Ice cream nachos are like a huge plate of ice cream sundaes. It’s a super fun dessert for kids and the whole family. Ice cream, bananas, and waffle cone chips are topped with chocolate syrup, whipped cream, sprinkles, and Maraschino cherries to create an easy dessert that’s pure magic on a hot summer day.
We’re sadly nearing the end of summer and as a way to close out these warmer months (even though it’s still hella-hot), we made these fun ice cream nachos last weekend to celebrate. Both my boys are in school now so this was a fun way to kick off the school year and say goodbye to summer. But, it’s also the perfect dessert to make any time and is perfect for birthday parties or special events. It’s also super easy to make!
Why this recipe works
I love this recipe so much! It’s quick to pull together and is a fun summer treat for a birthday party, or when you just want to spoil your kids.
- Easy. There’s no baking involved here - just pull together the ingredients you want to use and pile them on a large platter.
- Fun. These ice cream nacho sundaes are a seriously FUN summer treat. I dare you to present this to a group of kids and not hear squeals of delight.
- So customizable. You can completely customize this dish based on what you like. Choose your own ice cream flavors, pick different types of cones or chips, and customize your toppings.
- Quick. This dessert comes together quickly - in fact, you really have to hustle when you make it to ensure that it doesn’t all melt by the time you serve it! Still, it’s an easy 5-minute dessert to make that creates a huge impact.
You can find everything you need for these summer dessert nachos at your local grocery store.
- Waffle cone chips or Pizzelle cookies. For this recipe, I used Pizzelle cookies, broken in half. But you can easily make waffle cone “chips” by breaking up a waffle cone into chip-sized pieces.
- Ice cream cones (sugar cones or waffle cones). I also added whole sugar cones here to make it fun for the kids to scoop out the nachos into their own “cones”.
- Ice cream. This is of course a staple for ice cream nachos. Choose your own flavor - vanilla ice cream is always a crowd-pleaser. I used Neapolitan, which is a combination of vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate ice cream, which makes a fun presentation with the different colors and provides a little variety.
- Chocolate syrup. Chocolate syrup or chocolate sauce is easy to use and I like it because it’s cold and doesn’t contribute to the ice cream melting faster as hot fudge would. However, there are lots of different sauces you can use, especially based on the flavors of ice cream you’re using.
- Colorful sprinkles. A MUST! This makes the dish fun.
- Whipped cream. The whipped cream is fun and adds a light texture to the sundae.
- Maraschino cherries. A classic ice cream sundae staple.
How To Make Ice Cream Nachos
This dessert nacho recipe takes almost no time to make. You’ll want to work quickly here as the ice cream will melt quickly! Here’s how to make this simple dessert.
Start by choosing your serving tray. This will largely depend on how many people you’re serving, but don’t go too big - it’s not easy to save leftovers! I was serving just a handful of kids so used a large pie plate but you could use a larger serving platter, or even a baking tray if you’re serving a larger group.
Add the bananas. I used two bananas, chopped in half, then halved lengthwise. Arrange these around the edges of the tray.
Add the waffle cone chips or Pizzelles. I tucked these all around the bananas to start. You can always add in more once you have your ice cream in place.
Add the ice cream! Use big round scoops of ice cream (larger scoops will take longer to melt). Arrange them around the platter evenly.
Fill in any open spots with dollops of whipped cream. Use a can to dispense cream here - it’s much easier than making your own and makes for a nicer presentation since it comes out so pretty.
Add the chocolate syrup, sprinkles, and Maraschino cherries. I love using colorful sprinkles here to make this dish fun. And the cherries are non-negotiable in my opinion.
Add any extra toppings. At this point, your dish should be pretty complete, but feel free to add extra cones around the edges as I did, more waffle cone chips tucked into the sides, or other toppings.
There are so many ways to customize these dessert nachos depending on the flavor combinations you’re going for or your favorite toppings. Here are some ideas:
- Change the ice cream flavor. As I said above, I used a Neopolitan tub of ice cream but you can get as fancy as you want here. There are so many unique ice cream flavors to choose from - or you could even make your own! (You can even make this dessert a bit more sophisticated by choosing a more adult flavor like coffee ice cream.
- Change up the sauce. Caramel sauce, hot fudge, fruit topping, or butterscotch are all popular nacho sundae toppings. You can also even use a “hard shell” ice cream topping, which will harden up once it dries, adding a different texture to the dessert.
- Use different “chips”. Cinnamon sugar chips are another great option to use here. Pieces of Italian biscotti would also make for a fun variation.
- Change up the toppings. There are so many options here so choose your favorite ice cream toppings. See the list of ideas below.
Ice Cream Nacho Topping Ideas
Wondering what you can put on ice cream nachos? So many things!
- Hot fudge
- Caramel sauce
- Fruit sauce
- Butterscotch sauce
- Magic shell
- Large chunks of fresh fruit - think pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, or even fresh cherries.
- Chocolate chips
- Peanut butter chips
- Mini M&Ms
- Chopped nuts - Peanuts are an obvious choice but walnuts or even pecans would be great too.
- Cookies - A great way to add some different flavors and textures. Oreos, circus cookies, chocolate cookies, or even shortbread are all good options.
- Candy. In addition to M&Ms, Reece's pieces, heath bars, butterfingers or any other candy bar are also great additions.
- Mini marshmallows
- Marshmallow drizzle
How To Serve Ice Cream Nachos.
This is probably one of the hardest things to figure out - it looks amazing….but then what? Serving this dessert can be tricky, so here are a few options:
- Scoop it into individual small bowls. This is probably the easiest, especially if you have a lot of kids looking to get their hands on this yummy dessert. Simply take a spoon and scoop some into bowls so that they each have their own individual serving.
- Serve it as an ice cream nacho bar. Another alternative is to forgo the assembly up front and create an ice cream bar, where you scoop ice cream into bowls and then just allow people to choose their own toppings. This is super fun and interactive for a kid's birthday party.
- Allow everyone to dig in. If you’re super daring, you can simply let everyone go to it from the serving bowl. Although this makes for a rather chaotic process! (But still fun if you don’t mind the mess!)
- Work quickly. You’ll want to make sure that you’re assembling these ice cream nachos quickly, as the ice cream will start to melt immediately when you put it onto the serving platter.
- Re-freeze your ice cream scoops. One way to make the process go a bit smoother and give you a bit more time is to refreeze your ice cream scoops. Simply place some plastic wrap onto a baking sheet, scoop out large round scoops of ice cream, and place them on the sheet. Then freeze them so that they are ready to pop onto your platter when you need them. This also ensures the ice cream is nice and cold in once you serve it.
- Don’t use homemade whipped cream. Of course you could, but you want this to be light and airy, and not super runny. I find that sometimes homemade whipped cream can become soupy quickly. Plus, using canned whipped cream allows you to make nice and pretty peaks, making this dish look even more special.
Frequently Asked Questions
This dessert isn’t a great candidate to make in advance since the ice cream will become very hard and the toppings, including the whipped cream, may not hold up well in the freezer. You can however scoop your ice cream out onto a baking sheet, then freeze that to make scooping easier and to stave off melting for just a bit longer.
Leftovers don’t really keep well, but if you hate to throw it out, you can always scoop anything that’s left into a freezer save container and store it in the freezer until you’re ready to eat it.
You sure can! Using non-dairy ice cream or sherbert makes for a great non-dairy frozen dessert.
While I wouldn’t recommend using soft serve straight from a machine (it’s a bit soft and will melt very quickly), if you purchased soft serve ice cream and have stored it in the freezer for a while, it should hold up well when scooped out as instructed above.
If you make these easy Ice Cream Nachos, let me know what you think in the comments below. And don’t forget to tag me @frontrangefed on Instagram so I can see your masterpiece!
More Summer Dessert Recipes
- Homemade Cherry Pineapple Popsicles
- Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies
- S'mores Rice Krispie Treats
- Blackberry Creamsicles
- Strawberry Cheesecake With A Pretzel Crust
- Sweet Peach Ice Cream
- Fresh Peach Pie Recipe
Ice Cream Nachos (Easy Summer Dessert Idea)
- 2 bananas sliced in half and then halved down the center
- e4s large waffle cones (or 8 Pizzelle cookies) broken into pieces ("chips")
- 4 sugar cones
- 12 large scoops of ice cream (I used Neapolitan which is a mixture of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate ice cream)
- 1 cup whipped cream (use whipped cream from a can)
- 1 cup chocolate syrup
- 2-3 tablespoon colorful sprinkles
- 10 Maraschino cherries
- Choose your serving tray. Remember that the leftovers are hard to keep, so choose something that’s appropriately sized to the audience you’re serving these dessert nachos to. For reference, I used a large pie plate to serve about 6 people.
- Add the bananas to the perimeter of the tray.
- Add the waffle cone chips or Pizzells. Tuck these all around the bananas to start. You can always add in more once you have your ice cream in place.
- Add the ice cream. Use big round scoops of ice cream (larger scoops will take longer to melt). Arrange them around the platter evenly.
- Fill in any open spots with dollops of whipped cream (from a can).
- Add the chocolate syrup, sprinkles, and Maraschino cherries to the top.
- Add any extras. At this point, your dish should be pretty complete, but feel free to add extra cones around the edges as I did, more waffle cone chips tucked into the sides, or other toppings.
- Work quickly assembling this dessert, as the ice cream will start to melt immediately.
- Re-freeze your ice cream scoops to keep them cold and perfectly formed once you assemble the nachos.
- Use canned whipped cream. For best results, use canned whipped cream, not homemade. It holds up better and also makes for a nicer presentation with this dessert.