philadelphia invented it in 1894. Some argue that fried ice cream actually traces its history to the 1960s where it was invented as a dessert in Japanese tempura restaurants. It’s also a popular treat at American Mexican restaurants. Regardless of its origins, it’s a delicious treat that adults and kids will love.

The secret to making fried ice cream is creating a thick coating around the frozen ice cream balls so the outside can cook in the hot oil while the ice cream remains safely frozen inside. This is achieved by not only coating with layers of crushed cereal and coconut, but also dipping the frozen ice cream balls in a mixture of egg whites and sugar. This helps the coating adhere and creates a shell that is necessary for frying without melting the ice cream. Once fried, the ice cream balls can be drizzled with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, or even honey.

“The fried ice cream was excellent. I liked the coconut in the cinnamon cornflake mixture, and the recipe worked perfectly. Make sure to allow plenty of time for the freezing steps. Fried ice cream is a fun dessert that kids—and grownups—will love!” —Diana Rattray

fried ice cream/tester image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream

  • 2 cups crushed cornflake cereal

  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 3 large egg whites

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • Neutral oil for frying, such as canola or vegetable

  • Chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, or honey for drizzling

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make fried ice cream

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Place six scoops of ice cream, about 3 inches in diameter, on a baking sheet. Freeze for at least 2 hours or until very firm.

    Six scoops of ice cream on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. In a shallow bowl, combine the cornflake crumbs, coconut, and cinnamon.

    A bowl with cornflakes, coconut, and cinnamon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Roll the frozen ice cream balls in the crumb mixture. Place them back on the baking sheet and freeze again for at least 30 minutes. Reserve the remaining crumb mixture for the next steps.

    Ice cream scoops rolled in cornflake mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites and sugar until foamy.

    A bowl of frothy egg whites with sugar

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Dip the coated ice cream balls into the egg mixture, then roll again in the reserved crumb mixture, coating completely. Freeze again for 1 hour. Meanwhile, chill a medium bowl or plate in the refrigerator.

    Cornflake-covered ice cream in egg whites and dipped in more cornflake mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. When ready to fry, heat about 3-inches of oil in a medium heavy-duty saucepan to 375 F. Set the chilled plate next to the pan. Remove one ball of ice cream at a time from the freezer. Quickly dip into the hot oil until the coating turns crisp and brown, 8 to 10 seconds.

    Ice cream frying in oil

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. Remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and place on the chilled plate. Repeat with the remaining ice cream balls. Serve immediately with a drizzle of sauce, if desired.

    Three servings of fried ice cream topped with sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Tip

If you want to prepare fried ice cream balls in advance for use later, after coating them in the first layer of cornflake mixture, wrap each rolled ball in plastic wrap and transfer to a freezer bag. They can be frozen like this for up to two months before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

Recipe Variations

  • For gluten-free fried ice cream, use gluten-free corn flakes and check the labels on all other ingredients.
  • Use dairy-free ice cream for dairy-free fried ice cream.
  • Dress the fried ice cream up with a whipped cream and maraschino cherries.

Is Fried Ice Cream Chinese?

Fried ice cream has origins in both Japanese and Mexican restaurants in the U.S., however, there is evidence of possible fried ice cream in Chinese cuisine dating back to the 1800s.

Is Fried Ice Cream Really Mexican?

Although we often associate fried ice cream with Mexican restaurants, the origins of the dish can be traced back to U.S. state fairs as well as Japanese tempura restaurants. Fried ice cream in the United States is often associated with the Mexican restaurant chain Chi-Chi's ,which debuted the menu item back in the 1980s; but it likely originated much earlier.

Why Doesn’t Fried Ice Cream Melt?

Fried ice cream doesn't melt because the ice cream is frozen solid to a very cold temperature and then coated with a crispy shell or batter before being quickly dipped in hot oil. This allows the outside to cook and crisp before even reaching the ice cream center.

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