You can make this Easy Fried Ice Cream Dessert in 25 minutes before freezing it! You'll love this no-fry recipe with toasted corn flakes, butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and honey. This is such a fun, make-ahead dessert!
If you've only enjoyed fried ice cream at restaurants because "it must be difficult to make" at home, I'm about to change your life.
This Easy Fried Ice Cream Dessert comes together in 25 minutes using a 9x13 pan! It's basically a no-fry, fried ice cream cake that you'll throw in the freezer until it's almost time to dig in.
Think of a toasted corn flake crust with cinnamon and brown sugar surrounding a thick layer of creamy vanilla ice cream, with honey dripping down the sides. Don't forget the whipped cream on top.
Vanilla Ice Cream: I love using French vanilla here, but use your favorite kind. Note that you'll need two quarts. If you buy ice cream in 1.5-quart containers, you'll need one full one plus ⅓ of another.
Corn Flakes: This recipe calls for plain corn flakes, which you'll jazz up with brown sugar and cinnamon. Some people rave about using Cinnamon Toast Crunch instead, but I haven't tried it.
Honey: This sweet, flavorful nectar makes this dessert, in my opinion. You'll need two tablespoons for the top layer, plus extra to drizzle on each serving.
If honey's not your thing, read on for some other topping suggestions further down.
Whipped Cream: In keeping with our "easy" theme, just buy the one in a can and spray some on the fried ice cream bars. But...I know some people use homemade whipped cream here, and that would be amazing!
How to make it
See the recipe card at the end of this post for full instructions, but here's an overview.
- Crush the corn flakes.
- Melt the butter in a pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the cereal to the pan and stir to combine. Stir constantly for three minutes, until the corn flakes are toasted and fragrant.
- Stir brown sugar and cinnamon into the corn-flake mixture.
After letting the cereal mixture cool, it's time to assemble the Easy Fried Ice Cream Dessert.
- Press some of the buttery corn-flake mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 pan.
- Spread softened vanilla ice cream on the corn-flake crust using a metal icing spatula (affiliate link).
- Top with the remaining cereal mixture and drizzle on honey.
Cover and freeze for at least five hours before serving, to allow it to set. I promise, it'll be worth the wait!
- To quickly cool off the toasted corn-flake mixture, spread it onto a sheet pan.
- To achieve a soft-serve texture for the ice cream, let it sit out at room temperature while you make the corn-flake mixture. Then, transfer the ice cream to a bowl, stir it with a wooden spoon, then run a butter knife through it until it's smooth.
- To make a larger quantity of fried ice cream in a 10x15 pan (affiliate link), use 1.5 times this recipe.
- To make half of this recipe, use an 8x8 pan (affiliate link).
How to serve it
Take the fried ice cream dessert out of the freezer 15-20 minutes before serving it, so it can thaw a bit. Then, slice it into bars. You can get 12 generous servings, or 15 more modest ones.
Pour honey all over each slice until it's dripping down the sides. Then top it with a mound of whipped cream. Yum!
Other topping ideas
If you'd rather skip the honey, you can use any type of sundae topping instead. Here are some ideas:
Frequently asked questions
This mock fried ice cream recipe is made without frying. But the fried ice cream dessert made popular in the 1970s and '80s at the Chi-Chi's Mexican restaurant chain featured frozen balls of ice cream wrapped in tortillas and cinnamon and briefly deep-fried.
This particular recipe can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free corn flakes. Note that Kellogg's Corn Flakes are not gluten-free, since they contain malt flavoring, which comes from barley.
This recipe is great for parties, potlucks, Cinco de Mayo, etc. If you need other Tex-Mex ideas, don't miss this Seven-Layer Taco Dip from Scratch, Easy Guacamole Without Cilantro or this Maple Flan in Ramekins.
Watch the video to see how easy it is to make this Fried Ice Cream Dessert! And, if you try this recipe, please leave a comment and a rating!
Easy Fried Ice Cream Dessert
- 2 quarts vanilla ice cream (See notes.)
- 6 cups corn flakes (half a 12-ounce box; use gluten free if needed)
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons honey (plus extra for serving)
- Whipped cream for serving
- Set out the containers of ice cream to soften at room temperature. Have a 9x13 pan ready.
- Crush the corn flakes. (I place three cups at a time in a gallon freezer bag, seal the bag, then used a rolling pin to crush them. You also could crush a couple of cups at a time in your pan, using the bottom of your measuring cup.)
- Melt the butter in a large skillet on your stove over medium-high heat. Add the crushed corn flakes and stir to combine. Stir constantly for about three minutes, until the cereal is toasted and fragrant.
- Turn off the heat. Stir the brown sugar and cinnamon into the corn flakes until combined. Transfer the mixture to a sheet pan and spread it out to cool off.
- Transfer the ice cream to a large mixing bowl. Stir it with a wooden spoon until the ice cream is soft and smooth. (It helps to run a butter knife through it.)
- When the corn flakes are cooled off, place a layer of them in an ungreased 9x13, using just enough cereal to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Carefully transfer the ice cream onto the bottom crust. It helps to scatter dollops of ice cream all around the pan, then use a metal icing spatula to gently spread the ice cream in an even layer.
- Sprinkle the rest of the crushed corn flakes onto the ice cream in an even layer. Gently pat the topping down with your hand. Drizzle on a couple tablespoons of honey. Cover the pan with foil and freeze it for at least five hours.
- Remove the pan of fried ice cream from the freezer 15-20 minutes before serving it, to allow it to thaw a bit. To serve, cut the fried ice cream into squares. Top the squares with additional honey and whipped cream. Store leftovers covered in the freezer for up to a week.
(Recipe Source: Cooking with Mamma C, inspired by recipes on Pinterest. Originally published on May 6, 2017 as "Fried Ice Cream in a Pan" and updated now with additional photos and information.)